Perez Hilton will one day be a nice shorthand for something fundamental about these heady years before the economy finally crashes and burns. For now, however, dude is just really annoying.
It is rumored that Amy Winehouse’s debut on the Billboard Top 10 album charts couldn’t have happened without his help — he dedicated more than 30 posts to her talents in the months leading up to her CD’s release.
So OK, this is like Idolator taking credit for American Idol‘s ratings, not to mention the fact that Back To Black sold all of 50,000 units in its first week. But since Perez is the media equivalent of the caricature that makes you realize you have a big nose, this proclamation also points out a flaw in the biz itself.
Who cares if you’re responsible for Amy Winehouse’s album selling 50k? If you’re an A&R guy or a marketing guy or a promo guy actually working in the biz, it’s crucial–your job depends on it. But who outside the industry gives two wet plops? Maybe once, but no more. The music biz has always made a fetish of power, and arguably their entire model revolves around it. How are you going to get interns to work for months or even years for little or no pay without conveying the sense that they have access to power’s inner sanctum? How are you going to justify spending absurd amounts of money unless that’s seen as a way of exercising your influence? How are you going to get artists to sign to abusive contracts unless they think this is the only route to success–that only the music biz understands the magic formula for selling records?
One day, soon, the music biz is going to have to come to terms with the fact that they’re not like movies or TV–that significant portions of our economy do not depend on their performance. They’re not oil tycoons anymore. They’re just another vendor, trying to sell their wares to a public that uses it for instrumental purposes. Music has become, roughly, toothpaste: something most people buy when they need it and use it to make themselves look or feel better. And you don’t see toothpaste vendors swinging their dicks around trying to convince people that they’re important. If the industry could finally come to terms with this fact, if it could stop trying to mount elaborate (and exorbitant) tributes to its own importance, it might be able to settle down and get some business done. As long as people like Perez are still around, though, I’m not holding my breath.