“Opulent Party Attended By Millionaires” Does Not = News
Look, I know Idolator used to be owned by Gawker. But if we really were the Gawker of the music industry, you would have seen so much coverage of Clive Davis’ Grammy party. You would hear where it was, who was playing, who was invited, who wasn’t invited, who sat next to who, and how you could crash it. You would have gotten gossip from inside, pictures of the food, and a big wrapup post. This would be justified because Clive’s party is the music biz equivalent of the Vanity Fair Oscar party. The VF party gets a lot of attention and coverage from a wide variety of media outlets, and that’s somewhat understandable from a practical if not a moral standpoint: our interest in Hollywood and the star system is always to some degree about power, and by watching what happens at the VF party, we can make conclusions about what’s going on behind the scenes, where people stand, who’s in and who’s out, and so forth and so on. So why wouldn’t we care about Clive Davis’ party, if we’re supposed to be covering the music biz? Well, because the biggest music-related item to come from the party was the news that Whitney Fucking Houston performed.
Now, I’m not saying Clive’s party isn’t a big deal for people in the industry, or that folks didn’t have a good time, or that ol’ Whit didn’t bring down the house. I’m just saying that at the Vanity Fair party, you could see the biggest, hottest, highest-paid stars, recognizable to people all over the world. At Clive’s party, you will find a bunch of old men trying to convince us that Whitney Houston is still relevant.
I know a middle-aged lady who decided she was going to become a singer. And so her husband, who had no small amount of money, paid for a band, paid for her to rent out a performance space, and paid to make it a lavish party. That didn’t make it good or important—it just made it well-attended. I’m not saying Clive’s party was exactly like that. I’m just saying that we in the media ignore hundreds of self-serving music industry parties and dinners every year. Some of them are for good causes; some of them are simply masturbatory. But none of them are things the wider public needs to hear about. Clive’s party is no particular exception.