Art vs. Commerce Article Research

    After scouring through gobs of articles online that discuss the Art versus Commerce debate in music, I was finally drawn to one in particular.  The headline reads, “Does the Cover of Rolling Stone Mean Anything Anymore?” Based on the title alone, it sounded like a great example of the topic of discussion.  Personally, I’m sure the cover will always mean something to someone but more importantly I was intrigued to find out why a columnist would pose such a bold question about the music publication’s credibility.  
    In February of 2011, the legendary Rolling Stone magazine held a “Choose the Cover” contest and selected 16 bands to compete to be on the cover of the August 2011 issue as well as a recording contract from Atlantic Records.  The winning band was based on viewers results from videos and other content being rated by a staggering total of 1.5 million people over a month long on the publication’s website.  On the outset it all sounded like a great opportunity for unsigned bands to gain some valuable and much-needed recognition, which it was except for the part about placing a price tag on the magazines most valuable piece of real estate, the cover.  In their own words, “The editors at Rolling Stone picked 16 bands to compete for the most coveted prize in music – the cover of Rolling Stone” which the entire contest was a sponsored experience brought to you by the shampoo brand Garnier Fructis.  After months of competition and 1.5 votes cast online, “The Sheepdogs” became the first ever-unsigned band to grace the iconic Rolling Stone cover.  The columnist addressed weather or not it was okay for the magazine to create a contest that was sponsored by a shampoo company and questioned weather or not it mattered anymore that a band ‘compromised their authenticity’ for the sake of winning a contest.  The article questions and effects both the artistic and business sides of the debate but after reading and understanding the article I do agree with opportunities like this, as it would be a win-win for those involved.  So the company that sponsored the event may or may not have gained exposure each time votes were cast via the Rolling Stone website. Online ads (and ads in general) are habitually ignored as it is so Idon’t see how relevant it was that a random shampoo company sponsored the event.  It’s not clear why columnists, writers or whomever would question the collaborative effects of a couple of powerhouse entities to create a contest for the betterment of a band voted by the public.  Yes, it was sponsored by a shampoo company but to me that means that they’ve shown an interest in the area of music.  It also goes to show that consumers don’t hold it against bands for participating in events that are corporately sponsored.  Had the contest taken place even 5 years ago, the public may have said that the Sheepdogs have sold out.  Nowadays, it may be just the right opportunity for a deserving band to catapult them into a larger fan base while touching people through their music who probably would have never heard it otherwise.  As long as artists are able to stay true to their music, fan base and not compromise them in the process.

    Due to the fact of the significant shift in the music industry, I conclude that it is fair and sometimes necessary for a magazine with a rich history like Rolling Stone, or any other well established magazine to create opportunities for brand integration while leaving the door open for up and coming musicians to step into the national spotlight, even if it’s through winning a contest.  I would strongly disagree if the sponsoring parties were attempting to conform audiences through shaping the artists sounds and or message, which does not appear to be the case here.  In this example the ‘real estate’ in question (aka Rolling Stone cover) was used as a platform to help solidify the efforts of 16 independent bands while using a corporate powerhouse, like Garnier Fructis to financially contribute in that regard.  The article could be perceived as accurate but certainly subjective at that.  It doesn’t appear that Carles, the writer and creator of article was bias in anyway while composing his message.  His writing does however prove the relevancy of commercialism vs. art in modern music today.

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