Everyone is more desperate than ever to get famous because they need the money, so I’ve done some digging and found the up-to-the-minute ways that kind of instant glory can be achieved, aside from killing someone.
Says a source of mine in the biz: “There are three routes to be successful in music today: Number one is YouTube. Make a video, get a zillion people to watch it, and it becomes a viral sensation. That’s how the Korean rapper Psy started. His record became an international hit because everyone in the world thought it was the funniest thing they ever saw. And Justin Bieber started on YouTube. Scooter Braun saw his videos and became his manager, and there were several labels fighting over him right away.
“The second approach is getting on a TV talent show, which is a simple, direct way to do it. Sure, some of the shows’ number-one winners have ended up doing nothing, but still, you get your shot. These shows catapult talent to the charts, one after another. One Direction broke on the British X Factor, and they’re gigantic.
“The third is to be a series star like Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato, then branch out into music. Disney’s especially good with this, though when Nickelodeon tried to spin off iCarly’s Miranda Cosgrove, it wasn’t as successful. But Disney has a new one, Bridgit Mendler from Good Luck Charlie, and they’re having some success spinning her as a music star.”
So you hear that, people? Simply get yourself your own Disney series, and then you can become a music sensation! How to get to that point I have no idea—good luck, Charlie—but let my source weigh in with yet more insight into what you’ll need in your binders before launching your relentless quest for world domination.
“Let’s say you’re the new Barbra Streisand,” he notes, “and you find a way to get an appointment or you know somebody and send them a demo. Well, I know from experience that the first question they ask is, ‘Are they good looking?’ And number two is ‘What’s their platform?’ In other words: ‘What are they doing so far? Are they on TV? Do they have 100 million YouTube views? What’s happening with them already?’ It’s not even about artist development anymore. There are exceptions, but they’re very rare.”
What he’s saying is that basically you have to come in with a venue, a product, and a fan base before they’ll bring you to the next level. You have to be a star before they’ll make you a star! The days when a label nurtured talent from square zero are becoming as hazy a memory as vinyl 45s and live concerts.
But again, the Web is right there for your exploitation. After all, Adele got a label deal when a friend put the singer’s demo on Myspace. But when I mentioned another one-named singer to my source, he joked, “Yes, there’s always the tried-and-tested way of sleeping with someone.”
Lady Gaga? “She was a talented songwriter first. She had a deal based on her songwriting, and she flopped. Then she hooked up with Akon. This is the fourth and most traditional way to make it: You hook up with a producer who has already got a label or a great relationship with a label, and the producer will nurture you and bring you along (not the label).”
So it helps to develop connections—just as Bieber got a post-Braun boost from Usher, rising star Conor Maynard rose faster when Ne-Yo endorsed him—and/or a background in working behind the scenes. For example, Kesha was already a songwriter and backup singer, inching her way to the spotlight through seeming inevitability because in the biz, cream still can rise, especially if it’s connected (and unapologetically trashy).
Singer Carly Rae Jepsen has been around for a while—she started out on a Canadian talent show, sure enough—but she managed to hook up with Bieber and Braun, and that was the changer, especially when YouTube sent “Call Me Maybe” to the heavens. (Carly Rae wins for using the largest amount of suggested approaches—talent show, power hookup, and the Web. The result had everyone calling her definitely.)
“Wait, there’s another way to make it,” observed my source, getting excited. We were now up to number five, if I was counting correctly. “How did Taylor Swift break?” he wondered. “Easy. Her parents are filthy rich, and they financed everything!” Aha! You hear that? Just have wealthy parents! And be wildly pretty and talented, too! And also try to have a Disney show!
As for other entertainment arenas, the best way to get your face on TV these days is obviously to try out for a reality show and convince them that you’re willing to go to amazing lengths to display your charisma, even if—I mean especially if—it means wildly debasing yourself in public. Some casting calls go out on Facebook and other sites, so you just have to wait for the right project to come along—let’s say Angry Construction Workers or Paraplegic Prosties—before you zoom in for your big chance. Then use your newfound notoriety to quickly write a book, start a jewelry line, make public appearances, and exploit your children.
Of course, the easiest way to become famous has always been to be incredibly brilliant, but I can’t help you there. Talent is not something that can be learned or bought, and if you don’t have it, I certainly can’t procure it for you. And I won’t give you a list of who to kill, either! Break a leg, baby—your own.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 21, 2012