Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hollywood's Effect on the Music Industry

     If you'd been plugged into the television on August 1, 1981 when MTV launched for the first time you would have been greeted with footage of the Apollo launch, and John Lack saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll."   For the 80's generation this was a whole new experience in music appreciation, but it wasn't the first time that the music industry had been tied to television, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. For as long as people have been watching television, music has been tied to it. In this essay you will see how Hollywood has directly and indirectly affected the music industry.
            As early as the late 1940's families gathered around the television to watch variety shows; shows that we would come to know by another, quirkier title, 'reality television'. Much like American Idol, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, a show that aired on various channels from 1947 until 1992, introduced the audience to unknown performers; allowing them to vote for their favorites.  For over sixty years, musically themed television shows have ran prevalent across the network airwaves, although, not all of them have been of the variety/reality show genre.
            When musicians began appearing on television shows like The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Perry Como Show, music, and by default the music industry had another medium to sell through.  Television was bringing the talents of Bo Diddly, Elvis Presley, and the Everly Brothers straight to the viewers in the comfort of their homes. Young girls who screamed and swooned at the sexual gyrations of Elvis' hips, could see his performances regardless of where they were located. On September 9, 1956, Elvis appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and introduced the world to his ballad, Love Me Tender. This advancement was a boon to not only musicians, but to music executives as well. RCA, the recording company that held Elvis' contract, received over one million advanced orders for the song the following week.
            June 11, 2002, Hollywood once again made huge waves in the music industry with the launch of American Idol. Similar to the variety shows of the mid to late 1900's, American Idol brought the music of unknown performers to the television masses. Idol which is in its tenth season, has created several music superstars including: Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and [Chris] Daughtry, not to mention a handful of other not-so-well known singers.
            In season one, Kelly Clarkson wowed America with her voice and style; taking home the honor of being the first winner of American Idol. Since her jump to fame she has released four albums, with her debut album, Thankful, reaching double- platinum, and her sophomore album, Breakaway, reaching multi- platinum. According to Nielson SoundScan, the company responsible for compiling album sales data for Billboard, Clarkson has sold more than 36 million singles and 23 million albums, making her the most successful American Idol winner, to date, worldwide.    
            Underwood, the winner during season four of the show has released three solo albums; the most recent one, Play On, sold 318,000 copies during its first week of sales, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. With the debut of Play On, Underwood has been certified as a seven-time platinum recording  artist with a slew of prestigious awards including being the first ever female singer to win back to back Academy of Country Music Awards for Entertainer of the Year.
            Daughtry, though not the winner of Idol's fifth season, is currently the lead singer and guitarist for the self-titled band, Daughtry. Their debut album, also self-titled, Daughtry, sold more than 5 million copies after five weeks of sales, and made it to the number one spot on Billboard's top 200. American Idol, has since adopted his single, Home, as the song they play each time another singer is knocked out of the running. In 2007 at the NBA playoffs the single, Home, was also used by the eliminating home team.
            American Idol, might be the most recognized show that has turned out singers, and changed the way the music industry does business, but it's not the only one. Other musicians have come straight out of Hollywood planning meetings. O-Town, the boy band created in 2000 for the MTV show, Making the Band, as well as the 1960's sudo-Beatle's band, The Monkees, were both created by auditions. The television executives, and show creators had a specific idea in mind, and they hand selected the actors/musicians that would best fit the dynamic they were looking for.  These bands, though not as successful as those from Idol, still had a modicum of success; The Monkees, more so than, O-Town
            Even though American Idol would appear to be the standard for television created musicians, that wasn't always the case. Many well known, successful singers of the last decade came from the Disney Channel. The Mickey Mouse Club, introduced the world to superstars: Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears. These three singers have known great success during the last ten years; with the former N*Sync, boy band member, Justin Timberlake, having the most continual success, first as a member of a group,  then as a solo artist.
            Hollywood has managed to infiltrate the music industry in another way as well. An increasingly large number of Hollywood actors and actresses have tried their hand at making the crossover between acting and singing. Well known actors;  Kevin Bacon, Stir of Echoes; Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Trilogy; Jeff Bridges, Stick It; and Russell Crowe, The Gladiator; along with fellow actresses; Jill Hennessey, Crossing Jordan; Minnie Driver, Return to Me; and Amy Jo Johnson, Flash Point; have each put out at least one album, with varying degrees of success. Other actors have used the name notoriety they'd achieved in Hollywood, and created bands, and a following that way.   
          Gary Sinise, the actor who is best known for his role as Lt. Dan, in Forrest Gump, created The Lt. Dan Band, in 2004. He, along with his band mates, tour the world in support of the military; making stops at military bases stateside, as well as overseas, and giving free performances while attached to the USO.    
            It is becoming increasingly noticeable that Hollywood, and the music industry are closely tied together.  This has been the case since the very beginning, and it is unlikely it will ever change. Hollywood's effect on the music industry is noticeable in almost every genre of music, in one way or another. Whether the artist was discovered on a talent show, has performed on Saturday Night Live, or started their career acting, Hollywood has had an influence and affect on the music we listen to, enjoy, and buy.   

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