“It’s not about being authentic anymore, it’s about entertaining,” says the man whose Grammy for best new artist was revoked 20 years ago — the only take-back in Recording Academy history. That’s a quote from an article this morning in USA Today which I thought was about more than music. In fact, if you read between the lines, there are some great business lessons in there which have nothing to do with making music!For those of you too young (or too disinterested) to remember, Milli Vanilli was a pop duo that were all the rage 20 years ago. They had a few top of the chart hits and a lot of airplay when the listening options were not nearly what they are today. When the truth about the group – that they were basically two models/dancers who did no singing either on the records or in concert – was known, they were finished. Sadly, one member of the duo died at 32, not even 10 years after the debacle.
What struck me was the statement about authenticity. I couldn’t agree more with him if we’re talking about music these days. I think if we took away the electronics that make most pop stars sound good and actually forced them to sing in concert, the charts would have a lot more room for real talent on them. However, if we’re talking about business, I totally disagree.
Businesses have never had to be more real, more authentic. The interconnectedness of us all, and we to businesses, has made transparency mandatory. It’s strange how over 20 years it became OK to hide your voice, fake a singing performance and have image be everything in music while it’s become so not OK for a company to deliver a marketing message that reeks of fake.
Who are you listening to these days? How real are they? And I don’t mean on your iPod either!