What “A Star Is Born” Is Right About The Modern Music Industry


There’s nothing “superficial” about it.

Bradley Cooper’s interpretation of A star is born is an undeniable hit, grossing over $325 million worldwide. Many of its viewers will likely view the film’s perspective on the modern music industry as current reality. But while much has been said about what A star is born gets it wrong – including the alternate reality in which a rock guitarist tops the charts – it actually gets a bit fair. Here are five things that hit him in the face:

1. The importance of live performance and music festival

With physical sales plummeting over the past two decades, streaming has only recently grown as a source of revenue for labels and artists. As a result, touring became a bigger source of income. This fits with the renewed popularity of music festivals like Bonnaroo, Coachella and Governors Ball. You could say that the spontaneity and excitement around a live event is a refreshingly human experience in the age of the iPhone. It’s also a way to show off in your Instagram story. In A star is bornJackson Maine and Ally are both established through their live broadcast – with plenty of iPhones in the crowd to capture it.

2. Making pop no longer means selling yourself

“Why do you look so good in those jeans?” Why did you come to me with an ass like that?”

While Bradley Cooper’s character pokes fun at the lyrics to “Why Did You Do That?” and criticizes Ally’s use of backup dancers, it’s worth noting that the film doesn’t punish her for popping — it rewards her with Grammys, magazine covers, and worldwide fame. As a culture, we wondered if it was even a bad song. It’s no longer cool to put your song on a commercial or be associated with a big brand. In fact, it’s a godsend and an important source of income for new artists. The genre blurring in 2018 may be due to streaming services where you can play any song in music history with a click. But more specifically, A star is born captures the current climate where the artist is seen more as an object of celebrity and spectacle than a vehicle for reflection.

3. It’s all about the female voice

It’s no coincidence that the film’s arc contrasts the downward spiral of a guitar-playing male rocker with the ascendancy of a pop singer. More than ever, we want to hear vocals rather than lead instruments. And more than ever, we want those voices to be women, be it Beyonce, Adele, Rihanna, Halsey, Pink, Meghan Trainor or, of course, Lady Gaga. In fact, music directors and pop songwriters have told me the importance of using female vocals on demos in order to make them cut. The future is female, at least in pop music.

4. This British A&R Guy Definitely Exists

We’ve all seen Hollywood portrayals of music executives – whether in Empire or Nashville. But actor Rafi Gavron does a particularly good job of delivering that combination of genuine passion for music, charm and absolute ruthlessness to succeed. Much like Ally, audiences can’t tell if he’s a genius or if he’s full of it.

5. We love pop artists with one name…and this color palette

Madonna is the new Madonna. In addition to the artists above, there are Khalid, Khelani, Sia, Robyn, Lorde, Drake, Tyga, Diplo all dominating the charts with one name. Ally follows this trend perfectly, in addition to the color palette of its billboard used recently by artists like Charlie Puth and Snail Mail.


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