"We're not rockstars, we are a big, faceless corporation"

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Are there many examples of this? Bands putting on an "Actually we're not rockstars, we're a big, faceless, profit-driven organisation" act?

Album covers rendered in tepid Memphis Corporate style. Track titles called "Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork". Band dresses in smart-casual jeans and sheux.

When asked about influences, it's "Oh we all bonded over a shared love for Ayn Rand. Elon Musk's been doing some great stuff lately. Richard Branson flows in our veins".

Claims of being apolitical unless it interferes sale-on-return, in which case many an angst-ridden ballad would be written about it.

I think stuff like this has been done or hinted at by bands like World Domination Enterprises, Kraftwerk etc; there's an element of this kind of nihilism in black metal too. David Byrne's True Stories as well.

But has anyone made it into a whole act, a comment on the fact that the music industry IS an industry and that art needs to sell in order to proliferate in a capitalist society?

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:08 (one month ago) link

FTR, I'm talking a certain level of self-awareness here. So Mumford & Sons and generic background house music, commercial EDM etc don't count.

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:14 (one month ago) link

Sigue Sigue Sputnik tried and largely failed to accomplish this as I recall. Age of Chance too? Could be more of an 80s thing.

gordon whippoorwilltrap (Matt #2), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:30 (one month ago) link

... the original and best.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:33 (one month ago) link

Actually PiL probably did this first, though not very convincingly.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:37 (one month ago) link

Could never work out where Martyn Ware's hands were meant to be in the central picture on that Heaven 17 album cover. Behind his back?

Portsmouth Bubblejet, Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:40 (one month ago) link

ah yes, that Heaven 17 album is a great example.

a lot of vaporwavey type stuff like CFCF and James Ferraro plays around with these corporate aesthetics, but it's more an assimilation of tropes than a full on "Nope, we really believe in this" kind of thing

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:41 (one month ago) link

https://i.redd.it/dijyfr6aas341.jpg

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 10:42 (one month ago) link

it's definitely a very eighties thing to do.

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 11:00 (one month ago) link

The venetian blinds in the Blur photo reminded me of that cover!

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 11:04 (one month ago) link

The corporate aesthetic has moved on a fair bit since all those power-suited boardrooms of the eighties and nineties. Wonder how you'd do it now? Corporations want to come across as cuddly, hip, utopian, but it all ends up being another bunch of similar tropes (Corporate Memphis aesthetic, ukeleles + whistling, colourful break-out rooms with oddly-shaped furniture, cardigans and smart jeans etc)

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 11:18 (one month ago) link

Be Bop Deluxe did this kind of look around the time of their 'Modern Music' album (1976), combined with a retro-futurist thing that's a bit reminiscent of Kraftwerk, Devo etc

https://www.velvetthunder.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Be-bop-Deluxe.jpg

https://i.scdn.co/image/50317de425791d4f800fedaf6af2c7ce05bf3c11

I think it has it's roots in glam-rock - Ron Mael from Sparks, Life On Mars era Bowie, and Bowie was drawing on Pop Art and Andy Warhol, 'The Factory' etc

https://64.media.tumblr.com/1fb128fe1a55a1b69adcca300e67a88d/tumblr_o1ppnioO0Z1qixdlko1_1280.jpg

soref, Thursday, 1 April 2021 11:35 (one month ago) link

there's an element of this kind of nihilism in black metal too.

What is a BM example of this?

Just Another Onionhead (Sund4r), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:22 (one month ago) link

Akercocke were death metal, not black metal, but this kinda counts, maybe...

https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ackercocke-e1461587304258.jpg

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:26 (one month ago) link

This would have been a logical move for Laibach to try; I wonder why they never did. I guess corporatism didn't have the same impact as fascism in Slovenia.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:27 (one month ago) link

What is a BM example of this?

― Just Another Onionhead (Sund4r), Thursday, April 1, 2021 1:22 PM (nine minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

I can't quite remember what I was thinking about when I wrote this. Maybe it's more the nihilistic side of metal; a kind of Satanic libertarianism rather than people donning a business-look, although as unperson said, this has also been done.

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:36 (one month ago) link

I feel like all this has a root in Bowie's Thin White Duke era, no?

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:38 (one month ago) link

Very much enjoying Akercocke's Westminster Gothic look there.
I can think of video games like Control that mine an office-punk aesthetic too, with dark, supernatural stuff happening to staplers and OHPs

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:41 (one month ago) link

xp Roxy Music to an extent too, but bands were wearing nice suits long before the seventies

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:41 (one month ago) link

they dont cop a corporate aesthetic but Rednex did the thing where they fired all the original members and became a corporate entertainment group with multiple sub-franchises touring the world simultaneously

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:42 (one month ago) link

ah yes, that's a good shout. a really weird thing to come out of a one-hit-wonder Eurodance act

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:44 (one month ago) link

There's this too which is plain bizarro https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_Shop_co.

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:45 (one month ago) link

https://a3-images.myspacecdn.com/images03/2/9fdfd1dc52914b0ab156d165578d73f1/600x600.jpg

The Tubes for _Completion Backwards Principle_

the body of a spider... (scampering alpaca), Thursday, 1 April 2021 12:59 (one month ago) link

Now I’m thinking of Gallagher and Gallagher Too.

In on the killfile (Boring, Maryland), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:03 (one month ago) link

The Chic Organization is part of this too, I think.

mahb, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:04 (one month ago) link

Would the Who Sell Out be the origin of self aware corporate rock or is it too conceptual/ironic to fit the aesthetic?

BrianB, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:08 (one month ago) link

hah I'm surprised no one mentioned that record before!

SI Futures, a moniker for breaks guy Si Begg, used this aesthetic on this pretty good album form 20 or so years ago:

https://img.discogs.com/dltcY42opowqTO1rZnK8qPTPbMI=/fit-in/472x473/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1801330-1244229767.jpeg.jpg

Sven Vath's scary carpet (Neil S), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:12 (one month ago) link

Didn't realise SI Futures = Si Begg!

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:14 (one month ago) link

There's always Sudden Sway with their "finePro" ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byV0t3iMPIY

Mark G, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:27 (one month ago) link

https://i.imgur.com/BC89VC3.jpg

mookieproof, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:36 (one month ago) link

The Who Sell Out definitely a predecessor, at least for the album cover/marketing. I don't recall any moment on the album where they break the fourth wall and imply that the narrators/musicians are The Who, though I am not sure that is an element of this phenomenon.

the last unvaccinated motherfucker on earth (PBKR), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:40 (one month ago) link

There's always Sudden Sway with their "finePro" ...

... and Im-Prac and Conceptat ('the ideas agency').

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:51 (one month ago) link

Devo's comeback album Something For Everybody falls into this category, I thought the gimmick was they were focus grouping everything and airbrushing the shit out of all the images to make them "as appealing as possible"

frogbs, Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:53 (one month ago) link

The Residents were doing all that Cryptic Corporation stuff (and before that, Residents Unic.) pre-punk.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 13:57 (one month ago) link

Led Zeppelin’s Presence?

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:01 (one month ago) link

Devo 2.0 would kinda fit too

Piven After Midnight (The Yellow Kid), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:01 (one month ago) link

xpost oh wait i guess Presence wouldn’t count because the band members themselves are not in the photo

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:02 (one month ago) link

The Chic Organization is part of this too, I think.

underrated post

Blick, Bils & Blinky • Let's Skip The Shaker Intros (breastcrawl), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:06 (one month ago) link

xp Roxy Music to an extent too, but bands were wearing nice suits long before the seventies

― Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, April 1, 2021 7:41 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

sure most bands in the 50s and early Beatles era wore suits, but I think the big part of this whole thing is that it's a big *change* from what the artist was before, like Dexy's ragamuffin street kids going corporate, or Ziggy Stardust suddenly trying to be this suave L.A. soul guy

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:09 (one month ago) link

it's almost this reverse shock thing, like we shocked you before by being so out there and weird but now you expect it so we're suddenly going all buttoned down

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:09 (one month ago) link

Definitely Chic, they were explicit about what they were doing.

The early lineup of The Association may have been going for something like this.

http://images.45cat.com/the-association-pandoras-golden-heebie-jeebies-1966-15.jpg

Josefa, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:14 (one month ago) link

The whole Mod phenomenon of the 60s implied that they were ready to fit in with the working world, although of course their loyalty was not to a given corporation but to the Mod style as a whole. But this is going back so far in time that notions of "corporatism" were very different.

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:24 (one month ago) link

If you look back at the 60s it's interesting how many bands wore suits and ties, though often fairly 'groovy' ones, and had pretty short hair. The full-on long haired hippy look didn't really begin to predominate till about 1969, and then it took over in the 70s.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:30 (one month ago) link

I'm a little surprised this wasn't the concept for a turn of the millennium Dan the Automator project.

MarkoP, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:47 (one month ago) link

(xp) Yes, good one. There's a whole corporate speak blurb that goes with it too.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:49 (one month ago) link

xps digression - It even seemed like there was a mini-backlash to long hair among some groups circa 1967, eg The Beatles. A lot of them tidied up; there were more layer cuts, more perms too. But yeah, even in movies of the late '60s you would see hipster or counterculture characters with very short hair. First one that comes to mind is Alan Arkin's character in Wait Until Dark who's searching Audrey Hepburn's apartment for heroin.

Josefa, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:50 (one month ago) link

The new Steven Wilson has elements of this, tying in with the satire on consumerism. The box set has a guarantee and questionnaire, the video has him in a suit carrying a briefcase around, etc.

joni mitchell jarre (anagram), Thursday, 1 April 2021 15:13 (one month ago) link

This, from that Wilson box set, is fucking incredible:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Es3PxvPVgAIKn9-.jpg

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 1 April 2021 15:28 (one month ago) link

iirc The Hafler Trio did a very similar thing to the Residents Cryptic Corporation with their first record, even going so far as to invent an N. Senada character.

Also in the many theatrical conceits that surrounded Cardiacs, they maintained that the band were rather unwillingly under the supervision of the ABC (Alphabet Business Concern) led by the 'consultant'

Maresn3st, Thursday, 1 April 2021 15:57 (one month ago) link

Didn't Andrew W.K. invent a big hoax around this topic?

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:01 (one month ago) link

Actually PiL probably did this first, though not very convincingly.

iirc they explicitly did this sometime after Wobble left, announcing that they weren't a band but a company that would be branching out beyond music.

visiting, Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:04 (one month ago) link

They announced that in the Tom Snyder TV interview in June '80; not sure if Wobble was still in the group then.

Josefa, Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:09 (one month ago) link

wu tang also an obvious reference here

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:11 (one month ago) link

(xp) They were talking about it as far back as "Metal Box". Not actually doing anything about it of course.

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:14 (one month ago) link

Factory catalogue system is an example too I guess, calling their first release A Factory Sample, FAC1 FAC3 & FAC4 being club nights, FAC7 being note paper, etc.

Bastard Lakes (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:16 (one month ago) link

The whole Mod phenomenon of the 60s implied that they were ready to fit in with the working world, although of course their loyalty was not to a given corporation but to the Mod style as a whole. But this is going back so far in time that notions of "corporatism" were very different.

― Halfway there but for you, Thursday, April 1, 2021 10:24 AM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

That was part of the irony (as best articulated by Who fan Irish Jack Lyons in the 2012 Quadrophenia documentary): these speed-gobbling but immaculately dressed kids would have jobs as filing clerks, and would be told, "Ah, you're management material!" Yep, no interest in that at all, gonna gulp some more pills now, thanks.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 1 April 2021 16:21 (one month ago) link

This is quite a stretch from the thread title, but in "Legend of Paul Revere", Paul Revere and the Raiders admit, "our business manager is our biggest fan".

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:24 (one month ago) link

so there's this genre of music called hip-hop

lukas, Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:36 (one month ago) link

Yes I'm surprised nothing's been mentioned yet. I feel like there's something more genuine going on in hip hop than archness or irony though

Party With A Jagger Ban (dog latin), Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:48 (one month ago) link

Yeah it's not ironic but there is a self-awareness about it, a pushing through the fatigue of capitalism ... I dunno there are people on this board a million times more competent to speak to this.

lukas, Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:54 (one month ago) link

Erasure's 'Chorus', packaged like a piece of business software from the early 90s.
https://lacyscottknight.blob.core.windows.net/stock/431703-0-medium.jpg?v=63732042696447

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Thursday, 1 April 2021 18:55 (one month ago) link

Kiss, 'Dressed To Kill'
https://lastfm.freetls.fastly.net/i/u/ar0/673ad9a3d424b73ee697e39305759203.jpg
Only Peter Criss actually owned a suit, so the other three are wearing suits belonging to their manager, which explains in particular Gene Simmons' goofy appearance.

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:34 (one month ago) link

explains some of it

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:41 (one month ago) link

CTRL-F "Corwood Industries" not found

I like signing up to dead sites (sleeve), Thursday, 1 April 2021 19:55 (one month ago) link

seems like there's a line to be drawn here between the OP and "bands posing in suits for a photo"

or maybe that's just putting too much thought/effort into it, and we don't really want to turn this into another New Jersey

alpine static, Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:06 (one month ago) link

This sort of self branding usually invokes fetishism for early digital technology and '80s commercial and marketing aesthetics. A lot of Vaporwave certainly fits the bill.

HuskerDoolittle, Thursday, 1 April 2021 20:43 (one month ago) link

The difference in hip-hop is that Jay-Z may be a business, man, but he's also keeping it real. Realer than Sigue Sigue Sputnik, anyway.

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:05 (one month ago) link

Windows 95 / “Start Me Up” is the classic text here

Swag Heathen (theStalePrince), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:34 (one month ago) link

also, equation of sharp suits and corporate culture feels weirdly off to me.....like, show me pictures of bands dressed like 1995 Gates & Ballmer dancing

Swag Heathen (theStalePrince), Thursday, 1 April 2021 21:37 (one month ago) link

I know we all tried to erase it from our memories, but Arcade Fire tried to do this with Everything Now.

triggercut, Friday, 2 April 2021 02:13 (one month ago) link

I’ve always been keen to see the Rolling Stones push the band-as-brand ethos to its logical endpoint, and recast the band. Then the Authorised Rolling Stones can continue generating income after the current members are retired/dead. Kind of like how they recast James Bond, or how superheroes sometimes pass on the mantle. I think they could actually do it?

I like it because it might cause some boomers to stroke out from worrying about authenticity. I also like the idea of a teenage fan getting excited about “the new Mick” in 2047.

lemmy incaution (emsworth), Friday, 2 April 2021 02:46 (one month ago) link

Menudo have done this for decades

the Pet Shop Boys used to complain that people didn't take them seriously when, in the '80s, they talked of their plans to recast the band with a bunch of young hotties, or a couple of nuns, every few years.

armoured van, Holden (sic), Friday, 2 April 2021 02:57 (one month ago) link

Maroon 5 LLC

J. Sam, Friday, 2 April 2021 03:01 (one month ago) link


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