It seems like the MTV-era of music video consumption may have finally reached the pinnacle where art and consumerism mash together in a violent and putridly graphic sex act that makes you cringe and squirm like you’re 14-years-old sitting next to your parents watching Jason Biggs masturbate into a pie for the first time. Not that it’s any easier to watch the second, third, or forty-sixth time, for that matter. Australian rapper and current Internet sweetheart Iggy Azalea (who hasn’t yet proven to be the musical revolution the Tumblr crowd has touted her as), in conjunction with Montreal based e-commerce site Ssense, is releasing a music video for “I Think She Ready” (featuring Diplo and FKi), tomorrow in which you can literally buy everything you see on screen. It will be the first ever shoppable music video, and we sort of have a perverse desire to see it in an episode of Beavis & Butt-Head.
Now, we’re not going to be as naive as to suggest music has ever been independent of commerical influence — artists have and always will partner with brands to make money, and mostly it’s neither bad nor good, it just simply is. But we can’t help but feel a sort of trepidation here, like something is being cultivated that we perhaps haven’t seen before. Sowed from the seeds of Hipster Runoff culture (the whimsical branding of new genres with prolific abandon and the rise of the disposable star or the proverbial “buzz” artist), a vapid yet dangerous monster is spawned, and it wants to eat your credit card.
The way we consume music is becoming increasingly democratic, and new artists increasingly live and die by the blog. We only need to look back as far as the epic rise and demise of Lana Del Rey for confirmation — we’re creating our own celebrity landscape like a SIMS game, with the ability to lead characters into the deep end of a pool and remove the stairs while we creepily watch them flail and eventually drown. Yet paradoxically the more control we think we have, the more we lose our grip. Like Lana Del Rey, Iggy Azalea is riding on a turbulent wave of Internet affection and scorn: a fickle but powerful master. Whether or not Azalea is dumped by the wave is irrelevant because she’ll still be relevant, and like Lana before her, will remain a highly saleable commodity.
What Lana is to the Mulberry bag, Azalea to the kicky commercial in which she sells you her personal “brand.” From the sort-of-subtle to the blatantly in your face, the era of the artist as your personal shop girl has well and truly shit all over everything serious music fans hold dear. But what does this mean for musicians who aren’t interested in the hubbub of dollar signs and stilettos? Are “music for the love of music” focused artists going to be pushed to the sidelines, simply because they’re not as willing to be stuffed into an incredibly marketable, lucrative mold?
As record sales decline, will commercial videos like Azalea’s be the best way for artists to make money? And will this change what sort of artists will be able to survive without buying into the sell out (Adele stands out as a staunch anomaly that says there is still a place for music within the music industry, but her power is rare and perhaps unique)? Moreover, aren’t all artists, whether they’re selling you shoes or not, have the right to do whatever they have to do to not only promote their music, but to keep food on the table?
Iggy Azalea’s video with Ssense premieres tomorrow at 12pm EST tomorrow, so check back to find out what we thought about the finished product. In the meantime you can check out the stills in this post (above).