Russian show business is completely commercial
Like it or not, but the supply is 100% ahead of the demand in up-to-date pop music. As one Russian pop star said, “people will eat all of it up.” The connection between the popularity of an artist and his or her possibility to appear on radio or television has been broken. When we see a new artist on television, we basically do not think of the legitimacy of the appearance. Show business has turned into an absolutely closed system, when artists give awards to themselves and sing for themselves. All they have to do to appear on television is to pay quite a large sum of money.
This is the way show business functions during the so-called post-modern era: a populist picture for society and tough financial rules to become a member of the “elite club.” Everything would be alright but for the cynical justification of any musical shame with his or her “popularity” among viewers or listeners. This is quite a natural aspiration of the people that turned everything upside down. They just want to prove that people listen to what they choose. This is definitely all about their own protection. What do common people have to do with it?
The approach to the selection of new artists for a television channel has ben strictly commercial since the time when Russian show-business started (in the 1990s). An artist’s chances appear on television were equal to how much they were ready to pay for it. It was sort of romantic to a certain extent. Show business was perceived as an integral part of the growing capitalism during the beginning of the 1990s.
This system would be viable if there were always change, a struggle for something better, and something more professional. Therefore, the demand for honesty appeared soon as well. It was a counter-balance to the careless work of commercial “stars.” There was an organization that could meet that demand: MTV.
The first success of the music television channel was encouraging. Sometimes, there were new talented artists, and some of them were really good. MTV Russia's administration has recently changed. This resulted in monotonous programs and videos. Russian rock is now reigning on Russian MTV.
There are rumors about MTV’s invention in the field of commercial appearances. MTV's Artists & Talents department allegedly sends a new artist to a large recording company. This recording company offers the artist an exclusive contract, promising a 100% guarantee of air play on MTV in return. It does not occur to the client that he virtually deals with one and the same office. This is a variant of a commercial TV play in disguise.
I called MTV’s Artists & Talents department. The person who picked up the phone introduced himself as Dmitry Kononov. I introduced myself as the director of a provincial rock group that was willing to be played on Russia’s best music channel. As it turned out several minutes later, the above-mentioned rumor was absolutely true.
Of course, it is hard to reproach MTV's personnel for their wish to earn some money. But let’s call things by their proper names. The current situation brings only harm to the development of pop music in Russia. It kills the wish to move forward for young artists.
Kirill Miloslavsky PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov