Column – Don’t give ‘Friday’ record label money

March 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

Originally published in The Daily Toreador.

The devastating earthquake in Japan wasn’t the only tragedy to hit our world over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there are giving money to support a train wreck that probably doesn’t deserve a cent.

Most of you have probably heard Rebecca Black’s “hit” song, “Friday,” at this point. It has garnered massive amounts of attention at a fairly shocking speed, even by the Internet’s normal standards. Blog after blog and tweek after tweet have posted about the song for the sole purpose of remarking how gut-wrenchingly awful it (and its accompanying video) is.

Making fun of things that are bad isn’t a new shtick for the Internet. Most popular Internet memes start off by mocking something bad, eventually making it so bad it’s good. But there are a number of problems with giving “Friday” this sort of treatment.

One is just selfish annoyance. I really don’t want to hear this terrible song everywhere I go, but it’s been tough lately. I thought I could escape it by stepping away from the computer for a while, so earlier this week my fiancée and I went outside to look at the “supermoon,” and what could we hear from a house nearby? Rebecca Black trying to decide whether to kick it in the front seat or sit in the back seat. Please stop playing this song around me.

Another reason is more serious: Black’s age. The girl is only 13 years old, and she is currently the brunt of some pretty harsh (if true) criticism. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she said that, “At times, it feels like I’m being cyber-bullied.” That might be something of an understatement.

Yes, the song is bad. Terrible, even. It’s actually easy to believe Black didn’t write it herself — much of it was written by an adult who produced the song, which makes sense because only a naïve adult would think these lyrics would appeal to a youth audience.

But if we’re being perfectly honest, Black could be worse, especially at that age. How much are we really going to expect from someone who is barely even a teenager?

That said, the third and most serious problem I want to bring up is money.

Ark Music Factory, the “label” behind “Friday,” is a vanity company, built on the model that if people pay them enough money (in Black’s case, it was $2,000 for two songs and one video, according to The Daily Beast), they will help you produce content and could help you become famous.

Such companies exist in all entertainment fields — they’re pretty prevalent in the publishing industry — and are more often than not considered to be scams.

Ark seems to be wanting to hide this fact at the moment, given all the attention they’re getting. Their website’s “About Ark” page has gone missing, making finding information about them outside of Wikipedia difficult.

Currently, their website is teasing something titled “The Truth About Ark,” which could be either an article or a video, that will answer questions like, “Is Ark Music Factory a SCAM?” and much more importantly, “Who is the black guy in all the videos?”

I’m not joking. That’s the top question on the teaser image.

But no matter how they slice it, Ark is making money off of well-financed parents willing to spend a lot in order to try to help their children become the next Miley Cyrus or Justin Beiber. I can’t imagine all of them are aware their money could be better spent elsewhere.

By making “Friday” such a hit, even if it’s for the wrong reasons, you are giving Ark tons of money to continue taking advantage of people, as well as nice big bullet points for their ad campaigns. “You can be the next viral video hit just like Rebecca Black, as seen on ‘Good Morning America’! Just give us thousands of dollars!”

Forbes estimates that $20,000 has been made by Ark and Black from YouTube views alone at this point, and who knows how much they’ll rake in from MP3 sales on Amazon and iTunes.

I understand the joy in making fun of things that are bad — I’ve seen “Manos: Hands of Fate” more times than I’d like to admit — but remember who you’re both hurting and supporting when you ironically buy that “Friday” ringtone.

Your money would be better spent helping Japan, or at least buying a calendar so Rebecca doesn’t have to tell you Sunday comes after Saturday.

Britton Peele

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Freelance video game critic for sites like GameSpot and GamesRadar. Amateur fantasy author.

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