Media – Gaga and Audience Study
Media – Gaga and Audience Study
Lady Gaga is beyond just a modern pop star; she is a product as well. From literally selling singles, albums and concert tickets, Lady Gaga is also selling herself as a brand. She is a media construct who is artificial and created for a specific target audience in the effort for the maximum commercial gain. Her ‘Little Monsters’ are the ‘buyers’ in the product and purchaser relationship and they not only buy into the idea of her as an artist but also as an icon and a brand. Her brand and image is established in several ways through her design including how she portrays herself as a modern pop package and her personality.
She spreads awareness of herself through market and promotion including social media and music videos in order to maintain a convincing relationship to her fans. There are three main parties involved with this relationship Gaga has with her fans. First of all, her record label, Interscope who signed her in 2007 are part of a conglomerate, Universal Music hence they have identified her as a way to make a financial return on their investment and look to benefit from this relationship financially. Secondly, Lady Gaga is another party in this relationship.
She also similarly benefits financially as well as being able to live her dream and passion of music or at least that is hat she is trying to portray. Lastly, her ‘Little Monsters’ are the last party involved. Made up predominately of teenagers to mid 30’s and also the gay community, they benefit from contributing to her success and ultimately finding joy and happiness from this. The main aim of the relationship is to maximise the commercial success from increasing sales of her physical products. Her design is a way in which Lady Gaga endeavours to establish and maintain a relationship with her audience.
Two main aspects of her design include how she is a modern pop package and her personality while others include her look, religious cult figure and her name. A modern pop package refers to how Gaga produces music within the pop bracket but also how she follows international and local trends in terms of fashion or technology. This is an effective way for Gaga to create the relationship with her audience because of several benefits of a modern pop package. Firstly, pop music reaches out to a large audience not only on Top 40 music stations but in mainstream media in general.
As a result there is an increase in appeal from a wider audience allowing the relationship to occur on a wider scale. Secondly, because the target age demographic for pop music would be the 15-35 age group and they have the most income available to spend on entertainment, she is able to maximise sales hence financial return for herself and her record label. In general pop music refers to music that deals with typical topics like love or fame or having fun. Gaga’s debut single, ‘Just Dance’ is an example of her work to show how she fits into this genre of music.
It speaks about being free, having a good time reinforcing this idea that pop music is usually made for listening ple asure as opposed to real craft or message sending and ‘Just Dance’ certainly fits into the category. An increasing part of a modern pop package is appealing genuine and authentic to their fans and ensuring them that the relationship is genuine. Personality is another aspect of her design that enables Gaga to have a relationship with her fans. Her personality refers to her portrayal of herself to be genuine and that she really cares about her fans.
The way in which she advocates difference is a main method in which she does this. This allows her to develop the relationship because by making individuals feel included and important, fans then feel that they need to repay her by giving her unconditional support. Examples of this would be at her concert in Auckland where she sings Happy Birthday to one of her fans, Minisha. She took the effort to learn the correct pronunciation of her name and this shows the audience how she really cares about them individually.
Another example would be when Gaga ask the girls, “How short are your skirts? ” This again allows hr to develop the relationship by making her fans believe that she is genuine and different from other pop stars and they consequently buy into the idea of how she the perfect pop star and role model that they should support. Her design comes with several implications. Firstly, there are contrary messages from Gaga as a result of being in the modern pop bracket. While she preaches difference and the positive of being unique and different, she herself produces modern pop music.
This causes a contradiction in her image and raises the idea that difference is okay if you’re still in the main bracket or if Lady Gaga says so. Another example of where this had occurred would be when a source quoted that “Gaga slams Adele all the time, even calling her a fat cow”. Adele is a modern day artist that literally promotes difference, as she is evidently larger than most other pop stars today. This may raise the idea that Gaga is becoming threatening by Adele due to the similarity in advocating difference and may be what is developing into commercial envy.
Overall this implication is reflecting on Gaga’s fans because it shows that even though she advocates difference, it really doesn’t mean huge difference, just enough to appear different with the aim of financially capitalising on this idea. The way in which is advocating different also raises an implication on the music industry as a whole. It is a well known fact that unless an artist is expected to make money for the record label, they won’t be signed.
This raises how they have formulas, which have proved successful in the past, and therefore how Gaga must fit into this formula This is further implications on the music industry as a whole as well. Because Gaga’s success has proven that the formula works, more and more acts are conforming to this idea of utilising a brand image of appearing different for commercial success. Another example would be One Direction. Similar to Gaga, they are also a product in the way that they are in the business of selling not only their music but also her image with a consumer driven formula.
They claim to be “different from boybands past” but it is evident they have the same boy band pop music with a human driven personality similar to the likes of Backstreet Boys etc. This shows how modern day music is about trivial differences that are clearly not that much different and as long as management companies portray the image of the likes of Gaga and One Direction that they are different then the fans will believe it despite them all following the same money making formula that is truly tested throughout the years. The use of this formula raises the issue of longevity.
When there is an increase in the use of the difference idea, there becomes a slight problem of repetition. If too many stars consistently advocate difference then in comparison the idea of difference doesn’t become as ground breaking and instead the new normal. Consequently, the press and also her audience may become bored of this idea of difference leading to a decline in popularity. As well as this, it again raises what the future may hold for the music industry.
If teenagers are growing up yearning to be different yet the same as their idols it shows that how in the future we may e moving to an even more on sided one dimension celebrity culture where everyone is essentially the same yet trivially different to everyone else. Examples can be seen through the latest artists created through the X Factor USA especially in the Girl’s category. Similarities have been spotted between Cece Frey and Ke$ha. The way in which she is creating an animal branding to herself is incredibly similar to Ke$ha when she first began. This creates the allusion that Cece is different to her counterparts where in fact she is not as she still sings mainstream music.
Gaga is known to be one of the acts to lead the way in this brand and cult establishment for fans and since her success, the X Factor is one of the singing talent shows which have followed her in doing the same thing to their contestants. A contestant with a sob story is more likely to do better than say a contestant with a quality voice. By having a story behind them, contestants can engage with their audiences and manipulate their emotions leading to them becoming more relatable to their audience.
This raises how the music industry has become less about the music and rather the personality attached to it showing how it has evolved. A whole package is what budding artists need to be rather than just having the voice and in the future, people with real talent will be less represented. * Marketing and promotion is a way in which Lady Gaga spreads awareness of her design to establish and maintain the relationship she had with her fans. She achieves this in two main ways including social media and music videos, other ways are concerts, publicity stunts, merchandise and albums.
Firstly modern day pop stars because of its accessibility and also how it allows direct contact between celebrities and their fans use social media widely. Twitter is a medium, which Gaga uses frequently. She was the first user to reach 10 million followers in May 2010 and had consistently been the top most viewed profile on the website. Despite sending on average 2 tweets a day, “Goodnight little monsters” is an example of a tweet which enables her to maintain this important relationship she had with her fans. Tweets like this make her fans believe they are part of her life and also that she cares about them.
Consequently, fans feel special and buy into the idea of supporting her. Now, especially with the feature of Twitter with the ability to send tweets straight to mobile phones, a close bond between her and her fans is established because it makes them believe she is talking to the specially. As well as Twitter, her website is a way in which she targets her fanbase alone. It is by invite only, which is significant because it makes fans feel part of her inner circle and therefore increasing the closeness fans feel of the relationship.
Also because she targets those who are different and on the fringe of society, and therefore presumed to be not included, by including them she is making sure that they feel included. She plays on the insecurity in everyone in that we have a desire to be included and therefore develops the idea she cares for the genuinely and in return should support her. Music videos are another way Gaga develops a relationship with her fans. Her music video for Telephone is a great example. 9 minutes in length, it had multiple occasions of product placement such as Wonder White Bread or HP Computers.
Both of these features increase the views of her video and therefore awareness of her because it is different. The more views a music video has the more likely it will appear as a promoted video. This attracts more people that are not necessarily in her fanbase already and allows for more people to become her fans. Particularly the product placement, which turns her video into a game where people spot the different brands, views and awareness, is definitely achieved. Though product placement has a direct link to a profit motive, it also helps Gaga to develop a relationship with her fans.
By promoting certain brands, her fans are more inclined to purchase them as they feel if they do they are better fans or similar to Gaga as they consume and like the same products. Meanwhile, those companies as well as Gaga are further benefiting financially from it. As well as that because her music videos are usually released to her website first rather than the likes of MTV. She is further improving the relationship because she is showing them that she really cares about them and is therefore rewarding their support with something tangible before the rest of the world.
There are again several implications from her marketing and promotion. Firstly, the idea of social media pacing the way for a false relationship between idols and their fans has its own implication. The idea that an idol will reply to your tweets can be likened to a carrot analogy. The accessibility of social networking sites makes fans believe that one day they will notice them, if not today then tomorrow or the next day. This creates a false perception of the relationship fans have with Gaga. In the meantime, by using social networking sites they are freely promoting Gaga as a brand and as a product.
Therefore it shows how Gaga is the one benefiting form the use of social networking financially where as the fans are being taken advantage of due to their free publicity for her. What used to be the job of management companies and what they had to pay thousands for in the past can now be done for free by her fans. Additionally, social media fosters the idea that pop stars are working for them. This is because when artists leak things like album artwork, or snippets of new songs, they automatically get feedback on social networking sites without directly asking for it and make changes accordingly.
As a result, fans believe that their artist work to please them and because they are so wrapped up in the idea of them they ignore the real purpose behind the changes which is to increase sales and financial return for her record label and herself leading to manipulation of the trust between Gaga and her fans. Other pop acts such as Justin Bieber and One Direction use them in similar ways. Furthermore, there are social worries attached to this use of social media. There is a distortion of the idea that teenagers actually have this connection with their idols where in fact they haven’t.
There then becomes a dependency of them on their idols with some fans even going as far as saying “Gaga saved my life” or similar claims. This is an issue due to the impacts this could have on them if their idol was to not be in the industry anymore. Besides other artists utilising social media for promotion and marketing of themselves, businesses have also followed Gaga in this way. Large businesses in New Zealand from banks such as ASB with 6300 followers to Vodafone with over 23 and a half thousand followers are beginning to capitalise on the use of social media for business also.
E-commerce has become a huge part of business and more and more companies are aiming to create the relationship with their audience and target markets through these social media outlets in the effort to become more relatable and ultimately earn more sales from it. A issue becomes prominent as society becomes too over exposed to commercialisation and it becomes less about the product itself but how it’s sold to us sways whether we purchase it or not. Music videos also have their own implications.
As said in an article by Jezbel. com, “If anything, he video simply amplifies what music videos have been all along: a giant commercial for an artist to sell records with” and this is more than true with Gaga but as well as selling music, music videos are also helping he sell concert tickets. Concerts are where the majority of the money is made in the modern industry due to the increase in piracy. Consequently, her music videos become promotion to her concerts and activitely act as a preview of what you can expect from her concert. An example would be the costume changes throughout her video for telephone. She changes from a telephone headpiece to a leopard print leotard.
The multiple costume changes not only put into practice what she preaches but it becomes a preview of what fans can expect from her concerts which is excessive costume changes. This ultimately shows how the more physical products music artists make, the more they are just trying to increase their sales of other things in the effort to earn more money from their fans. The same conclusion could then be drawn from the latest thing of having lyric videos for singles could just be an encouragement for fans to purchase something else to increase the commercial success for artists and their labels.
This raises a more significant implication of how more and more mediums are being created for fans to buy into and the impulsive buying from fans are further increasing the profits made from Gaga as a brand. Fans tend to buy merchandise and anything with their idols on them in the effort to prove they are the biggest fans and again like music, they are tangible things in which artists sell and no doubt contributed to Gaga’s $90 million dollar profit last year (according to Forbes).
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 November 2016
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