Tuesday, May 31, 2011

British Labels Propagandizing To Children

While the practice of the entertainment industry issuing propaganda to school children is certainly nothing new, every time I see it in practice I shiver involuntairly.  But when I came across a story from the BBC regarding a British label actually coming in to talk directly with high school kids about the many evils of piracy, a couple of questions leapt to mind.

But give the label credit for bringing along toys for the kids to play with this time.  They showed up with a bunch of their music-making equipment to let the kids have a go at producing their own tracks.  But even in this there was an ulterior motive.  They were hoping to show kids (KIDS!) how hard it is to actually make the music they listen to, which would then demonstrate all the many people that are involved in the process.  Why?

"Paul Shedden, Head of Label at Shed Records, explained the project is about raising awareness of the 'unseen' faces in the industry who rely on music sales for their livelihoods.  He said: 'A whole army of people work behind the scenes to bring you new, fresh music.  Everything from the songwriters through to production, artists, engineers, radio pluggers, PR companies all those people need to get paid.  Otherwise they can't continue doing the jobs they love and the music you love will stop coming out.'"

Okay, the first question here is the obvious one: how can the threat of disappearing music production be used when we see more music coming out than ever before?  Want to guess whether the label reps bothered to mention that to the kids?  In addition to that question, I wonder if they brought amongst their toys some of the amazing new technology that's come out which allows artists to do more of this work themselves, rather than rely on an "army" of other folks who "need" to get paid. 

But beyond that is the real question which is at the heart of why I have a problem with this kind of thing.  Why do we let corporate interests speak directly to our children about industry needs and policy?  And why aren't there representatives from opposite sides of the debate alongside them?

Would we let McDonalds come in to speak directly to our children about how they consume food?  Would we allow gun manufacturers to hold audience in the school auditorium for a quick Q&A on gun control laws without representatives from the opposite side of the debate?  Maybe we could get Larry Flynt to come in and hold court at a Saint Mary's School For Girls assembly on what types of jobs are best suited for women?

Or maybe schools should educate and leave industry out of the process entirely.  If I were a parent (which I'm not), I'd be more than a little itchy at the prospect of my kid's school bringing in corporations to teach our children. 

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