Saturday, March 15, 2008

How a Hit Single is Made!

I may have to rethink that question about how parents might react if Ashley Alexandra Dupré were invited to participate in a high school "Career Night." At least that was my initial reaction after reading the first paragraph of Rachel Sklar's latest Eat the Press column for The Huffington Post this morning:

When do you go from an aspiring singer to a successful one? Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the high-priced call girl at the center of the scandal that felled New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, may just have crossed that threshold — if the answer is "when you make a million dollars off your music." Since her identity was revealed on the New York Times website on Wednesday evening, the singer/lady-of-the-night formerly known as "Kristen" has seen her two singles downloaded off the internet music site Amie Street Music reportedly over two million times — which means that she's pulled in approximately $1.4 million in two days off her two songs, thanks to the Amie Street business model, which nets artists 70% of their online proceeds. That nets her 69 cents per sale. Yes, really.

Nevertheless, while there is no doubt that Dupré has suddenly been very successful (there is more in Sklar's column) and I am willing to grant that she is a singer, this does not necessarily qualify her for the noun phrase "successful singer!" Those singles are being downloaded more in the spirit of the dog walking on its hind legs. In the wake of the ballyhoo that the media have revved up over the fall of Spitzer, any "artifact" (to invoke anthropology-speak) related to this "affair" (to invoke a double entendre) has value; and I am not surprised that there are two million folks out there for which the one-buck price of a download would be a "steal" for acquiring this particular valuable artifact. Indeed, ever since Apple ran those "What have you got on your PowerBook?" ads in the Nineties, we have become a culture more fascinated by an artifact stored in a digital memory than we used to be with Eskimo carvings on the coffee table.

It is interesting to view this "success story" through the lens of Andy Warhol's too-often-quoted adage. Dupré has now had her fifteen minutes of fame. What Warhol could not have anticipated was that there would be an Internet through which she could net $1.4 million during those fifteen minutes! With proper financial management, Dupré will not have to worry about fame any more!

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