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Sililbil N’Brains Play The Music Industry – We ask is your ‘story’ more important than your music?

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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So you can’t fool the major labels, the big guns, the big daddies… well apparently not.

Scottish rappers Silibil N’ Brains have recently released a film detailing probably one of the best cons the music industry has seen and it was all down to them. If we go back a few years when two ambitious Scottish rappers wanted to make it big however due to being turned down because of their thick Scottish accents and barely being able to make it past their local Scottish scene they looked at the successful rappers out there and thought; right, let’s become American.

So the story goes the duo claimed to Sony that they were two Californians who had recently toured the world and personally knew groups like D12. They were found in East London by Sony and the story worked. During this time they saw it all. They partied with Madonna, appeared on Popworld and had AAA passes at The Brits. They were a priority act and set for big things.

The duo kept up the accent permanently to their label, manager, friends & even girlfriends. But with every great act there is always the time approaching to draw the curtains. Eventually everything hit home. The drugs, booze and lying caught up with the duo.

Gavin: “After six months of playing a character and getting success, you start to forget who you really are. I’d see a picture of my parents and think: “I’m not their son anymore.” We worked so hard at making these addictive characters that we became addicted to them“

As a result of this the duo stopped talking to each other and became paranoid and depressed. Eventually Billy got in his car and drove back to Dundee and they barely spoke for a whole 10 years.  In September of this year however the duo reunited and told their story in ‘The Great Hip Hop Hoax’ and are making music again, naturally!

Now what intrigues me the most are two things:

How did Sony not see through this?

Is an artist’s image/background more important than talent these days?

The duo had the talent that Sony wanted but they wouldn’t have even considered them if they knew they were Scottish and not from California. Their ‘story’ was their trump card, not their talent. To me this paints a very bleak picture of the music industry.

A good story is great to help the profile of an artist/band and can help to appeal to audiences whether it is through their ‘cool’ image or their emotional heartbreaking story that brought them to where they are today. In marketing it is one of the main things that you must have; the press need something to go on! But when this means the difference between getting a record deal or not I believe this is something to be concerned about. When it comes down to it we are an industry about MUSIC.  That is our main product. Image/story should be a contributing factor and not a crucial factor to an artist’s success. Not every musician out there is going to have the most interesting story or badass image that sets them apart from everyone else but their music, that’s what sets them apart.

A great example of where the artist’s story and image is heavily played upon is talent TV shows. The X Factor is a great culprit for this. Notice they always show an in depth story to the shows best auditioning acts? They want to grab you with their story first and make you like them even before they’ve opened their mouths. Sadly it is true. Appeal to an audience’s hearts and you’re more likely to get their vote whether it is through idolisation, pity, intrigue or sadness. You can usually tell who is going to do well in a competition like this.

We all like a good story but surely this shouldn’t be the deciding factor about an artist’s career?

So I ask you. Is the image/story of an artist more important these days as opposed to an artist’s music/talent to gain success? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and please share/tweet about!

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