Music Business Lessons From The Village People
Just saw Can't Stop the Music, which is the Village People's big screen debut...
What a great movie. Lots of inside jokes, a good "time capsule" of disco culture, and a great lesson on the music business.
The movie wasn't entirely true, but the Village People has been a business from Day One and there is plenty to learn from these guys.
For one, they started with a market and then put the band together. The first album, a self-titled EP, was recorded by studio musicians and made specifically for the gay audience and featured songs like "San Francisco" and "Fire Island."
When that took off, the "band" was put together...
And even though the Village People went on to mainstream success, they didn't forget who had given them their original break. You don't have to go too far to see plenty of gay references throughout their songs, album covers, image, or anything else the group is involved with.
The very first album I owned was 1978's Crusin'. I played it hundreds of times.
Years later, I asked my mother if she knew they were gay...
"Of course," she said.
Good to see Mom was on top of things. I'd hate to think she would miss that with songs like "I'm a Cruiser" and "My Roomate."
People did miss it though... The Daily Association used "Milk Shake" in its ad campaign and the US Navy used "In the Navy." At least for a little while...
The United States Navy considered using the Village People hit "In the Navy" in a recruiting advertising campaign on television and radio. They contacted Belolo, who decided to give the rights for free on the condition that the Navy help them shoot the music video. Less than a month later, The Village People arrived at the San Diego Naval base. The Navy provided them with a war ship, several airplanes, and hundreds of Navy men. When the video started showing and the Navy started the planned ad campaign, some newspapers protested using taxpayer money to fund music videos (especially for a group considered by some to be "morally dubious"). The Navy quickly cancelled the campaign. The scandal tremendously boosted the popularity of the song.
About the Author
David Hooper is the founder of Kathode Ray Music, an artist development organization specializing in promotion and marketing of independent musicians and bands. Visit http://WWW.MUSIC-TALENT-AGENCY.COM for more tips and hints for musicians, bands, and songwriters.