2011 was a great year for music, and when I say it was a great year, I mean it was awesome because all of the modern late 2012 artists invading today’s radio had their breakout year in 2011.
Ah yes, breaking mainstream: the dream of all aspiring musicians who want to become rockstars. It is an accomplishment where all the blood, sweat, and tears of constant touring, recording, and promotion culminate into fame and fortune: that is when you realize that you’re a rockstar who deserves the title. If you asked me who was the biggest rockstar of 2011, my answer would be :
Now to be fair, I don’t know Rebecca Black personally. I don’t even know where she lives, and I’m sure a lot of people want to know so they can make more death threats. I’m not here to rag on Rebecca Black at all because I don’t want to upset big Katy; and honestly I don’t have anything against her at all. I’m here to take some playful jabs at the production company that creates tons of kid pop-stars like toys in a factory (I’m so punny.) I realize that this particular Youtube sensation is of old news, but I was surprised how many people did not know about the company that created (and still continues to create) this brand of “artists.” (If you don’t believe me saying it still happens, skip to the end of this blog post to find out the recent sensation…)
In case you didn’t get the memo, this production company is also known as Ark Music Factory. They’re a Los Angeles based music production company that basically accepts a sum of money, reportedly between $2,000 to $4,000, from parents who have aspiring and beautiful children and can’t wait for their kids to become little child pop stars so everyone at school wants their autograph. The package includes image consulting, photo shoots, a music video, and promotion. While it is listed as a composition and production company, it “acts” as if it were the kid artist’s record label in day to day work.
What are the perks? Well, lets go back one year to Rebecca Black’s hit “Friday.” Multiple videos of the song have been put up onto Youtube, and each one has gotten at least eight figures for views. Let’s also not forget that it actually had a lot of momentum on iTunes: it broke a million downloads online in early 2011 while having an unfixed-yet-existant position on the billboard charts for downloads. With all this success, everything should be easy, right?
It sounds like it would be until Black had legality issues with the company over ownership of the songs and its profits. Turns out that it’s pretty tough to get the masters and the publishing rights to a song you didn’t even write nor have control over its promotion. In fact, Ark’s current policy retains that they now keep all of the publishing rights as well as profits that come from it in exchange for giving the artist ownership of the master recording.
But now you ask me, “Nishad, who is the diabolical mastermind behind this evil establishment?” Well the genius behind all this happens to be…
Meet Patrice Wilson, the CEO of Ark Music Factory as well as working as one of its primary songwriters, at one point alongside business and music partner Clarence Jey. Patrice Wilson founded Ark in Los Angeles in the year 2010. Along with working as the company CEO, writing the lyrics to these songs, and promoting the artists, he also is infamous for his cliche cameos in each of these kids’ music videos: usually as either an actor cameo or a rapping feature in the song itself.
To be honest, if Ark Music Factory didn’t seem like an exploit, I’d actually really have a lot of respect for the guy. He did not grow up in the United States and actually went to school in Europe before realizing that music was his passion; and now he’s worked his way to Los Angeles in an attempt to give these kids an opportunity to play music since he didn’t really have one when he was younger. He insists that he “just wants to help make these kids’ dreams come true on some level” and that he’s “not trying to exploit anyone.”
I’d almost believe it except company partner Clarence Jey left the company citing that Patrice blocked him from using the company website during a possible lawsuit with Rebecca Black. Jey also happens to no longer be a part of Ark. Whoops.
To the parents of these children: Why not just pay to ship them off to the North Pole if you’re in the mood to make decisions that could scar them for life? They’d at least get a chance to find out that Santa Claus isn’t real and learn something from such a trip. Hell, have you seen How I Met Your Mother? I don’t think women in their late 20’s will be excited to tell everyone about their somewhat embarrassing past as a corny music act.
I’ll have you know that it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to enjoy these videos. So hey, if you’re an aspiring parent and you’ve got some extra cash to burn on something that isn’t an investment in remodeling part of your house (or music school, hah! I crack myself up), Ark Music Factory is the place to make your kids’ dreams come true! Just remember, they’ll be recognized instantly in public and have lots of fame! After all, theres no such thing as bad publicity! Right? Right?!
I’ll leave you with Ark Music Factory’s most recent smash hit: You’ll never enjoy Thanksgiving in America the same way ever again.