By now, unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of how multi-instrumentalist Jered Threatin (real name: Jered Eames) managed to invest thousands into a fake online presence and book himself gigs and tours around Europe, playing to empty rooms and footing the bill himself for non-existent ticket sales.
The musician was initially rumbled by both the venues themselves reporting their loss of business, and some in-depth online analysis such as this one: https://www.sickchirpse.com/guy-paid-thousands-pounds-tour-uks-most-prestigious-venues-play-nobody, but what really has stuck out here is just how much this has grabbed people's attention- and may just be how musicians will consider how they present themselves in the future.
Consider the viral nature of the articles since the falsehoods and fake websites came to light. The artist himself has taken to Twitter, stating:
As both a musician and IT professional, this story has captured my attention for one reason. Whatever you may say about motives, all musicians want to be heard and talked about. This stunt, if you can call it that, has got people talking about Threatin in a way that most musicians can only dream of. Perhaps it is not as clear as it seems.
For starters, in this article, the hosting of websites that both promote Threatin and are fake promoters and labels, are registered to the same account. Well, that's an easy enough thing to hide in fact- most registrars have privacy options for domains and hosting to hide the account holder. Almost as if, he wanted people to investigate, and thus, find out that he was creating a persona that was at the time, false. Including, of course, music awards that do not exist, which is a simple enough thing to check for anyone.
What strikes me is that with this amount of funding, since bills have been settled with venues and session musicians, creating a more 'genuine' online web presence would be very simple indeed. I can easily create a professional website in about a day and do it regularly for musicians. Plus, let's also look at the way that the video comments on Youtube have been falsified - there are in fact services that will create genuine seeming accounts and comments for you if you feel you want to boost your views. Clearly, this is another obvious hole that could have very easily been filled, if you really want to appear genuine, you can do. This is not the case here.
Bands and musicians often overstate their popularity, be it via SoundCloud plays, paid adverts on Facebook and Google, and with paid reviews for their work. Genuine is a matter of perspective really. Negative press for music is often frowned upon, particularly in the arena of unsigned music. The music industry itself feeds thousands of pounds into aggressive campaigns for new singles and artists. So, is what Threatin did actually really a trick, to actually lead the press into this? And if so, how different is it really from any label pushing the latest boy or girl band on the public?
Time will tell on that. I have never met the man and can't state what his motives really are. But you have to hand it to him, without being signed he's created more media exposure than most signed artists manage even with label backing. Perhaps we are seeing a new business model emerge, where its fake until its real, and then was it really fake in the first place?
I for one hope that this is a one-off.