Industry plants: Sowing seeds in a culture of “counterfeits”

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Industry plants: Sowing seeds in a culture of “counterfeits”

Sam Mwakasisi, Editor-in-Chief

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“Industry plant”. It’s a term you may recognize from the hyper-speculative underbelly of modern music culture. It’s not one to be taken lightly, and it’s been hurled at more artists and been around far longer than you may realize. It’s enough to beg the question of what danger — or perhaps lack thereof — it has on the culture.

The clinical definition of an industry plant has seen its fair share of fluidity since the term’s introduction, but it’s essentially designated for artists with ostensibly independent and organic presences in music that are secretly getting behind-closed-doors advantages from the industry’s powers that be.

A lot of it is conditional; the term carries the modern connotation of applying to artists who reach spontaneous success out of nowhere and, as Rashid Parker of Affinity Magazine put it, “[are] granted a plethora of opportunities at their doors such as interviews by big music corporations and media coverage that a contemporary artist would probably not receive by a long shot.”

The full list of artists accused is too long to list here, and this is attributed to the term’s almost chameleon-like status. The “behind-closed-doors advantage” stipulation is vague enough to leave room for borderline-paranoid theorization over any artists’ upbringings.

As a result, Googling the name of any famous rapper or pop artist and suffixing it with “industry plant” will almost instantaneously throw you down a rabbit hole of forums, but interesting dynamics arise in some (in)famous examples.

With all that out of the way, what does the presence of industry plants mean for — and say about — the current state of music?

Firstly, there’s the potent danger of earnest up-and-comers getting caught in the crossfire, and a heavy risk of stomping out practical, non-disingenuous capitalizations on industry connections like, say, Kanye West getting his foot in the door of the hip-hop world through being a producer for Jay-Z.

What does it say about modern music if so many of its cultural spearheads are knee-deep in the same marsh of online allegation?

Even more so, what does it say about us as consumers?

Featured image courtesy of North Star News