In order to understand the relationship between the music industry and its audiences, it is important to consider the roles of music stars
The term ‘star’ refers to the semi-mythological set of meanings constructed around music performers in order to sell the performer to a large and loyal audience
Some common values of music stardom
An anti-authoritarian attitude
A disregard for social values relating to drugs, sex and polite behaviour
Conspicuous consumption, of sex, drugs and material goods
Success against the odds
Dyer has written extensively about the role of stars in film, TV and music.
Irrespective of the medium, stars have some key features in common:
A star is an image, not a real person, that is constructed (as any other aspect of fiction is) out of a range of materials (eg advertising, magazines etc as well as films [ music ])
Stars are commodities produced and consumed on the strength of their meanings.
Stars depend upon a range of subsidiary media – magazines, TV, radio, the internet – in order to construct an image for themselves which can be marketed to their target audiences.
The star image is made up of a range of meanings which are attractive to the target audiences
Fundamentally, the star image is incoherent, that is incomplete and ‘open’. Dyer says that this is because it is based upon two key paradoxes.
The star must be simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary for the consumer
The star must be simultaneously present and absent for the consumer
The Star Image
The incoherence of the star image ensures that audiences continually strive to ‘complete’ or to ‘make sense of’ of the image.
This is achieved by continued consumption of the star through his or her products.
In the music industry, performance seems to promise the completion of the image, but it is always ultimately unsatisfying.
This means that fans will go away determined to continue consuming the star in order to carry on attempting to complete their image
The Star Image
Finally, the star image can be used to position the consumer in relation to dominant social values (that is hegemony).
Depending upon the artist, this may mean that the audience are positioned against the mainstream (though only to a limited degree, since they are still consumers within a capitalist system) or within the mainstream, or somewhere in between
The Star Image
“ In these terms it can be argued that stars are representations of persons which reinforce, legitimate or occasionally alter the prevalent preconceptions of what it is to be a human being in this society. There is a good deal at stake in such conceptions. On the one hand, our society stresses what makes them like others in the social group/class/gender to which they belong. This individualising stress involves a separation of the person's "self" from his/her social "roles", and hence poses the individual against society. On the other hand society suggests that certain norms of behaviour are appropriate to given groups of people, which many people in such groups would now wish to contest (eg the struggles over representation of blacks, women and gays in recent years). Stars are one of the ways in which conceptions of such persons are promulgated.”