Fake Female Me is Busted

By JoCo September 6, 2007

My father-in-law (of all people, no offense W) clued me into this WSJ article about Marie Digby, an artist who just got clotheslined by the thin line between grassroots and astroturf. Her PR is all about how she’s a YouTube phenomenon who got discovered by the internet and then signed by a label, but in actuality the label signed her 18 months ago and engineered the internet success.

This is a tricky thing – after reading a bunch of comments in the little comment space on her site (“Liar, cheat, fraud!”) I feel kind of bad for her, my snarky post subject notwithstanding. Yes, I think it’s a little shady, and as an Authentic Internet Superstar (TM) I’m a little annoyed. But I can see how it would happen – the label obviously understands that being a breakout internet hit generates press of its own, music aside. They come up with a strategy to release some home-made looking videos, soft pedal the whole label thing and she plays along. And of course you can’t make this stuff happen without the music actually being good enough for people to like it, so all the internet buzz was quite real in a way – many of her fans really did find her on YouTube, and they probably really did like her music.

Also annoying but not surprising is the willingness of the media to push the spin even though they know it’s not true. Radio station KYSR and the Carson Daly show both presented her as an internet-made success even though they booked her through the record label. But of course, that’s how that part of the machine works too – anybody who’s writing an article, doing an interview, introducing a music guest likes it better when there’s an interesting story. And again, she kind of was an internet-made success, it’s just that the label bought her the laptop and told her to do it.

I’m familiar with how tempting it is to let the spin overtake the reality – for instance, I tend not to lead with the facts that a few of the Thing a Week songs were covers, a couple were not written the week they were recorded, and that I failed to post anything on two Fridays over the course of the year. When I do press, the interviewer frequently describes Thing a Week with the phrase “…wrote a new song every week…” and I try to remember to correct them without destroying the flow by saying something like “…recorded a new song every week…” And then I cringe inside about the two lost weeks and the lie of omission. But really, nobody who’s doing an interview wants the purity of the story to get screwed up with these minor details, so I always feel the pressure to play along, and usually do.

Even the idea of being an independent musician is a little fuzzy for me. These days I’ve got a booking agent, a manager, a PR firm, a talent agent. Granted, they all came after I had generated a good bit of success on my own, but how far along this curve do I get to go and still say I’m an “independent musician?” Do I just mean “not signed to a label?” If I ever did sign with a label (I could still be convinced there were good reasons to do such a thing), surely they’d want me to keep doing all this fan interaction and internet stuff – but does all that then become completely corrupt? And I’m not fishing for reassurances here, it’s just that sometimes it’s hard not to see success as a kind of creeping inauthenticity.

The saddest thing of all is that she obviously could have done this all by herself without the label and avoided all this hullabaloo. And for that, they are my least favorite people in this story. Really guys? That’s your plan? Buy her a web cam and tell her to use YouTube? How much money did she pay you for that advice?

Comments

Brett says

The hard part won't be the money she has given up to the record companies, it will be the little bit of her soul she had to give away. You just talked about it eating you up a bit when you skipped two weeks of a self driven project, imagine the hit she is going to feel when someone calls her an internet phenom. I don't mind artists promotions, whether from the artist directly or even from a record company, but nobody likes to feel like they got taken. Now a bunch of her fans feel like rubes. Is that a good thing for her?

patrick says

out of curiosity, what does a label do that the people you list (booking agent, a manager, a PR firm, a talent agent) don't do? Now that most people are buying music on the internet who needs labels to get your CDs to retailers? For me, I first heard you on NPR (from there I went to the website, listened to the music, and bought what I wanted). So whomever got you that exposure is all you need. That and the blog which keeps me coming back.

Glenn says

The worst thing about this is that it casts doubt on my own existence. I'm pretty sure I'm real, but those photographs of you and I together could have been doctored -- I'm not evne looking at the camera in half of them!

All very suspicious, but I can't start doubting myself now.

Neil says

It's a tough call, really. Some musicians, even really GOOD ones, lack the confidence or knowledge to pull it all together on their own. My brother's a musician, and a pretty good one, working with the likes of Bowie, Estefan, Lavigne... but put him in front of a computer and say, "go out on the net and create some buzz about your own work, " and I'd be liable to come back in a month with him still trying to figure out where the on switch is.

Add to that uncertainty the simple lack of experience young musicians often have, not knowing whom to trust, or who might make a good editor, or which of the two hundred people that have come up and dropped off business cards at your latest show might make a producer that will give you honest feedback about your work and won't just railroad you for few bucks.

It becomes all too seductive, and often incredibly practical, to let someone experienced do it for you. And once you've started down that road, you've signed the contracts that say you'll trust their promotional efforts and you'll comply with their self-promotional clauses, and then where are you? You're stuck sleazing yourself in whatever fashion they have decided is best.

Marie's talent is obvious. She plays well. She sings well. She may even write songs well, although I daresay MOST of what I've heard from her have been covers and one begins to suspect everything if part of her background is exposed as false. And that's the danger. The danger is she goes from hit to Milli Vanilli joke in less time than it takes to write this comment. And suddenly, all her talent means nothing.

CarrieP says

What bothers me the most about this situation is the collusion of the radio stations and media. Yeah, the artist was somewhat responsible in how her image was crafted, but then again, she's only 24. Not a babe in a basket, I know, but not a grizzled music veteran, either.

I think that her music should still stand for itself, regardless of how it was presented, and hopefully her songs are good enough that she'll be able to start a decent career despite all this hubub.

If anything, it is a teachable moment regarding critical thinking. This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last, that viral marketing is co-opted by mainstream industry.

Mac “virus”; Normal lenses; Generous Pavarotti; Fake internet star; Kottke’s back; Hard truths about meetings | 43 Folders says

[...] Jonathan Coulton: Fake Female Me is Busted - JoCo reports on a makebelieve internet sensation who had actually been signed by a label all along. Blechy. “The saddest thing of all is that she could have done this all by herself without the label and avoided all this negative reaction.” [...]

Scott Frazer says

Well, I'm taking the same path to stardom. No one's going to be searching for Scott Frazer on YouTube either, but when they search for "jonathan coulton re your brains" there I am, down near the bottom of the second page of results! Internet fandom is mere moments away for me! I can already taste it! I even used a mac laptop with iMovie!

P.S. If you watch that video and subject yourself to my singing, I claim no responsibility for feelings of nausea that may overcome you.

Elisa says

If there's one thing that the labels don't get (and who am I kidding - there's alot of things they don't get) is that the power of grassroots internet marketing is about giving consumers the power to make their own discoveries. Never before in advertising has the consumer - especially the young consumer - been so aware and wary of organized, big box marketing efforts. 10 years ago we expected that the only way to hear about new music was through the mainstream, corporate-owned entities of labels and radio. Now there are so many more outlets to hear new music (maybe TOO many - but that's a different topic.) But you can't force it - and with the new transparency of the internet, you can't lie about it. That was their big mistake.

Glenn says

Elisa -- I think they do get the power of grassroots marketing, they just want to OWN it.

And I don't blame artists for wanting to sign up and getting the marketing powr of a label behind them, it's the deception of all this, particularly on the part of the label and the radio/MTV that really frosts my muffins.

Stacey Leggieri says

Well, here's the irony. The day you stop worrying about whether you're being authentic... THAT'S the day you should start worrying.

Yes, Mr. Coulton, you too can be an oxymoron. But please don't. We like you just the way you are. :)

Spiff says

It may be annoying to be tricked, but who are we kidding? All publicity is good publicity, and the fact that we're talking about her only improves her chances of making a sale. Apparently she's good, which means that however people hear of her, they're likely to stick around and buy something. So say what you want, but looks to me like she did the right thing.

I don't recally LonelyGirl15 being suddenly cast out by all her "fans" either.

InfoMofo says

I think the big reveal is going to be that JoCo's fan-made World of Warcraft music videos are actually done by Pixar...

You heard it here first.

Eric Ginsberg says

In your defense, those two weeks you took off had good reasons. The first was Thanksgiving. Dude, shit happens. And the second, you flat out told us a week ahead of time that you were taking a vacation with the fam. Not only that, but when you went on vacation, you got slash-dotted for Code Monkey that was already in its second week and would have been burried if you hadn't gone on vacation...and though Baby Got Back and a few memorable others caused serious spikes, I doubt you'd be where you are today had it not been for Code Monkey and, to some extent, the fact that you gave it an extra week to simmer.

Rafe says

I'm a musician, 22, and I am trying to manage this friend of mine who is a singer songwriter who's really awesome. Basically, I mainly want to do internet stuff with her, put her on youtube, all that stuff. She would never do this herself if I didn't convince her to. Does that mean she's a sellout? She has a manager, even though its just me who doesn't have any previous success or anything. Well, let me know what you guys think.

Also, good idea or bad idea, putting your myspace at the bottom of your posts whenever you post. On the one hand, people may come to your myspace, but on the other hand it feels a little sleezy. Let me know what you think of that also.

Rafe
Not telling you my myspace out of fear that it is sleezy

Danno says

I don't really get it. Does her music suck any more or less if she was crafted by a label or not?

Elisa says

Glenn - they just WANT to own it. But they can't, because the very nature of word of mouth marketing is that it isn't owned. The labels aren't used to not owning the gates, so they try to manufacture a "grassroots" effort, only to piss people off.

Rafe - there's absolutely nothing wrong with helping someone with their career. The problem with the Marie Digby story was that she was all "ohmygod, I just put a video up on YouTube and suddenly I'm an Internet star!" when obviously there was quite a big machine behind her.

Janet says

There are other differences between JoCo (and the JoCo phenomenon) and this girl. There's a whole classic career path open to pretty young things, and the feminist in me regrets having to say that it involves dressing the part and counting on guys with drive to drive your car, I mean career for you. If the WSJ article's quote "you truely have talent! get urself out there...if u really wanted im positive u could land some sick record deals!! id buy a CD 4 sure!" accurately represents this girl's fan base, I'd be surprised if there were a whole lot more to her than her shiny pretty surface.

Brad O'Farrell says

Eh I don't really dig her music, and I'd dig yours as much even if it were pieced together in a board room or am unlikely concoction of an infinite number of monkeys banging on sound boards. Art should be able to exist without the artist. I'm going to be a tool and quote a cartoon, but it's like the point of Ratatouille, "A good chef can come from anywhere." As long as the output is good same, it doesn't matter what he details with the creator are.

That said, this is wrong for a different reason. Its wrong because it's creating false dreams for other aspiring artists. Just like how a lot of people start video blogging so that they to could one day be like lonelygirl15, I'm sure this girl inspired some people started doing what this girl with hopes of getting a big break to. But when the big breaks are given in advance and only further bait doomed attempts by others... Well, no sir, I don't like that. Record companies should spend 30 minutes combing youtube and find a real grass roots artist if they want to sell albums with a success story, manufacturing one is just... shady.

Lindsay says

In response to Danno:

I think it's more about the fact that we already know big record companies can produce music that people will listen to - but we're tired of pre-packaged products being thrust upon us, because we can see the puppet strings pulling them around. I find myself much more impressed if I *know* the creativity and talent is genuinely coming from the musician, and that they're not having their music tweaked and prodded by sound engineers at the direction of some record exec. Anyone can sing into a mic and have it re-engineered and pitch-corrected etc to sound halfway decent. It feels dirty to find out that the person you were so impressed by was just another product of the same music-machine as the rest.

JoCo, I think this is why you ARE so refreshing - because not only do we know the music is yours (and even the covers have that je ne sais quoi that we love so much about your music - don't ever feel guilty for those!), but I get the feeling that if you ever were to work with a label that you'd maintain that control and wouldn't allow them to bastardize your music, or your integrity as an artist.

Jeremiah says

There is no such thing as an "independent artist." The phrase is a contradiction in terms.

Artists depend on dozens of people in their immediate circle to get through their day to day lives: friends who pick them up from the airport, drive them to gigs, give them food, negotiate their contracts, handle personal security, etc, etc, etc.

patrice says

Glenn Says: "And I don’t blame artists for wanting to sign up and getting the marketing powr of a label behind them, it’s the deception of all this, particularly on the part of the label and the radio/MTV that really frosts my muffins."

I know what you mean, but shouldn't all musicians have understood by now that labels are only here to make a buck out of you? Artist development is no longer their agenda.

As one of my (music) mentors used to say: "Music used to be a science, now it is nothing but showbiz." Amen.

mike says

This whole episode reminds me of the UK artist Sandi Thom. Same story, different year. She was proclaimed and internet-born star, gained lots of hype, then was exposed -- it turned out a label had signed her a year before, and the huge spikes in internet traffic occurred AFTER press releases were sent out saying she was receiving huge spikes in traffic. :)

That said, her music was decent, she had a solid single that entered a few charts, and I believe she's still around. I'd bet that for most artists, the ends would justify the means in a similar case...as sketchy as the path taken seems to be. All PR has a certain amount of spin to it, I guess...

Nick says

I think its called music "business" for a reason and no matter how true you stay to the music you have to do some things to make a descent career out of it. Thats kinda just how it is. Even bands like Tool who write songs about how evil record labels and executive producers can be are signed to a label. because they're probably aware of the fact that there would be no career in it if it wasn't for the fact that they were signed to a label that set up shows for them and they did interviews and whatever else they might do to get their name out there. So i don't think any musician should feel bad or like a sell out for signing to a label because there are supposed to be there to help you out. Its to bad a lot of them are money-grubbing ***holes. I guess what i'm trying to say is that you shouldn't feel bad for having a manager or someone who sets up interviews for or whatnot because what you did is still quite an accomplishment and actually very inspiring. Anyway theres my two cents. =)

Sage says

Elisa said, "If there’s one thing that the labels don’t get (and who am I kidding - there’s alot of things they don’t get) is that the power of grassroots internet marketing is about giving consumers the power to make their own discoveries."

Right on Elisa!! Well said. *thumbsup*

Marco Raaphorst » Blog Archive » Fakers says

[...] bleek fake te zijn. Marié Digby is de nieuwe faker (bron 1 - bron 2). Oude media technieken op internet toegepast. Uit de serie ‘Hoe klei ik een [...]

MikeJ says

Patrick asks what a label can do for you that you can't do on your own. They can loan you massive amounts of money, and will try to get you to take waaay too much at every turn. Why cut an album for $10k when you can spend $500k?

Of course then you have to pay them back, but it doesn't come off the top. It all comes out of your end of the money, which is smaller than theirs to begin with. Of course the label's answer to selling enough to pay them back is to spend more on promotion, which will also come out of your end.

The absolute nicest way to describe a record label is to say they're sort of like a bank. A bank that would be shut down and have it's directors imprisoned for usury and an unending string of RICO violations.

Dustin says

This reminds me of when I discovered old Black Eyed Peas. Before they got Fergie and were basically just in Brazil they were freaking awesome. Just amazing. But they were awesome independently for a REALLY Long time. I'm sure they were sick of being poor. So they made a deal with a record company. "Take this annoying chick that can't sing...and we'll market you." They made tons o' Cash. I don't fault them for it...eventually you wanna be secure, and you'll always have the songs you made. However...being manufactured from the get go, loser in my book.

Nat JM says

I'm not shocked by PR tactics, i've seen some bands doing this in the allegedly DIY punk scene i come from. However, it depends how you do it. Embellishing the truth is OK IMHO, but making up a whole story with no truthful roots is a no-no.

Only she knows how much she's been lying, and at the end of the day, she's the one who's got to live with it. Let guilt do its job and if you enjoy her music, keep on enjoying it - music shoud be considered separately from the person, eg i know a lot of great musicians who aren't really nice to be around and vice versa.

AJS says

Bob Dylan said it very simply, long ago:

"You give something up for everything you gain." The trick, in almost every case, is to strike the balance between the two. THAT is the secret to life. Not knowing that you can achieve anything that you can imagine, but knowing yourself well enough to CHOOSE the right thing to imagine.

Kerrin says

You signing to a label cannot take away what has caused your great success...you are a great musician who really does care about his fans, and a nice person too.

And don't get too hung up on the finer points of TAW being described as 'wrote a new song every week', you certainly produced a new song mostly everyweek, and that is the spirit of what they are saying, and if you knew the truth behind half the news stories, you would know your small bending of the truth is only minor compared to most.

YouTube redefines the word “fake” » mathewingram.com/work says

[...] himself as an “authentic Internet superstar” — has some perspective on Ms. Digby on his blog, in which he describes her as being “clotheslined by the thin line between grassroots and [...]

YouTube redefines the word “fake” » mathewingram.com/media says

[...] himself as an “authentic Internet superstar” — has some perspective on Ms. Digby on his blog, in which he describes her as being “clotheslined by the thin line between grassroots and [...]

Chuckles says

Here's what makes you an independent artist: nobody has the authority to tell you what to put in your music.

Sean Wright says

I must be asleep here in rural England. I'd never heard of Ms. Digby before now. I listened to her songs now though, and she CAN sing, and her own stuff is fine to my ears.

I hope she can overcome the bad press from WSJ. I wonder if it's all part of the BIG PLAN hatched by the record company to REVEAL her true origin? Think about it: it's got all of us here discussing her!!! Nice one. How many other blogs are doing likewise?

Jon Who says

I honestly can't see who or why they would say that the she had the label's support prior to the whole "internet phenomena" but if people suddenly don't like her because of it, really they're not true fans. I mean I love JoCo's music, not because it's on the internet and all that, but because his music is good. Why can't people be satisfied with that?

Jack says

Jonathan, you're "independent" as long as you are the one making the decisions. You could, in a moment of insanity, decide to quit this rockstar life and return to a bland cubicle and hack code again. The booking agent, manager, et al work FOR you, not the other way around.

"Signed" artists can't say that. Except for the megastars, musicians are quite literally owned by the studio and The Contract guarantees things will stay that way. The studio makes all the decisions (including bad ones) and reaps nearly all the reward, but shoulders very little of the burden when things go pear shaped. The contract is designed to bleed the artist for all they're worth, at which point they're binned.

Keep doing what you're doing mate. And we'll be here doing our part.

Gazu says

Jonathan, sorry for this off topic, but I just want to thank you for the Code Monkey song, is realy a nice inspiring song.

Demetrius says

I couldn't tell this woman was a fake, female JoCo right away. But, her song about a hot receptionist who spurns the advances of a hapless computer programmer was a dead giveaway... :)

Trampas says

All I know is that I bet you'd look better in a tube top and culottes than she would. And THAT'S what sells records!

Jeff Charreaux says

'Street-Level' ''Credibility''

It's always been the procedure for corporate labels to simulate what underground bands are doing. It wasn't that long ago that every pay-to-play metal band tried to morph into Pearl Jam or Soundgarden. Most bands will do ''whatever it takes'' to make it to the Next Level. Etc....

ne_plus_ultra_1 says

What genuine advice.

Len says

Joco is the real internet phenom. As a wise sage once told me, you can't fake da flava. Or something like that.

Digby is such a fake name too. Digby. Psshht.

YenTheFirst says

I don't mind the covers. One of my favorite Thing a Weeks is 'Famous Blue Raincoat'.

amber says

what drives ME crazy is that article was all spin! the writer for wsj already had the story, he just plugged marie' in! she always had "major" under label type on her myspace. her label may have provided a laptop at her request, but the whole thing was her idea. she made the videos. she was acting on her own instincts...and the response she got truly surprised her. that is why, when asked a DIRECT question about her youtube popularity by star 98.7 and carson daly, she answered about her shock at the response. she wasn't omitting the fact she was signed on purpose. she was simply answering the questions asked. both the radio station and daly told listeners/viewers to look out for her upcoming cd with hollywood. it all looks bad if you look at only bits and peices of her story..when you look a little closer, its all ridiculous!! she is talented and genuine..and New to all of this. so shes not media savvy! cut her some slack!!!!

O YouTube e a ascenção dos falsos amadores says

[...] cantora se situe de facto algures entre o grassroots e o astroturfing, para utilizar as palavras de Jonathan Coulton, esse sim, um verdadeiro músico “auto-publicado” que ganhou fama graças aos seus [...]

Cynicism_NOT says

The WSJ article was complete spin. Uncovering a scam! Public misled! Singer is a phony! Come on people. If you did a little research on your own you'd see it very clearly. Yes she signed with a label. Yes she was signed prior to her success on You Tube. She admits no less. Her talent is real. Her desire to get exposure on her own by making and and placing her vids on You Tube is nothing less than being proactive on her part to get exposure. Ok so they give her a laptop and say, "Go ahead". That's what causes all this resentment ? Because people think some big profit machine faked the public into believing she didn't actually place the videos, but that a whole PR and marketing team was running around this girls home (or maybe it was a Disney set?) spending thousands of dollars on an unknown, untested, potential talent? Oh and the big corporate money monger expertly scheduled and timed her success on You Tube to perfectly coincide with her appearing on an FM station and Carson Daly? Let just say for the sake of argument, some talent manager/prodcuer at the FM station and Carson Daly did see her on You Tube and they wanted to have her come on their shows, wouldn't she tell her label/manager she was being asked to appear? Wouldn't she want to have them arrange the details? I would. Otherwise what's the reason for having someone represent you.

Bottom line, Marie Digby (and you can't have a name I guess without someone believing that's manufactured too!) is not a fake, has talent, and is being recognized for her talent. She used a medium that everyone and their brother is using to get their face and voice on the net. The only wool being pulled over anyone's eyes is for the so called "investigative reporting" that the WSJ is throwing out there for newspaper sales!

GaryJ says

eh.
Kharma will get 'em.
I've BOUGHT tickets to your show. I won't download anything from Miss Milktoast even if it was free. See in Portland!

Bill says

And see, now here I am only hearing about her because of the controversy. Was it also manufactured by the label? Just kidding, I think. But anyway, it makes me wonder if political operatives will eventually start working for the labels. I mean, they are geniuses at ass-covering, and they would have had her write a 15-page rambling diatribe about nothing, into which she would insert the fact that she was being "helped" by a label. Then no one could cry foul when the truth was "discovered." Edit: Oh crud, I just typed all this and then, before posting, read that Sean had beat me to it days ago. Cynicism, thy name is Internet.

Bill says

Oh, and in any event, in about 5 years the people who have had internets their whole lives will grow up and it will stop being such a big deal. I'm sure when TV first started, being a TV star was a big deal. Now look at it, all you have to do is say "She's not a CHRISTIAN. AAAH!" and you're a star.

JY says

Linday's comment got me thinking... JC, even though I realize you have a good control over pitch, I still wonder...have you ever used pitch correction on any of your tracks to save time?

JoCo says

I didn't own one till after thing a week, but I bought Melodyne recently and I don't know how I lived without it for so long.

jupiterjenkins.com » Blog Archive » Music under/over the radar says

[...] Codemonkey-guy (or as he puts it Authentic Internet Superstar TM), has a very interesting blog comment on another musician’s use of the Internet to appear as though she were under the radar when in [...]

Molly says

I don't know why you feel so bad about your cover songs. Sometimes covers can turn out to be complete musical atrocities (I cite Jessica Simpson's "These Boots Are Made For Walking", or Jamie Cullum's "I Only Have Eyes For You"). A few months ago I probably would've said to anyone, "I will never enjoy a Rick Springfield song, much less a Rick Springfield cover." I know you've gone viral a couple times, but without Baby Got Back, that's another unit of attention you might not have received. You promised a "thing" a week, and cover songs are indeed "things" last time I checked.

Molly says

An' another thing:

They Might Be Giants played their first show at a Sandinista rally in Central Park, if I remember correctly, and then spread through word of mouth and demo tapes, the traditional way that a band would. But then Dial-A-Song was born. Dial-A-Song was accessible to anyone with a phone, could be enjoyed easily and privately from any part of the country, could easily be shared with friends, but there was even more to it than that: there was something so wholly intimate about the song coming in deteriorted mono to your ear and your ear only, and knowing that you were singularly occupying the one phone line that was connected to one machine in John Flansburgh's apartment. And there's a certain security to be found there, a sense of intimacy, a secure feeling that you're appreciating art that wasn't fed to you by The Man, art that you found without it being marketed to you. This feeling, this connection, this is something that fans will adore and follow an artist for.

Now that artists have MySpace and YouTube, this connection is even easier to make than ever (albeit also more commonplace to the point of being cheapened). YouTube, at its core, is a perfectly democratic and egalitarian exchange, and for this reason people invest their trust in the users and content. What Digby's label wanted to do was to create a fanbase that would believe in her and root for her as an underdog, and without spending the money to advertise her and send her out on tours — which is exactly what they accomplished. But they also betrayed the unwritten promise that Digby was truthfully representing herself as a pretty girl sitting in front of her couch with a guitar. She let people believe that this connection was innocent, and direct from her.
I'm sure this isn't the first or only time at stunt like this has been pulled, either; this one just happened to get caught.

I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, JC... I was rambling anyway.

In any case, I'll see you tonight. :)

manstraw says

As long as you really used my hand clap on song 52, we're good brudda. :)

I think we need a new category for you (and apologies if someone else has said this, 54 posts is too freakin many read in the 3 minutes i have right now). The 'specialness' to you is you are accessible and fan interactive. It ain't the internet part. That's just a medium. It ain't myspace, or youtube, or your laptop, or the robot council. It's you, and the fact you are open to all these things, and that you put yourself out there.

If you ever get shut up in a gilded cage, and we lose our connection to you, well, that's the day you've jumped the shark. There are plenty of ways to grow in success and still keep it real. 'Being real' means the only filters are the ones you sensible have in yourself. Don't let the publicists write your copy dude. And when you're all super star like, start up JCtv, and let us watch you take out your garbage while you write thing a month.

Mac “virus”; Normal lenses; Generous Pavarotti; Fake internet star; Kottke’s back; Hard truths about meetings at aoortic! dot com says

[...] Jonathan Coulton: Fake Female Me is Busted - JoCo reports on a makebelieve internet sensation who had actually been signed by a label all along. Blechy. “The saddest thing of all is that she could have done this all by herself without the label and avoided all this negative reaction.” [...]

Don says

Geffen created a fake indie label to give Guns N' Roses "street cred" and they became huge stars.

Not so much for Veruca Salt (so street credible Minty Fresh supposedly called radio stations to ask 'em to stop playing the single because they couldn't keep up with production...Hmmm...).

Todd Fletcher (aka June & the Exit Wounds) made a record, played three or four shows and sold, like, 15K copies of his album via the internet (well, his label, Parasol, did...). He retained his credibility by deciding not to make another record. Sometimes he sends me and, like, three other people songs he records at home (talk about "not selling out").

Scourings… at Beanstalk Talk says

[...] treadmill is accelerating…Jake on weapons of mass disturbance…Jonathon Coulton on the kinder, gentler astroturfing. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

JP says

Dear Dude

You have blue grass songs next to rock. You have a few tracks where you don't even sing on it. I don't think you could exist on a label, where marketing terms like branding exist and where each album would have to have that signature Jonathan Coulton sound.

So yeah, you aren't a big sell out. Although, since I have been playing your stuff in the office, my co-workers are avoiding me. I really do want to thank you for this. They only listen to big label music.

STILL says

"How much money did she pay you for that advice?"

All of it.....most likely and sadly....

Joseph Devon says

A few months ago, JoCo, you wrote about that band that was living in a house ala Big Brother (the show, not the book) and people from all over could watch them craft their music. You said you didn't care much either way and if their music was good that was all that mattered. I don't see much difference with Ms. Digby. Especially when you extend the notion of a career out to over a decade...if the music is good then they'll still be around. If not then they won't. It's the old, "You try and create a body of work you can be proud of," approach, and I'm pretty convinced that this is the only approach that artists can use and still remain sane.
Basically in ten years she'll either be a trivia question: "What YouTube pop sensation of late '07 turned out to be a fake crafted by the music industry?"
Or all this hullabaloo will be the trivia question: "How did Ms. Digby get her first break in the music industry? The answer may surprise you..."

Bill Hallahan says

The Wall Street Journal got this story wrong.

The Wall Street Journal article contained factual errors. The post they cited as typical was not representative of what the vast majority of people in the topic wrote. Most were thrilled for Marie. That in itself shows an agenda. The posts are still there, and while it might take some time to find the post they cited, it's very clear the WSJ reporters misrepresented the actual situation.

Marie Digby never lied. There is no comparison to the lonelygirl case, and by the way, she didn't lie either, at least not as far as I have seen.

It always struck me that there is a special term in journalism, i.e. "Investigative Journalism."

Here's the other, more accurate side of the story in Marie Digby's own words.

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=4165438&blogID=307265009

Bill Hallahan says

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article was wrong about Marié Digby. To anyone who followed her videos, it's obvious that Marié Digby has always been herself.

The article stated:
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"Ms. Digby's MySpace and YouTube pages don't mention Hollywood Records. Until last week, a box marked "Type of Label" on her MySpace Music page said, "None."
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However, she had joined MySpace in 2004, roughly 2 years before she was signed, and she merely didn't bother to update a setting, and she'd probably forgotten that setting even existed. I signed up for a MySpace music page, and it could even be missed when first signing up. And, since months after she recorded her CD, there was no indication it was ever going to be released, I wouldn't expect that it would even cross her mind to change her status to signed, even if she was still aware of that setting. Note, her CD didn't come out until approximately 2 years after she was signed, and approximately 4 years after she joined MySpace.
The article went on to state:
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"After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, the entry was changed to "Major," though the label still is not named."
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Makes sense to me. There is no point in naming a record label when there is no indication they are going to release your CD. And, given that, who she was signed with has just as little relevance as that she was signed. (Note, the CD, titled "Unfold" finally came out on April 8, 2008. Buy it, it's wonderful).

The Wall Street Journal article also contained:
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'Most of Ms. Digby's new fans seem pleased to believe that they discovered an underground sensation.
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In fact, the vast majority of the posts were about her music, and not about "discovering" her. For most of us viewers, a huge number of people had already seen her videos when we found her, which were posted long before the WSJ article, so we could hardly claim to have 'discovered her.'

The term "feigning amateur status", used in the WSJ article is completely ridiculous. Marié Digby posted music videos, and expressed enthusiasm, and hope. She was largely unknown outside of Los Angeles.

Marié Digby has posted that a Wall Street reporter talked to Marié Digby for about an hour, but they never asked the questions that would have cleared this up. Instead, they took one response, which merely meant that her signed status wasn't relevant to her goals (and frankly, would have seemed ridiculous in the videos), as meaning she was hiding it.

There were radio station interviews, before the WSJ article, where she mentioned being signed. If she were hiding it, she would have hid it there too.

I gather Marié Digby's family is rather well off. She never mentioned that in her videos either. I wouldn’t say she was, "feigning middle class status," but I'm sure some people would! Sad!