The music business is very much about having more front than a row of houses. It is built on hype and hyperbole. Publicity is the power that drives the machine so stories must be found or created to gain public attention.

This is very evident whenever a band or musician is about to release a new song, launch a tour or sell a book. There is a media story, often this is based on some revelation about a tragedy of some sort.

There will have been the overcoming of an alcohol and drug addiction, recovery from an illness and even a sob story about how the new material was promoted by a tragic event in their lives.

Read more: Terry Sarten: The Laws of social dynamics
Terry Sarten: The Secret Diary of a Secret Diarist
Terry Sarten: Dangerous and delusional myths laid bare in land of the long white lie

Advertisement

The reason this come across as somewhat suspect is that these stories invariably emerge timed to get media attention for the most recent project. Some of these will indeed be genuine emotional responses to circumstances but many seem to appear only when there is a need for publicity.

The music industry does not exactly generate fake news but there is certainly a lot of 'fake it till you make it' going on. In the New Zealand context this often takes shape as talking up the overseas tour from which the band have returned covered in glory when in fact this is not strictly true.

The epitome of hype over content can be seen in the recent revelations about a US band known as Threatin (great name) who went on a much-hyped tour to Britain all based on smoke and mirrors.

A musician set out to 'create' a ghost fan base that suggested the band were already famous and booked venues in major cities across Britain. The charade became apparent when the band arrived to play to empty halls.

It does not have the hallmarks of a scam. Hiring musicians, the faked publicity, venue bookings and airfares would have been very expensive. It remains unclear what the motivation was behind the elaborate hoax.

Was it a wild vanity project propelled by someone with money to burn? Was it a stunt to show how a non-existent reputation could be conjured up out of nothing? At this stage no-one seems to know as the main man as gone to ground and is saying nothing.

Money was spent not taken. It lacked the usual funnel effect that many scams display.

This 'funnel' functions like a drafting gate - the scam is so obvious that most people
simply delete the email but there will be some who will be tempted to respond and in doing so make it clear that they are open to the potential to be duped.

Advertisement

This process narrows the field to those worth pursuing and devoting serious time to persuading them to part with their money.

I have often joked about promoting myself as tribute performer of songs by the legendary Terry Sarten and creating my own fake legacy on the premise that people prefer replication to the actual thing. I would need to invent a colourful past for myself.

There would have to be some form of drama that inspired a musical life.

This would be tricky as the hardest part of becoming a guitar player for me was the courageous mastering of the notorious F Chord at age 13 when many don't get it right until they are at least 15 years old.

I could moan about the torture that is learning bar chords and trying to play the opening riff to Stairway to Heaven but somehow, I don't think that will resonate with many people.

Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a musician, writer and social worker. Feedback: tgs@inspire.net.nz