Which band has never wished to play its music to a large audience? And which listener wouldn’t like to turn on the TV and be introduced to new artists? Rede Globo’s Superstar, can bring on a new breath of life to Brazilian popular music. It is a great opportunity for the hitherto-unknown bands to show their music in a national network, something unthinkable until a few years ago. And, for those who wish to take in new sounds, it is enough to turn on the TV and cast your vote. In the Internet and digital social network era, traditional media, such as TV ‘s and radio stations, strive to adapt not to miss the chance.
The benefits created by the Internet on musical production and promotion are visible and undeniable. The Internet has facilitated access to those interested in stepping into the music market and has provided new forms of relationship between audience and artists, mainly on account of the advent of digital social networks. However, Brazil bears a cultural peculiarity, which is its strong links whit traditional media. This occurs at the same time in which Brazilians are one of the biggest social network user groups, second only to the USA in access to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, for example.
The TV, for example, is present in almost 100% of Brazilian homes, and, according to IBGE (the Brazilian Statistics Bureau), this number exceeds that of refrigerators per household.
In addition to being an important opinion-making communications vehicle, the TV bears a very important role in the productive chain of music – as a disseminating agent. Either on soap operas soundtracks, or on TV shows, music has always been present on television, although restricted to a few artists. Moreover, it also works as a celebrity agent, providing new artists popularity.
Brazil is well known for its musical diversity and an artist, to develop a career, needs the TV for exposure and to present his/her musical repertory. If the Internet and the digital musical production technology have facilitated the insertion of bands into the market – one of the hurdles these groups face – as from now they need to attract the attention of their audience. But amid so many options, a listener becomes confused and needs some kind of guidance to come to know new artists.
For a long while this guidance had been performed by the record industry, which selected and invested in artistic careers, picking out performers, from their specific musical niches, and launching them into mainstream. And, on account of the current shrinking of the music business model, this industry has lost its strength to invest in new careers, as it had done in the past. Moreover, the room for promoting new artists in traditional media has diminished, making the Internet the main music promotion vehicle.
Exposure of new artists on Brazilian television has occurred, in the recent years, mainly on TV shows such as Fama (the Brazilian version of Operación Triunfo), Idols (American Idols), and The Voice, the proposals of which, even though not identical, bear a number of similarities: competition between singers based on their performances. However, these formats, somewhat, compel the singers to perform certain public-acclaimed songs. The performance by these candidates of authorial pieces is not allowed, or even fostered. What is at play is their vocal performance.
TV Show “Superstar” might begin a new era in Brazilian popular music, by displaying unheard-of authorial collections to the mass public. It is extremely valuable for a band seeking to develop its career and increase its fan base to perform its music on national TV. Even using competition and popular vote in its format, the winner is not the only one who claims victory. It is enough to check the Facebook pages of a number of participants and note a considerable increase in their fan number after appearing in the program. Some of them have also had their compositions played on the radio. All this is, at least, productive, isn’t it?
It is impossible not to make an analogy between Superstar and the Brazilian Popular Music Festivals, responsible for unveiling a generation which would forever mark the history of Brazilian music- Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. These are different times and formats, yet, we can say that there is a common purpose: emphasis on new artists exhibiting their own repertory.
Superstar may contribute to Brazilian musical renovation, so much coveted by those who have been complaining about the superficiality of several mass musical works. This also demonstrates that the TV still purports an important role in exhibiting artistic to the public gaze and, thereby, develop musical careers in Brazil. And, for the listener, it also works as some kind of guidance, selecting artists from unlimited and unrestricted virtual world. Even benefitting from digital technology, these artists are found in specific niches and need media exposure to grow. The media function is of paramount importance for, each day, a new band emerges from the Internet realm.
Naturally, Superstar is prone to criticism regarding its format criteria adopted and participants. Maybe it will benefit certain bands and not others. Nevertheless, living aside the missteps of this first edition, it is worthwhile highlighting its importance, for its emphasis on the bands authorial repertoire, a milestone to current Brazilian music.
A long life to Superstar, that it may be the initial step in the renovation of Brazilian music, that it may reveal great talents and arouse the TV spectators interest in music through the TV.
Leo Morel is Professor of Culture and Media Studies at FGV/IDE-Rio, author of the book Music and Technology; he is also a professional musician.