Lets Play The Blame Game: Ark Music Factory or Our Declining Taste in Music?


Published: April 13, 2011

It was a day like any other. I sat at my computer, scrolling through my Twitter feed, when a link to a “HILARIOUS” video caught my eye. Feeling high-spirited, I clicked the link, expecting to find a miniature giraffe or something similar that would put an instant smile on my face. Instead, I found myself watching a YouTube video called “Friday” by Rebecca Black. Let me just say that the comment that led me to this video was very misleading. This video was not hilarious; it was disturbing. I had a number of questions by the time it ended: What just happened? Is this real? Why did I just watch that? Who is this girl? In what way is this acceptable?

When videos like these rack up close to 100 million views on YouTube, the future of America’s music must be at risk. (Courtesy of youtube.com)

I pushed the video to the depths of my memory, hoping never to revisit it. But sadly, I was one of the first to catch on to this phenomenon. Over the next few days, I watched a storm unravel on the Internet. Rebecca Black invaded our Facebook statuses, Twitter updates and my mother even forwarded me an email about it. As Friday rolled around, there was no escape to the insightful lyrics of the newly popular “Friday” by the now infamous Rebecca Black.

After realizing that this video was not going to disappear, I wanted to find out who I should blame for all of this. On YouTube, I decided to click the related videos on the side bar. It turns out that Rebecca Black is just the icing on top of a huge, frightening cake known as Ark Music Factory, a legitimate record label founded by Patrice Wilson. Wilson makes a cameo in Black’s video as well as his other clients’ videos. He’s the creepy older guy who pops up randomly to rap about a school bus of some sort. Just a side note: I think I wouldn’t have been so offended by the video if his part weren’t included, but that’s just me being optimistic.

Ark Music Factory holds a specific formula to their “success.” Rule Number One: You must be underage, from 11 to 17 years old. Preferably, they would like to make talents that aren’t old enough to understand the garbage they are making.

Rule Number Two: Your parents must be willing to pay a fee of $2,000 to $4,000. For this fee, the label will write and produce a song for you, including a video with “cool” and “special” effects! Do you know what this means? It wasn’t Rebecca Black who wrote the genius “Friday” song; it was Ark Music Factory. That just makes everything 100 times worse because it made sense that a 13-year-old wrote a song about the days of the week. It doesn’t make sense that a label fed her these terrible lyrics.

Rule Number Three: Auto-tune is your new best friend. Even if your child did have a decent voice, Ark Music Factory will engineer it so that the result is a voice that is half human and half robot.

Rule Number Four: Mr. Wilson must make a cameo in your obnoxious video rapping about some nonsense. I don’t understand how this guy thinks he can avoid people calling him creepy. There are about 18 unfortunate children on this label.

It is not merely a coincidence that the label is called a “factory.” These kids undergo a formulaic process that imitates the worst of the music industry today. It’s like they morphed Justin Bieber’s youthful appeal and catchy tunes with Ke$ha’s auto-tune.

If you thought Rebecca Black’s lyrics were ridiculous, you should really check out some of the other children on this label. In one of the label’s videos, an 11-year-old named “CJ Fam” sings about how she wants to be an ordinary pop star, as if she’s already overwhelmed by fame, yet I’m pretty sure no one has ever heard of her.

What bothers me most is that Patrice Wilson believes he is giving these kids a chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming superstars. Giving them a chance to be creative and developing their talent would be appropriate, but fabricating their voice and image is not the way to make music. He’s projecting his image of popstar onto these kids who’ve essentially just been brainwashed. I could be the only one who remembers this, but music is an art. Art is not made in a factory; it’s created through unique talent.

Maybe Ark Music Factory isn’t the one to blame, since they are only modeling the music industry. Maybe we should blame ourselves for giving into the music of Ke$ha and Disney. After all, Disney seems to do the same thing with its teen actors—look how Miley Cyrus made it big! Either way, I did not sign up for a generation of auto-tune pop songs, and if I did involuntarily, please take me off that list. Ark Music Factory could be giving us a taste of what the future of music is, and I am very frightened. I hope the success of Rebecca Black makes us realize we need to dismiss catchy pop songs and value quality music. Hopefully, Ark Music Factory’s 15 minutes are up. Otherwise, you can sit back and watch Rebecca Black win multiple awards and release some new songs. We so excited.