In wake of the Marie Digby expose by the Wall Street Journal, insinuating that her YouTube success was the project of a clever marketing campaign initiated by her record label, I reviewed her interview with Valentine & Lisa Foxx of Star 98.7 in Los Angeles on August 2nd. This is after the station had been playing her cover of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ and the night after her first television performance on ‘Last Call with Carson Daly’.
During the segment, Marie was never asked if she had a record deal, while the WSJ article seems to suggest she was obligated to volunteer the info. If Digby came up with the acoustic covers and the idea to post them online, why should she suddenly give her label any credit after they had been basically ignoring her in favor of their big time artists Hilary Duff or Aly & AJ? Lisa told her, “Dan our music director was surfing the net” and had discovered the YouTube ‘Umbrella’ performance. Marie then responded, “Oh, is that how [he] found it, I’m so lucky.” It’s logical that the LA radio station playing the track caught the ear of Carson or someone on ‘Last Call’ – also taped in LA, explaining how he may have discovered her about the same time period. The WSJ article stated Diana Miller, ‘Last Call’ music booker, said she booked the singer through Hollywood Records’ public-relations department, suggesting it was ‘Last Call’ who initiated the interest.
The Journal also took pains to note that Digby put “none” in her MySpace profile, but again if you’re not actively being promoted, if you have no idea Hollywood Records will release your material (besides ‘Fool’ on the ‘Girl Next’ soundtrack), should you feel obligated to mention it? The psychology behind the omission seems to come from an understandable resentment over being signed by a record label who hasn’t released hardly any of your material for 18 months and showed no signs of doing so rather than marketing strategy. Besides, it was listed on her first Wikipedia entry on August 21st, submitted by “this guy from Finland” Chekkie, apparently before this WSJ probe began.
So unless the Lisa Foxx and Digby were both lying as part of some grand conspiracy initiated by a Hollywood Records marketer, it’s probably safe to say Star 98.7 music director Dan’s web surfing habits had more to do with the mainstream success Marie is currently enjoying, and not a record label that had her on the back burner and could have easily dropped her before she decided to post the YouTube clips. In fact the real story is that in the rigid world of top 40 radio programming in an era of media consolidation, a major radio station gave spins to a local artist with no solid record release plans in the pipeline or no market testing.
Audio of the Valentine & Lisa Foxx interview at akamai.net has since been removed.