Book Abstract

Gender, Branding, and The Modern Music Industry combines interview data with music industry professionals with theoretical frameworks from sociology, mass communication, and marketing to explain and explore the gender differences female artists experience.

This book provides a rare lens on the rigid packaging process that transforms female artists of various genres into female pop stars. Stars — and the industry power brokers who make their fortunes — have learned to prioritize sexual attractiveness over talent as they fight a crowded field for movie deals, magazine covers, and fashion lines, let alone record deals. This focus on the female pop star’s body as her core asset has resigned many women to being “short term brands,” positioned to earn as much money as possible before burning out or aging ungracefully. This book, which includes interview data from music industry insiders, explores the sociological forces that drive women into these tired representations, and the ramifications on the greater social world.

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Critical Reviews

“Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry offers timely, relevant means for students to engage with issues of gender, sexualization, exploitation and more. Lieb successfully juxtaposes lyrics and imagery with theoretical concepts from branding, mass communications, and sociology, all while tracing the lifecycle of female pop stars. Replete with good girls, temptresses, and whores, this book will resonate with students.”

Carol M. Liebler, Communication, Syracuse University

“Mixing insightful marketing communication and astute cultural analysis, Kristin Lieb’s tracing out of the lifecycle of female artists within the contemporary music industry will be of much interest to fans and scholars alike. Using interviews with industry insiders, the book reveals the careful work and positioning that lies behind the creation of the public persona of the female musician—and how negotiating culturally dominant notions of sexuality is key to understanding who gets to have a marketplace presence, and thus, literally, a voice in our cultural lives. Theoretically sophisticated and readable, this is a fine work of synthesis and originality.”

Sut Jhally, Communication, University of Massachusetts and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation

“Back in the 1960s, earnest musicians used to refer to “selling out” as the process by which artists might achieve stardom if they turned over their creative autonomy to marketers, packagers, and powerful people in suits. This now seems charmingly quaint compared to the startling story Kristin Lieb tells about the manufacturing of female pop stars since the debut of MTV in 1981. Candid interviews with professional star-makers and a dazzling array of scholarly methodologies make this a revealing and highly disturbing look at an important chunk of the American culture industry.”

Robert J. Thompson, Popular Culture, Syracuse University and Director, Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture

“Gender, Branding, and The Modern Music Industry is the first text to demonstrate the impact of branding and packaging on the career trajectories and possibilities for female pop artists. I can’t wait to bring Kristin Lieb’s industry experience, insider access, lucid analysis, and well-chosen examples into my classes on gender and popular music.”

Norma Coates, Music and Information & Media Studies, University of Western Ontario

“Kristin Lieb‘s new book Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry is a groundbreaking analysis of the music industry and the challenges female artists confront in developing career longevity. Lieb masterfully describes the inner workings of the modern music industry and expertly weaves together social science and business marketing, providing important information that will engross music fans, academics, and business marketers alike. Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry is a ‘must-read’ for anybody interested in the entertainment industry.”

John A. Davis, Marketing, University of Oregon