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The ‘Industry Plant’ Dilemma

Prancing off-stage through the crowd of a dingy Berlin concert hall in Victorian-era garb and pounding back a shot with your bassist between breaths as you perform in front of 200 people is risky for any well-established artist. However, for British Rock band The Last Dinner Party, pulling such a stunt is considered a typical Thursday night.

The fully female-fronted band’s discography is as experimental with its sound as its performance styles. The group seamlessly blends a variety of instruments and musical styles into its indie-rock vibe. Their debut album, ‘Prelude to Ecstasy,’ opens with orchestral grandiose, and their hit single, ‘Nothing Matters,’ achieving TikTok success, proves this unconventionality works. Listeners are enjoying the new rowdiness that The Last Dinner Party is bringing to the somewhat stale genre of British rock.

It is not just listeners who applaud what the band is doing. The group already has offers to tour with well-established artists such as rock band Florence and the Machine’ and indie artist Hozier, as well as winning the British Broadcasting Channel’s Sound Of 2023 award. It seems as if the entire industry grew smitten with the Brixton-based band since initial contact.

Their explosive popularity has been instrumental to their success as a band, but the cause behind their exponential growth has recently been disputed. Allegations that the band is an ‘Industry plant’ circulate among personal and professional media spheres.

‘Industry plant,’ a slang term circulating the depths of the independent music scene since the early 2000s, is used to label artists who claimed to be independent or made their music without signing to a record label upon starting their career. Essentially, by calling an artist an industry plant, one insinuates that the artist was handed their career in music without actually working for success from the pits of irrelevancy, making them inauthentic. In essence, this term calls a musical artist a product of nepotism.

While it is worth noting that The Last Dinner Party’s immediate signing to a large label after their initial debut was abrupt and highly unusual, it does not necessarily mean that they had strong ties to the music industry in the ways social media critics seemed to insinuate. However, following the pattern set in stone by artists such as Clairo, Phoebe Bridgers and Ice Spice, every time a young woman (or group of women) experiences meteoric success within the flame of the social media zeitgeist, the public is quick to discredit them by using the label of industry plant to separate the artists from their success, arguing that the artist is undeserving of the praise their music garnered.

Phoebe Bridgers, Indie folk singer-songwriter, said, “It’s such an insane […] double standard. If you have wealthy parents, you’re not allowed to make music as a woman, but you’re rewarded for it as a man.”

As the singer pointed out, these industry plant accusations are disproportionately targeted against young women experiencing success in the entertainment industry. For example, Bridgers faced the allegations because her father was a set builder for the film industry, a relatively minor role largely uncorrelated with the glamor and connections associated with Hollywood nepotism.

On the other hand, Dylan Minnette, lead frontman of ‘Wallows,’ a fully male indie rock band, has numerous connections inside Hollywood. His parents both work within the entertainment industry alongside executives. However, Wallows has never had any widespread social media controversy in the same way that artists like The Last Dinner Party have.

Whether or not The Last Dinner Party has connections within the music industry is also ultimately irrelevant. Numerous all-male bands, such as the Strokes, are notorious for their nepotist origins yet remain cult classics. The entertainment industry is deeply flawed and ultimately relies on at least some level of connection to break through the noise wall of thousands of other small artists working to get their work into the public eye. It is worth noting that receiving a platform does not guarantee success.

It is almost impossible not to acknowledge The Last Dinner Party’s ‘je nais se quoi’ factor, which helped accelerate their path to iconicism. Possible industry ties aside, the band should be allowed to be appreciated for the merit and quality of their work rather than dragged down by their assumed affiliations.

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Anika Rao, Business Manager

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