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 Andrew McMillen

An open letter to Stonefield

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Herein lies the rub of your band and bands like you, Stonefield. No amount of musical talent, studious networking and careerist determination can compare to the sudden rush of blood that occurs when humans are placed in the presence of attractive members of the opposite sex (or the same sex, if you’re that way inclined). So while we can pretend until the cows come home that you are hot property among the Australian music industry in 2011 purely because you’re talented, we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t admit that your gender and your looks weigh heavily on the minds of the people who make these decisions. Festival bookers, publicists, A&R reps; they each have one thing on their mind, and it’s not your musical chops. You have those, of course, but you’re also blessed with rarer, more distinctive traits: sisterhood, and beauty. With a story like yours, Stonefield, the press releases practically write themselves.

Were you just a bunch of unrelated misfits from suburban Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne – like a gazillion other bands, profiled on this site, Mess+Noise and elsewhere – you’d have had to wait long and work hard for your moment in the sun. But you’re not, so you didn’t. The steep ascent of your success is unsurprising given the perfect confluence of events that led to you winning the triple j Unearthed High competition last year, and continuing onward and upward ever since. If there’s one thing that the music business loves, it’s a bankable narrative, and I can just about see dollar signs in the jaded eyes of every music biz hack who’s ever heard your story so far.

Even those who have nothing to monetarily gain are flying your flag, Stonefield. To sit in a hotel conference room filled with Australian music industry lifers and hear Richard Kingsmill, triple j’s Music Director, spin a yarn about your band was to observe a fantastic case of social proof, writ large: by giving his approval aloud, he allowed everyone in that room to back a winner. Kingsmill won’t get a bonus for telling everyone he meets about this great band of hot sisters from rural Victoria, Stonefield – he works for the ABC, after all – but the fact that you were unearthed by triple j will pay marketing dividends for years to come, as the broadcaster seeks to forever increase their youth market penetration by slapping a ‘triple j presents’ sticker across the backsides of any passing act within whiff of success.

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21 Responses to An open letter to Stonefield

  1. Sarah McVeigh February 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Great article Andrew.

  2. Sammy February 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Well done, some really disgusting stuff said on M+N.

  3. angelic February 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    He has a face, man…it may look like a bum, but it’s a face.

  4. Elmo February 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    One million points to this.

  5. David February 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Phew, really thought that would end badly. Actually ended up being quite intelligent and thought out. With you all the way on the guys on Mess + Noise being pigs.

  6. Sammy February 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Unfair generalization there David.
    I’m a guy from M+N and I’m strongly against idiots like Hellzapoppin.

  7. Darragh Murray February 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    5 Stars.

  8. Sophie February 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Well-said.

  9. Matt February 22, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    While the sentiment is laudable, I can’t help but wonder what is accomplished with this piece.

    It basically says two things: “Women will be objectified in the music industry” and “denizens of internet forums and sub-cultures can be creepy and inhuman” – certainly realities to confront and address but not exactly truths your average person would not have encountered in their travels (especially your average musician).

  10. Everett True February 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    It’s called writing, Matt.

    No one would have bothered reading the article if Andrew had left it at a simple “Women will be objectified in the music industry” and “denizens of internet forums and sub-cultures can be creepy and inhuman”.

  11. Chad Parkhill February 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Is the only goal of writing to be read, Everett? That sounds like a very circular definition.

    I absolutely agree with Andrew’s sentiment, by the way – it sucks that these very young girls are being objectified in creepy (and borderline illegal, owing to their age) ways. But I’m wondering what the performative element of the article is – why Andrew wrote it. Is it just to call out some tasteless behaviour? (If so, why didn’t Andrew call it out on the M+N thread itself, as many M+Ners did?) Or is it a performance of being the most awesomest politically-correct feminist guy? This competitive tendency is something I’ve noticed amongst many men who are or want to be feminist allies – so you end up with people like John Stoltenberg, who seems to take perverse pride in excoriating himself about his conflicted feelings regarding, say, pornography. Which is not to say that men shouldn’t be feminist allies or feminists themselves (putting aside the debate about whether men can ever properly be called feminists), but to say that those very masculine concepts of competition and dominance can surface even in a field dedicated to deconstructing those very concepts.

    The questions above are not rhetorical, by the way. I’m sure Andrew will read this, so I’d be interested to hear his answers (and yours, too, Everett).

  12. Everett True February 22, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Is the only goal of writing to be read, Everett?

    Where did I say that? The only goal? I very much doubt it.

    I believe (and I could be wrong) it was Andrew’s original intention for his article to be read over at Mess And Noise. And I believe it has been. Slightly circular route perhaps… but the end result is the same.

  13. Chad Parkhill February 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Sorry, I didn’t realise you meant that its goal was to be read over at M+N. (You didn’t make that explicit, but perhaps you didn’t need to.) I really hope they do read it, because some of the stuff that was said in the comments section was pretty vile; but, then again, it seems as though there was a lot of constructive debate going on there about the vileness of it already.

  14. Gerry February 23, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I too agree with the sentiments in the article…

    HOWEVER, image is an undeniable aspect of popular music. This has been traded on since the very earliest incarnations of the modern music industry. Pornography sells sex. Pop music sells us whole relationships. At least, it used to…

    What was once the fantasy of being singled out by that lovelorn star under the spotlight, with their guitar sounding so sad & clear (because YOU are the only person that really understands them!) has been replaced with three minute & thirty second episodes of ‘Girls Gone Wild.’ Coupled with the anonymity of the internet & these ease of stating your particular view, it would be more surprising if people weren’t making awful comments.

    I’m not suggesting this particular band have presented themselves in anything but a professional manner, it is typical of lazy or disinterested people to immediately say/write something obnoxious. I’m not too sure this is something that can be changed, & if it is really worth paying too much attention to. Censorship is not the answer. Mess & Noise will gain nothing but further boundary testing should they start to edit their forum for taste reasons. I think it is up to the artists to present themselves in the manner in which they feel comfortable & refuse to allow themselves to be presented in any other way.

  15. jerry February 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Patronizing italics, Everett. As for the other comments.. this place is so trite and pretentious.

  16. Everett True February 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Trite and pretentious? Wow. Brilliantly argued. That’s us told then.

  17. Wallace Wylie February 23, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    It’s impossible to argue with the article’s general sentiments. The treatment of females in the music industry is pretty atrocious. However, in the spirit of debate I’d like to say that the paragraph that laid heavy emphasis on the “you and I both know you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your looks” agenda came across as rather unwarranted. While I’ve never heard the band, I can only imagine that nothing is more disheartening than hearing someone who is a supporter admit that you’re the talk of the town right now for reasons other than your music. I feel like females are always subjected to this kind of scrutiny in regards to what role their looks played, way way more than males who are considered attractive. While revealing a type of sexism I feel like it reveals another one. I mean, are all attractive females subject the same rule? Are less attractive females supposed to have made it on talent alone? Luck plays a part in everybody’s rise to fame, and genetic luck can be one of those elements. I don’t see any reason for writers to focus on such a subject, even if a bunch of misogynists choose to.

  18. angelic February 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Sammy, I don’t think that it’s an unfair generalization at all. Take the user “Hellzapoppin”, who makes online threats of violence to males and females alike with apparent immunity on that site, seemingly because of his friendship with certain contributors, or the user “montyclift”, another chauvinist crazy who makes comments like “I think mcmillen’s trying to prove his sensitive new age feminist guy credentials, and is about to ask one (or more) of them on a date”.

  19. Elmo February 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    “Guys will feel REALLY BAD when they get called out, and usually react by either getting really loud and angry and defensive, or really sad and quiet and weird. This might make you feel bad or like a bully but don’t. Some conversations are uncomfortable but also necessary. They are so uncomfortable because they are so necessary. Discomfort is not death. You will be fine after, I promise. And then you will feel fucking great, because trying to protect other people from reality is for morons and chumps.”

    This is I think, relevant to all involved:

    http://thisrecording.com/today/2011/2/22/in-which-we-teach-you-how-to-be-a-woman-in-any-boys-club.html

  20. Ben December 13, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I found this article disrespectful in several ways to the girls and their band. You argue your points in support of this band, but then overshadow those points with comments about how they don’t really belong here or rather how “other people” think they don’t belong here. The whole article comes across as arrogant and condescending. Actually, Powderfinger’s song ‘Celebrity Head’ comes to mind. I didn’t come away from this read feeling like you’re a supporter. To say these girls wouldn’t be here if not for their looks is incredibly misguided. Retro is in these days and they do retro as good as Tame Impala and arguably better than the original Wolfmother lineup. Oh but you’re “not saying they’re not good musicians” are you? Think about it.

    I agree with your point about commentors on the Internet in general: they can be extremely bad, but I hardly think they are all to be taken seriously. I’m sure the large majority of these people are most often using the Internet as a place to say things they never would say or do in the real world. Small minded individuas looking for a place to act out their twisted alter egos. How is someone writing a sexually heinous comment any different to an author writing a gory horror story where people get raped and murdered? Anyone can think that stuff up, it doesn’t mean they would act on it.

  21. Rob December 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

    A very sad and misguided article, these young women have genuine musical talent unlike many other all girl groups that are trading exclusively on something else. Basically the argument is that if you are a young attractive woman you have no place in the music industry -even if you have musical ability. Complete and utter rampant silly nonsense.

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