What happened last Saturday on television has made rivers of ink run. Not only with the chronicles of the Benidorm Fest final, but also with the consequences of its result. The event that promised democratize the selection of the representative of Spain at Eurovision has ended with a bittersweet feeling. The winner is Chanel, the great favorite of the jury and the third option of the audience, something that has resulted in an offensive against the panel of five experts, against RTVE and brutally, in the networksagainst Chanel herself.
In the x-ray that the press and the public have made of Chanel and her song SloMo Many things have been discovered and almost all of them have served as ammunition for critics. Chanel is much more than an artist. It is a product measured to the millimeter in which she prints only a part of her talent and that was born with a clear intention: to win the Benidom Fest and go to Eurovision.
It is not something new. The music industry has several departments specialized in cutting and sewing "product" singers, as has happened with contestants on Operación Triunfo, such as Aitana, or with the careers of young artists such as Zahara, who once criticized the singer herself for ignoring their proposals and using it only for profit.
Here is the origin of the controversy: Chanel is equivalent to business, while other options such as Rigoberta Bandini or Tanxugueiras, favorites of the public, had a differentiating essence. But as the RTVE delegate said at the festival, Chanel was the "ideal" candidate. Controversial words due to the role of those who pronounce them. What does suitable mean for a public chain if it is not chosen by the citizens? Was Chanel destined to win even before she entered?
"I do not think it was a tongo, because it was third in the televote, but in RTVE it was breathed that it was a closed candidacy," explains Luis Mesa, an expert journalist in Eurovision. Only three of the thirteen competing artists were supported by a major label: Rayden by Warner, and Azúcar Moreno and Chanel by BMG. This issue had not come to the fore until now, when the budgets of one and other candidates have begun to be compared.
The staging, costumes and production of SloMo they cost about 20,000 euros to the record company BMG. "When someone does something like this, with so much money behind them, in some way they have the commitment that they are going to win," says Josep Manuel Silva, a lawyer and representative of artists with a long career in record companies and on RTVE. "The problem is that they have found two very powerful proposals that people liked more," he reasons.
Terrero was unknown to the general public, but not to the industry. This 31-year-old Catalan-Cuban singer and dancer has worked in the main musicals of our country, such as The Lion King, Mamma Mia or The bodyguardand has appeared in series such as Tony's Gym or The secret of Old Bridge, but, as Luis Mesa says, "always in a position of curranta, never first level". A few months ago he did a casting to interpret SloMo and now "fame has suddenly come to him".
The case of Chanel has scaled the public because it represents the opposite path to that of the singer-songwriter: the record company commissioned the composition of a catchy song -what in the sector they call bopazo– to five producers of international projection, designed a choreography at the level of BTS and Jennifer López and made a casting to find a performer. "We have been asking for something like this for Spain for years: an expensive project, a charismatic diva and a Latin rhythm," admits Mesa, "but it has come in the wrong year."
Benidorm Fest seemed to have put aside the search for the product in favor of exporting national talent and proposals that had never been seen before in Eurovision. "SloMo she appeared knowing that she was going to win and that she was the jury's favorite, but the democratic essence and the preference for Rigoberta or Tanxugueiras should have turned the tables", says the Catalan lawyer and manager. The reality is that there were too many things at stake with the winning option.
"A Chanel is not improvised," continues Silva. "You have the raw material and you have a song with the guarantee that it will sound on the platforms and on television. Many people liked it because it is in line with what is heard now, which at the same time is what they want that we listen," he defends. It is not a political option or with a message, it is equidistant. "The lyrics seem offensive to me, but that's what it sounds like on the radio stations. Politically, the current RTVE was compensated Ow mom or landbut the industry would have suffered," he says. "It's business, folks."
This is what talent contests like X Factor Y Triumph operation, except that Chanel hasn't had time to put the audience in her pocket or create a fan club. But she was not the first nor will she be the last artist to enter the music market in this way, with a designed career and a large budget behind her. "Let's remember that the video clip of [la representante de 2018 de Chipre] Eleni Foureira was financed by a banana company and a brand of slimming pills. In the end, Eurovision is pure marketing," Mesa adds.
What BGM has created with Chanel is what all record labels, to a greater or lesser extent, do with their artists. It is what the artistic direction departments, better known as A&R (Artist and Repertoire). They are in charge of discovering new talents and designing them to the liking of the record company. Once the transfer is made, the game enters the product manager (Product Manager).
Javier (not his real name) is product manager of a major multinational record label, but prefers to speak on the condition of anonymity for reasons of confidentiality with the label.
"My job is to plan with the artistic department and the artist himself what the flow of material and song releases is. You have to put all your social networks in order and see what the social reach is. If it comes from a talent showyou can have a good base of followers and, if not, you have to generate a database with potential segments of the population who may be interested in following you", he explains. His area is also in charge of looking for "partners" who can launch the project, such as platforms, music radios and media.
Statistics are essential in your work. But not so long ago, that role was played out on the street, in rehearsal rooms and concert halls. David López was A&R for a division of BMG, Chanel's record company, between 1993 and 1999. "I was talking to managers, promoters and locals. The artists really came from the street, not what is now known as urban, which consists of using a specific sound and words", he differentiates. As an A&R, Lopez liked to work with authors, "not artists molded into product."
The animation Carole & Tuesday does a good review on this. The Netflix series is set in a future where entertainment is shaped by artificial intelligence that analyzes lyrics, people and beats to create a hit that immediately reaches the top of all charts. What matters is not so much the artist's ability to sing and compose, but rather that of a team of engineers capable of developing the algorithm that is "the recipe for Coca Cola" applied to the musical field. But Carole & Tuesday it is not just a fiction.
"Now I imagine art directors in front of the computer, looking at statistics from home and doing math, adding up the percentages an artist needs of each thing to shine," he reflects. Something that, in reality, is not very far from what Javier does. "Before, the channels were much smaller and were limited to television and radio, and then to the big record stores like Fnac or El Corte Inglés," the latter justifies. In the early 2000s, television networks and game shows changed the rules of the game.
"OT started just 20 years ago, which was when I left the world because I was no longer interested in working in a multinational," he justifies. At that time he founded Limbo Starr, an independent music company. "As an artistic director, I pay attention to the personality of the artist and that he is capable of projecting his own light, whether on stage or on social networks," he lists. Experts perceive that this is exactly what is missing in Chanel's success equation: "The objective between now and May is to give her her own personality, because now we feel that she is only the interpreter of SloMo", says the journalist Luis Mesa.
The other mission, according to him, is "to protect her from hate". The new A&R departments are also dedicated to the latter, which try to cushion the pressure of criticism from social networks. "We provide all the company's tools to protect them and advise them in that jungle that is social networks," he says Javier.
Neither BGM nor RTVE have successfully achieved the latter in the case of Chanel, which has had to delete social networks to weather the storm. "It cannot be that it happens to him like Manel Navarro, who spent three years out of the industry because of the stick they gave him at Eurovision. This is very common: now they have the support of the record company, but then we'll see," he demands. Desk. For now, it is the artist herself who has called for solidarity for the sake of her mental health.
One of the great successes of RTVE with the Benidorm Fest was allowing 100% of the rights and royalties belonged to the singers. In previous years they managed to keep 50% of what was obtained with the chosen song. "RTVE has lost the royaltiesbut in exchange a pasture has been saved," warns Luis Mesa.
The production of the song, the costumes, the makeup and the staging have been carried out by the artists themselves and the producers. "That's why Chanel was the roundest candidate, because her prior outlay was higher and if other proposals won, RTVE would have had to invest later," he explains. "They are called synergies", shares Josep Manuel Silva. "When someone who is in the business wins, RTVE has many ways to recover money and it is not necessary for them to take it directly because they have interests," he recalls, referring to the alleged links of a choreographer, a member of the jury, with Chanel.
However, David López asks not to idealize other seemingly humbler candidates because "even the independent artist can have the most powerful team behind him." "I don't feel an affinity for that world, but criminalizing the record companies seems a bit misleading to me," says the independent producer. What singer does not take care of his publications on networks or exploits his image in some way? "In the end we all do the same thing: we look for a way for our artist to grow", defends Javier, the product manager.
In short, Chanel hasn't done anything that the record companies weren't already doing or that hadn't been sought until now in Eurovision. "In these years the eurofan has matured a bit on a musical level", compares Luis Mesa. "That's the pity: the eurofan accustomed to the cliché this year I wanted to send some tambourines or a girl singing to her mother".