Indie singer Clairo, also known as Claire Cottrill, first caught the internet's attention in 2017 with her webcam music video for "Pretty Girl." Though she had been releasing original music for years on YouTube and BandCamp, she had never received so much attention for her work. Some fans credit the Youtube algorithm and sheer luck, but many listeners believe that her sudden rise to fame may not have been so sudden after all, referring to her as an "industry plant."
But what exactly is an industry plant? An industry plant is an artist who is marketed as self-made in their success, but is actually supported by a record label or wealthy figure. The ultimate goal of these shadow sponsors, who expend massive amounts of resources to push their celebrity to the spotlight, is profit.
About a year after "Pretty Girl" went viral, Reddit users grew suspicious of the legitimacy of Cottrill's rapid growth as an independent artist. Before long, social media users — the most impressive spies — ran their own background check on Cottrill. They discovered that her father, Geoff Cottrill, was an executive at her recording studio, Rubber Tracks, and the chief marketing officer at Converse. It's possible that Clairo found fame on her own, but many attribute her success to her father and a discreet marketing team.
Clairo then trended on Twitter after a TikTok user posted an emotional video about her negative experience meeting the singer in 2017, explaining that the singer was a rude person. The singer has since replied to the TikTok video with an apology, but the controversy has brought back theories that she has had some behind-the-scenes help from a marketing team.
Similar claims have been made about fellow indie singer King Princess. Further research revealed she was very wealthy, being the great-granddaughter of the co-owner of Macy's and daughter of a New York music executive. Despite this, she released an album titled Cheap Queen, which was met with critiques of her privilege and performative actions.
The truth is, many of the artists we know and celebrate today often have ties to the music industry or wealth — that's how they succeed in the first place. The real question here is whether or not KP and Clairo are good artists, and deserving of their fame. What do you think?