Why the viral pop-punk TikTok band The Tramp Stamps was accused of being an 'industry plant'

Steven Asarch
·6 min read
Screenshot (669)
The Tramp Stamps Screenshot/YouTube
  • The Tramp Stamps, a pop-punk band, was accused online of being an "industry plant."

  • The group, made popular by TikTok's algorithm, criticized the accusation in a tweet.

  • Bands assembled by record labels can be viewed as inauthentic in today's online world.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Tramp Stamps, a band consisting of lead singer Marisa Maino, drummer Paige Blue, and guitarist Caroline Baker, have been accused by some online of being "industry plants" - facing the negative connotations that come with the allegation.

An industry plant, as Urban Dictionary defines the term, is an artist backed by a real label that "presents themselves as a homegrown start up label" in an effort to gain a "pseudo organic following."

The Nashville-based group first popped up on TikTok in November 2020, posting covers of Blink 182 and videos about the band's members. One of the account's earliest videos says in a caption that the band started after "3 girls got drunk at a bar and wrote a song." As the account started to post more, their pop-punk music and matching aesthetic of brightly colored hair started to earn them fans.

But things changed with a January video, when the band members listed how many "emo" songs they knew. Two of the three members did not recognize the 2004 song "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" by My Chemical Romance, a mainstay of the pop-punk genre and a Hot Topic anthem.

That video reached 10 million views and opened up the TikTok-criticism floodgates, as viewers began questioning the band's authenticity.

The Tramp Stamps declined to comment for this article.

The Tramp Stamps exploded on TikTok

As their videos started to appear on more For You Pages, users digging into each member's past discovered that the group was not composed of three random friends, but rather a group of creatives with years-old industry affiliations.

Blue, the drummer, had been producing music for years, with her songs having appeared on MTV, DirectTV, Sephora, the NFL, and Starz, according to her website. Rolling Stone reported that Baker and Maino, the guitarist and lead singer, respectively, both have deals with Prescription Songs, the publisher owned by Dr. Luke.

The band put out a statement on Saturday addressing some of the criticism they received online. They said that they were not signed to a "major label" and the songs were written entirely by them. The label they are producing their music under, "Make Tampons Free," is owned entirely by them because they wanted "full creative control," the tweet said.

"We are 3 women who have been writing and producing music for many years, busting our asses in the music business while building our personal careers," the post says. "You have gone to the ends of the f--- earth to s---, have told us to kill ourselves, and have used conspiracy theories on tiktok as a trend to get more views on your own videos. F-- you."

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The band's music is also being mocked and criticized online

In addition to the industry-plant allegations, TikTok users have called the band's aesthetic and sound inauthentic.

Their latest single "I'd Rather Die" was teased in a TikTok video earlier in the month and was viewed over 5 million times, appearing on many users' For You Pages. The song was stitched by thousands of users who mocked the lyrics that include the lines, "I can't remember the last time I slept with someone I actually liked and he went down on me. I can't recall a memory of someone driving home and not asking for a blowjob." The sound was eventually removed from the app by the band, which prevents new stitches from being made.

"This is the commodification of riot grrrl sh--," one TikTok user, hard_cope, said in a video. "Just a bunch of good-looking TikTok people with guitars and just hyper producing it with meaningless bulls---."

The full music video for the song was released last Wednesday and has been widely panned online, with over 17,000 dislikes and thousands of comments on YouTube, including that the song "trash" and "this looks like trust fund kids perception of punk."

'Industry plant' criticism isn't new, and oftentimes is unsubstantiated, but the internet views it as a career death sentence

Labels have been forming groups of singers to capitalize on new trends since vinyl records were the main way to listen to music. The Monkees, a group of four singers with mop-top hair from the 1960s with classics like "Daydream Believer," the original "I'm a Believer," and "The Last Train to Clarksville," were manufactured entirely by executives. The group had an entirely inorganic origin story, according to the documentary "Hey, Hey We're The Monkees," each member was hired to fill a niche and appeal to the growing teenage demographic. From 1966 to 1971, they had their own television show, carefully curated looks that capitalized off the appeal of The Beatles and a number of hits, all under three minutes in length.

Some of the most popular music of the past few decades was carefully curated by boardrooms and label producers. The aforementioned Dr. Luke also worked with Katy Perry, transforming her from a Christian singer to the "I Kissed a Girl" superstar after signing with Capitol Records in 2007. One of the breakout pop hits of the last year was "driver's license" by Olivia Rodrigo, who appeared on Disney Channel and Disney+ shows before signing with Interscope Records and Geffen Records.

The lessons learned from the Monkees proto-plant still apply - keep your songs short and catchy, while also invoking some form of strong emotional response.

While the Monkees experienced tremendous success, contemporary culture has come to view industry plants as toxic following the era of the boyband.

In a scene thirsty for anything "real," the accusation has almost become a trope in and of itself, used against any band that gives off the faintest whiff of suspicion. Frequently the allegations aren't substantiated, but they're nonetheless damaging.

In The Tramp Stamps' case, their seeming preparedness for fame set them up for critique. Even if they weren't designed in a lab to appeal to "the youth," they've been perceived that way because of a constellation of factors including a website with manicured bios, merchandise ready to go in a professional shop, and their interactions with popular trends on social media platforms.

The band's alternative clothes, lyrics, and methodology, coupled with the very specific pop-punk aesthetic that critics said appeared to be co-opted by outsiders, evoked, for some, the Steve Buscemi "how do you do fellow kids" meme.

For now, it's not clear how the scandal will affect the band. They've stopped publishing content during the scandal, but it's also thrust their name into mainstream internet discourse.

Read the original article on Insider