Are musical rivalries real or fabricated to make more money?


Primary research – Primary research is new research conducted to answer a specific question. It can involve methods such as surveys, questionnaires and interviews.

Secondary research – Secondary research is the culmination of research that has already been conducted.

Rivalry – Competition for the same objective or for superiority in a given field.



The issue that this article will challenge is whether musical rivalries are real or just a stunt to make more money. One way I will conduct my research is through interviews. I plan to interview my lecturers and colleagues about their views on the topic which will add to my primary research bank. I will ask questions which probe the interviewee and use facts I have found to evoke an interesting and detailed answer. I am planning to have conducted all my research by the 20/10/2018 and this will include my interviews, primary and secondary research.

I don’t see many ethical issues within this article because of the nature of the question. The only problem I can see is with issues such as Biggie and Tupac (which I won’t be discussing) purely because of the gruesome outcome of the situation. This is one of the biggest rivalries however both artists ended up losing their lives and there have been no convictions in relation to them. This can lead to ethical issues as the rivalry did boost revenue for both artists however there is a lot of mystery surrounding the deaths and there is a lot which has been unsaid and unreleased to the public.

From my research I expect to find that most rivalries came from nothing and only surfaced when one of the artists in question had a serious decline in sales and needed something to bring them back to the spotlight. I expect to see that this is much more prevalent in the modern era as social media is a huge influencer, especially in the R&B and hip hop scene.


Eminem & Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) – 2018.
Most notable explosion in 2018 when Eminem released Kamikaze with teased lines in the song ‘Not Alike’ and the song ‘Killshot’ –

And I’m talking to you but you already know who the fu*k you are, Kelly/I don’t use sublims and sure as fu*k don’t sneak-diss/But keep commenting on my daughter Hailie.’

This was a surprise album and had no marketing campaign leading up to it – numbers were obviously going to be lower on release.

“It’s been quite a convenient summer for the two artists, with a feud that spanned precisely from one of their releases to the other and scored both Eminem and MGK the kind of breathless coverage and streaming numbers that neither artist has seen in years.” – USA Today.

MGK’s response ‘Rap Devil’ was his first solo track to break into the Hot 100 in the USA and Eminem’s track came after, named ‘Killshot’. Eminem’s highest charting single since 2013 (38 million Youtube views in 24 hours) Before he released ‘Killshot’ Kamikaze was only in top 200, after ‘Killshot’ and the beef he was in the top 10.

at the end of August he had 226m streams combined on the tracks on the album and 252,000 units sold within 2 months. His 2017 album sales combined were 214,000




A clear increase in sales and a rivalry in the same month? Positive correlation as Eminem’s sales went up and so did MGK’s, he had his first top 100 track. If they hated each other so much then why would they give each other such a boost and go public with it?


Blur vs Oasis


2 of the biggest Britpop bands of the 90’s/early 2000’s

Blur vs. Oasis: how the biggest rivalry of Britpop was born


Parklife was released in 1994 and topped the charts, Definitely Maybe came out the same year and smashed it out of the park.

Damon Albarn comes from a good family in London, The Gallagher brothers kept making digs in interviews whenever Blur were brought up because they are working class and proud. These little digs soon escalated and both sides retaliated. Noel wished Albarn to ‘get aids’

Albarn postponed the release of country house in order to coincide with (Whats the Story) Morning Glory’s Roll With it – proving things had become personal. (WTS)MG smashed Blur’s The Great Escape and Albarn admitted defeat and moved on to work in Gorillaz.
This was not a PR scheme as neither used each other, they kept trying to out do each other by postponing releases and digging in interviews.

“It was perfect for the press: the rough, working class, no-nonsense Northerners versus the pretentious, university-educated, hipster Southerners.”


Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston


‘ what do I think of her? I don’t think of her..’ – Whitney on Mariah

Everyone thought after this interview and this shade that they hated eachother – they were the two biggest female vocalists of the 1980’s and (like Blur and Oasis) came into conflict.

Interview about this with Carnell – ‘The Prince of Egypt film is a good one to look in to with these two – the film directors wanted both of them to sing on the movie but they told both Whitney and Mariah that the other had already agreed and this spurred both of them to jump right in and sing. I think there was so much competition to be the best so they both just leaped at the chance to publicly out do each other on the film.’

I think this is a real rivalry as there were few digs at each other? from my research i ave found very little other than them competing to be the biggest female voice of the time? They did a duet on the Oprah show in 1998 (singing If You Believe) and they admitted afterwards that they didn’t know each other very well before the show and the press had made them out to be rivals to get views.

Interview with Ben Ashurst:

  • Do you believe all musical rivalries are faked for money?
  • A) No I don’t, in every industry there are people competing to be the best and music industry is no different.


  • Name a rivalry you think is faked?
  • A) I think the Eminem MGK is faked because it has died so quickly? Why is it not still going on?


  • Name a real rivalry –
  • A) Where do we start? Prince vs MJ? Mariah Carey vs Whitney Houston? the list is endless


  • Is it possible to answer a question like this?
  • A) No it isn’t because there are always people doing both, however from what I know, i would lean towards the minority being real and not fake.


  • Do you think the fans and media create these rivalries by accident? as a way to promote themselves and get readers / viewers as oppose to the artist orchestrating it?
  • A) Absolutely. I think the mainstream media’s are far more concerned with the publicity and will twist anything to get attention to them.


Final submission:

The thesis of this article is that the majority of rivalries in the music industry are fabricated as a way to boost revenue and album sales when an artist releases new material. I intend to research into some of the most infamous rivalries in music from Blur vs Oasis to Mariah Carey vs Whitney Houston. I will look at when the rivalries kicked off in the media and how close they were to an album release on both sides whilst also examining how much money the artists were making annually (approximately) building up to the media explosion. This should help me answer as if the artist had seen a rapid decline in sales over 3 years or so and then this huge rivalry comes out it could indicate a mere money making tactic by dividing fans.

This research would be interesting to the wider musical community as I believe there is a lot of ways that record labels and artists boost their income and popularity that the general public are unaware of.

The first rivalry I will examine in this essay is Blur VS Oasis. These 2 bands saw the height of their fame during the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s and were the flagship bands for the Britpop at the time. Both bands utilised their accents in the vocals and sang exactly how they spoke which added a certain charm to their music. Oasis are Manchester’s pride and joy and were arguably one of the biggest bands to come out of the North of England since The Beatles. They have seen worldwide success and the Gallagher brothers are now both icons of the British music scene with the hits such as Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger being played in every major city in the world.

Blur are from Essex and did a similar thing to Oasis – they sang in their accents and connected to the working class of the 1990’s with their outspoken lyrics and catchy guitar riffs. Blur and Oasis’s rivalry can be seen as unjust because when you listen, the two artists are very different styles. Blur are more Britpop and rock whereas Oasis are Rock and Roll. The 2 bands had no reason to fight each other, other than the fact that they were two of the biggest British bands of the time.

The rivalry started just purely because they were the 2 biggest Britpop artists of the time, and arguably ever. the thing that kicked everything off was Blur moving the release of ‘Country House’ to the very same day that Oasis released ‘Roll With It’. This came to fruition because of multiple digs and slurs from both sides in interviews and behind the scenes – Oasis calling Blur ‘posh boys’ and the likes. This was a legitimate rivalry and while it did boost both bands revenue, it also inspired them to create more and more music and out do the other. There was genuine hatred between the bands and this can be seen by Noel Gallagher wishing that member or Blur would ‘get aids’. From the evidence gathered, i can infer that this rivalry was real.

A second rivalry I will discuss is between Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly. This rivalry can be seen as one to be fabricated to increase revenue. Eminem’s last album before Kamikaze sold 252,000 units in a year, whereas Kamikaze (after the diss track was released in MGK) had sold 214,000 in 2 months. Machine Gun Kelly responded to Eminems diss (called Killshot) and got his first top 100 track in the USA. This shows a positive correlation between the rivalry and a boost in sales – Eminem needed a big come back to keep his title as the best rapper in the world and attacking other rappers set the world on fire and boosted his sales and streams on everything because the world had heard about this rivalry that was forming and wanted to listen to the savage lyrics from both rappers. This is secondary evidence and i believe it is quite reliable as it is what i thought to be the case – This evidence proves my point. The evidence loses some validity as the figures are not directly from the record company and instead from an external source, meaning they could be slightly off.

And I’m talking to you but you already know who the fu*k you are, Kelly/I don’t use sublims and sure as fu*k don’t sneak-diss/But keep commenting on my daughter Hailie.’

The reason I think this is fabricated to increase revenue is that Killshot came out as a single after the album was released, and then MGK released his response just after his new album. Why did the fighting start just after an album drop? If they really wanted to hurt each other’s careers why would you not wait until no one expects it? Why would you inadvertently boost your rivals sales?

USA Today quoted “It’s been quite a convenient summer for the two artists, with a feud that spanned precisely from one of their releases to the other and scored both Eminem and MGK the kind of breathless coverage and streaming numbers that neither artist has seen in years.” – This is true because Eminem had seen a big decline and had a surprise album drop with no advertising campaign so his numbers on release were obviously going to be lower. This source is reliable as USA Today is a trusted source and the quote ties in with what i was thinking – it was very convenient timing. The feud is also now dead in the water, so have both artists just got what they wanted and called it quits? or was this a ploy for money…

The third feud i will investigate is between Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. This is a tricky one to examine as they weren’t directly nasty to one another like my previous posts have been about, however the media hyped up this diva rivalry so much you’d think that they hated each other enough to kill their families. From the evidence i gathered, i have found that the rivalry was in fact a ploy to make money, however not for the artists but for the main stream media. What they made at the height of the feud (early to mid 90’s) is unknown, however both women said on the Oprah show in 1998 that they barely knew each other and the media had over hyped everything. Obviously there was some kind of rivalry because they are two of the most iconic female singers of all time, and they happened to peak in the same era. This was just healthy competition, overly publicized by the press in order to get viewers and readers.

To conclude i think most of these musical rivalries do generally start as healthy competition, however turn in to money making tactics for either the artists or the media. It is far too easy to have a simple disagreement with someone in the spotlight and then sell the story and get a quick burst of money. Eminem and MGK is, from what i have researched, a fake rivalry as both artists profited greatly from the feud just after their album releases and the feud is now completely dead a few months later. Both of them got the media explosion, the boost in profit and are now probably sitting pretty on the millions they just made by pretending to hate each other. With regards to Blur vs Oasis and Whitney vs Mariah, these were genuine competitions with one another which the media caught wind of and blew up even more. I don’t think either artist intended to profit from the feud but did inadvertently. Both were just nit picking at each other, not writing songs about how much they hate the other person. The research has been interesting and i do agree with Ben Ashurst in the sense that, from what i have found, more rivalries are real and not faked.




Kyle Eustice (2018). [Online] [accessed 9/10/18]. Available from: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.48385/title.hip-hop-album-sales-eminems-kamikaze-soars-to-no-1-on-billboard-200-with-epic-debut

UNKNOWN (2017). [Online] [Accessed 7/10/2018]. Available from: https://www.southpawer.com/2017/07/05/eminem-album-single-sales-streams/

Maeve McDermot (2018). [Online] [Accessed 5/11/2018]. Available from: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2018/10/16/eminem-and-machine-gun-kellys-feud-fake-just-bad/1656843002/

Luca Divelti (2018). [Onlne] [Accessed 7/10/2018]. Available from: https://auralcrave.com/en/2018/09/10/blur-vs-oasis-how-the-biggest-rivalry-of-britpop-was-born/

UNKNOWN (2018). [Online] [Accessed 10/10/2018]. Available from: https://www.radiox.co.uk/artists/oasis/inside-britpops-biggest-battle-blur-vs-oasis/

Rudy Awondatu (2016) Re: Were Whitney and Mariah ever friends? [Online discussion group]. [Accessed 10/10/2018]. Available from: https://www.quora.com/Were-Whitney-Houston-and-Mariah-Carey-ever-friends

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