The concept of “selling out” might be over, but Gen Z teens will still roast you for posting cringe — as the pop-punk band Tramp Stamp is finding out. According to people on TikTok, Twitter, and Reddit, Tramp Stamp are “industry plants.” The giveaway? Their social media is too good.
An “industry plant,” Rolling Stone helpfully explains, “is an artist who has label backing but presents themself as self-made.” In 2019, the band’s guitarist, Caroline Baker, appeared in MusicRow: she signed to Prescription songs, owned by Dr. Luke, aka Lukasz Gottwald. Reddit resurfaced that report this week. The Redditors also found that the lead singer, Marisa Marino, also has a Prescription deal. Oh yeah, and per the credits on their YouTube video, the Tramp Stamps have a deal with Kobalt Music Group, which is partly owned… by Dr. Luke.
About Dr. Luke: In 2014, Kesha sued him to void their contract because he “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused [Kesha] to the point where [she] nearly lost her life,” according to the suit. After several years, the legal fight ended when New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schecter ruled Kesha had defamed Dr. Luke in a text message to Lady Gaga, where Kesha accused Dr. Luke of drugging and raping herself and Katy Perry — allegations Perry denied. (Dr. Luke still works with Doja Cat, Kim Petras, and Saweetie under his Tyson Trax pseudonym, Rolling Stone says.)
A recurring theme in the “plant” posts: that the Tramp Stamps appear to have a social media team. Their website looks like it was professionally designed. They have a robust merch store, including a black thong that says “sex” in pink, Sex Pistols lettering. Their Instagram has about 27,300 followers, but many of their posts have less than 3,000 likes. TikTok user hardcope pointed out that their first Instagram post is an animation — a piece of media that’s hard for a DIY band to put together.
“Everything about this group is so calculated, almost insidiously, insidiously,” says TikTok user seapunkhistorian. “Even down to their hair colors.”
Another user pointed to a group where the Tramp Stamps were rating whether or not songs were emo; they appeared puzzled when a snippet of a song came on. “Oh my God,” said TikTok user dandydemon. “You’re going to co-opt the aesthetic and you don’t even know My Chemical Romance?”
“It’s so obvious that the people who wrote this song don’t understand punk culture,” said TikTok user awtheyreuglee.
In fact, the entire TikTok hashtag #trampstamp is filled with people complaining about the band and their cringey new song, out today, called “I’d Rather Die.” (Chorus: “I’d rather die than hook up with another straight white guy.”)
There’s a lesson here. If you’re marketing to a younger, social-media-savvy group, you’re going to have an uphill battle unless the group being marketed is perceived as “authentic.” And teenagers, more than anyone else, have a sharp eye for that.