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Rock Diplomats

New Zealand’s Die! Die! Die! is a hit on You Tube with a clip of a performance in Oakland, where lead singer Andrew Wilson smashes his Stratocaster guitar and leaps onto a fan. The New York Times calls it a “moment in cultural diplomacy now immortalized on You Tube.” The reason? Die! Die! Die! is one of a handful of bands subsidized by their governments, in an effort to get more international exposure for their artists. Other countries like Finland, Australia, Denmark and Canada do the same. It’s less apparent how well this cultural exchange works, although Denmark’s The Figurines made a name for themselves outside of Boise, Idaho, when a cop stopped them after a band member’s can of Red Bull was mistaken for a gun.

As for U.S. exports, the government provides no rock subsidy, but December’s GQ does follow Lionel Richie through the Middle East, where he is “the Arab World’s most unlikely pop god.”

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