Cancel It! Neil Hamburger Isn’t in Town

What is going on in the music industry? The labels are whining about declining sales, but the artist has lots of other income streams to fall back on: touring, merchandising, licensing, publishing, side projecting, etc. While the money can’t compare with a big label advance, big advances are slowly going extinct and can’t be relied on. So I’m a little skeptical about all these top level artists suddenly having extenuating circumstances for them to cancel their tours. Just today it’s Sting, and recently we had Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Morrissey, Arcade Fire and White Stripes, (twice). What’s up with that? I’m not saying these cancellations are at all deliberate, but when I see so many, I wonder if a conspiracy is afoot? Is the population’s interest in live music waning? Is that infrastructure falling apart too? It sounds ridiculous to even say, but is everybody basically done with music? And why? Because the market is saturated with bands? Or there’s too much crap being forced at us? Or really are artists simply going beyond the call of duty, working way, way to hard to actually bring their music to the people in the only way left to them?

Exhaustion, illness, nervous breakdown, drugs, aggression, depression, death, immigration problems, alcoholism…all reasonable issues. I know first hand that any of these things can happen in an instant, and everyone’s work and effort (and anticipation, for the fans) have to be put on hold. But I also know that sometimes a convenient, little white lie can be used to cloak a darker, usually fiscal, problem. All in the name of art, no less. It’s the gross, truly disgusting side in the oxymoronic phrase: music industry. Two things that shouldn’t really be connected in any way, but unfortunately are. They’ve been fused together, like two unfortunate pieces of dried eggplant in a crappy, grilled vegetable panini sandwich.

Or is failure and someone’s life self-destructing the new phase in music? Is this the new reality in which we are living? Art is supposed to imitate life, isn’t it? Actually, Oscar Wilde said: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” So I guess our destruction is complete and inevitable. Humanity is crumbling before our eyes, and subsequently so is all of art. Fittingly, however, Wilde also said: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” One to grow on.

One Reply to “Cancel It! Neil Hamburger Isn’t in Town”

  1. This reminds me. Was reading about Radiohead’s decision to release their latest album via download and allowing the consumer to pay whatever they wish, if anything at all. Some in The Music Biz are freaking out, calling this “the beginning of the end of the music industry”, etc. Nonsense!

    More and more ARTISTS are exercising 100% control of their product for the first time in 50+ years. I say it’s about bloody time. People like Peter Gabriel, Prince, Ani diFranco, and myriad others doing the same should be teaching this stuff to new and established artists.

    In other words, no. I don’t think that the end is nigh for music. As long as there are ears, music will be loved. It’s up to a new breed of thinkers to create more innovative ways to get the music to the people without passing it through the greasy mitts of the industry.

    The reason that mainstream radio is clogged with what it is is because too many of the mainstream ‘artists’ failed to think past the massive advance they got from the majors. The result? The find themselves asking, “NOW what??? Nobody told me that there would be so much ‘work’ involved in the ‘biz’!”

    And then some of them eventually cancel their shows, for starters…

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