Are record labels pushing artists too hard?
Wayne Rooney’s Press Officer”Â¦ Katie Price’s Botox administrator”Â¦ Simon Cowell’s dentist”Â¦ Can we all just spare a thought for those poor hard-working folk whose services are in near-constant demand?
This week Simon Bobbett – the manager of Merseyside pop-punk band The Wombats ”â has said that record labels are pushing some artists so hard they are risking their health.
Talking to Newsbeat, he also added that Matthew Murphy – the band’s lead singer – became addicted to anti-depressants because of a punishing touring and promotional schedule.
This might be a bitter pill to swallow for hard-working teachers, paramedics and frontline soldiers fighting overseas in Afghanistan. Hell, even for those of us who are chained to our desks nine to five spurred on only by the promise of the weekend.
Should we ”â can we ”â really sympathise with artists who are ”Ëliving the dream’”Â¦ People who get paid to make music, play it to adoring fans, trash expensive hotel suites and bed starry-eyed groupies?
Or is the notion that rock stars ”Ëhave it all’ hopelessly misguided?
There can be little doubt that today’s artists exist in a pressure-cooker environment. Success is so fleeting, so precious, few artists feel comfortable in turning down opportunities ”â even if criss-crossing the globe and surviving on zero sleep is the pay-off. With the advent of social networking fans expect their idols to be 100 per cent accessible whether it’s on Twitter, on their iPod or in front of them live on tour.
Shockingly when Lady Gaga collapsed on-stage from dehydration and exhaustion in January, the juggernaut that is her ”ËMonster Ball’ tour rolled relentlessly on. She collapsed once again on stage in March yet she is still feverishly promoting her latest album ”ËBorn This Way’, demonstrating a frightening disregard for her future well-being.
From Michael Jackson to Britney Spears”Â¦ Brian Wilson to Kurt Cobain”Â¦ the annals of rock and pop history are littered with stars who became victims of their own success.
Caught up in a non-stop cycle of touring and recording is it any wonder artists turn to both illegal and prescription drugs to cope? Fifty years ago The Beatles took amphetamines to survive their punishing schedule in Hamburg. Today The Wombat’s lead singer Matthew Murphy admits: “I was off my face,”Â having taken anti-depressants for two years prior to their first single ”ËKill the Director’ being released.
Drug use is endemic in music circles – fuelling excess and creativity in equal measure. Very few employers would turn a blind eye to drug-taking outside the cossetted world of the music industry. I very much doubt that artists would want the same restrictions and behavioural expectations imposed on them that we, the rest of the working world, accept without question. So is it really fair to expect record labels to demonstrate the same duty of care you’d expect from an employer in any other field?
Actually I would say yes. Musicians are a record label’s greatest asset. Without them their ability to make any income would be massively impeded. They owe it to their artists to look after their well-being ”â both physically and mentally – otherwise there will be many more black holes where our stars once shone so brightly.