Credit Raph PH via wikimedia commons licensed under CC 2.O

Why artists are finally hitting the pause button

By Olivia Marrins

How will the music industry adapt to artists pulling out of headline tours due to personal reasons?

The lifestyle of a music artist – turning up to interviews and sold-out shows on little to no sleep, and surviving on caffeine and microwavable meals – is often glamourised. But it is sure to reach a state of exhaustion and deliriousness.

After the announcement that Sam Fender will be playing St James Park in Newcastle next June, he has taken the decision to pull out of his forthcoming headline shows in the US. Due to burnout, Fender is taking this time away from the stage for recuperation and the prioritisation of his mental health. With his Mercury Prize and Ivor Novello shortlists – as well as his worldwide tour success – his self-neglect was something he felt must be treated. More so, Arlo Parks and Wet Leg have followed suit, revealing the moment when they realised that they must put themselves first to sustain their career.

Music industry burnout is nothing new, yet it is easy for the damage to be pushed down under hit singles, celebrity status and fan recognition. From being on the road for months on end, playing night after night, some suffer from a complete loss of enjoyment in the spirit of rock and roll. Though artists often inflict this strain of pressure upon themselves, the expectation is forced in the culture we create, whereby artists seem untouchable and faultless. Structures break down, emotions unravel from the supposed sane state of mind, and comradery is washed away in booze, addiction, and sleep deprivation. Is it such a wonder why artists are jilting their careers when the support from their industry is non-existent?

The relentless demands from music labels and outdated industry standards are echoed in the stereotyped artist image, or a song release outside the artist’s terms. Yet it is the phenomenon of TikTok which poses today’s biggest strain. Some labels are convinced that the posting of a 20-second reel is the 21st century equivalent of appearing on Top of the Pops

While many fans are disappointed in the cancellation of these tours, rescheduling not only allows time for the artist, but also for the music industry to reach a better state. The longevity of artist exploitation can now finally be put on hold with each cancellation announcement. For the most part, the support from fans and fellow musicians has strengthened the positive response to cancelling tours. However, it is the music industry itself which has to change, so artists can empower their own voices and ensure their burnout is no longer inevitable.


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