Spice up your life and support up and coming artists

Peter O'Neill examines the business of reunion tours

It seems like the defining zeitgeist of the 21st century is nostalgia. Re-makes, re-boots and reunion tours and a never-ending haze of the past jumps out at you when you look at pop culture today.

From a business point of view, you can see the logic if you’re an older band that hasn’t been active in a long time. There’s a lot of safe money to be made in reunion tours or making a movie that’s either a sequel or a remake. You can’t really blame them especially if they’re low on income at the moment or just simply want to tour for the pure love of the act and also want to make an easy buck.

What’s more the issue is the space being taken up in art and in pop culture and the loss of valuable opportunities that in the past may have gone to new and young artists. Promoters and executives in record companies or movie studios are hardly going to take a risk on a new artist when they know they can make millions on a new Star Wars or Marvel movie.

Why would you spend your budget on supporting new artists and give them the top billing at a festival when you can just give it to Fleetwood Mac or the Spice Girls? As much as their fans are probably delighted to see them again, there are plenty of great acts that would love the opportunity to play Croke Park or headline any of the major festivals such as Coachella or Glastonbury.

When you consider not only the consolidation of ownership in music, but also the lack of any real union representation that could potentially help newer artists get a leg up on their contemporaries, it’s unlikely that this will change. These industries, like most things in modern life, are owned by a small number of major corporations that control nearly every aspect of individual artists careers.

Their sole purpose is to take what little income is left in the music industry and bleed it dry. When streaming services were launched, many pundits at the time saw it as the way for new indie musicians to combat the hegemony of older artists and labels, but instead we’ve seen the monopoly grow in this area worse than ever. Thanks to the way they – particularly Spotify – operate, leaves artists with little to nothing from streaming listens.

This means touring is the only way to make money now in the music industry as an artist. Young musicians tour for years and years throughout the world just to break-even, praying for a rest somewhere. If all of the festival slots and touring money is being pumped into dinosaur acts the future for music looks very bleak.

Expect The Rolling Stones holograms to be still heading Glastonbury in five years, prepare for One Direction’s induction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe sponsored by Pepsi, and enjoy staring at your own personal feed of memories to distract you from the planet burning around you. But hey, at least Oasis will half-heartedly reunite to play the Schindler’s List theme park opening.


Peter O’Neill

Image Credit: Rachel Halpin