Recession in the Music Industry?
By guest blogger Mike Brown
With news this week that four of the original members of UB40 have been declared bankrupt, it shows that not even musicians can escape the woes of the economic recession.
The 70’s Pop/Reggae band who made their name whilst touring with the Pretenders and who later performed a famous duet with Chrissie Hynde to sing Neil Diamonds “Red, Red Wine,” have disappeared into obscurity since the height of their fame. They have released records, they have toured, but they have struggled to maintain the popularity amid financial concerns and bickering.
With the Eurozone crisis, unemployment rates soaring across the globe and financial markets teetering on the brink of all out recession, the financial turmoil seems to have extended to the music industry, one which is traditionally associated with financial security, nay, decadence.
The Barenaked Ladies sing, “If I had a 1,000,000 dollars,” and Bruno Mars sings, “I wanna be a billionaire,” testify to the firmly held belief that the music industry is one that can make millionaires out of mere mortals. It suggests that the slightest modicum of talent/good looks/connections or any combination of the three can turn you into a superstar. The popularity of entertainment shows like the X Factor holds a mirror up to an industry that is more interested in spinning money than creating talent or breaking boundaries.
What people forget in the media furore is that as well as making you, the music industry can also break you.
Sadly, this is probably the last thing on the mind on any number of young “artists” who enter into the music industry, blind (or perhaps intentionally ignorant) to the pitfalls.
It seems like mismanagement on the part of UB40’s record company allowed the band to accumulate debts after the company went into liquidation in 2008. Many companies have suffered the ill effects of the economic recession, and this leads to the cumulative problems of unemployment and damage to economic output/input. People forget that the music industry is an industry just like any other and therefore subject to the peaks and troughs of any other business, except when Bombardier (a British manufacturer) went bust, thousands of people were put out of work. When a record company goes bust, it brings down bands, with hopes and dreams of superstardom.
UB40 are not Goldman Sachs, and their demise/bankruptcy is not going to cause a double-dip recession, nor are they likely to be bailed out by a flood of government approved tax payers money like the Royal Bank of Scotland. However, it goes to show that when bands enter into the arena, not only are they opening themselves up to the possibility of adoration, jubilation and financial stability, they are also opening themselves up to potential embarrassment, failure and financial ruin.