Chewed Up & Spit Out?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Der Druck der Musikindustrie: Durchgekaut und ausgespuckt?: Wer ist schuldig am tragischen Tod von Amy Winehouse?…


Amy Winehouse is gone; she was put in the earth yesterday. Who is to blame?

Sophie Albers of Germany’s #2 newsmagazine Stern puts the music industry itself on trial. Her treatment is brief, necessarily, and therefore hardly dispositive, and it’s also rather quirky. Standing for the prosecution: Siouxsie Sioux, of Banshees fame, who is quoted right at the beginning saying “I love music, but I hate the business.” Albers also reports her prophetically remarking a full four years ago about Winehouse that “[t]here are many talented people for whom you know that they will be sucked in and then after one or two albums spit out again.”

In the other corner, appearing for the defense, Albers brings forward a pair of music industry insiders, who mostly try to deflect any blame. Says one: “Amy Winehouse hasn’t made a record in five years. So pressure from the industry cannot have been so insanely high.” Rather, he maintains the pressure goes the other way: rock stars expect to play to packed houses, to have their tours, press appearances, and the rest all arranged and that is all the job of the record company.

Still, these industry executives do concede that the grind of going on tour, making all these appearances, and of simply being continually creative enough to come up with new material to keep the entire parade going is hard on the stars, and is hardly as glamorous a life as it may seem from the outside. But if they want help for the alcohol and drug problems that often result, they first have to realize that they are in trouble and start accepting it, something that Winehouse never did.

This all strikes me as very inconclusive – and likely out-of-date as well, since new recording and distribution technologies are starting to take record companies out of the equation in any event. But there’s been a celebrity death – so there has to be an inquest, the fans demand it.

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