The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Music Industry

Recording artists are dying for a hit song

Once upon a time death was not considered a beneficial career move for up and coming musicians. It didn’t do much for Buddy Holly, and Janis Joplin clearly did her best work before her untimely demise.

But today, in music, there’s big money in death, which says a lot about our culture, and perhaps a lot more about the way the music industry works.

Flip on the radio today, and you could come across a new hit song – by Elvis Presley. This month music fans can look forward to an album featuring new songs by Nirvana. And then there’s Tupac Shakur, who has had almost as many albums released after his death as were released before.

While most of these albums are material that was recorded, but not finished, prior to the artists’ death, others are more traditional greatest-hits albums with a “new” track or two thrown in so as to be sure to draw in the band’s true believers.

And people flock to these albums, as witnessed by Shakur’s post-mortem success – perhaps in part because of the allure of a sudden death, perhaps as a form of mourning. But for whatever reason, the albums of the dead are hot sellers, which makes them incredibly popular amongst music executives.

Never ones to do the hard work of searching out new talent, music labels have for years simply churned out disc after disc of same-sounding songs by prepackaged bands and artists with specially tailored appeal. And now they can look forward to milking their favorite stars even after the artists are pushing up daisies. Who needs new faces when you can gather up the unused tracks of your biggest hits and keep the money flowing, without the pesky cost of dealing with the artists themselves?

But who can blame the labels for continuing to flog dead horses so long as people keep buying the discs? Well, the Editorial Board can, because that’s sort of our job. But alas, our criticisms will likely amount to nothing. Record labels can be even more obstinate than the Student Senate.

So if you’re an aspiring musician dying to give your ambitions a boost, perhaps you’re on the right track – a sudden death might be just what your career needs.

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