Monday, July 25, 2011

Mini liveblog: Alan McGee & Marc Marot on Today

Following the death of Amy Winehouse, Today has just hosted Marc Marot and Alan McGee wondering if management and labels could do something to help, rather than enable, self-destructive artists:

Marc goes first, calling for a change to how the music industry does business to stop putting pressure on artists:

"Recording contracts have a ticking clock attached to them - a three year cycle of hard, hard work. It's a cycle that has a contractual option at the end; there's enormous pressure on the artist to keep repeating themselves. There's no way to take time out."

He proposes a mechanism allowing the contract to be suspended. "The problem is who arbitrates"

Alan McGee says it's a reasonable idea, but "only you can get yourself clean". In other words, it's no good having a break clause because if the person doesn't want to clean up their act, it won't be invoked.

He's also a bit more clear-eyed about how much management can do in the face of an addict.

Marc's suggestion, though, is that touring and recording increases stress and - though he doesn't quite say it - puts the addict into a world knee-deep in drugs.

He praises Island for having tried to wean Amy Winehouse off drugs and alcohol.

Marc is one of the great guys, agrees Alan, but says that there aren't many like him. Blame culture is part of this nation, says McGee - you can't really blame management for someone who wants to destroy themselves.

Marc says there's a bigger problem: how do you tell a star 'no'? "Try telling someone who has sold 21 million records 'no' agrees Alan McGee.

We're not much further forward, apart from appearing to decide there's nothing management can do. Which doesn't feel entirely right.