By the time you’re reading this, hopefully you’ve awoken from your turkey-induced coma and then survived the annual Black Friday bloodbath. If you’re still recovering from either, sucks, doesn’t it. Isn’t it interesting how we, as a country, decide to celebrate how thankful we are with a retail Hunger Games?
To me, this speaks to the same thing that got Donald J. Trump elected to the office of President: the American thirst for controversy. What would our media be if everyone was always on their best behavior? What would we be listening to on the radio or in our music if everyone always played in accordance to the seven virtues? What would television and the news be if everyone acted within their stock character type? It would definitely be wholesome, but it would also be boring. Controversy keeps the media going. It’s what keeps people in power, makes celebrities famous, and what keeps TLC on the air. If life is nothing without an audience, then life without publicity stunts is like curry without seasoning.
Given these principles, are any of us really surprised that Kanye West cancelled his Life of Pablo Tour? That’s right kids, it’s time to discuss Public Douche Bag #1 in the music scene.
Rumor has it that Kanye West cancelled his most recent tour in order to scam $30 million out of touring insurance; bet you didn’t know touring insurance was a thing. While he and his publicity team may be chalking that up to his recent mental breakdown that landed him in UCLA Medical Center, outsiders aren’t so sure that’s a viable answer. West and his team have released informal statements citing the artist’s sleep deprivation and exhaustion, though not releasing an official statement explaining the cancellation of the tour.
For those arguing against this viewpoint, they have a few key foundations for their arguments. Kanye West’s touring lifestyle is nothing short of posh and luxurious. Compared to what indie bands go through on a tour, West couldn’t have it any easier. To further back up this argument, West’s admittance to the UCLA Medical Center happened after his cancellation of the tour. Plus, there’s still no official statement explaining he tour’s cancellation; even Live Nation can’t offer a decent explanation.
Because of all this, people are forecasting Kanye to be seated in a pot of boiling water in the near future. This whole lack of an explanation thing does not fly well, if at all, with insurance providers, meaning he may be out quite a pretty penny. Plus, if venues decide to press charges or his fan base decides to revolt, there’s another load of legal issues which will cost even more money.
Am I surprised that the Life of Pablo Tour is cancelled? Not really. I don’t even listen to Kanye West. However, I would be surprised if the tour was cancelled for a legitimate reason. What? Allow me to explain. Unpopular opinion coming through: you were warned.
Despite how much Kanye West rubs off as an attention-deprived idiot, I think he’s a genius when it comes to his brand. He’s not foolishly cancelling his tour because he’s selfish; he’s cancelling his tour to keep his relevancy and star power. Instead of us thinking he’s gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble, he’s actually right where he wants to be and this move is nothing short of calculated.
Think about it in terms of television. Every show has that one character everyone loves to hate. In the music business, this is Kanye West’s role. He is the Phi Phi O’Hara, the Cousin Oliver, the Steve Urkel of the rap and hip hop world. Even though we mercilessly trash him and talk about how much he’s an idiot, he knows that his name is still in our mouths. And that is free publicity that gets people interested in his product and his brand and keeps his career thriving. As it turns out, controversial twerp is an effective business model.
Don’t believe me? I have a few questions for you. Why did Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” break the record for most views in 24 hours? Why was Britney Spears all over the tabloids in the mid-late 2000s? Why is Donald J. Trump the next president of the United States?
Musicians and people aspiring to break into the business, believe it or not, there are a few things you can learn from Kanye West! Of course, the whole having money thing definitely does a career good. The biggest thing you can learn from Kanye West is branding. You may be too sweet or smart to pull off the insanity of his brand, but his brand is undeniably strong. The more we love to hate him, the more he sells. Your music and abilities can be utter garbage, but, if your brand is strong, you’re still going to be making money and keeping your relevance.
What’s coming down the line for the music business in the next ten years? Who knows? If Kanye has the balls to pull off this kind of publicity stunt, the sky’s the limit when it comes to his douche baggery! However, what we can expect is that the industry is going to continue to favor business-savvy minds and people who know how to build effective brands. The controversial twerp brand isn’t going anywhere. The annoying brand isn’t going anywhere. Anything can be a brand if you know how to build it and keep it strong. The music business may begin with music, but it ends with the artist’s ability to sell themselves.
If you’d like to see the article that prompted this post, click here.
Once again, this has been the view from 214.