After the death of Avicii, what we should learn (again)
We’ve all been deeply touched by Avicii’s death, in these days. You may enlist a few exceptions: those who claim “There are thousands of people dying every day, so what”, supposedly a display of cynical smartness and objectivity, actually a display of dumbness, as they don’t seem to care that there’s a few people that have left a profound trace in the lives of thousands and millions of human beings –and that’s a fact, period. Then, you’ve got some, er, let’s call ‘em “underground knights” that go for the “He was making shitty music anyway so who cares” option (may we add the variant “He was making shitty music for shitty people”…? Even worse but yes, we’ve read that as well). In both cases, there’s an evident lack of humanity.
That doesn’t mean that it’s unacceptable to dislike Avicii’s musical output. But you’ve had plenty of moments to express that particular opinion, you’ll have ‘em in the future for sure: no need to do it now. The sad passing away of a man is something that calls for respect. Once again, a matter of humanity.
Question is: how human has the music business been to Avicii? Has his death been caused by the extreme & excessive demands of the music biz? This is hard to be answered. Better said, we will never know the exact answer. Almost all of us drink, or used to drink (remember that binge drinking when you used to be a teenager, at least?). Many of us happened to have a rock’n’roll lifestyle, let’s put it like this, in certain moments of our life – and some of us still do. We have non-smokers, non-drinkers, anti-drug idealists that have died relatively young on one hand, on the other we have Mick Jagger and Keith Richards kicking asses at the age of your grandpa. That means: every person is different. Every person reacts differently. Every person has different standards.
What may have harmed Avicii (the stress, the constant touring, the exposure to the public, the drinks, the drugs) could well be a cup of decent flavored tea to others. So, we don’t find 100% correct the sentence “The music biz killed Avicii”, but we do believe that a question has to be raised: how safe is a system that puts numbers and economical profits at the top of every priority? How safe is a system that intentionally drives people to explore their limits – and beyond? How safe is a system where a guy or a girl excessing his of her own limits (look at Amy, look at Jimi, look at Janis, look at Jim, that infamous “club of aged 27” that Avicii barely missed…) becomes even more fashionable, seductive and attractive?
Music is an industry. It would be hypocrite to ignore or deny that. More gigs, more tickets sold, more exposure means more job opportunities, more projects, more developments. But from time to time each of one should stop and ask himself or herself “Is it worth?”. Music is an industry, but originally is just a means of expression that spread all around the world to make human beings happier: actually, that’s why it works so well as an industry, still. So, please doublecheck. If you’re an artist: is success making me feel better? Is playing a lot around making me happier? If I’m into drug and alcohol, am I able to handle this or is it them controlling my life and choices? If you’re a manager and booking agent: am I working for the bank account of my artist (and mine as well) or am I working for a human being? If you’re a cynical manager or booking agent: is it a good long-term investment to have the artist I represent richer, more famous but unhappier? If you’re just a fan and a music listener: am I able to remember that a musician is a human being just like I am? Sometimes we don’t wanna go to work, sometimes we fuck up, sometimes we screw something, sometimes we’re not as good and efficient as we should be, sometimes when the environment surrounding us is too demanding we feel incredibly lost and fragile.
It’s all of us that need to be more human. And It’s all of us who can contribute to re-establish a context where music happens to be a (more) natural and pure enjoyment. This is not referred to Avicii and his sad and dramatic passing away; this is referred to everyone. To every single musician. To every single manager or agent. To every single journalist. To every single music fan or listener. To all those who are reading this.