All Joking Aside, I’m Concerned About Bieber

Justin Bieber’s annus horribilis continues.  (Stop snickering; it’s not what you think). Cancelled shows. Buddies wrecking his cars.  Being Twittered holding a blunt.  The disappointing birthday party. Getting sick during a show.  The gasmask. The dead hamster.

The site Hotel Chatter (I know, I know.  I spend too much time online) reports that Bieber bailed from the super-exclusive Le Meurice Hotel in Paris allegedly because the other super-rich guests were complaining about the noise.  

Yes, there’s plenty of schadenfreude for everyone, but in all seriousness, we should be concerned and wish him nothing but the best in his career.

I’m deadly serious.

As one of Canada’s major musical exports, the profits he generates are important sources of revenue for the Canadian music industry.  The kid is an industry unto himself, supporting the livelihoods of many dozens of people.

A good portion of the money his label makes from his deal is reinvested back into new acts, most of which will end up being money losers.  But that’s the way the business works:  the profits of the successful and famous underwrite and subsidize the efforts of struggling and unknown.  

From a business point of view, all Canadian music fans should hope that Bieber continues to generate mountains of cash so that some brand new act on the roster can have time to develop and mature.  

As much as people may dislike Bieber and his music (Full disclosure:  guilty as charged), we should never lose sight of how the music business ecosystem works.  No superstars, no investment in new bands.

We should all hope that Bieber makes this difficult transition from kiddie star to something more mature. If he doesn’t, you may never even hear of your next favourite band.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

4 thoughts on “All Joking Aside, I’m Concerned About Bieber

  • March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Not many people seem to make the connection, but it seems to me that Bieber (and other child music superstars) aren't unlike Michael Jackson – starting at a very young age, performing around the world to millions of fans and making millions of dollars. We shouldn't be so quick to judge him, and it wouldn't surprise me if at the time Michael Jackson was a child star, he got a lot of criticism (I don't know if he did) and I'm sure he got a lot of press attention. We all saw how he ended up.

    Present day with the media and fame how it is and with social media on top of it, it can't be easy to ignore the hate and overblown hysterical criticism – we had front page news and teenagers' mum's on breakfast TV here in the UK when he went onstage late for a gig at the O2. I mean come on!

    Like you say in the blog, people should be looking to help him cope, help him stay focused and encourage innovation and development in the industry, and not just sit back and watch the disasters unfold as though he deserves it.

  • March 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    i don't wish any ill omens on anyone (even justin bieber) and I realize how the music industry works. I even see the connection people make between Jackson and Bieber. But there is a big leap there. Michael Jackson actually made interesting, music with thought provoking lyrics. Interesting stuff. No offence to Bieber, but the music is so hollow and shallow man,… Iknow i know, to each there own. But any serious musician will tell you that Jackson had much much more interesting material than Bieber ever had. The popular music of today is so dumbed down that it is a fading shade of what it once was. It's a textbook today. A textbook on current events and a young impressionable mind is all you need these days to make an "American Idol".. I'm convinced It's all a grand act of hypnosis, people these days think they are listening to the hot new thing, but really they've just listened to the same song over and over again, a long shallow drone of sound.. penetrating and inserting itself into our subconscious mind and telling us everything is "A-Ok".
    but then again, maybe i'm just ignorant, and this is how it's always worked..

    "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing."

  • March 20, 2013 at 1:18 am

    On one hand, I can see the reason in wishing him well. On the otherhand, there is total justification in dissing him. It's what Bieber symbolizes: fluffy, characterless, disposable pop that wouldn't raise the bar to anything if his life depended on it. From the Bay City Rollers and Menudo to One Direction, we've seen this story before. It's all the same shit. Bieber fans will outgrow him and move onto something else, and he will be a has-been like the David Cassidy's and Leif Garrett's of this world. So it's really not Bieber…but the transparency, greed and lack of vision he represents.

  • March 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I don't think the original article suggested much musical merit – Jackson certainly did more interesting stuff over the course of his career that appealed to a wider range of audience – but Bieber's still a person and a musical industry apart from a walking schadenfreude generator (band name – *write that down*!). What always amazes me in these scenarios is that of course many of the people close to him that genuinely care about him personally lose him to the fame, but you'd think the leechers and hangers-on would care about their meal ticket flying away to a future trailer park campsite or worse. I guess it's the nature of the beast – by definition he has a limited shelf life so smoke'em if ya got'em. I don't wish the kid any more ill than I would a camera operator for the honey booboo show…


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