Weekly survey: Have you ever stopped listening to an artist because of something they did or said?

We live in an era of instant outrage, fueled by the fact that the Internet is forever. People are being held to account for not only things they say and do in the present but also for what they may have done in the past.

There are too many examples to list. The charges against Jacob Hoggard of Hedley. R Kelly’s alleged abuse of women. Chris Brown’s general thuggery. Jimmy Page dating a 14-year-old while on tour with Led Zeppelin. Various accusations of sexual indiscretions by David Bowie. Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 13-year-old cousin.

Some people believe that the art needs to be separated from the personal foibles and felonies of the artist, especially if these offenses happened in the past when the accused may have been a completely different person operating within the accepted morals of the time.

Others say “No! None of this behaviour should be tolerated! We need to bring everything to the fore so that this sort of thing is forever discouraged!”

Where do you stand on this side of the debate? Have you ever stopped like an artist because of something he/she said/did? Or can you keep the music and the musician separate?

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.

10 thoughts on “Weekly survey: Have you ever stopped listening to an artist because of something they did or said?

  • February 4, 2019 at 10:20 am
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    When these artists have their day in court to face the accusers, then that’s when you should make the decision. To much rumor and guilty in the court of public opinion.

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  • February 4, 2019 at 11:08 am
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    Well, I haven’t listened to much of Smashing Pumpkins newer catalogue because of what an insufferable pratt Billy Corgan has been these last few years, or maybe it’s just ‘cause it’s not that good?!?

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    • February 5, 2019 at 7:29 pm
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      A little from column A, and a little from column B.

      Billy Corgan was always an insufferable prat, but his music was good enough for (many of) us to overlook his personal failings. Now, not so much.

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  • February 4, 2019 at 12:15 pm
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    An interesting question that I have mixed feelings about. Seems to me if I knew in advance that an artist who is currently performing and putting out new music was a sexual abuser (you seem to limit your felonious acts to that category) it might color the music for me and I would stop listening because the music would be spoiled for me.

    But for stuff that happened half a century ago? Makes no difference to me. If I already like the music, I don’t care about what they did in their personal lives. No more than I’d care about other felonies they might have committed (and there are a bunch of those out there, too).

    Double standard, I guess, but there it is.

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  • February 4, 2019 at 12:34 pm
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    I stopped listening to Brand New because of the accusations against their lead singer

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  • February 4, 2019 at 4:32 pm
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    They aren’t together anymore anyway, but if there’s ever a Lostprophets reunion tour I certainly wouldn’t go if Ian Watkins was in any way involved.

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    • February 4, 2019 at 4:35 pm
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      Of course, seeing that he’ll likely spend the next two decades in jail, this is probably not a scenario I have to worry much about.

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    • February 5, 2019 at 7:32 pm
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      Yes, I’ve had this quandary.

      I really liked their music, and it sucks for the rest of the band. But I’ve had the ‘Start Something’ CD sitting on top of one of our CD stacks for a couple of years now, while I procrastinate over what to do with it.

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  • February 4, 2019 at 7:06 pm
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    I could never deliberately listen to Michelle Shocked again after her recent homophobic rant on stage.

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  • February 5, 2019 at 2:33 am
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    I’ve stopped listening to a bands’ new stuff because of how they talked about woman at a live show. It made me uncomfortable to be a woman in the crowd, and made it hard to enjoy their music. Their old catalog has a spot in my formative years (and I have the CDs if I ever want to listen without contributing to them financially) but I won’t buy their new stuff or stream them.

    The opposite is also true. One of my favorite bands (USS) seems all about acceptance and support of all their fans, and have been nothing but amazing live and in meet-and-greet scenarios. Their approach to people is one of the reasons I am a fan and will contribute financially as much as I can to their band.

    Reply

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