The Dark Side of the Music Industry

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Taylor Swift, the Great Guys, and Britney Spears have all faced extreme scrutiny from record labels and the general public. Being locked into contracts can negatively impact performers’ mental health. Graphic by Cinthia Cortez

Glitz, glam, money and fame. It’s no wonder why so many kids grow up wanting to be a musician. The career has a lot of things that they want, but what they don’t see is what happens behind the scenes. 

As a beloved career, the music industry only displays what it wants people to see. It shows musicians touring the world, making an impact on their community, able to buy fancy cars and able to give back to their family and people who supported them, but it is filled with strict contracts, strict routines, and the world wanting to watch someone at the top fall.

On April 9, 2021, Taylor Swift released her re-recorded album “Fearless (Taylor’s Version).” This happened after a long battle to gain the rights to the music she created under Big Machine Label Group.

When Swift was 15 years old, she signed a 13-year contract with Big Machine Label Group. During this time, she recorded six albums, including “Fearless,” “Red” and “Reputation.”

In June of 2019, Scooter Braun, a talent manager who represents Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, announced that he bought Big Machine Label Group.

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In a post made on Tumblr, Swift expressed her sadness over the deal.

“This is my worst-case scenario,” Swift wrote. “This is what happens when you sign a deal at fifteen to someone for whom the term ‘loyalty’ is clearly just a contractual concept.”

Swift stated that all she wanted was to own the rights to the music she created, and that she had been begging for that right for years.

While Swift is able to re-record her previous albums, the problem lies in the way contracts are written in the music industry. 

Contracts don’t just cover who owns what, but they also cover how much someone will work. This is a big problem within the K-Pop community.

Being performers, there is a lot of work that goes into performances, but the way it is being down in the K-Pop community is overdone. Members of the band Great Guys spoke to Insider about what their lives look like being a K-Pop artist.

Health wise, members are pressured into staying in shape. For the members of Great Guys, this requires going to the gym and dancing in the studio every day.

While dancing, the members are also required to wear sandbags on their ankles. 

 “Honestly, we don’t have much time for eating,” said Ho Ryeong, one of the nine members in Great Guys.

On top of this, a lot of artists in the K-Pop community can’t eat snacks at night, and they can’t eat junk food, such as chips or candy.

One of the last breaking points in the music industry for many artists is the mental health problems that come along with it.

As a society, we have seen the rise and decline of many artists. Two notable artists are Justin Bieber and Britney Spears.

Justin Bieber began his career when he was 15 years old, and his career skyrocketed.

While his first single was “One Time,” Bieber didn’t really rise into fame until his song “Baby” was released. This song received a lot of hate, and while millions adored his, millions also hated him.

Being in the spotlight, Bieber faced a lot of ridicule. A lot of people wanted to see him fall, and some had gone as far to attack his character, such as the inspiration for the song “Maria” who accused Bieber as being the father of her baby.

For those who wished that Bieber would make a mistake, that is exactly what they got to witness.

Bieber grew up in the public eye, and he made decisions that most other teenagers would make, for example, peeing in a bucket, but because he was famous, more people judged him.

Years of hate like this, even during a time when he was battling a disease, led him to writing his song “Lonely.”

Another notable downfall in the music industry was Britney Spears.

Spears began her career on Disney as a mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club.” A couple years after leaving the show, Spears started her music career.

At the beginning of her career, Spears received backlash because while she personally acted more innocent, her music and videos were seen as provocative and sexy.

As Spears became more famous, pictures of her were being sold for more and more money, upwards of $1 million. 

While at the beginning Spears was friendly with the paparazzi, the relationship between them quickly declined. 

The paparazzi and tabloids painted Spears as a bad mom and a party animal. 

After constantly being bombarded with paparazzi and what we can assume was mental health issues, Spears shaved off her hair, which was photographed by paparazzi.

After this event and some events that followed, Spears lost the visitation rights to see her children, and she was sent to a mental health facility.

During this time, Spear’s dad, James Spears, was granted conservatorship over Britney’s person, finance and estate. This was after she asked for her father not to be her conservator. 

While the #FreeBritney movement is an important one, the fact here is that the music industry can and has caused many mental health problems for its musicians.

Even though the music industry seems like a lavish life to live on the outside, what lies behind the curtain is something no one wants to go through.

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