That’s right, we’re saying that it’s Live Nation that’s unlucky here. Amidst the news of several high profile cancellations, it seems promoters are fairing worse. Here’s why:
Let’s begin with Maroon 5. The international press can cut the cute speculative talk. Let’s get real: the Chinese government has on numerous occasions leveled critique at public figures including those in high office (and here), event organizers, and whole nations in general for hosting and/or endorsing the activities of “his holiness the DL”. Another point – the state does not care about foreign artists. Arguably, it never has and never will care, and the thought of calling a day on a tour by the likes of Maroon 5…it’s not even a thing. It’s nothing. So the guy on keys wishes “his holiness” happy birthday. Great. Does anyone really second guess that the country known above all others for its proactive and thorough online censorship practices, has the means in place to scour international social networks for sensitive topics? You’ve got a highly public figure who’s set to play two shows in the biggest venues in the country dispatching niceties to an exiled man here. It’s utter ignorance on the part of the artist. Maybe Live Nation needs to write up a little guidebook with pop-up pictures, for those artists who don’t read newspapers or watch the news. Even Buzzfeed covers this stuff. It was totally avoidable. At least in Katy Perry’s case we could laugh at the unfortunate series of associations that were made between her outfit and the Taiwanese flag. Maroon 5’s case just leaves us with a feeling of bewilderment.
Second cancellation: Robbie Williams. This is still shrouded in a little mystery, but it’s quite simple to explain. If an artist cancels an entire South East Asian tour it’s probably for one of two reasons. One: he/she has been beset by a nasty condition that requires serious medical attention. Two: it is not economically viable to carry out the tour. Now, if Robbie were to be terminally ill, or suffering from some sort of chronic fatigue, we would have heard about it in the international press. He probably wouldn’t be strutting about in Tiger Speedos, or getting embroiled in planning disputes with legendary rock stars. So if we had to hazard a guess, we’d say the tour was under-promoted; the artist failed to connect with local audiences in a meaningful way, and basically too few tickets were sold. This isn’t surprising, really, given that Robbie hasn’t done anything of note musically for nearly a decade and that he has never previously done anything to warrant arena status in Asia.
Live Nation is Live Nation, AEG is AEG, so we don’t need to dwell too much on company losses. Rather, we’d like to stress that artists have an obligation to acknowledge the influence of their own actions on the grand stage of the world. That includes the online stage. If you’re an internationally touring artist, you need to be worldly, you need to read about the places you go to and get informed. That should be part of the fun. How can you connect with a foreign audience if you don’t even understand the major issues of the day that they face? It’s not the promoter’s job to educate artists; it’s a personal responsibility.