Article by Asia Poole
Art imitates life and life imitates art. That’s the world we’ve been used to for so many years. We have listened to music, watched movies, and read books in a way that separated its creator from its existence. Not any more! Enter… Cancel Culture.
Social media platforms, namely Twitter, have become the mecca for truth telling, holding people accountable and sharing opinions on a global level. Misguided tweets and interview clips become memes and hashtags for people around the world to laugh, debate and chatter about for a few weeks at a time. These trending moments can sometimes turn into larger investigations into a celebrities life, but other times they just slightly alter their reputation and spike an interest in their work.
Artists such as Taylor Swift, 6ix9ine, Katy Perry and Kanye West (to name a few) have been cancelled before and somehow survived. They are still top artists that saw higher streaming numbers during their time as a hashtag than they did prior to cancellations. Whether it's because fans want to show more support, haters want to find ammunition, or their names are slipping into the subconscious of the undecided -- their music is played at a higher rate.
Even when the stakes are higher, like in the cases of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly, Nielsen ratings show a spike in music streaming. According to this Jezebel article, documentaries and legal affairs do little to no damage to the artists streaming numbers. During the anticipatory period -- leading up to the release of documentaries or the start of a trail, streaming numbers jump up. After the documentary airs or trail comes to end, the streaming numbers nearly triple.
The correlation seems to be between the size of the cancel movement and reach of the artists catalogue. Basically, the more polarizing the issue -- the more streaming one can expect. The artist’s reputation will most definitely take a hit, but it is not necessarily bad for business.
While cancel culture aims to rectify injustices, both social and legal, by impacting the success and reputation of an artist; it seems to negatively affect the reputation of the artist and not so much their work.
To put it simply, it does not hurt the artist -- but it does open the door for a rebrand.