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Labels and fans dwell on records for too long, says Elton John

By | Published on Thursday 10 May 2018

Elton John

Elton John reckons that, over the last 20 odd years, the record industry has become too focused on squeezing every last penny out of popular albums, to the detriment of artists’ careers long term. Fans shouldn’t be left listening to the same songs for months, even years on end. It should be a few weeks and then on to the next thing.

Appearing on George Ezra’s podcast, John says: “You get someone like Ed Sheeran and he wants to make records like we did, two a year, and it’s harder to do that now because records stay in the charts, on the radio, for so long”.

“It’s really hard releasing more than a record a year, because people haven’t stopped listening to the first, so the second one gets in the way”, agrees Ezra. “I think that’s a result of the playlists on Spotify, because they’re governed by playlists that people are listening to. And that’s why Drake can be number one for however long. It just stays there”.

John, however, reckons the issue stretches back much further, with radio and labels particularly to blame. “Look at Alanis Morissette, how long that [‘Jagged Little Pill’] album [stuck around]”, he says.

“They took five or six singles off that album and instead of moving on quickly to the next one, or [just] taking three or four singles” he goes on. “I think that impairs an artist … I think the record company completely ruined her career with taking so many singles from ‘Jagged Little Pill’, which sold so many copies, and then the next album maybe sold six or seven million and was considered a failure. That is so wrong”.

Rinsing one album, rather than churning out new hits, also means artists are left with less to live off when the public does eventually move on, he adds. “You have a heyday and then you have the rest, and the heyday can never be replaced … It’s cyclical; someone else will have three or four years. Ed will go through that. I’ve talked to him about that, I’ve said, ‘There will come a time when this won’t happen all the time’. You have to accept that”.

So, hey, it’s an interesting interview. Maybe when George Ezra’s musical career is (inevitably, it seems) torpedoed, he has a future in the lucrative world of podcasting. Listen to the rest, including the fun bit where John calls Michael Jackson a “fucking idiot”, here.