When Avicii announced his retirement, many saw it as his giving up. The thought that he still had so much potential as a performer was blinding to people who only wanted an hour of happiness of their own with no consideration for Avicii himself. It was long before the massive announcement that Avicii shared a set of new press photos that had people ridiculing him and seemingly pushing him even further.
It was in response to all of this that longtime friend of Avicii, Laidback Luke, published an editorial in Billboard about the dangers and consequences of going from a bedroom producer to a full-time touring musician and not taking the right precautions.
He writes, “Tim and his team have been kind enough to book me at his Ushuaïa Hotel parties in Ibiza, most recently in August 2015. He looked terrible. He gave me a very sincere but oh-so-tired smile when he saw me. Soon after, he was onstage playing his amazing music — and that’s when it dawned on me. This wonderful and talented kid might not overcome his struggles.
At that moment, I envisioned my friend, now 26, joining the infamous “27 club” of music and film stars who died at that age. It sounds horrible but it’s the truth, and I can’t take back the overwhelming sense of frustration I felt.”
Producers have been trained and convinced that selling music is not enough to make a living, that you have to tour to ever be profitable. This leads to a generation of producers that are only interested in creating a track big enough to get enough recognition to find themselves on a tour lineup supporting another producer that’s probably in the same boat.
But it doesn’t end there. Dance music fans can be ravenous for new content, and that means getting back to the studio. But it’s a catch 22, because when you aren’t touring, you might not be making as much money or maintaining your relevancy and that can lead to stress. It’s a vicious cycle that has consumed even veteran producers like Feed Me or Wolfgang Gartner, though both have finally begun to make their way back behind the decks.
Alas, Avicii has had a much worse time of it. Beginning with pancreatitis and the removal of his gallbladder, Avicii was forced to take time off to recover. Stemming from an abuse of alcohol, the signs were written on his face just as Laidback Luke said.
Laidback Luke notes that veterans need to act as guides to the next generation, to make them aware of the pitfalls and dangers of touring before you’re ready.
“We, the generation of seasoned artists, need to recognize our role in guiding the next generation by pointing out the pitfalls, offering an ear, a shoulder and sometimes a kick in the ass too. We all have to stop looking away. It’s often said that the brightest light casts the darkest shadow — so be brave, and don’t be afraid to walk away from that light.”
Read Laidback Luke’s full piece on Billboard here.