Why One Direction’s gap year should worry the music industry and all music fans

One Direction’s “hiatus” in 2016 will inevitably be traumatic for their fans, but manna from heaven for those who enjoy sneering at lachrymose teenagers for possessing a taste in music they think is vastly inferior to their own. The other story here, however, is that it is also going to be equal parts painful and costly for the businesses that surround and rely on the group for a significant amount of their income.

Musicians at the same level of success as One Direction operate like global businesses. They become transnational corporations that contribute enormously to the economy and generate employment, either full-time or part-time, for thousands of people in a vast ecosystem of their own making. So those laughing up their sleeve that the group’s split is somehow a victory for “real music” are also laughing at companies feasibly closing and people possibly being laid off – or at least having their incomes slashed dramatically. It’s not just the Man missing out on a fat Christmas bonus – the salaries of everyone from the junior staff at the band’s record label, Sony, to the lighting riggers on their tour could evaporate. Spare a thought, too, for those bands who are dropped, or not signed, when Sony’s revenues diminish.

As the second most successful recording artists in 2014 after Taylor Swift, One Direction sold 3.2m copies of Four, their most recent album, globally in 2014, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The year before, they were the biggest recording act in the world, moving 4m copies of Midnight Memories. Their record sales may have declined slowly – 2011’s Up All Night and 2012’s Take Me Home have each sold 5m copies globally – but they remain one of the few acts to set record shop tills ringing when a new album is released. Record company employees aren’t the only ones crossing their fingers for a sales spike with every 1D album – so are all the staff at CD manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Via The Guardian