Social media trolling is making performers think twice about giving free performances for branding and publicity as the world is becoming a dangerous and judgemental place. The coverage of Aretha Franklin’s funeral , or any public event, now comes with haters and scrutiny. The days of a softer, less tolerant society are over, and the world is driven by haters who are looking to anonymously expose any perceived error in clothing to behavior. The days of free branding are over as social media pares back thoughts of public life for performers.
Aretha ends an era where it was all about your voice, she would show up in whatever she wanted to wear, and no one cared after they heard the power of the voice of the queen of soul. The world is different now, and Ariana Grande is regretting accepting the invitation to honer the most famous singer we have ever known. I see many performers retreating to the studio versus live performances, and in the world of Spotify and Amazon music where the distribution model is broken for the artist they are often forced to perform live/tour to make a living.
One of the important points missed here is that this was an event to honor Aretha and was intended to extend the love and appreciation when someone passes, and large public funerals will also fall away as family realizes the message of her life could be lost in how the preacher greets performers and guests versus honoring the life of the artist. I attended the Funeral of James Brown in 2006 at the Apollo Theater in 2006 before social media as a journalist, and it was beautiful, every street, and every house played James Brown music, and it was one of the events I will recall for the rest of my life. I am a huge fan of both James and Aretha, and the queen deserved better.