By Victoria Cote
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that there have been quite a few tours this year that have been canceled due to vocal injuries. Major artists, such as Florence + the Machine, Adele, John Mayer, Frank Ocean, and Imagine Dragons have all had minor and/or major vocal injuries that have either postponed their tours or forced them to be cancelled altogether. Vocal injury is a broad term. There are tons of different injuries that can strain your vocal chords, but they all have a similar treatment: refraining from singing or talking.
The cancellation or postponement of tours is not just beyond upsetting to fans, but is obviously detrimental to an artist’s career as well. Considering live entertainment and touring provide the bulk of an artist’s income, not touring can really hurt some acts in the long run. Not only can it hurt an artist’s income, but touring can also really put a damper on up-and-coming acts that need the exposure. Touring is absolutely critical for creating a fan base and maintaining it, so the big question is: why are these artists having vocal issues, and how can it be stopped?
Every big-time artist has a vocal coach, but small acts are not always so fortunate. They have to perform an awfully large amount to get the exposure, because not every small act has Lana Del Rey-like support from a label. Imagine Dragons performed 14 shows within the span of a week at the South by Southwest music festival, therefore, ending in lead singer Dan Reynolds having to get a polyp on his vocal chords removed. There is no doubt that a small act like Imagine Dragons needs to play as much as possible, which is pretty impossible considering that the therapy following this type of surgery is complete silence.
Artists are straining their voices in order to have successful careers, and audiences expect live shows. It’s a vicious cycle. Unless artists are willing to have short-lived and fast-paced careers, many need to learn to rest their voices and do extremely thorough vocal warm-ups. Or, possibly, fans need to expect fewer shows, but that’s never going to happen. Regardless of feelings, something has got to give, because artists are still people and shouldn’t have to endanger their body for entertainment purposes, even if it’s their source of income.