Releasing new music posthumously is disrespectful to artists

Amelia Foster, A&E Editor, Multimedia Editor

When famous artists die, it feels like the whole world mourns. Whether it’s the hashtags on every social media story or countless articles and tweets, their image suddenly appears everywhere. With the immense rise of popularity, fans begin begging for more work from that artist, and that’s where problems begin. Greed causes producers and labels to cash in on the attention and release more work, even if the artist never got to finish it. The artist is dead, don’t fool yourself. Don’t alter their voice when they can’t even speak up to say that it’s wrong.

Recently, Mac Miller’s producers released an album, Circles, that’s already creating hits. It is Miller’s voice, his face on the album cover, but it couldn’t possibly be his album—he wasn’t finished with it before his death nearly two years ago. He had no definitive say on how it was promoted, how the finishing touches were done. The label released a cash grab, not a work of art meant to honor Miller’s image.

This issue doesn’t impact just the recently dead. In late 2019, it was announced that there was going to be a Whitney Houston hologram tour, happening only for two months in early 2020. The event is being marketed as an authentic night with Houston—who passed away in 2012—as if there is anything authentic about watching a dead woman on a stage while an audio track plays.

Sure, art gets released posthumously all the time. Vincent Van Gogh didn’t become famous until after his death and now he’s one of the most famous painters of all time. The issue isn’t that they are dead, the issue is that they never finished—or even started, in Houston’s case—their art. We have no idea if this is what their end product would have looked like, so there’s no true way to say it is their art, only their name slapped upon it.

The dead should stay dead. We can honor them and we can play their music and mourn, but it’s disrespectful to try and resurrect their image just to make a profit off of their fame.