October 25, 2022
Unsurprisingly, the internet is divided in light of the recent allegations surrounding indie artist Rex Orange County. The man behind the alias, Alex O’Connor, was accused of six counts of sexual assault in early October. He allegedly “denied all charges in a London courtroom on Monday, and a provisional trial date was set for January 3,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. It is widely agreed that O’Connor’s actions are to be frowned upon; yet, some die-hard fans argue that continuing to enjoy his music is not equivalent to supporting his despicable actions. In actuality, this is far from true.
Supporting the notion that you can separate art from artists or music from musicians completely disregards the royalties that artists profit from. Every time a song is played, an artist is profiting from royalty rates. “According to one Spotify company filing, average per-stream payouts from the company are between $0.006 and $0.0084; numbers from Apple Music, YouTube Music, Deezer and other streaming services are comparable,” Rolling Stone explained. For example, one of O’Connor’s top-streamed songs, “Best Friend,” boasts over 500 million listens. From “Best Friend” alone, O’Connor likely reaped between $3,100,000 and $4,400,000 in rewards. Though the per-stream payout rate may seem minuscule, the massive success from worldwide sensations like Rex Orange County turns a fraction of a cent into millions of dollars in earnings.
Not to mention the fact that celebrities are much more likely to avoid sufficient legal punishment. The wealthy stars who make millions from one song can afford a high-end defense attorney and the minimal bail prices achieved by the expensive and experienced lawyers. Unfortunately, this led to the unjust demise of former American Secretary Mary Jo Kopechne. In 1969, former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy recklessly drove off of a bridge into a body of water and fled the scene, sealing the fate of Kopechne who was still trapped in the sinking car. “Kennedy could have been charged with vehicular manslaughter, but instead he was charged and plead guilty to fleeing a crime scene, which he did not serve time for,” the University of Massachusetts Daily Collegian columnist, Nicole Biagioni, wrote in 2019. “Instead, he was banned from driving.” Due to instances such as these where superstars are let go with a slap on the wrist, incarceration is not a large threat to celebrity criminals, but social and monetary repercussions should be.
To denounce supporting an artist while continuing to stream their music is hypocritical and performative. Allowing artists to earn royalties regardless of their actions cannot become a shared sentiment. Streaming music from sexual abusers allows these wretched human beings to evade the financial consequences that they deserve. No matter how enjoyable Rex Orange County’s music is, O’Connor and other abusive artists must be held accountable. If they are let off the legal hook, fans must hold them accountable by discontinuing the support of their art.
Sincerely, a former Rex Orange County fan.
For more in-depth information about royalties, visit https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/features/how-musicians-make-money-or-dont-at-all-in-2018-706745/. For more information about Alex O’Connor’s allegations, visit https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-10-10/singer-rex-orange-county-accused-of-sexual-assault.
Riley Carroll (she/her) is a class of 2025 communication major from Houston, Texas interested in pursuing copywriting, reporting and concert photography….
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