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Posthumous albums being released are tricky situations

Posthumous albums being released are tricky situations

Posthumous albums being released are tricky situations
February 02
12:30 2020

With the release of Mac Miller’s new posthumous album “Circles,” an important question is posed on the ethics of releasing an artist’s work after their death.

In the case of Miller’s latest album, I’d have to say that no ethics were particularly breached with the release. 

There are fans who already disagree and feel like it is disrespectful to do so. Some may seem it as a ploy to profit off the dead and others see it as a way to honor the artist’s memory. Either way, it varies by case.

Miller’s family released a statement on the late rapper’s Instagram page announcing the release of his sixth and final album. 

“We simply know that it was important to Malcolm for the world to hear it,” Miller’s family said.

That statement alone should quell any arguments that the release of the album is disgraceful. 

Miller’s family states that he was actively working on the album before his death as a companion piece to his album previous album, “Swimming.” He had every intention of releasing the music, which makes this particular posthumous album a blessing and not a money scheme.

The same goes for artists like XXXTentacion who has had two posthumous albums released since his death in 2018. His fourth and final studio album, “Bad Vibes Forever,” was released in December of 2019. Similar to how Miller’s family announced his album release, XXXTentacion’s mother was a part of the decision-making process in regards to his music.

Having the family members involved should assure doubtful fans that the artists’ best interests are in mind.

There are also examples that are a little more complicated, like the case of Prince’s posthumous album, “Pian& a Microphone, 1983.” Prince was passionate about having control over his music, which is what influenced his name change to an unpronounceable symbol back in 1993.

The music for this album was found in the singer’s home and consists of him developing his songs rather than an actual demo. In other words, it was not meant to be heard.

While I can’t say that the release of this album is an exploitation of Prince, I can say that it is disrespectful. It goes against everything he stood for which is the control of his own music.

As with the other two examples, Prince fans are sure to enjoy the new music and celebrate his legacy, but at what cost? If it goes against his wishes, the very idea of releasing his music should concern fans.

There is obviously no way of knowing what Prince would have really wanted, so in this case, it would have been better to err on the side of caution and not release it at all.

The one thing that clearly distinguishes Prince’s posthumous album with the other two is intention. Did he have any intention of releasing the music? As far as we know, the answer is no.

For fans, these posthumous albums can be like a gift. The loss of an idol can be sad, especially when their art means so much to fans, so a posthumous album can also be seen as nice ode to a life lost.

It is understandable that listening to an artist’s new music after their death can be difficult for some, but for others, the new music serves as a way for fans to grieve and celebrate their beautiful artistry.

Therefore, it really depends on the artist and the circumstances of their situation.

Miller’s family summed it all up nicely when they said that, “This is a complicated process that has no right answer. No clear path.”

For more information, listen to the Daily’s Dose podcast covering Mac Miller’s album here.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Vivian Berreondo

Vivian Berreondo

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