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Stop telling musicians to 'stick to the music'

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In the run up to this general election, or to Brexit last year, how many times did you see your favourite bands or musicians post their political opinion on social media?

The chances are, quite a few. If you looked at the comments section, how many disgruntled ‘fans’ did you see telling them to ‘stick to the music and keep out of politics’? Probably a lot more.

You see, ‘celebrity’ status obviously takes away a person’s existence in the real world. Their musical talent means they can’t also take interest in politics. And they sure as hell don’t have the right to encourage their fans to go out and exercise their right to vote.

This is bullshit.

Your favourite musicians live in the exact same world as you and me. They have Theresa May as their Prime Minister and Donald Trump as their President.

They (hopefully) pay taxes, they have family, they have a life. Being a musician is their job just like being a teacher, nurse or builder may be yours. Their job is not their being.

This upcoming election affects your favourite British singer too, be they a platinum selling artist or in a smaller indie band just gaining some ground. And therefore, they have as much right as you do to express their political views and encourage their fans to vote for a country that they think will be a better one.

Take this as an example: a singer’s parents work as a police officer and a doctor. With the current Conservative cuts, both are struggling and are constantly worried they could be made redundant. This musician has a following of fans, say… 30,000 likes on Facebook, but is still unsigned and underrated so can’t massively help out financially at home.

Maybe they have a sibling, cousin or friend going to university. That musician has the power to influence an attentive group of people to vote for a party that wants to fund the NHS and police forces and invest in education; that vote affects them and their family as well as thousands of other public sector workers and young people.

Do you expect this musician to stay silent? Or can they speak up, and use the small amount of influence they have to try and make a difference?

I know this doesn't speak for every musician ever, but the point should be clear. We all live in the same world, with the same political figureheads and the same policies affecting our lives in different ways.

Where say the proposed 'dementia tax' may not affect your family, it could affect somebody else. We ALL, as humans and citizens, have a democratic right to voice our opinions. Nobody should be silenced (unless it's hate speech... and then... maybe shut them up).

Only this morning I saw the backlash underneath a heartfelt post that Austin from Swim Deep had published to the band's Facebook account, which was an emotional plea to help the working classes. They generally have a young following - and if that post convinced even one young person to vote, their job is done.

Proposed cuts to arts funding under the current government affects the next generation of singers, songwriters, musicians, actors, artists, designers and more. Those, as jobs, are often seen as flimsy. But without the funding to the arts sector, where are the next big music hits, fashionable clothes and cult films going to come from? Music, and the arts, are important to so many - even those who don't realise it but listen to the radio and watch television every day. We should be trying to protect it. What's a world without entertainment?

We, as fans, expect musicians to come out and make statements every time something bad happens in the world. Gosh, everyone looks at Taylor Swift every time something happens and if she hasn't posted anything in five minutes is subjected to thousands of abusive tweets.

So why are we okay when musicians give opinions on terrorism, or climate change, or events in the music industry but not politics? Even if the musician writes a politically charged song, we're more okay with that than Facebook or Twitter posts that aren't written to a beat.

This goes both ways too. Though I personally haven’t seen any musicians coming out in favour of the Conservative or UKIP parties, they have every right to do so if they should - because this is their election too. As human beings and British citizens - this affects us all.

If we can all share political crap on Facebook, trying to convince our 428 Facebook friends to vote a certain way - then so can everyone else, musician or not.

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