The first thing I noticed at a-ha’s farewell concert in NYC on Saturday was that they have the tallest audience I’ve ever seen. Must be the prevalence of Nordic fans (a-ha is from Norway).
But the other thing I noticed is that like many other bands who peak early in their careers, a-ha is remembered for their earlier work, especially their song “Take On Me” (and the video).
This sometimes happens to performers who last for decades, from The Police to Meatloaf (yes, that’s right).
Isn’t it exhausting to play the same songs again and again? Or to know that because you hit the market perfectly 25 years ago, people want to hear those tunes and are less interested in what you’re doing today? If I get the guitar riff to “Manhattan Skyline” stuck in my head for two days, what must it be like to have it stuck in your head for 20 years?
Then again, performers who do peak early can live comfortably off of royalties from their work. Norman Greenbaum, the writer of “Spirit in the Sky”, which he wrote in 1969, makes an ok living just off of royalties on that one song, which seems to show up in several movies per year.
Seems like the best situation is to have a few hits which pay the bills with passive income and then keep innovating. Whether or not you take the audience with you you’re having fun.