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Nile Rodgers says David Bowie would have failed to make it in modern music industry

The CHIC icon and Bowie collaborator said that the cut-throat nature of the modern music industry is failing to nurture new talent.

By Nick Reilly

Nile Rodgers plays the Fender Stratocaster Hitmaker
Nile Rodgers plays the Artist Signature Fender Stratocaster Hitmaker (Picture: Fender)

David Bowie would have struggled to break through in today’s music industry due to tough competition and the pressures of streaming, according to Nile Rodgers.

The Chic icon, who produced Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, claimed that the icon would have been dropped in today’s climate and that labels were failing to develop a pipeline of unique new talent.

Rodgers explained how he came to work with Bowie after the British icon was essentially “dropped” by record label RCA following the release of 1980’s Scary Monsters.

“They gave him all that time to try and make a hit, he called me up and we made [Let’s Dance],” said Rodgers. “[The labels] took on this financial responsibility and they would carry the artists they believed in that at some point in time would finally break, those days are truly over.”

He speaking at a House of Commons select committee which investigated the streaming economy and artists for payments, amid huge pressure to make streaming a fairer business model for artists and songwriters.

David Bowie performing ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops (TOTP) in July 1972 (Picture: BBC)

“I’m 71 years old, I’ve been doing this for 50 years of my life,” he said. “In 50 years, you would have thought with the advent of all the new technologies, people like me would have a much better life, things would be easier, we’d all profit together, and that’s not the case. There’s something dreadfully wrong with that.”

Rodgers also explained that he called Bowie “the Picasso of Rock and Roll” because “he was an absolute genius”, even though Bowie “hated” the moniker.