In the music world, David Byrne is known for being an innovative pioneer. His experience has made him an expert on all things related to artistry and the importance of music scene communities.
One of David Byrne’s astonishing accomplishments can be seen in the Talking Heads film, Stop Making Sense. Widely regarded as one of the greatest music films ever, the band’s production team found power with a small budget.
It isn’t all that surprising that David Byrne would venture his way to the stage of Broadway. If his career has illustrated anything, it’s that his creativity is not confined to one particular medium.
David Byrne is not somebody who typically relishes in keeping things traditional, as is evident in his musical. In fact, Here Lies Love has actually caused a major uproar among the AFM Local 802, a musician’s union.
There’s no denying that all productions on Broadway have followed in the steps of tradition. One of these traditions is that all Broadway musicals have featured live music performances rather than anything pre-recorded.
Here Lies Love, however, relies solely on a pre-recorded soundtrack with which performers sing along with. Byrne has mentioned that this is an integral creative decision because karaoke singing is central to its theme.
In fact, this isn’t the only unconventional thing that the team behind Here Lies Love has opted for. The theater actually has a standing-room-only floor to emulate being at a concert and/or dance club.
Rather than audiences being mere spectators like in every other musical, Here Lies Love provides something unique. Byrne proposes that these unconventional methods will create an immersive experience.
Wondering why there is so much backlash? Well, according to the AFM Local 802, all Broadway contracts require a minimum number of live musician employees.
The AFM Local 802 has been quite inflammatory in their response, calling the choice a “direct attack” on the community. Within 24 hours, they have gathered over 3,300 petition signatures in direct opposition to Here Lies Love’s production choices.
People have been quite vocal on social media, particularly in response to Byrne’s public statement regarding the controversy.
While it does make sense that Broadway shouldn’t be hemmed in by tradition, it does bring labor into question. If anybody is understanding of an artist’s struggle, one would think Byrne would be at the top of the list.
Yet, the choice to use pre-recorded music puts at least 19 musicians out of work. According to the AFM Local 802, “audiences are getting ripped off” by this decision.
Only time will tell if Here Lies Love will submit to these demands or opt for its original artistic vision. It’s important to note that Here Lies Love has been massively successful since its debut in 2010.