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Little Simz cancels US tour citing financial unviability as an indie artist – The Guardian

The UK rapper and Top Boy actor said the month-long tour would leave her ‘in a huge deficit’, highlighting the difficulties many musicians face to make a livelihood
Little Simz has cancelled her upcoming US tour, citing the financial unviability of the undertaking as an independent artist.
“I take my live shows seriously and would only want to give you guys nothing but the best of me,” the 28-year-old rapper and actor, born Simbiatu Ajikawo, tweeted.
“Being an independent artist, I pay for everything encompassing my live performances out of my own pocket and touring the US for a month would leave me in a huge deficit. As much as this pains me to not see you at this time, I’m just not able to put myself through that mental stress.”
The 11-date tour was due to commence in May. It would have been the first time that Simz had showcased her widely acclaimed 2021 album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, in the US. A representative for the musician could not confirm whether the cancellation would also affect her planned dates in Canada and South America.
Simz advised artists to “know your worth and stick to your guns”.
Her announcement comes at a time of renewed awareness of how difficult it is for independent musicians to make a living – and defies assumptions that live performance is one of the last bankable certainties that they have on their side. Last week the Guardian revealed that Universal Music Group is profiting from the 25% cut that Academy Music Group venues take from merchandise sales in its venues.
This month the acclaimed North Carolina indie band Wednesday – which has 250k monthly listeners on Spotify – went viral after detailing the economics of playing seven shows at Texas industry festival SXSW, which left them $98.39 in debt.
“We are technically a band that is ‘doing very well’ at the moment!” Wednesday frontperson Karly Hartzman tweeted. “I ain’t complaining abt doing my dream job, but do wanna show why being paid fairly from streaming would make a difference.”
In January, the UK’s competitions watchdog launched an in-depth study into music streaming to assess whether the big record labels and services such as Spotify hold “excessive power”, and whether artists and fans are getting a fair deal.
It came after a scathing report by a cross-party committee of MPs in 2021 called for a “complete reset” of a streaming model it believed only benefited big labels and superstar acts.
Independent music lovers have also been left shaken by the sale of Bandcamp, a streaming and sales site that has prioritised better revenues for creators, to Epic Games in March.
Simz told fans that it was important to her to “speak my truth about this” and said she intended to tour the US when she could.
She said she was busy “creating and working on art” in different media: as well as music, she stars in the Netflix series Top Boy and will appear in the upcoming Amazon Prime Video adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s 2016 novel The Power, and has produced her own comic books.
In February, Simz was named best new artist at the Brit awards. Despite having released her debut album more than six years earlier, she only became eligible for the award when Sometimes I Must Be Introvert reached No 4 in the UK albums chart: artists must have had a Top 40 album or two Top 20 singles to qualify.

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