Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Youth Radio
Michael A. Aczon is a San Francisco Bay Area based entertainment lawyer, and manager with over twenty-five years of experience in the entertainment industry. I interviewed Aczon, who has worked with multi-platinum song writers and artists from a variety of musical genres, about why musicians, even very successful artists, so often lack basic health insurance.
Youth Radio:At what point in an artist's career do they tend to utilize health insurance?
Michael A. Aczon: Most of the ones (artists) that I know will just come out of pocket. They'll pay for medical just like they pay for, you know, anything else, and these are big ticket items. If I break my leg and its going to cost 30,000 to fix that, that's not unlike having to spend 30,000 to fix something at the studio so you know I'll just pay for it.
Youth Radio: If an artist is signed to a major label, do they have a health care plan woven into the actual contract?
Aczon:When an artist signs a major label record deal, they are not the employee. Buried, and when I say buried, buried in these contracts you will find these provisions for insurance, including health care insurance and life insurance. And essentially what the labels are doing is they are insuring an asset. Are they caring about you as a human being, and you know, we want to make sure you're okay, well you know, I'm pretty cynical about that.
Youth Radio: So what about a routine checkup or something like that?
Aczon:I've tried to negotiate that (preventative health insurance) and what a label will say is that's why we're giving you an advance. I chuckle about this one because you know they'll give you 300,000 dollars in advance, well what looks better in a video? You driving down the street in a Hummer or you feeling secure because you went out and purchased a real good medical insurance plan...I'm sorry the Hummer sells more records.
Youth Radio: Are there any parallels that other artists can draw from Michael Jackson's scenario, or was his scenario sort of just unique to him?
Aczon: Let's use Michael Jackson as an example. What's the big issue they were talking about, his inability to sleep, well his inability to sleep might be largely a mental health issue. Well why don't you sleep, well, there's a certain amount of anxiety that you have you know, and when you really weigh what was ahead, this was a make or break concert series that was going up. Now for Michael Jackson that make or break concert series is exactly the same as the unknown artist who has everything hinging on a little baby tour of Northern California or that one record that they scraped together all of their money, and they borrowed money from everybody in their family and charged up fifteen credit cards and now their going to put out a record. And now is the pressure on them any less than Michael Jackson going out on a tour and trying to make a big come back? It's not. The mental health issues are the same, the anxiety is the same. I'm quite sure that that young hip-hop artist that's borrowed all this money and is trying to put out a record, they're not sleeping either, they're trying to perform.
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