Bowie producer says music needs more ‘rule-breakers’ like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar

“Don't copy yesterday's hit, it's a losing battle,” says Tony Visconti

David Bowie producer Tony Visconti has said the music world needs more “rule-breakers”, if anyone’s to follow in the footsteps of the legendary musician.

Visconti, who worked on Bowie’s final album ‘Blackstar’, told BBC Newsbeat that contemporary music suffers from too many trend-followers and too few artists willing to break new ground. “Don’t copy yesterday’s hit, it’s a losing battle,” he offered. “You might get a hit but it won’t sell as much as the thing you copied. That’s what’s wrong with music today.”

He cited Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar as examples of rule-breakers working “at the top.” Speaking about Lamar, he said: “His album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ broke every rule in the book and he had a number one album glued to the top of the charts. You’d think certain labels would learn form that. But they take somebody who is out there and say, ‘That’s what people want.’ No, people want that for one week. You don’t want the same song every single day of your life.”


He went on to argue that major labels are “chasing old hits,” adding: “Everybody likes variation and some of the big labels are leaving out the variation. Some labels want these ready-made kids to write songs for, to groom, to almost train in a gym – that’s ridiculous. There are thousands of young people making great music… give a young kid a chance.”

This March, organisers behind plans for a David Bowie memorial statue in Brixton, the late icon’s birthplace, failed to raise enough money for the project. The crowdfunding project intended to raise £900,000 but only managed to gather £50,000 from fans in four weeks.