from the Ice Age to the dole age
A few things to unpick here. Yes, he has a core of people who will follow him. But since urging people to vote for a far-right political party and declaring that he prefers his own race, that core has shrivelled massively from 50,000 to under 10,000 people willing to buy his albums (UK) which takes him well below the threshold of any serious record company deal. In the last 20 years, a record company just needed to know he had one or two decent songs on a new album, Radio 2 would get behind it, and the album should be safe for 50,000 sales (or over 300,000 for Quarry). Now, it doesn’t matter how good the demos are that he submits to record companies, they know the songs simply will not get played, as radio stations do not want to be associated with a far-right racist. That is a massive difference to his viability as a recording artist (which is what this thread is about).
In terms of a live act, since the Bona Drag era, whenever he plays a song off the latest album the large majority of people at the show won’t know it, and are waiting patiently until Suedehead or How Soon or whatever. That has been the case for 30 years, not the last 10. Most people there don’t care about his latest stuff – they wanna hear The Smiths. And they also don’t care which political party he supports, or whether he prefers his own race (and yes, most of the squabbles round here are meaningless). They wanna hear those amazing Smiths songs. It’s like when I go to see a band like The Cure. Never bought a Cure album but I know and like around ten of their singles. Couldn’t care less about Robert Smith’s political views. Just like seeing The Cure for a bit of 80s indie nostalgia, like most of the people at a Morrissey concert.
Morrissey has actually lost a big chunk of his live audience, maybe half in the UK, but it hasn't disappeared completely and never will (two half full arena shows earlier this year). He can still play reasonably sized venues around the world, as the decline is much smaller outside the UK - elsewhere, his idiotic political statements did not get widely reported (hence the likes of Green Day recently saying they had no idea of his politics when they agreed to the duet). And he is not currently ‘unfashionable’ like he was in the late 90s, and therefore able to bounce back at any given moment. He is (widely considered to be) a deeply unpleasant, far-right racist, and there is a massive difference between the two.
You make a good point about the radio boycott and the difference between his UK fanbase and global one. I've always felt that this sudden rush to 'cancel' Morrissey wouldn't be quite so fervent if his actual music was better, though. He's survived all sorts of stupid remarks and PR disasters - remember his God-awful "book"? I'm not saying that those were on the same scale, but it's amazing what people will overlook and forgive for the sake of art. Maybe he just gave his fans thin gruel for too long and when it came to it, they thought "He's over the hill anyway, I'm not missing anything if I cut off now". I didn't go when he played in Leeds this year - not due to politics but because I started to feel that he was just going through the motions every time, the band looked bored, he often sounded tired. In some ways he has over-toured and it becomes robotic after a while