What Is Going on With Ryan Adams’s Instagram?

The disgraced musician recently referred to his back catalog as "for sale" on the social media platform

July 6, 2021 12:59 pm
Ryan Adams with Buck Owens Guitar
Ryan Adams's online behavior has been increasingly erratic.
Getty Images for The Chris Corne

As we’ve mentioned before, since the New York Times first broke the sexual misconduct allegations against him in 2019, Ryan Adams has failed to show any real remorse about his behavior. Despite that, the musician has made several attempts to forge ahead with a comeback, releasing two albums, Wednesdays and Big Colors, in December 2020 and June of this year, respectively.

But apparently the reception to those records hasn’t been satisfactory for the disgraced musician. Adams’s Instagram posts have taken an increasingly desperate tone when talking about his career recently. Last night, he posted the album covers from his earlier catalog — including LPs like Heartbreaker, Gold and Jacksonville City Nights — and cryptically captioned them “for sale.” (“They say don’t post shit like this, but they say a lot of things,” he added in the caption to the Gold post. On the post for Cold Roses, he clarified the record is for sale “if you can get the masters…Good luck.”)

It’s unclear what exactly Adams means — whether he’s joking around, simply urging fans to buy his old records or genuinely trying to sell the publishing rights to his back catalog a la Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, David Crosby and plenty of other Boomer icons — but fans in his heavily policed Instagram comments have been begging him not to sell. “You don’t need to sell the rights, Ryan,” one wrote. “You need to release the thousands of unreleased stuff you’ve got and tour again when Covid allows.”

“I know you’ve seen others suggest it, but I know there’s tons of us that would support you monthly on Patreon,” another comment reads. “10-100 bucks a month from all of us, it’s not a perfect solution but I know the fans will do whatever they can to help.”

Adams also posted and subsequently deleted a post in which he wrote, “I have no record deal. I’m kinda broke. I have no friends (ok I have my best friends for when I was a kid). And Theo [his cat] died. I have a hundred songs. No merch store (not sure why). And I don’t have my old master tapes or recordings (they don’t care/answer my people). SO….if ANYBODY CAN HELP ME…please. I would love to make albums. Or just own a home (I don’t own a home). This is stupid. I miss Theo. I’m mad. I’ve had enough.”


There’s a lot to unpack there — including how the fact that he doesn’t have his old master tapes or recordings relates to his other “for sale” posts — but it’s important to remember that no one’s entitled to a record deal, and all of this is a direct result of his own shitty behavior. If he’s really starved for cash, he could always swallow his pride and get a job at a restaurant or a bar, but he seems determined to salvage his music career. “Kinda broke” is also relative: On June 24, Adams posted that Big Colors had eclipsed 5 million streams, and while Spotify absolutely does not pay artists enough per stream, that’s a large enough number that it still would result in a healthy chunk of cash. (5 million Spotify streams translates to roughly $20,000, and Big Colors is obviously not Adams’s sole source of income). Most working musicians would kill to have their work streamed that many times.

It’s clear Adams is in a bad place, but again, until he makes any attempt to apologize to the women he hurt and demonstrate that he’s changed his ways, he can’t expect his circumstances to change. As our Eric R. Danton wrote, “Adams’ career now is a shadow of what it was at the end of 2018. But it doesn’t have to be … Just as 12-step programs prescribe accountability as part of staying sober, there can be accountability in becoming an ally. If he actually did the work by taking real responsibility for the harm that he’s done and demonstrating, publicly, his commitment to change, Adams might find a measure of what he’s spent so long looking for.”

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