Solid, quality read. Here are a few excerpts of note + my analysis:
"In mentioning album sales, I’d like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they’re buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone. It isn’t as easy today as it was 20 years ago to have a multiplatinum-selling album, and as artists, that should challenge and motivate us.”
Thank you Miss Swift! Honestly, I’m tired of hearing artists & execs bitchin’ about “the good ol’ days.” They try to spin it as this notion that the new generations don’t appreciate art & its value. I call BS. The main reason these same artists & execs clamor for the old days is b/c it was easy money! The issue is that there were so many terrible to average albums that fans were paying $12+ to support this land of milk & honey for artists & execs (especially in the 90s). Fans got fed up of the BS and were finally given the tools w/ the advent of Napster & the internet to circumvent these weakass or average albums (that might’ve had at most 1-3 good singles out of 10+ songs).
Albums aren’t dead. Like T Swizzle said, fans are buying “only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren’t alone in feeling so alone.” The reality is back in the day you could go platinum w/ an average to solid album. Now, we’re inundated w/ information overload that only the AMAZING surfaces to the top & does big #s in the millions. So, the onus is on artists to craft masterpieces & labels to market them appropriately & creatively. Artists and labels should see this as an exciting challenge & source of motivation. At the end of the day, are you not getting into the arts to produce the best work you can & inspire the masses?
"I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say "shock"; I said "surprise." I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can’t this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?
In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation’s artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be.”
Part of this so-called “short attention span” with the new generation also means putting out music, videos, products, etc. more consistently than back in the days. Essentially, keep yourself in the public eye consistently. I, personally, am not the biggest fan of over-saturation like say a Lil Wayne who seems to be everywhere, on every song, on every channel lol. But, maintaining a consistent output whether it be via music, videos, and/or creative avenues is key to not losing fans and your longevity as an artist.
Lana Del Rey and her camp did a noteworthy job of actualizing my point of maintaining visibility. She blew up virally around 2010 to 2011. Her major label debut album ‘Born to Die' dropped in 2012. Her second album just dropped a few weeks ago. That's a 2+ year gap. Not necessarily supporting my point. However, in that span, she released 'Born to Die: The Paradise Edition' late in 2012. This also coincided w/ the release for the short film for her track “Ride,” which was a massive hit w/ her fans & on the internet. Then, in 2013 Cedric Gervais's remix of her single “Summertime Sadness” led to arguably the biggest hit of last year. This carried enough buzz to parlay into anticipation and coverage for her recent album 'Ultraviolence.’
You also can’t rest on your laurels as an artist. You can’t go on some victory parade, touring the world and forget about the essence of it all: the music. This seems to be the case w/ Lady Gaga who went on this successful world tour yet has had lukewarm love for her last 2 albums and struggling to find that hit that seemed to come so effortlessly w/ her classic Pop albums ‘The Fame' and 'The Fame Monster’. At the end of the day, it is the music that will determine your longevity. That should be at the core of your consistency.
"There are a few things I have witnessed becoming obsolete in the past few years, the first being autographs. I haven’t been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento “kids these days” want is a selfie. It’s part of the new currency, which seems to be “how many followers you have on Instagram.”
This is nuts! It highlights how attached to tech the new wave of youth is & will become even moreso as the years pass by. As an artist, you can either use technology to your advantage or cry in your little corner, bitchin’ about how tech has ruined the music landscape while other acts pass you by & attain their dreams. Your choice.
"A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”
This piggbacks off point #3. In this day & age, you cannot live insulated. That’s a death wish as an artist. Embrace the connectivity age! Engage your fans via social media platforms like Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, FB, etc. The essence of a successful artist is building that emotional bridge between yourself and the fans, making them feel that deep connection with you. In this day & age, that means having a level of openness with the public, even to a degree about your personal life. I’ll leave the degree to which you do so up to you. I know I personally still value my privacy, so I wouldn’t put all my shit out to dry. Some artists do this, though, successfully. Their fans feel one w/ them b/c they know every damn detail. Point is to engage & converse w/ the fans.
BTW, I do want to stress once again that MUSIC ALWAYS COMES FIRST. If you find yourself doing more social media shit to the point that it’s adversely affecting your creativity, this is no bueno / a problem. Time to possibly take a social media fast or curtail your usage. John Mayer stressed this beautifully at a talk back in 2011 at his alma mater Berklee saying:
“The tweets are getting shorter, but the songs are still 4 minutes long. You’re coming up with 140-character zingers, and the song is still 4 minutes long…I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. And I was a tweetaholic. I had four million twitter followers, and I was always writing on it. And I stopped using twitter as an outlet and I started using twitter as the instrument to riff on, and it started to make my mind smaller and smaller and smaller. And I couldn’t write a song.”
"Another theme I see fading into the gray is genre distinction. These days, nothing great you hear on the radio seems to come from just one musical influence. The wild, unpredictable fun in making music today is that anything goes. Pop sounds like hip hop; country sounds like rock; rock sounds like soul; and folk sounds like country—and to me, that’s incredible progress. I want to make music that reflects all of my influences, and I think that in the coming decades the idea of genres will become less of a career-defining path and more of an organizational tool.
This moment in music is so exciting because the creative avenues an artist can explore are limitless. In this moment in music, stepping out of your comfort zone is rewarded, and sonic evolution is not only accepted…it is celebrated. The only real risk is being too afraid to take a risk at all.”
Genres influencing each other and/or birthing new sounds isn’t groundbreaking, new persay. Music history shows this has been going on for eons. However, the openness & acceptance of different genres influencing each other is refreshing. Technology has def influenced this because the world is now interconnected at levels never seen before. The world is not insulated. Artists can hear music and other influences from all realms and corners of the world, and, this is visible in the music and art put out today. It’s a sight to see. Beautiful.
As such, let your creative wings soar! Experiment! Don’t allow yourself to get boxed in to some formulaic BS. Uniqueness and rebelling against conformity are celebrated in the music realm & by the younger generations as evidenced by the meteoric rise of such artists as Lorde & the success of her massive hit “Royals.”
Enjoy my fellow lads! Exciting times abound for us artists! :)