Maintaining popularity in the music industry is no easy task, with a song or artist that's at one moment topping the charts suddenly becoming passé the next day. Here we look at how artists can achieve longevity in the turbulent music business.
Guest post by Emily O'Connell of BandBasher
Longevity is something that artists cannot take for granted. But in this day and age, the music industry can be so temperamental. Something that was popular last year – or even last week – can suddenly go out of fashion in the blink of an eye. However, some artists have held onto their fanbase and continued to push out new music that has hit the Billboard charts time and time again. They have been rewarded with longevity but even that within itself is a finicky thing.
What Does Longevity Mean In Music?
Simply stated, it is having a long career life. Longevity within the music industry in a basic sense is having fans that will continue to listen to your music and will support the things that you are doing. That means that fans are continuing to buy your records, will stream your music, purchase your merchandise, or buy concert tickets and attend the live shows that you put on when you’re touring. Having a large fanbase means you will be able to keep yourself afloat in the music industry for years. Eventually, you will be rewarded with longevity.
The Relation Between Branding and Longevity
The next question is – how do I develop myself enough today to get longevity in the future? Hard work and dedication are two of the most important values that you have to think about when you’re in the music industry.
When you’re first starting out, you need to be able to find a fanbase. These fans might already be focused around one particular artist that fits in with the music you are producing but you’ll appeal to them with your own, unique brand. Establishing a brand is extremely important because that is how your audience will know who you are and why they should like your music beyond “it’s good.”
The first thing to ensure that you have a solid brand would be getting a social media. This is important to have if you want to continue to build your brand and to make sure that you are consistent on each website that you use. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even Snapchat can engage both current and new fans. It is also important to get your music on as many different platforms as possible, either by streaming it online on Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple Music or by selling physical copies if that’s a profitable option for you.
Another thing to ensure that you have a solid brand would be getting a website and domain set up for yourself. If you’re just getting started with website design, Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress are good places to start. But it would be good to eventually create your own website. When you have your own space on the web, then you can have a place to direct people to if they want to know more about you as an artist.
Once you have a big enough fanbase (according to the popular theory by Wired magazine founder, Kevin Kelly, “big enough” being more or less equal to 1,000 true fans) you need to focus on producing a constant amount of content for those fans to engage with. Either with releasing new music, posting on your website and social media, or touring.
Each choice you make for content is going to engage fans in a different way and it is going to keep you in the forefront of their mind. Fans are more excited for artists that are consistently active rather than artists that disappear for months at a time (only major, established acts can get away with this, though not for very long).
Instagram is a good place to start, where you can post about what you’re working on currently or promoting a tour. Twitter is another good platform to engage with fans and reply to them in order to let them know that you care about them as a fan.
Staying True To The Brand vs Growing As An Artist
Another thing to remember is that most major artists release new music on a constant basis (though the amount is different depending on the genre). You don’t want to release music that you’re not happy with, but it is important to remember that at a certain point, making music will take over everything you do.
Once you have the music and the fans, the last step would be keeping up with your fans. It is important to stay true to your brand while also constantly promoting yourself as a current artist. When you’re looking for examples of this, look at bands that have been around for a long time that still focus on their main original music genre, like Death Cab for Cutie. They have been around since the early 2000’s but still focus on a quiet indie type of music that was prevalent in their first album.
Other stories like this include Paramore, who have been around since 2003 and have slightly changed their tune over time – but not by much. Both of these bands stay active on social media while also releasing music at a good pace that keeps their fan base interested. That is important to remember when focusing on longevity, staying true to you who are as a person.
Some artist’s story includes longevity and some don’t. But at the end of the day, any great artists include longevity somewhere in their history but it is not an easy thing to achieve. It takes many years of development to finally achieve longevity but with the right amount of work and understanding of how the music industry works, longevity can be achieved.
If you have any more questions about what is branding and why it is so important you can refer to our branding basics course.