Alongside being a sports star, becoming a professional singer or musician is one of the most popular dreams among young children. But while the former ambition usually dies before high school, the latter is one that thousands try to pursue. However, only a small percentage will make it a reality.
The music industry is arguably tougher than ever, especially as there are far greater expectations than ever. Meanwhile, a number of elements have killed music sales to further crank up the difficulty.
So what does an artist need to make it in the modern industry? Well, aside from a stroke of luck, here are three of the key features.
Above all else, a modern music artist needs to be a master of their trade. OK, there are the odd exceptions (Gangnam Style anyone?) but 99.9% are talented artists. You might not like their music, but it’s hard to deny that most stars are good at what they do.
As with any art, practice makes perfect. It’s true that you need a little God-given talent to thrive. Nevertheless, earning your stripes on the stage or in the recording studio is key. Even the supposed overnight success stories have often waited years before getting their big breaks.
Lacking talent doesn’t mean you can’t still gain a lot of enjoyment from music. However, it’s important to be realistic. If your music isn’t worth buying, it’s not the career path for you.
Music is an important part of modern culture. As such, the best artists need to offer far more than catchy tunes alone. Quite frankly, marketability is key.
Even artists of past generations were cultural icons. Nowadays, the impact of social media means that musicians need greater branding and media training than ever. This is especially true on the way up, but it also imperative once you’ve made it too. After all, one negative episode could have a truly damaging impact.
Ultimately, a professional artist is a business. Music is the product, but the packaging of a great personal persona is equally vital to selling items.
Creating music is more accessible than ever. Video sharing platforms make it easy to spread the word. Meanwhile, professional disc replication is easier and more affordable than ever. In fact, many artists are capable of making it on their own without the external help of PR companies. However, the biggest challenge facing modern artists is becoming original.
It’s a crowded marketplace. Without a unique voice, both literally and characteristically, you will get lost in the crowd. Beyonce, Lady Gaga, One Direction, Adele, and co. have all mastered their individual charms.
In many ways, it’s a combination of the first two aspects of artistry and business. Ultimately, it boils down to finding an audience and finding creative ways to build it. Collaborations are a great way to borrow fans from demographics you wouldn’t usually hit. Rihanna and Coldplay stand out as particularly impressive duets in recent times. Finding ways to break the mould is key. Without it, you’re destined to become just another commercially unviable act.