Equal parts boyband lover and indie snob. Warning: This music blog may give you genre whiplash.
We’ve all seen those Disney-starlet careers-gone-bad. You know, those singers that are splashed across the front page of every tabloid, just to feed society’s morbid fascination with human train-wrecks. I’m not going to name any names, mainly because I’ll be doing plenty of that later.
At some point in the life of the “child” star, probably around 18 or 19, it becomes painfully apparent that longevity, rather than market saturation, should be the ultimate career goal. If this young media-magnet has operated under the classic child star pattern, they will still be, at 18, upholding the ideals and image that got them fame and success in the first place, probably many years ago.
What is so wrong about that? If it works, it works, right?
In this case, No. Humans are in a constant state of change and evolution. Even before the supposed speed-change-age that many attribute to technology, change was still a major part of the careers of artists. When you think of Shakespeare, the first work that comes to mind is probably either Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or Hamlet. From 1589, William Shakespeare was known as a playwright for his comedies and histories. He did not start writing tragedies, considered some of his finest works, until 1608, well into his career. Shakespeare was able to change and still find success because although he changed his genre, he stayed true to the writing style that had led crowds (if not all the critics) to fall in love with him at The Rose Theatre.
Now, to use a perfect foil to Shakespeare: Miley Cyrus. A few years ago, when she realised she was staring at a life of washed out Disney, Southern Belle-ness, Miley panicked and did a full 180 degree flip. Although the now very adult (almost annoyingly so) star seems to be doing well enough, with her new single “We Can’t Stop” slowly climbing the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, only time will tell whether Miley’s complete change in image has alienated too many fans for her to maintain a career.
The modern pinnacle of successful career change is, of course, Justin Timberlake. So, what did JT do that took his brand in a more successful direction than that of Britney and Miley?
Justin brings his past with him. He evolves, building on past versions of himself. By doing this, he is able to retain current fans as well as gain the new ones that are attracted (Who wouldn’t be attracted to Justin Timberlake?) to his new evolution. Justin has been able to break out of the “boy band” mold and turn himself into the head of a genre, the face of a generation, and the comedian of popular culture. Does he try to shirk his past as the ramen-haired, cheesy N*SYNC member? No. Instead, he thanks his fans from that era and invites them to join him on his journey as he changes at a normal, human pace.
So, reader, what does this have to do with you?
If you’re a young artist, this is especially relevant to you. Adolescence is the stage of life where change happens most quickly and is most fickle. Once you’ve targeting a fan-base that relates to your brand, do not completely change and alienate them. What you can do, however, is evolve with your fans. Don’t be afraid to grow up, especially since that’s exactly what your fans will be doing. Growing up is inevitable- don’t take your brand to a place that doesn’t allow for growth, and don’t be static. Be dynamic!
If you’re an older artist, there is still a lesson to learn from all this. Life doesn’t stop changing when you hit thirty, and neither will you or your fans. By this point, you probably know what works for you and what doesn’t. If you feel like you’ve been dynamic for too long, experiment. Target your values, then evolve within those values. If your music and image is about having fun and living life, as long as you use those as your base inspiration for any new aspect of your career, your brand can remain coherent while undergoing a healthy, much needed update.
Don’t just change, Evolve.
Build upon your Past.
Stick to your Values.
Originally written for 12South Music, 26 July 2013.
So I’ve spent some time reblogging all my past posts onto this new blog. URL has been moved here, so it’s really the same thing. All of my posts are original content, they’ve just been reblogged from my own old blog! Sorry about the confusion.
Lydia x@11 months ago