Our world is flooded with fads and trends that fizzle away quicker than they appear, especially in entertainment. And the music industry is no stranger to quick turnarounds, especially hip-hop, which has quickly become one of the most popular genres worldwide as artists like Lil Baby, Pop Smoke and DaBaby were all over the Billboard Top 200 Albums list at the end of 2020.
While there are plenty of hip-hop artists who have stood the test of time, the introduction of streaming services and social media platforms like TikTok has created a countless number of one-hit wonders.
So, how do artists fight to stay relevant in such a cut-throat industry that forces smaller artists to fight for every single stream they can muster? They have to market themselves. They have to show that they provide something new to the industry that others can’t, while being consistent in proving their originality.
Russ is a prime example. Russ is an artist who currently brings in almost 14 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Of course, he wasn’t always that successful in driving in listeners. For more than two years, Russ released a song every week on SoundCloud, a music platform that has assisted in the success of some of the top artists in hip-hop today.
While some songs didn’t perform as well as others, it drew in new followers. As cliche as it sounds, it’s a real-world example that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Releasing 100 songs and having one or two see success is far better for an artist than releasing five songs that see minimal success.
Not every artist is able to go on a hiatus and stay relevant like Kendrick Lamar. Not every artist is able to have whatever they put out go number one on the charts like Drake. And why is that? Because artists like Kendrick Lamar and Drake have already done the dirty work.
Smaller artists should be worrying about two things: consistency and engagement. With platforms like TikTok and Twitter being so involved with just about everything, it’s important to have a strong social media presence.
While releasing good music is crucial to an artist’s success, their marketability is just as (or even more) important. More than 60,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify every day. There are hundreds, if not thousands of chart-worthy songs that get overlooked on the daily, so the music is not enough on its own. They have to stand out.
You can provide a great product but, if you can’t create interest about the product, the product will almost never reach the masses. Everything has the potential to be a business opportunity and everything has the potential to be a brand. Drake is a brand, Kanye West is a brand, Jay-Z is a brand. It’s all about how you market yourself to others that makes you stand out.
New artists are small fish in big, big ponds. They need the illusion of being bigger until they actually are. Their moment to make a difference is fleeting. Social media is plagued with copycats and wannabes; be different -- but more importantly -- be consistent in being different.