Now, we consume, create, and cure the content all at once. Winning the attention of any audience is an exercise of supreme deliberation and tireless execution. More than ever, the popularity of an artist depends on factors beyond his music. For example, an artist like DJ Khaled, music producer and DJ, shines the same for his work in the studio as his videos on Snapchat. And although the videos nourish a further interest in his music; they are indispensable to move the public there.
That’s why the songs themselves don’t become hits. Hits are conversations between the artist and his/her audience. It is not about promoting singles alone, but about generating relationships. The artist’s challenge then seems to be:
(1) create music that represents your values, to
(2) talk with audiences that identify themselves with it, and
(3) generate communities based on these conversations;
(4) using media beyond music.
Interestingly, the community is not generated around the artist, but around the values it represents. The community is as strong as the networks that support it. Good conversations have moderators. Good conversations also maintain a common thread, do not go off topic or betray the positions already taken. And finally, good conversations give space to all its participants, and they are nourished by each contribution.
This is why the artist fulfills a useful function in the life of his/her audience, serves a purpose to help them achieve a desired lifestyle. Fans want to live vicariously through the artists they follow. The public wants to be reflected in the artist; he/she comes to him for advice, to laugh or cry with you. The truth is that for this reason, the song is no longer the center of attention. Music is not a vacuum product; music is consumed as part of a greater experience. We hear it in memes, fan mixes, video games, ads, programming, campaigns and more.
That is why the central question is not whether the song will hit or not; but where is my audience when they hear my songs? What state of mind is they are in? And what state of mind do I want them to be in when they have finished listening to it?
The artist is now at the mercy of his/her audience, and owes all respect and deference to them. It is no longer he or she who has the key to fame with his music. Now the artist has to find his/her audience and convince them; and it will be the public who will decide the fate of the artist.