• A-Grade

Musicians : Fitting in; is it necessary ?

Today we would like to cover two sides of a really important debate within "culture" for creatives. We all battle as creatives with the process of creating things which are original; yet in the same breathe, trying to generate interest in something new in an industry already saturated with talent can complicate that significantly as well as adding to the artists personal tastes Vs their target audiences (or if they actually have one). Let's talk about it. As passionate musicians; we all have different dispositions towards how we see ourselves, our creativity and the music industry, yet through experience working with a variety of artists in different fields, we have found the matter of how one percieves themselves fitting in within "the music industry" as an obstacle that many struggle to overcome. The main difference we can highlight is that we could identify 3 types of musicians, all of which come with strengths and weaknesses 1. The clout artist : People that want to "do music" because they aspire to be famous and enjoy the perks of celebrity culture. 2. The purist : Passionate Musicians who do music because it's "in their blood". 3. The career musician - who do music by blood and want to build a career out of it. Now depending on your disposition. You will find yourself placing yourself into one of the three. What we want to breakdown now is that while all 3 have shortcomings and blindspots, all three of these musicians battle with their own "ideas" Vs what "actually is". In the case of the clout artist; their whole get up is "fitting in". They usually style their music, dress, and even speech to fit in with what is current and "now". Note that while many (Purists) would criticise their behaviours as not being "true" or "real" to themselves because they are essentially musical chameleons that change their skin to fit the scene. Yet we would like to highlight that in there (and each group) there are both strengths and weaknesses that are each worth considering (if your trying to become a well-rounded artist). The strengths of the clout artists rest with their ability to "fit in", they follow the natural course of "what is current and trending" to position themselves in line for what they perceive to be success. They show up to all the popular networking events, are usually active on social media staying in tune with popular culture. Much of their ambitions rest around them either being a celebrity, being rich or sometimes; as simple as being admired by the opposite sex/becoming more socially attractive. Interesting enough, this is what also stands to be the clout artists greatest pitfall and that which music purists in particular are critical of. In anything cultural or brand related; identity is a key and defining factor in establishing yourself as a trusted or authoritive source. More often than clout artists realise; they lose so much of their own identity in trying to "fit in", all what would be likeable or respectable about them to anybody serious is lost. This is reflected in the career trajectory of a Clout Artist which can be anywhere from a week to 3 years. It is EXTEMELY rare for a Clout Artists career to exceed this length purely because for both consumers and other professionals there is little to "latch onto" in terms of substance or unique identity to remain engaged with for a sustained period of time. Clout artists rarely have the skills or knowledge base required to exceed simply "being famous" or "getting rich" (running into some money quickly) because their focus hasn't necessarily been on refining their craft or identity. Rather; fitting in. In contrast to this, the Purist offers those exact strengths where the clout artist falls short, for a music purist, because music is in their veins, they create so much original music it would be soul crushing to simply box them into a single sound or category musically. Their music exceeds the realm of "trendiness" and manifests itself in the world of "good and bad music" that people consume generally, and they take the greatest pride in transcending to this realm much to the point of delusions of grandeur (to be addressed in weaknesses) for many. Music is subjective and it is in the purists category that new sounds, styles and fashions are created. More often than you know "the clout artists" are usually mimicking a music purist somewhere who created a sound that "caught on". This brings us to the weaknesses of the purists; and unfortunate for all readers who were nodding their head with pride as they read this paragraph; this is the very reason this article was written; the weaknesses are many and we will argue; more detrimental than the weaknesses of the clout artists purely because whilst the clout artists motivations will get them through the door in many places. The music purist butcher's their opportinitys in more ways than this article could articulate and still remain reasonably sized. For the purist; that very mindset of being in their own world musicially, often manifests in the real world too. They become isolated, and much of the ideas they develop in musical isolation are rooted in the pride they have about their own originality, Thus the delusions of grandeur. It is when the music reaches consumers and they do not get the feedback/clout they imagined their "purist music" would get them because of the strengths named above; that they then become ripe with grandiose ideas of them being "too real" for the game and spouting consoiracys about either their social circle or the music industry sabotaging their progress. It is in this mindset that they become "anti-industry" (or anti-everything) and there is a "but" added to every suggestion of how they can progress. No doubt there will be people disagreeing with that sentiment because naturally no one wants to be called "delusional" yet do understand the intention is not to throw anybody under the bus; just consider this. How does one know if they're sound 'is' as great as they believe it is if nobody has ever heard it ? How does a sound "catch on" if one never executes or delivers a project ?. Whilst the Clout Artist may only last 3-5 years maximum in their career lifespan, you will find 10x as many clout artists actually achieve "a career" than the endless pool of struggling "music purists" who have cancelled their own success purely through their "ideas", these cancelling ideas close doors and are a turn-off to people serious about their careers, whether it's musicians, promoters, label executives or artist managers because whilst the Clout artist risks reeking of desperation; the music purist is at constant risk of actually becoming "defeated" by their own grand ideas before they even leave their home. This brings us to our third group and our conclusion on the matter simultaneously. Our hypothesis at A-Grade is that it is when an artist is able to mesh the two worlds of both the clout artist and the music purist; what you get is a well-rounded "career musician" that has taken the discipline of a music purist to learn their craft in depth and applied it the industrial world and takes the savvy of the "clout artist" to learn "how to read the room" and create great music that can fit the context of its audience while remaining original in its identity as a music purist would. This creates a musical machine that not only knows how to create music that is great to them; but music that is great and yet unique to the world and in the process; build a career that they may support themselves/their family for decades, and not necessarily by "getting rich quick", it could be a matter of transitioning from one role to another as a by-product of networking; but the most important thing is, by meshing both worlds together, you can dramatically increase your chances of your success becoming a reality.

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