The music industry is facing a challenge: how to create and sustain pop stars in a crowded and fragmented market. While streaming platforms have enabled more artists to reach a global audience, they have also made it harder to stand out and build a loyal fan base. At the same time, traditional media outlets like radio and TV have lost their influence and relevance, while social media platforms like TikTok have become as unpredictable and ephemeral teenager’s mood swings As a result, many label executives are worried about the lack of new superstars and the difficulty of breaking artists beyond one-hit wonders.
In the past, it seemed like a new pop star was always on the rise. From Britney Spears to Justin Bieber to Taylor Swift, these artists were able to achieve massive success with their music and their image. However, in recent years, it seems like the pop music landscape has changed. There are fewer breakout stars, and the ones who do make it big often don’t have the same staying power as their predecessors.
According to Billboard, the last pop artist to break big was Olivia Rodrigo, who had four top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits during 2021 and debuted at No. 1 on the chart with “Vampire” in July 2023. It’s a track record, they say, that today makes her seem like a unicorn.
There are many factors that contribute to this problem. Some blame the quality and quantity of the music being signed and released by labels. Others cite the decline of mass media like radio and the unpredictability of TikTok. Still, others attribute the feeling of industry inertia to the competition for attention in a world where gamers and influencers wield as much clout as music artists, if not more.
Another thing– a hit doesn’t mean what it used to. It’s common to hear grumbles about young acts who have hundreds of millions of plays of a single but can’t fill a small room for a live performance. And the music industry is simply becoming more fragmented. With the rise of streaming services, there are now more ways for artists to get their music heard. This can make it more difficult for any one artist to break through and become a household name. There’s just an oversaturation of content for music fans to sift through.
The public’s taste in music is also changing. In the past, pop music was often characterized by catchy melodies and simple lyrics. However, today’s audiences are more demanding. They want music that is both sonically and lyrically complex as a Rubik’s Cube. This can make it more difficult for artists to create music that will appeal to a wide audience in different genres, such as country, regional Mexican, R&B, and hip-hop. Labels have to change the definition of success and adjust their expectations and strategies accordingly.
One way to do that is to focus on building long-term careers rather than short-term hits. The Music Void recently ran a story about the lack of artist development at the record labels. Another way is to diversify the sources of revenue and exposure for artists. This means leveraging partnerships with brands, gaming platforms, podcasts, syncs, live events, and other media outlets. It’s like trading in your sports car for a reliable minivan – not as flashy, but it’ll get you places. This also means being flexible and adaptable to the changing trends and tastes of the audience. Diversification is the name of the game. Artists aren’t just selling albums; they’re selling everything from sneakers to virtual concert tickets. It’s like the music industry went on a shopping spree and bought the whole mall.
Perhaps a generation ago, winning X-Factor or getting signed to a major label was enough to guarantee a pop star’s future success, but not today. Is the next Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift out there, waiting in the wings, ready to take the world by storm? I’m sure they are, but will they succeed? For those of you who want to be pop stars, here are a few tips you’ll need to make it big in the music biz:
• Be Olivia Rodrigo. Or, at least, be as unique and talented as she is. The music industry is always looking for the next big thing, and if you can create something truly special, you’ll have a good chance of breaking through.
• Don’t be a one-hit wonder. Sure, it’s great to have a hit single. But if you want to have a long-term career in music, you need to be able to consistently release good music.
• Be prepared to work your ass off. The music industry is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you want to make it, you need to be willing to put in the hard work.
• Be prepared to deal with rejection. A lot of rejection. You’re going to get rejected by labels, by managers, and by fans. But you can’t let that stop you.
• Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. The music industry is full of people who are trying to be someone they’re not. And it’s always obvious.
In conclusion, creating and sustaining pop stars has become a real uphill battle for the music industry lately. With platforms like TikTok, traditional media fading away, and more competition than ever before, breaking into the spotlight as a superstar has become a daunting challenge. It’s hard to pinpoint one single cause for this, but one thing’s for sure – times are changing, and so are people’s tastes. The music industry has to keep up with the ever-evolving audience demands, the diversity and fluidity of pop music, and diversify their revenue sources to survive in this complex landscape. Even if they could actually predict the next big thing, they would probably still sign the one-hit wonders that disappear as fast as your socks in the dryer…and they’d call it a “strategic business move.” Good luck out there! 🎵😎.