Staying Relevant As An Artist

© 2019 Vinny Ribas

One of the concepts often referred to in the music industry is relevance. It can be a constant struggle for younger artists to try to stay ahead of what’s happening and not being branded as passe. Established artists struggle to maintain their fan base over the long haul. It all boils down to constantly delivering what the public, and especially your fan base wants and expects from you. How does ‘being relevant’ actually play out in your career?

There is no question trends change constantly. Fashions, musical styles, what artists write and sing about, the political climate, the latest diets etc. are all subject to constant transformation. To attract new fans or retain your current base you can do one or more of the following:

  1. Be a trendsetter. This entails being unique enough to distinguish yourself from the pack, and hopefully popular enough that others start to follow your lead. 
  2. Tap into the current trends before they are no longer in vogue. For example, cover artists and dance bands often try to learn the latest songs to perform live or post online. 
  3. Be timeless. This is not as difficult as it may sound. There are certain genres and styles that have been popular for a long time and will probably never go out of style. One example is the acoustic performer. People have been singing and accompanying themselves on piano or guitar for years. Chances are this will never go out of style, no matter how heavily produced the world’s most currently popular songs are. On the other hand, some instruments singers use to accompany themselves might very well become less popular. At the time of this writing, the ukulele is a trendy instrument. However, lately I have heard rumblings about too many artists jumping on that bandwagon. 
  4. Be the constant in a world of constant flux. Often consistency can be a major part of your brand. It keeps the die-hards who like their comfort zone and refuse to change with the times. These fans can be extremely loyal because the number of artists that are following the same path is limited. It’s critical to assess how your fans will feel if you make substantial changes. 
  5. Be retro. Many artists make their mark by reviving memories of the past. This is true whether you’re a cover band or an original artist with a retro sound. If that’s what you are known for and you are attracting a solid following, it’s probably a good idea to keep doing what you’re doing. 

These are just some examples. There are more choices and options. It’s important to understand that none of these concepts are meant to stifle your growth as an artist. They are simply designed to keep your income steady.

If you are going to change your style, know that you run the risk of losing some fans. That’s why it’s critical to make it a gradual change. Let your fans grow with you. Tell them why you’re doing things a bit differently. You are on a never-ending journey, and the best thing you can ever do for yourself is take your fans along with you!

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.