The Cult of Personality – The Modern Artist’s Mantra

Audience at a show in Hong Kong.
Audience at a show in Hong Kong. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The future for musicians looks like more than just great recordings and live shows.  The opportunities that the internet provides modern artists is available to everyone, and thus its potential is diluted.   One way to get noticed is to generate interest in who you are and what you’re saying. in other words, creating and maintaining a conversation with your audience.

Pop culture can overwhelm us with the personal lives of famous people, and annoy us to no end with the antics of celebrities. Billboard has an excellent article on the effect of this kind of marketing on the careers of the ultra-famous. Keeping themselves in the public eye is a critical element to the careers of these top tier entertainers. Even bad press is good press for them.

For the independent artist, this same technique can yield different results. We can expand our scope and reach by generating attention for who we are, and what we have to say. Marketing a personality is nothing new. Here’s an article from Time Magazine in 1978, looking at the same methods and issues we are discussing today.

Once you have fulfilled your artistic vision, and you’re putting yourself out there, the make-or-break factor in success becomes notoriety.  While having ten thousand friends on Myspace seems like a powerful promotional tool, does it really measure anything other than the number of people that landed on your page and clicked add me?

A healthy career is grown through a fanbase: Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, and Madonna were able to free themselves from major labels and even give away their music because their fans are loyal, and people are tuned in.

For any artist who is committed to bringing viability to their career, having a powerful voice and keeping the conversation alive for your audience is a critical element to success.

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