Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, BTS – a South Korean boy band, Khalid, and Ariana Grande made the ‘Time’ ‘Most Influential’ List.
Celine Dion said about Lady Gaga: “She’s definitely one of the most inventive artists we’ve ever seen. Her artistic expression has no rules, no boundaries. When she first came on the scene with her outrageous style, she didn’t care what the critics said. She marched to the beat of her own drum, knowing that her message of individuality was a way to express her inner strength.”
Shawn Mendes on Swift: “Taylor makes anyone older feel young again and anyone young feel they can do anything. It’s so rare and so special. If there is one thing I want to achieve in my career and life, it’s that.”
Halsey on BTS: “Surely it takes remarkable talent, charm, kindness, altruism and dedication. But you’d still be missing a key component: a devoted community to uplift your efforts, soften your stumbles and shoot light from their eyes into the sky in your name every single night. By these parameters, BTS has reached the top.”
Soundcloud Rappers are creating emo, pop acts are making hip-hop, and now rappers are making country. The Golden Age of genre blending has arrived. Lil Nas X country-trap hit ‘Old Country Road‘ climbing the Billboard Hot 100 will be the big story of 2019. Nobody could guess that an Atlanta based rapper would be the talk of the town in Nashville. We could see more of this since digital streaming has created its own industry outside radio.
Many artists won’t even label themselves. Anthony Fondale, the keytarist from the up & coming act Recess says, “I’m not sure what we are. Some consider us alternative rock. Others label us EDM infused pop. Heck, Pop Crave said we merge rock & classical music.”
Popular country act Florida Georgia Line takes a similar stance. “If you’re trying to put things in a box or a genre, you’re kind of wasting your time,” Tyler Hubbard said in a Billboard interview. “If you like the song, play the song, if you don’t then don’t.” FGL Brian Kelley further states, “If we sit here and try to figure out if it’s country or not, we miss the point of it being a great song. I mean that as respectfully as possible,” he says. “I love the song. I don’t think the question is whether it’s country or not; it could probably fit in there. I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
R&B artist Khalid told Billboard “I’m coming in from outside the genre,” he said. “I really do enjoy the song. I’m a big fan of fusion of genres, crossover, of hip-hop and country because I feel like that’s something I do as well.”
Of course the king of genre blending is Ed Sheeran. He mixes pop and country with an occasional touch of hip-hop. As the lines blur between genres it will the make the job for a marketer more challenging. In fact, marketers like genres and distinct boundaries because it’s easier to target an audience. Occasionally, an artist like Lil Nas X defies the boundaries of genres and the sky is the limit.
Apple Music has surpassed Spotify in paid subscribers. That’s hard to believe because Spotify has been the king of streaming music. But according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple Music has 28 million paid subscribers while Spotify has only 26 million. Spotify still has more subscribers than Apple that comes with their free service. While Spotify and Apple are battling it out, both are trying to lure new subscribers.
Apple Music rise to dominance also follows the extreme backlash towards Spotify’s songwriters royalty rate. Music mogul Irving Azoff said, “Apple understands they’re in the artist business. Clearly, Google, Pandora, Spotify and Amazon don’t.”
Lil Nas X ‘Old Town Road’ will certainly go down as one of the most memorable marketing campaigns. The rappers song was removed from the Billboard Country Charts last week because it wasn’t country enough. Although it references country lyrics, it’s a hip hop song. “Christian radio won’t jump on heavy metal act Slipknot because they reference GOD in a lyric” says an industry insider.
Regardless, this was a genius marketing strategy. The track was released by Columbia, which labeled the song as a “country-inspired rap track”. The track shot up the Apple Music country chart and it was tagged as country on Soundcloud. It simply didn’t make sense and Billboard didn’t know what do with situation, so they pulled the song. Billboard noted, “while Old Town Road incorporates references to country and cowboy imagery, it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version”.
Lil Nas X says the song had a right to be placed there. “The song is country trap. It’s not one, it’s not the other. It’s both. It should be on both. I believe whenever you’re trying something new, it’s always going to get some kind of bad reception.”
Although Old Town Road may not be added to the country charts anytime soon, it doesn’t matter. The track is benefiting from non-stop press coverage.
Billie Eilish is just 17 years old. She has a billion plays with hardly any radio support. In fact, she doesn’t write radio hits, but she’s received tons of attention, especially from the media. You can chalk it up to good marketing but I really think Billie has the knack of captivating an audience through photos and videos. She’s a new kind of star.
She insists on near-complete control. “I could easily just be like, you know what, you’re going to pick out my clothes, someone else will come up with my video treatments, someone else will direct them and I won’t have anything to do with them,” Eilish said. “Someone else write my music, someone else produce it, and I won’t say anything about it. Someone else run my Instagram.”
“Everything could be easier if I wanted it to,” she continued. “But I’m not that kind of person and I’m not that kind of artist. And I’d rather die than be that kind of artist.”
Also, rather than working with typical go-to pop producers, most of her songs are written with her 21 year old brother. She’s kept everything in-house. With all that, she’s looking to score the second biggest debut of the year.