Here are some things that go into your artistic definition:
These 8 examples are only a very quick list I put together- I'm sure you can think of many more. All artists have multiple messages... but there is almost always a central theme running through the successful artist's songlist:
- Fun: uptempo (pop Lady Gaga, country Billy Currington
- Fall in love: (pop/Usher, classic pop Frank Sinatra
- Freak out and party (pop Pink, country Big and Rich)
- let's get real/ hiphop (pop Eminem, Christian contemporary Plumb
- Social message (rock Bruce Springsteen, Bono U2,Christian artist Natalie Grant
- Angst of love (alt pop Kings Of Leon, alt pop Sara Bareilles
- Young love and angst (country Taylor Swift, Rihanna )
- Good love (pop Mat Kearney, R&B Barry White )
Are you willing to do the work? It takes time, experimentation and luck to find a financially viable artistic definition in the music business.
Time & experimentation:
Jim Croce could not get the attention of his producer and friend Tommy West until finally one year he began to bring in songs like "Time In A Bottle", "Bad Bad Leroy Brown", etc. Tommy West recognized the hit potential of the new material, agreed to take Croce into the studio... the rest is history. It had just taken time for Croce to find his artistic definition.
Keith Urban could not get the audience attention until the audience tastes caught up with him. I did background vocals on his first Bluebird Cafe show; we only got polite applause but nothing like the massive response he gets now. And he is playing guitar and singing a lot like he started out. This took luck and persistance- and belief that the market would find him someday.
While you can't control what people like, it's important also to know what you can control:
- Your reactions
- Your finances
- Your mental health
- Your choices to practice, experiment and get better.
- Following the trends.
- Operating from a fear standpoint. Afraid too be too out of the box or too traditional. Safe, middle-of-the-road music is usually... boring.
- Listening to too many people, or not enough, when determining who you are as an artist.
- Giving up too soon. Disheartened, Alan Jackson was about to board a plane at the Nashville airport back to where he came from. I forget who stopped him; I think it was Glen Campbell. But he decided to give it another try, and finally his very clear artistic definition payed off. Ani Difranco decided to do it her way completely... and started Righteous Babe Record label to get not only her music out but also to sign and give exposure to other music mavericks.