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The Timing of Popular Music and Lasting Artists

July 14, 2008

When you think of lasting artists, you may think of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bob Dylan, and some others.

When you think of one-hit wonders, you don’t remember the artist, you remember the song.

It was the early 90’s and besides Vanilla Ice, hair/glam bands were on top and Guns’N’Roses were crowned King. Then a new band and a new sound emerged from Seattle bringing Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and others to the mainstream. Just when you were about to punch yourself if you heard another grunge song on the radio, Green Day’s Dookie broke. Something fresh, something different, yet not totally removed from what was going on in rock music.

Fast forward to the late 90’s early 2000, and boy band/Nu-metal hell ruled the airwaves and the networks. You couldn’t leave the house without some new boy band or some new Nu-metal band on the radio or on music television. Then what do we hear? The refreshing sound of Coldplay’s Yellow. Soon after that, the garage band trend of the early 2000’s took hold and brought us way too many bands with plural names (e.g the Strokes, The Vines, The Hives,….etc)

Pearl Jam are still around (maybe not so mainstream, but they have a dedicated fanbase), Green Day are still around (arguably even more popular than in the 90’s), Coldplay is still incredibly popular, Linkin Park is the only Nu-metal band to stay relevant, and there are people still interested in Guns’N’Roses even after 15 years of no new music. Who’s still pretty popular after the garage rock trend? I would only say The White Stripes and maybe The Strokes.

All the other acts that came with those trends are gone. Why? They were right for the moment, but didn’t connect with people enough or grow as artists (or they just had 1 or 2 good songs on an overpriced album) to stay relevant today.

So what can we learn from this rant of mine?

Timing of popular music can benefit you in two ways. If something is getting stale and you have something good and fresh, you might be part of the next trend (and hopefully last). If you are part of a trend, you might be able to use it to gain fans quicker than normal, but keep them as you grow as an artist.

The bottom line is you really have to connect with people. All your music has to be good, not just one or two songs.

Make Great Music,


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The New Rockstar Philosophy

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