Anyone who has been scrolling through Facebook in the past couple of weeks has quite possibly seen that cringey Champions League advert.
You know, the one with Duo Lipa and lots of random colours…
Anyhow, after seeing this ad repeatedly for the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but click on a video of her opening ceremony performance. I generally find her songs kinda catchy – at least, the two that I’ve heard.
Honestly? Her performance felt pretty underwhelming. She was off-pitch more often than she was on it, and it sounded like she was out of breath too.
It got me thinking of how often big pop stars are decidedly average live. I don’t want to be too harsh on Duo Lipa – it certainly wasn’t a Fergie-level fail:
Nonetheless, Duo Lipa’s performance – rightly or wrongly – highlights in my mind how the music business business has become less about ability and talent, and more about ‘the performance’ and ‘entertainment.’ Because while I wasn’t particularly impressed with her singing, she definitely was energetic and…erm…creatively dressed.
Yes, yes, I know. I’m sounding like a fedora-wearing hipster. No, I don’t listen exclusively to classical music.
There certainly are some fantastic talents who are making waves in the mainstream. Ed Sheeran is a good example. Adele is another.
But, it must be said, the priority of 21st century music seems to be on entertainment and on standing out.
Just look at the rappers that dominate the charts today. They all seem to have gimmicks in order to stand out. There surely aren’t many out there who believe that Lil Uzi Vert and 21 Savage can compare to Dr Dre and Tupac…?
It’s partially just a result of the times. Society has continually been moving in this direction – even comparing the talent:entertainment ratio of Mozart or Beethoven to those of Elvis Presley or David Bowie shows this. So we shouldn’t act like this is sudden.
That said, there is another consideration to be had…
The web’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. The ability of ANYONE to become an online brand and reach millions of people across every continent is undeniably powerful. And while I firmly believe that it is a net positive for society, it would be naive to ignore the downsides.
The ease-of-access that the internet provides allows for anyone to create content for next to no cost. While the decentralisation of content is fantastic overall, the internet has also become a cluttered space, chock-a-block with wannabe e-celebrities.
Good Branding Isn’t A Bad Thing
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against building a personal brand online. Quite the opposite – after all, I’m doing it on this blog…
I’m suggesting something much simpler:
These days artistry is less about quality and more about image.
I just think both should be important.
Unfortunately, between quality and branding, guess which one makes the first impression?
So if you want to stand out as a 21st century artist, you’ll probably try to ‘be different.’
To have the X factor.
To stand out from the crowd.
I’ve got no issue with doing this… as long as you can back up this branding with capability.
Be The Full Package
At the end of the day, standing out isn’t going to sustain your goals. A fantastic offering will.
Sure, you may get a lot of attention from being different, but if you’re all-talk and no-action, people are going to leave as quickly as they came.
If you’re looking to be big in the 21st century, take this to heart: Exceptional branding finds attention. A quality product keeps it.
Be Different. But also Be Better.