Celebrities all love their spotlight time, but whatever will they do when that spotlight starts slipping away?
When Miley Cyrus toured with Bangerz, she attempted to shed her Disney image by getting semi nude, dancing provocatively and behaving inappropriately. It backfired and many parents and critics slammed her for being vulgar, lewd and racy. Miley claimed this behaviour was nothing new for her, but it was certainly as far away as you could get from the innocent girl-next-door Hannah Montana image that made her famous in the first place.
So why do it? Of course there are many reasons for the image change, most of which we will never know unless we can get inside Miley’s head. According to Nate Krenkel, 41, owner of Team Love Records, one reason is the fear of becoming irrelevant and forgotten – this can lead an artist to “compromise their art for the sake of money and fame.”
As they say: “Any publicity is good publicity.” But is that really true?
Robert Cannon, 37, former musician and lecturer at Australian Institute of Music (AIM), said: “The challenge for artists is to cut through the ‘noise’ of all the music and other forms of entertainment out there, and gain the attention of music fans, but an even harder challenge is to then retain that attention for any length of time.”
We have previously seen celebrities attempt to remain relevant by doing outlandish things. For instance, dressing in revealing clothing and posing for obscene photographs, making outlandish music videos, such as the most recent Literally I Can’t by Play-N-Skillz featuring Redfoo, Lil Jon and Enertia McFly, and behaving in a manner that would get any other person locked up. If I say Miley Cyrus or Nicki Minaj you’ll probably think about their booties hanging out as they dance and jiggle, revealing way too much, and if I say Justin Bieber or Lil Wayne you’ll probably remember all the trouble they got themselves into with the police.
But it’s not written law that you have to do crazy things once you’re a celebrity – there are alternatives.
Cannon said remaining relevant and in the spotlight can be as simple as “Rolling out new music extremely frequently (someone like Rihanna has done this very well in recent years), working with the top and current producers.” By constantly producing new and improved music, an artist is able to continue attracting the attention of their fans and remain in the spotlight.
Musician Jonathan Carpp, 26, from Sydney, told The Newsroom: “Looking back on artists I really like who have stood the test of time, there was always a distinct change between each successive album they put out, and different reasons to like each one. I don’t think an artist has to aspire to fit within a particular popular style to maintain relevance, rather just continue to grow and develop within their own style.”
In terms of staying relevant to fans, social media is key. Musical sensation, Taylor Swift, proves this with her 47 million followers on Twitter and 71 million followers on Facebook, compared with Alicia Keys, who has a relatively small following with only 20.3 million followers on Twitter and 35 million followers on Facebook. Thought this is still a large following for Keys, the difference is could be due to the popularity of Swift’s latest musical releases, helping her climb her way back up the charts and again into the spotlight, while Keys hasn’t released music since 2012.
Carpp said: “There are other ways nowadays to gain recognition through the internet. Some people are able to make themselves known through things like YouTube and Soundcloud. Because the internet has given people such choice over what they consume, you can focus on finding your niche, a group of loyal supporters that you particularly appeal to.
“So really, if you manage to attract these people, the key to keeping your appeal is to not lose sight of what attracted them in the first place.”
So for a talented musician, remaining relevant doesn’t just involve stripping down to nothing and posing for the cameras. Connecting to your fans and audiences through social media tools, and continuously producing new and improved songs and albums that entice your fans, are just a couple of things to help you remain relevant.
“It can take a while to get your foot in the door and when you do, you need to make the opportunity count,” said Cannon. – Isabel Williams
Top photo taken by Rebekah Day.