A common point of debate in dance music: Does it matter why someone supports your work?
Ask someone in the industry this question and I bet they’ll bring out an opinion. You can observe artists debating this on Twitter anytime you like. (@TheFPIA is a good place to look if you’re keen to find a debate going down.)
In this post, I am going to present my case for one angle on the debate. My case focuses only on the early stage of an artist because their situation is different than a made professional’s. I define this period as the moment they start learning to a less defined point where their career is secure. For now I’ll define the end as the time when an artist begins moving up from the bottom of the ticket.
Because you do not know me and you cannot tell yet if I am credible, use your own judgement. I invite you to disagree if you would like to and explain why in the comments or on Twitter.
When an artist is in the early stages of their career, it is important to gain momentum. I mean this in multiple ways.
You will say that a producer/DJs musical talent is more important than the size of their fan base, their professional network, or their income. I agree that it feels that way. And you can continue to feel that way while understanding that reality is a separate entity.
The way you feel about your odds of success is a kind of momentum. Many people do not succeed only because they quit too soon. If you see lots of support from others, that feels like momentum.
An artist’s fan base grows via momentum. In this case I will start by stating what never happens: Artists just starting out never decide they want their fan base to shrink. Sometimes you want to grow at a different rate, but the direction is always up.
For an independent professional, income is momentum. A manager must believe the artist they support can pay them. So an old adage applies, “You must spend money to make money.” I can go on.
If you can accept any of the three premises above, you might change your mind when you realize the meaning of what I write next:
People are influenced by other people, even indirectly by observing what people say to other people. So arguing against accepting most (but not all) forms of early momentum can actually damage an early artist’s odds of success. If you want to explain your position on this topic, try inventing a positive way to state your message, so the feeling leads them forward instead of holding them back.
The good news is that support is really easy to get right because it comes in so many forms. There are many low effort, high yield things you can do to help.
For instance, writing kind comments on their social media or saying them in person is always helpful. It’s extra helpful if you take time to identify a detail to authentically appreciate. But a general compliment is great.
You can always share an artist’s post to help them, because mere exposure helps. This is actually a hidden benefit of haters. While they believe they are taking an artist down a notch, they actually do their advertising for them, for free. Isn’t that nice?
And obviously, a track or ticket purchase helps the most.
But it can be so easy, so so easy. Even looking at an artist’s advertising helps because it makes you more likely to support them later.
Now if you can still raise an objection to the idea that most forms of support are definitively okay, I encourage you to leave a comment.