Thursday, September 15, 2016
The music industry is as diverse and ever-shifting as it is brutal. As such, there are artists that burst onto the scene with freshness and gusto, only to wither away quicker than a child demolishes a cloud of cotton candy. Most of the time, such artists fade to oblivion, only to resurface years later with renewed resolve. There are also those who stick to themselves the label of 'upcoming artist' to further maintain and justify their mediocrity in most cases. But honestly, you can't be an upcoming artist for 10 years. That's just not right.
The more popular way out for the true hustlers is a little secret called 'featuring'. Yeah, it's actually quite lucrative, by the looks of things. Not only do you remain in the public eye and ear for a considerable period, it demands less work than doing an entire song/album by yourself. So, if you find yourself low on creative juices, just find more hardworking people to let you feature in their songs. But, here's a few things to consider if you intend to feature:
#1. Never ever steal the spotlight from the main artist. Hardworking people don't like to be upstaged, more so if it's their own song. So, don't be yelling your own name mid-song. Trust me, it's a long road, but if you have a distinct featuring style, you'll learn that "less is more" in the field of featuring. Keep your verses and hooks short and simple. Relax, it's easy money and exposure after all.
#2. Consider younger, talented upcoming artists. If it works out, you'll be seen as a visionary artist, capable of recognizing talent early. Plus, you'll give the beginners some much needed exposure, and it still won't cost you much. At this point you'll even look like a consultant. You want to be seen as a consultant, trust me.
#3. Find an artist who compliments your style. If you're a rapper, find an awesome vocalist, and vice versa. History has shown that people like variety within the same song. Look at Moze Radio and Weasel, or Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown, or Tyga and everyone else.
#4. If you can't find an artist to feature you, just find a DJ with sick beats and provide vocals. Much as this is the more annoying side of featuring, it is still useful. It's annoying because you will do all the rapping/singing, but it still won't be your song. Look at (DJ) Calvin Harris for instance. He's managed to work with talented vocalists like Rihanna and Ellie Goulding. Such collaboration has actually worked for both parties. Plus, Ellie seems to have taken to featuring like a duck to water. Guess she accidentally discovered her calling.
#5. Sometimes you're not a good enough artist to wander the musical journey on your own. You'll need to realize that you're meant to be a sidekick. So, the sooner you find a front(wo)man to feature you, the better for your budding musical career. And don't feel bad about it. Teamwork is a good thing, even though solo efforts are often more recognized. But, you don't see Daft Punk complaining, do you? I'm sure most of you have been to a (classy) restaurant before. Some meals require a fork and a knife. I say classy because much as your hands would easily negate the need for cutlery, it isn't exactly appropriate behaviour in such places. Therefore, in some songs, one must be the 'fork' and the other must be the 'knife'.
#6. Enjoy it. You get to meet different artists with different styles and different points of view. Learn from them, adapt and find a middle ground that allows both of you to flourish. A collabo isn't meant to sound like a competition so don't try to outdo each other. Hold hands and make like besties. Sing kumbaya if it helps. Just give us the listeners the best both worlds to offer.
Bonus: To be truthful, some songs are much better when featuring someone. Just look at any Top 10 rankings on any chart. At least half of them feature someone. That simply shows you just how important these collabos are for us listeners.
Since not all the artists can make it big on their own, some of them have to swallow their pride and misconceptions and just tread the acceptable ground of featuring. Pitbull made a career out of it, and so can you. Actually, there's a lot of artists whose careers are solely dependent on featuring, so don't shun it. Strut it!
A final request: Please state, in your own opinion, who you think the greatest 'featurer' is. Thank you.