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  #1  
Old 08-19-2010, 08:39 AM
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Default What sustains a bands popularity

We have all seen how a band will be the big thing for a little while and then fade away into obscurity. But then there are other bands that are able to remain true to their musical vision and they stay on top forever (i happen to think of metallica and tool for instance).

What is it that allows one band to be popular for years and years through album after album while others just pop up and are big and then just fade away? I ask this again with the mindset of a band maintaing their musicial vision and not just changing to suit the needs of the fickle public.
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:57 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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Originally Posted by drummingman View Post
We have all seen how a band will be the big thing for a little while and then fade away into obscurity. But then there are other bands that are able to remain true to their musical vision and they stay on top forever (i happen to think of metallica and tool for instance).

What is it that allows one band to be popular for years and years through album after album while others just pop up and are big and then just fade away? I ask this again with the mindset of a band maintaing their musicial vision and not just changing to suit the needs of the fickle public.
I think somewhere along the line, they acquired a rabid fan base, because they're true to their vision. I just got done watching that Rush video "Beyond the Lighted Stage" and it seems like that's what they've done. Kiss, Metallica, Tool, they've all done the same thing because let's face it, you don't hear their songs on the radio much. Oingo Boingo had very rabid fans throughout their career with limited airplay. That's the only thing I can think of. They presented a true musical vision and their fans picked up on it and stuck with them, converting others to the cause. I have no other theories.
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Old 08-19-2010, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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I think somewhere along the line, they acquired a rabid fan base, because they're true to their vision. I just got done watching that Rush video "Beyond the Lighted Stage" and it seems like that's what they've done. Kiss, Metallica, Tool, they've all done the same thing because let's face it, you don't hear their songs on the radio much. Oingo Boingo had very rabid fans throughout their career with limited airplay. That's the only thing I can think of. They presented a true musical vision and their fans picked up on it and stuck with them, converting others to the cause. I have no other theories.
I think that you are right. Pantera did the same thing with limited video and airplay. So now the questions become: how does one develop a rabid fan base that is so commited to the band that they will still with the band through think and thin?
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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I think that you are right. Pantera did the same thing with limited video and airplay. So now the questions become: how does one develop a rabid fan base that is so commited to the band that they will still with the band through think and thin?
True. In the Rush video, they admitted that they lost alot of fans in the 80s when they went too keyboard-y and especially when they introduced a rap in "Roll the Bones". It took them some time to sort all that stuff out but they eventually got back on their track. But their fan base was huge before that point in time too.

When you look at these bands, you notice they're always out playing. Kiss and Rush were especially always out and doing shows. To some degree, the Police did the same thing back in the day. Always touring and staying on a budget so they could stay out there in the public eye. Bonnie Raitt also comes to mind as a road warrior, she had been out on the road for a lifetime before she was even considered for Grammy.
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

Bo and his distracting avatar are exactly right. You build a fan base by going to the fans - playing live shows. Take Rush again, for instance. For their first few tours they were playing close to 250 shows a year. That's more days than kids go to school in the US in a year. That built them their fan base. In their case, the fan base has become generational. They still tour as often as possible and concentrate very heavily on communicating their live show, because their fans respond so well. Every tour since the Counterparts tour has had a live album and video released - which sounds like a copout, right? No, it's smart. The fans snap 'em up.

Another important thing to do is to not do sudden one-eighties that alienate your fan bases. Previous posters already talked about Rush's synth period, but I'm also thinking about Metallica and how they had a quick 1-2-3 of the Napster brouhaha, S&M, and St. Anger. That's when they lost me, for instance.

Being reliable is also important. Every time you have to take long hiatuses from playing, recording, or performing because someone's in rehab or because someone can't be bothered to show up, you hemorrhage fans. The public has a short attention span, and in the end there's so many musicians for them to choose from, they won't wait too long for you to get your stuff together.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

Obvious, but write ridiculously good music. Also helps if the music strikes the right balance between being accessible, but not so much so that it gets old and stale after a few listens. Like your Tool example, it just gets better and better the more I listen to it.

I think it also helps to have an air of mystery and not throw yourself out there into the spotlight as much as possible so that every gets tired of seeing you. If people want to see you they should have to go to your show and see you through your music, not just open a tabloid and read everything about you. It also leads to more rabid fans because myths start to be form to explain everything that you don't give away for free, which leads to a cult following.

Don't sell out, in the literal sense, allowing your music to be used in movie sound tracks, and especially commercials/advertisements just leads to over saturation and people getting tired of you.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

Well, if you look at what each 'major' band throughout the last few decades had in common with the next, I think it would be distinction.

Having your own style and your own sound is integral in becoming bit-time, because people like colorful music. If every popular band started to blend into the others, it wouldn't be as fun, or exciting.

Even within genres, bands are far enough from each other in sound to be distinctive. Try saying Korn and Slipknot sound exactly the same to a fan of both.

Oh, and playing gigs helps. Lots and lots o' gigs.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:31 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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True. In the Rush video, they admitted that they lost alot of fans in the 80s when they went too keyboard-y .
Not to get off topic, but the funny thing they didn't mention in the movie was those albums sold better than all their previous albums, save Moving pictures.

Prior to Moving Pictures, their albums went gold, and Rush was mostly an opening act. MP went multi-platinum they started headlining stadiums. All those "keyboard" albums went platinum out of the gate, and they never opened for anyone again. The back catalog didn't go platinum until all those new fans went back and bought up their back catalog.

Anyhow, sorry to digress.

To the question, that's a tough one. A few things help, like keeping the band intact, and not losing members to infighting, drugs, and such. Arguments over sharing profits and credits tends to be a big one that leads to break ups.

Another one is avoid being too trendy. Look at the 80's and how many bands crashed and burned because the public got tired of the big hair and spandex. Grunge had some of the similar problems later on when that sound go over saturated on the radio.

The main thing is song writing. The problem with so many bands is after x-number of years, they just plain run out of good ideas. And that's nothing that can be planned for, or avoided if it happens. Most bands don't even realize they've run out of ideas until long after their albums stop selling.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

This isn't a rule or anything, but generally:

(1) If you achieve mainstream, pop chart-type popularity, it's not likely to last very long, unless you can transition into one of the other categories. Those artists tend to appeal to younger audiences and more casual listeners, and what's in and out is very similar to fashions being in or out.

(2) If you can appeal to or grow a "cult" following, you can remain successful much longer as long as your cult following does not perceive you as selling out. They can perceive you as selling out either by you changing the type of music you're doing (if you're cult is not of a type that cherishes you for your diversity), and/or by achieving (1)-type success (which can sometimes happen accidentally). There will still be some attrition as members of your audience age and gravitate to other interests, but especially if you've been around awhile, your audience will tend to turn younger people onto you and they'll be absorbed as part of the cult audience

(3) Some genres attract people who tend to be life-long fans as long as you're doing quality work in the genre. These tend to be (a) genres that are focused on having a high degree of technical skill--like jazz and classical, and (b) genres that have cult audiences, but where they're more cult fans of the genre than of particular artists--for example, blues. (b) also covers some genres that are difficult to consider "cult", because they can sell more albums than (1) above, but they tend to be genres that are perceived as endemic to particular cultures and geographical locations, like country and latin music. Fans of these types of genres will typically stick with you as long as you are doing quality work (quality work isn't as imperative in (1) and (2)--you can have chart success and be fashionable, or appeal to a cult audience without having much in the way of traditional skills), and you do not move too far outside of the genre (like a jazz artist deciding to do bubblegum pop tunes all of a sudden--there's a lot of leeway in the types of jazz they can do, though). "Musicians musicians" also tend to fall in this category.

(1) is the category where people tend to make the most money, but it's a lot of money for just a short period of time. With (2) and (3), you make more modest money, but indefinitely as long as you're careful not to alienate fans. The rarest thing is the artists who achieve (1)-type success indefinitely--like the Rolling Stones (and the Beatles would have had it if they hadn't broken up), and second rarest is achieving (1)-type success and then moving to a sustained (2) career--many classic rock bands have managed that. Category (2) is where you need to be the most careful about not being perceived as "selling out".
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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I think that you are right. Pantera did the same thing with limited video and airplay. So now the questions become: how does one develop a rabid fan base that is so commited to the band that they will still with the band through think and thin?
Achieving cult success: Either focus on a particular type of audience that already exists, and work on having the qualities that those fans admire (which you might have to research if you're not already a member of that cult audience)--not just musical qualities, but image, attitudes, etc., or try to create your own scene from scratch. The latter is obviously harder, as you need to build up something that people can identify themselves as--it's like creating a lifestyle marketing campaign. Both require years of persistent hard work, including touring in the "roughing it" way. It's always a grassroots campaign--almost like you're a politician. You've got to get out there and shake hands. Get people to like you enough that they start doing word of mouth promotion for you.
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:12 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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Not to get off topic, but the funny thing they didn't mention in the movie was those albums sold better than all their previous albums, save Moving pictures.

Prior to Moving Pictures, their albums went gold, and Rush was mostly an opening act. MP went multi-platinum they started headlining stadiums.
I've seen Rush at least once on every tour since 2112. They were always headlining, although maybe they weren't for the entire tour, but I'd see them headlining at a 17,000 seat arena for those pre-Moving Pictures tours. What happened with them, though, was that initially they appealed to a cult audience--the progressive rock audience (which I was and still am a part of)--they had type (3) success from my post above; they were very skilled in a genre that had a built in cult audience, who would basically support anyone very skilled in the genre. They also had "musician's musician" appeal.

Then they started moving into a more commercial direction--and they subsequently started getting some type (1) success instead, while alienating a good portion of their previous cult audience. That type (1) success brings more money in the short term, but suddenly you've got "fashion" fans (and some holdovers from the cult audience, like me, who like a very wide variety of music, including commercial stuff), and the fashion fans aren't going to stick around forever. So by the Hold Your Fire tour, they were starting to see serious attrition, and they had to try to appeal to the cult audiences more again, which after a couple speed bumps, they've pretty successfully done.
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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I've seen Rush at least once on every tour since 2112. They were always headlining, although maybe they weren't for the entire tour, but I'd see them headlining at a 17,000 seat arena for those pre-Moving Pictures tours. What happened with them, though, was that initially they appealed to a cult audience--the progressive rock audience (which I was and still am a part of)--they had type (3) success from my post above; they were very skilled in a genre that had a built in cult audience, who would basically support anyone very skilled in the genre. They also had "musician's musician" appeal.

Then they started moving into a more commercial direction--and they subsequently started getting some type (1) success instead, while alienating a good portion of their previous cult audience. That type (1) success brings more money in the short term, but suddenly you've got "fashion" fans (and some holdovers from the cult audience, like me, who like a very wide variety of music, including commercial stuff), and the fashion fans aren't going to stick around forever. So by the Hold Your Fire tour, they were starting to see serious attrition, and they had to try to appeal to the cult audiences more again, which after a couple speed bumps, they've pretty successfully done.
Yes, you are correct they started playing bigger places after 2112, and started touring arenas on their own prior to Moving Pictures. I know they opened for KISS a lot in the 70's, and had my dates mixed up.

But the other point remains, the "keyboard" albums sold better out of the gate.
Rush had never had a platinum album until 1981.

Signals, Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows all went Platinum in the year they were released.

I just thought it was odd in the movie, they make it sound like Rush lost a ton of fans during that time period, when record sales show the opposite, that they gained a ton of fans that more than offset the fans they lost, which lead to huge spikes in sales of their prior albums, as all the new fans became fans of the their older stuff.

I was just at their show last week. I was very surprised by the teenagers who knew every word to every song from all of the older material as well as the newer material.

And BTW, I'm jealous you got to see then so far back!!!!
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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Originally Posted by BrewBillfold View Post
This isn't a rule or anything, but generally:

(1) If you achieve mainstream, pop chart-type popularity, it's not likely to last very long, unless you can transition into one of the other categories. Those artists tend to appeal to younger audiences and more casual listeners, and what's in and out is very similar to fashions being in or out.

(2) If you can appeal to or grow a "cult" following, you can remain successful much longer as long as your cult following does not perceive you as selling out. They can perceive you as selling out either by you changing the type of music you're doing (if you're cult is not of a type that cherishes you for your diversity), and/or by achieving (1)-type success (which can sometimes happen accidentally). There will still be some attrition as members of your audience age and gravitate to other interests, but especially if you've been around awhile, your audience will tend to turn younger people onto you and they'll be absorbed as part of the cult audience

(3) Some genres attract people who tend to be life-long fans as long as you're doing quality work in the genre. These tend to be (a) genres that are focused on having a high degree of technical skill--like jazz and classical, and (b) genres that have cult audiences, but where they're more cult fans of the genre than of particular artists--for example, blues. (b) also covers some genres that are difficult to consider "cult", because they can sell more albums than (1) above, but they tend to be genres that are perceived as endemic to particular cultures and geographical locations, like country and latin music. Fans of these types of genres will typically stick with you as long as you are doing quality work (quality work isn't as imperative in (1) and (2)--you can have chart success and be fashionable, or appeal to a cult audience without having much in the way of traditional skills), and you do not move too far outside of the genre (like a jazz artist deciding to do bubblegum pop tunes all of a sudden--there's a lot of leeway in the types of jazz they can do, though). "Musicians musicians" also tend to fall in this category.

(1) is the category where people tend to make the most money, but it's a lot of money for just a short period of time. With (2) and (3), you make more modest money, but indefinitely as long as you're careful not to alienate fans. The rarest thing is the artists who achieve (1)-type success indefinitely--like the Rolling Stones (and the Beatles would have had it if they hadn't broken up), and second rarest is achieving (1)-type success and then moving to a sustained (2) career--many classic rock bands have managed that. Category (2) is where you need to be the most careful about not being perceived as "selling out".
Very spot on.

is that 20 characters?
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

What sustains a bands popularity?

Bottom line...The songs.
It's all about the songs.
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Old 08-21-2010, 07:26 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

Thnaks for the good posts all!
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Old 08-21-2010, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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But then there are other bands that are able to remain true to their musical vision and they stay on top forever

The record labels have a huge amount to do with whether a band stays on top, especially in the mainstream. If the label doesn't have faith that a band's album has potential, they won't touch it, that's happened to some very big acts over the years. Their alternative is to follow label orders as to what an album should sound like - what producer/songwriters to work with, arrangements etc.

There are very few bands that get to release what they want, when they want and maintain success.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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The record labels have a huge amount to do with whether a band stays on top, especially in the mainstream. If the label doesn't have faith that a band's album has potential, they won't touch it, that's happened to some very big acts over the years. Their alternative is to follow label orders as to what an album should sound like - what producer/songwriters to work with, arrangements etc.

There are very few bands that get to release what they want, when they want and maintain success.
I must argue in this case that that may be how it is for some bands and definitely how it's been in the past. But with the advent of the internets and iTunes, I've seen artists just sell their music online and make a pretty good income off of just that.

I know we're talking about mass acceptance, but it is possible to make a living using the DIY approach. Hell, Terry Bozzio said the best thing he ever did was just go off and do his own solo drumming tours - no record label to make happy, and every gig sustained everything he was doing because he was reaping most of the profits. Granted, he's a rare case, but people do it.

He's a prime example of 'making it' because he had a record out and became a success, I know. But he was playing alot before Missing Persons so I always wonder what would've happened if MIssing Persons hit a little later and went with the internet DIY approach as opposed to being handled by a record company?
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:17 PM
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But with the advent of the internets and iTunes, I've seen artists just sell their music online and make a pretty good income off of just that.

My point about major label interference is more in the context of 'making it big', ie. that tiny minority of bands that get national/international promotion. I guess that's why many indy labels continue to exist - it's a reasonable choice for an artist to accept less money/exposure and retain artistic integrity by signing to an indy.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:40 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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My point about major label interference is more in the context of 'making it big', ie. that tiny minority of bands that get national/international promotion. I guess that's why many indy labels continue to exist - it's a reasonable choice for an artist to accept less money/exposure and retain artistic integrity by signing to an indy.
For me retaining artistic integrity with my band is of the utmost of importance. I think again of Pantera. They did retain artistic integrity their whole major label career (from cowboays from hell all the way through to reinventing the steel) and they were huge. This is my goal as well. I want to learn how to do these things.
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Old 08-22-2010, 01:52 PM
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This is my goal as well. I want to learn how to do these things.

Be prepared to turn down material wealth.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:07 PM
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Be prepared to turn down material wealth.
Well, coming back to Pantera, they did very well financially.
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

Sure, but again, we're talking about that tiny minority of bands who acheive global success - it's not sensible to base a career plan on making it in a famous band. I have no doubt that Pantera listened (or were made to listen) to other people's input when it came to evolving their sound in order to keep selling records.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:37 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

A lot of good points, some do stray from the 'sustaining' aspect of the question though.

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I ask this again with the mindset of a band maintaing their musicial vision and not just changing to suit the needs of the fickle public.
And that's the quandary: a band staying their course, while the public changes.

It's important to remember, the public decides how much popularity a band gets, and how long they can keep it. That doesn't mean that a band needs to constantly change its music or style to remain popular, but there's a fine line between sticking to one's roots, and being a chameleon. I don't know of anyone who's sustained a career strictly doing either.

A band that can be relevant and consistent (not to be confused with predictable) has a shot at continued success over the long term. There's obviously never a guarantee, and there are undoubtedly some exceptions, but some of the biggest bands/artists that have transcended a generation or two have done so by maintaining consistency, while staying relevant. The Stones, U2, Rush, Jimmy Buffett, and Neil Diamond come immediately to mind.

Heck, I'm in a band that's done darn well over 27 years of releasing albums and touring! It's easy to say that Weird Al's just a novelty and doesn't compare to mainstream artists, but don't underestimate his ability to fill 6,000 seat halls (and larger.) As I mentioned, there's consistency - always doing parody & satire - and, relevance - parodying music and artists that are current, or at least timeless, and which have mass appeal at any given time. No sell-out, just doing what he's always done, and keeping it fresh at the same. That's also why the demographic is so wide (the proverbial "six to sixty" age group) and what's kept Al going and growing: there are always new fans, yet the the old fans also stick around.

And there we are again, it's the fans - the public - who decides how long a band can successfully stick around.

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Old 08-22-2010, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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For me retaining artistic integrity with my band is of the utmost of importance. I think again of Pantera. They did retain artistic integrity their whole major label career (from cowboays from hell all the way through to reinventing the steel) and they were huge. This is my goal as well. I want to learn how to do these things.
Not entirely true. I know you said major label career but don't forget their 4 independent releases. It was really bad hair metal & even the Cowboys From Hell album has a hint of hair metal. Especially Phil's vocals, a la Rob Halford. It wasn't until Vulgar Display that they found their sound & went really heavy groove metal. I guess what I am saying is that they followed trends too, & if they didn't they would not have had as much sucess. Even if it is not blatantly obvious most band either a) follow trends or b) experiment w/ a new direction.
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Old 08-22-2010, 10:28 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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A lot of good points, some do stray from the 'sustaining' aspect of the question though.



And that's the quandary: a band staying their course, while the public changes.

It's important to remember, the public decides how much popularity a band gets, and how long they can keep it. That doesn't mean that a band needs to constantly change its music or style to remain popular, but there's a fine line between sticking to one's roots, and being a chameleon. I don't know of anyone who's sustained a career strictly doing either.

A band that can be relevant and consistent (not to be confused with predictable) has a shot at continued success over the long term. There's obviously never a guarantee, and there are undoubtedly some exceptions, but some of the biggest bands/artists that have transcended a generation or two have done so by maintaining consistency, while staying relevant. The Stones, U2, Rush, Jimmy Buffett, and Neil Diamond come immediately to mind.

Heck, I'm in a band that's done darn well over 27 years of releasing albums and touring! It's easy to say that Weird Al's just a novelty and doesn't compare to mainstream artists, but don't underestimate his ability to fill 6,000 seat halls (and larger.) As I mentioned, there's consistency - always doing parody & satire - and, relevance - parodying music and artists that are current, or at least timeless, and which have mass appeal at any given time. No sell-out, just doing what he's always done, and keeping it fresh at the same. That's also why the demographic is so wide (the proverbial "six to sixty" age group) and what's kept Al going and growing: there are always new fans, yet the the old fans also stick around.

And there we are again, it's the fans - the public - who decides how long a band can successfully stick around.

Bermuda
Yeah Bermuda! Sometimes I forget how long it has been for Weird Al. I remember clearly when he was a solo act playing his accordion in a bathroom doing songs that got played on Dr. Demento. Man, that was a long time ago. Congrats on being part of that act for all this time.
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:31 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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We have all seen how a band will be the big thing for a little while and then fade away into obscurity. But then there are other bands that are able to remain true to their musical vision and they stay on top forever (i happen to think of metallica and tool for instance).

What is it that allows one band to be popular for years and years through album after album while others just pop up and are big and then just fade away? I ask this again with the mindset of a band maintaing their musicial vision and not just changing to suit the needs of the fickle public.
One word...marketing.
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Old 08-23-2010, 03:44 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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A lot of good points, some do stray from the 'sustaining' aspect of the question though.



And that's the quandary: a band staying their course, while the public changes.

It's important to remember, the public decides how much popularity a band gets, and how long they can keep it. That doesn't mean that a band needs to constantly change its music or style to remain popular, but there's a fine line between sticking to one's roots, and being a chameleon. I don't know of anyone who's sustained a career strictly doing either.

A band that can be relevant and consistent (not to be confused with predictable) has a shot at continued success over the long term. There's obviously never a guarantee, and there are undoubtedly some exceptions, but some of the biggest bands/artists that have transcended a generation or two have done so by maintaining consistency, while staying relevant. The Stones, U2, Rush, Jimmy Buffett, and Neil Diamond come immediately to mind.

Heck, I'm in a band that's done darn well over 27 years of releasing albums and touring! It's easy to say that Weird Al's just a novelty and doesn't compare to mainstream artists, but don't underestimate his ability to fill 6,000 seat halls (and larger.) As I mentioned, there's consistency - always doing parody & satire - and, relevance - parodying music and artists that are current, or at least timeless, and which have mass appeal at any given time. No sell-out, just doing what he's always done, and keeping it fresh at the same. That's also why the demographic is so wide (the proverbial "six to sixty" age group) and what's kept Al going and growing: there are always new fans, yet the the old fans also stick around.

And there we are again, it's the fans - the public - who decides how long a band can successfully stick around.

Bermuda
Thanks for giving your thoughts.

The question then becomes how can a band stay relevant and consistent while staying true to their musical vision?
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Old 08-23-2010, 03:51 AM
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Not entirely true. I know you said major label career but don't forget their 4 independent releases. It was really bad hair metal & even the Cowboys From Hell album has a hint of hair metal. Especially Phil's vocals, a la Rob Halford. It wasn't until Vulgar Display that they found their sound & went really heavy groove metal. I guess what I am saying is that they followed trends too, & if they didn't they would not have had as much sucess. Even if it is not blatantly obvious most band either a) follow trends or b) experiment w/ a new direction.
Thats why i did not talk about those albums. It took them awhile to find their sound. I dont think they followed any trends though. They pretty much started the style of groove metal that they did. Then lots of bands tried to copy them (Fight comes to mind with Halford). But they also kept expanding their sound from Vulgar through Reinvening the steel. They kept growing which was what kept them fresh sounding. But they stayed true to their musical vision from what i can tell. I also want the band that im in to keep expanding our sound while staying true to our musical vision. Growing is a good thing as long as a band is expanding their sound for the right reason/reasons.

I do think that bands experiment with new directions all the time. As long as they are doing it because thats what they really want to do and not because thats what they are being told to do and not because they are trying to jump on a trend to cash in then i think it can be a good thing.
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Old 08-23-2010, 04:44 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post


And that's the quandary: a band staying their course, while the public changes.

It's important to remember, the public decides how much popularity a band gets, and how long they can keep it. That doesn't mean that a band needs to constantly change its music or style to remain popular, but there's a fine line between sticking to one's roots, and being a chameleon. I don't know of anyone who's sustained a career strictly doing either.
Bermuda

Your post reminded me of Johnny Maestro who had one hit with Jimmy Webb's I Heard You're Getting Married back in '68 when the Brooklyn Bridge were a pseudo R and B doo-wop vocal group already playing in a style past the current trends. But Johnny remained a respected talent and even became a legend, singing until he died earlier this year at 70.

You have so many bands and musicians out there that have been doing this for forty or fifty years. People tend to get caught in the glamor of the biz, having a big name band and having an impact. But most musicians are doing what they love, regardless of trends, regardless of mainstream popularity. They find their niche and they stay with it. Sometimes they may have an unexpected hit or revival. That is a hard feat even for those who become mega hit super groups. The Four Seasons, "Oh, What a Night" comes to mind, or the revue on Broadway. The Eagles hit with Capaldi/Carrack's Love Will Keep Us Alive in another or John Fogerty's Centerfield. I would wonder if there were ever a one hit wonder group who stayed the course and had another hit ten or twenty years later.
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:51 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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Well, coming back to Pantera, they did very well financially.
From reading your initial post, I don't think Pantera is part of the conversation. They broke up, and were unable to sustain themselves as a band, and delved into a media war between band members.

Although they have remained very popular for their past accomplishments.
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Old 08-23-2010, 08:00 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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The record labels have a huge amount to do with whether a band stays on top, especially in the mainstream. If the label doesn't have faith that a band's album has potential, they won't touch it, that's happened to some very big acts over the years. Their alternative is to follow label orders as to what an album should sound like - what producer/songwriters to work with, arrangements etc.

There are very few bands that get to release what they want, when they want and maintain success.
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I must argue in this case that that may be how it is for some bands and definitely how it's been in the past. But with the advent of the internets and iTunes, I've seen artists just sell their music online and make a pretty good income off of just that.

I know we're talking about mass acceptance, but it is possible to make a living using the DIY approach. Hell, Terry Bozzio said the best thing he ever did was just go off and do his own solo drumming tours - no record label to make happy, and every gig sustained everything he was doing because he was reaping most of the profits. Granted, he's a rare case, but people do it.
You're both right.

Many bands careers fell off because the label stopped supporting them, dumped, them, went out of business, or some other thing. We saw a lot of that at the end of the 80's.

I had a buddy who's band got signed to a huge deal with Warner Brothers in the early 90's. Then the head of the label was fired, so their A&R man left with him, and the band's CD ended up in 99 cent bin, even though they had no control over the situation.

As Bo said, it can be done, but the same level of success is hard to come by. Millions of bands are out there supporting themselves to an extent using the internet as their main marketing tool, but many of them have day jobs on the side as well. The ones that do it really well are the ones who had prior fame, and can afford to do their own marketing.
Boozio could never do what's he's doing now if he hadn't already had an established career with Zappa, Missing Person's, Jeff Beck, etc.
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Old 08-23-2010, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

the easy answer to this is...




16 year old girls.




really, it is...........
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

personally I think it's down to consistently being active where people don't 'forget' about you, i.e. tour dates, radio play, apperances.
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:06 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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personally I think it's down to consistently being active where people don't 'forget' about you, i.e. tour dates, radio play, apperances.
I have to agree with this as well.

Even if a band never gets on the radio or gets video play i think that doing lots of touring (and now using the internet) that these are huge ways to stay out there so people wont forget about your band.
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Old 08-25-2010, 06:14 AM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

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From reading your initial post, I don't think Pantera is part of the conversation. They broke up, and were unable to sustain themselves as a band, and delved into a media war between band members.

Although they have remained very popular for their past accomplishments.
But they have stayed hugely popular even though they broke up. And they stayed hugely popular the whole time they were together. And they stayed true to their musical vision that they started from their major label album (while growing and expanding and refining their sound).

I remember hearing on a recording Phil talking in a live concert about the state of heavy metal (when grunge was really big). How people were saying that metal was dead, but yet there were a ton of people at the pantera show that night. So i do think that they are a good case study because they overcame trends and stayed on top (until they broke up). But they did not brake upt because nobody cared about them anymore or because they became irrelevant. They broke up because of Phil and his drug problems and other problems that he was causing.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: What sustains a bands popularity

as has been mentioned already - genre has a lot to do with it.

Pop being arguably the most ephemeral genre of them all requires more of a chameleon to keep people on the hook. Hence - an artist like Madonna has maintained an impressive run of long term popularity while many others have shone brightly and then burned out. I guess we could have quite a debate over how much of her success is because of the quality of her work and how much is due to her manipulation of image and playing the game of cultural trendsetter/rule-breaker.

I'm not really a fan of country music, but it does seem to me that some of their artists have been able to maintain their popularity for quite a long time. I know acts like Brooks and Dunn and Brad Paisley having been taking home CMA's for what seems like forever. I guess country music has a certain stable/traditional following that rewards consistency more than other genres. Not to say that there aren't plenty of flash in the pan, next big things that come and go as well, and the trend has probably been that country is losing some of it's traditional constituency as it becomes less distiguishable from pop and rock.

At the same time - how do we distinguish between bands that have long term success, are true to their vision, and remain vital without being kind of a glorified tribute band to themselves?

anyway - just a coupla' thoughts, not sure if I really have a point here

<sorry for posting>
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