"How can James Blunt sell out arena tours, while Feeder play O2 gigs?"
This was the query of one Feeder fan on Facebook (I'm sure you've noticed that we like Feeder here, we bring them up rather often). They seemed to be genuinely confused - and a little annoyed - at how their favourite band, who have been around since the 90s, have achieved a lower amount of success than James Blunt, who has appeared on multiple "Most Annoying Things" lists since the release of his hit single 'You're Beautiful'.
Now, we're not here to bash James Blunt. As annoying as many people find him, he's still very popular, and he's certainly been gaining new fans in the past few years just for being a king on Twitter. But this wouldn't have been the first time people have compared their favourite artists to ones more popular and thought "why them and not my favourite?". The simple truth is that an artist's fame and popularity does not always match their level of talent.
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, taste. No matter how good you think your favourite artist is, there will be people out there who don't like them - and that's fine. We're all different, and we're all into different things. It's not something that can be controlled; indeed, the policing of music was a subject discussed as part of Rush's epic '2112' (may the legendary Neil Peart rest in peace) and it's a scary thing to think about. You can't force your favourite artists onto other people to try and raise their level of fame, believe me... I've tried.
Another reason is marketing. The level of marketing your artist gets is dependent on the size of their label, what their budget is, and how they spread the word. Using the example given earlier, Blunt is on far bigger record labels than Feeder have ever been, the latter being on the independent label Echo until they folded, and have used other indie labels since. Naturally, this gives Blunt the advantage when it comes to marketing, enabling more people
to hear his work and possibly become fans.
Though other factors are also at play, those are the two main ones behind an artist's fame. Forget talent and forget ability. If an artist isn't marketed well, or their label has a lower budget, they simply won't achieve as much success as those who may be less deserving of it on talent alone. With this in mind, it may seem a shame to many that their favourite artists don't get the fame they seem to deserve, but let's not forget that this fact does come with its positives. Tickets are less expensive, the gigs are more intimate and personal, and sometimes it's nice to have a band that's your own little thing.
An artist not quite hitting the heights you'd like to see them at can be frustrating, but quite simply, it's not worth dwelling on. Your favourites are your favourites and nothing can deny that, no matter their level of fame or success. To equate the quality of someone's work with their level of fame is shallow and doesn't factor in the other reasons behind an artist's level of popularity. Instead, let's just appreciate the artists as they are, try to spread the word via word of mouth if we can, and most importantly, keep supporting them no matter what. The fans are vitally important to smaller artists, so let's not let them down, and you never know - a big break may just be around the corner...