Religion, an extra support to reach stardom

There seems to be a very strong correlation between success and belief. This belief can take many forms. Some people refer to it as religion, others as positive thinking, or in the case of many artists, being egocentric. And this is good for an artist that wants to make it big. If you want to reach very high, you have to accept that you might fall from very high. The more successful you get, the more savage the criticism becomes. If you’re big deal, you will get haters no matter how good you are. The real question is : do you believe you deserve to be big?

I read an interesting article written by a journalist that interviewed many celebrities where he explains how religion has helped many artists to succeed. In his interview with Lady Gaga, apparently she mentioned that “a higher power has been watching out for me”. This journalist explains that overall, the vision of many celebrities is the following : “God wanted me to be famous, that this was his plan for me, just as it was his plan for the rest of us not to be famous”. This kind of thinking makes you almost invulnerable when people try to take you down. He also says that many equally talented artists but slightly less famous have felt their success was accidental rather than meant to be.

Believing in god won’t necessarily make you succeed but it will very likely increase your chances of reaching your goals and help you when difficult situations arise. During the times when you get criticized and booed, it’s easier to stick to your vision if you have in mind that god sent you to earth with the mission to spread your message.

Gangnam Style : First video to reach 1,000,000,000 on youtube?!?

Gangnam Style is now officially the most viewed video on youtube. As I am writing this post, there is a war of comments happening on youtube between Gangnamstylers and Beliebers… Apparently Psy just passed Bieber somewhere around 803 million today. Hold on a second, last time I check this video a few weeks ago I thought it was around 500 million. How did Gangnam Style grow so fast? Is it really going to be the first video to reach 1,000,000,000 views?!? Let’s take a look at the charts of the top 3 most viewed videos on youtube.

3rd with 624,277,481 : Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor ft. Pitbull

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Amazing score with over 600,000,000 for Jennifer Lopez but this video is 1 year and 8 months old. It will still take about a year to reach a billion.

2nd with 803,697,418 : Justin Bieber – Baby ft. Ludacris

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This video is 2 years and 9 months old. We can see that the curves of Lopez and Bieber are pretty similar and slowly decreasing.

1st with 805,158,668 : Psy – Gangnam style (강남스타일) M/V

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This video however is only 4 months old! After going through an amazing rise of views in August, this curve is heading straight to 1 billion! Psy is getting roughly 9,000,000 views per day with his hit song. If that rate remains constant, he will reach a billion views in less than 1 month. Actually when I started writing this post about 2 hours ago he was around 803 million, and now when I’m ending this post he’s around 805 million. This world is crazy. Some people say that Psy will be a one hit wonder. Well with this world record he’s about to reach, it’s going to be a while before we forget him…

Are we at a stage where Asian music is going to become internationally more popular than western music?

Why aren’t Asian artists successful in western countries?

Why is it so hard for Asian musicians to break in the United States? Western acts are successful in Asia, but Asian acts aren’t highly recognised in the west. Among many well known barriers such as language, there seems to be a few implicit but important factors explaining this.

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Firstly if we take a closer look to which Asian music started becoming popular in the west, or at least which Asian music had the highest chance of becoming popular, we realize that Japanese acts came first. Interestingly enough, western people connect fairly easily with the image of a Japanese act. Why is that so? Mangas have certainly been popular all over the world for a while now, and this could be a reason why people have such a strong stereotyped portrait of the Japanese. We know that the image of an artist is very important for success. This strong stereotyped portrait could be one factor explaining why fans felt that Japanese acts were new and interesting but somehow familiar at the same time.

Secondly, it’s important to take into account that the USA has been the economical leader over the past 50 years. Moreover, they have also been the leaders for the entertainment industry, especially in music and in cinematography. This implies that the USA (UK also) has been establishing the trend for pop music over the past years. This I believe is one of the main reasons why worldwide pop acts are usually Americans or British. It’s not surprising that what we see in the music industry is also happening in the film industry. As Asian musicians are having trouble breaking in western countries, Asian actors too are having a difficult time reaching top success in western movies. Most of the time, Asian actors that are popular are successful for the image instead of their personality. The most successful Asian actors in the west are usually martial art fighters, not comedians. Again, it’s image instead of personality.

From this point of view, the future is going to be very interesting with the uprise of China. The latter being the new economical leader, and soon to be the new entertainment leader, are the Chinese going to be the new worldwide pop acts? On the long term, is it going to become a lot easier for Chinese, and generally speaking Asian acts, to break in western countries? I do think that Americans and Europeans are still going to have a strong position in Asian countries do to their strong historical presence in music, but also do to a large market being available.

White girl rapping… the next bit hit?

Give me one famous rapper who is a white girl. Do you know any? 

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Human beings like to have leaders in many things they do, especially in music. In the early 90s very few white guys dared to get up on stage and rap. A few years later, once Eminem was out and getting big, there where white rappers all over the place, because they finally had a leader. Eminem became the trademark for white rapping. If you ask any average person in the street, who is the white male icon for rapping, they will answer Eminem. 

Girls rapping is slowly becoming a new trend. There are many female black people rapping and a few of them are already world wide famous. But no white girl… “Yes but white girls can’t rap”. Are you kidding me? That sounds oddly familiar to what people said before Eminem came out. “White guys can’t rap”. And he proved them wrong. There’s a gap in the music industry for the white female icon of rapping.

There’s a few white girls on youtube rapping, but none of them are real rappers. I’m not talking about a girl with a good voice and rapping skills. Nor am I talking about cheesy rap and wearing all kinds of popstyle clothing to attract attention. The girl I’m talking about, she’s got to have the “don’t fuck with me” attitude, she’s got the guts to stand up and get criticized and she dresses like a rapper in her every day life. She raps in her everyday life, and that’s all she does. In other words, she’s got the identity of a rapper, and she’s got something to say.

Have some balls!

We all know that today there’s so much competition in the musicians world, we all know that musical talent is not enough anymore. So what can musicians do to stick out? HAVE GUTS!! Have the guts to do things that other musicians don’t dare to do! Have the guts to stand and show people that you love your music so much that you don’t care who, when or where people are watching and judging you. They will respect you for that.

I’m going to give an example of “having guts” with the story of Bastian Baker, a young Swiss pop/rock artist. His music is cool and catchy but it’s nothing new. However, one of his strengths are his balls, and he used them well. He figured, why not play my songs in an airplane? Why not create a movement? I might get full rejection, but I might also get all the passengers loving me. After all, the airplaine is kind of like a venue, people are sitting down, they want to be entertained, they are all facing the same way. Let’s do this! I’m going make this plane flight a gig.

So he stands up with his guitar, plays a few songs, and the people are happy to watch. Next thing you know, the local student’s press is running after him to talk about his little show because it’s fun and young people like the idea. The idea was great, and maybe many guys thought of doing this too, but the difference is, he had the guts to do it. In 2010, he had only 1 original song. Now his first album came out, he is famous in Switzerland and expanding towards France.

Depending on the crazy things you do to attract attention, you will get into trouble. You will have people looking at you thinking “what the hell are you doing kid?!?”. But guess what, you will also have the media running after you, talking about your funny story, and you end up being history before you even know it.

Real success… What does it take?

What are the similarities between a musician’s success and business man’s success? A guy has a great idea, launches his company, has a huge success, but then gets fired by his own people, the people that he put together. Did he make the same mistake as an artist who takes off, creates a huge fan base, and then crashes a few years later?

No matter who you are or what you’re doing, authenticity is one of the main features that are necessary to last a long time. People feel it when you’re fake. They sense it when you don’t love what your doing, or when your doing it for another purpose than what your saying. The artist who uses music as a tool to become famous will rarely have a faithful fan base. It’s the artist who’s creating his music for himself that will be respected.

Oddly enough, the artist that is liked and respected the most is the one who does art for himself rather than for the people. The very successful artists say they want to help people, they say they have a message. And people say they love this artist because his message is good. In reality the reason why people love this artist isn’t because of their message. It’s because the artist loves what he’s doing and is authentic to his message. One artist can have the simplest message and be respected for that, while another artist can have the most interesting message but be disliked. In the end it all depends on how true you are to your words.

Is fame associated to being a good artist?

Is live performance all about putting on a show, playing good music, or a mix of both? Many good musicians criticize famous artists by saying that they are not talented. They say it’s ridiculous that these pop stars are famous because they are fake and cheesy artists. Is this really relevant? If they aren’t talented then why are there so many fans going to the untalented artists’ show? What if the average person likes cheesy? What if the average person doesn’t really care about quality music and would rather just see something funny? And what is the definition of being a bad artist or a good artist? If the first one who remixes songs is a bad artist, why would the second one who uses only a couple of standard guitar cords and some words end up being a good artist?

The reality in todays world is that there’s no definition of good or bad artists. You do whatever you want. People like you or hate you no matter what you do. The only relevance that exists is how many people like you. Britney Spears is not a bad artist, nor is Bob Dylan a good artist. These artists are simply doing what they want to do. You either like them or you don’t, it’s your choice to follow them or not.

Maybe you’re a musician who is passionate about jazz and likes to perform in small venues that can take only 50 people. In that case, no matter how well you sing, you’re going to have to accept the fact that you may only get a few followers. You may wish to have the whole world love you, but because your music is so complicated to the average person, you will only have a few followers who are passionate about sophisticated jazz. Or maybe you’re someone who likes to dance, to sing simple songs that make people happy, you radiate confidence and you have the guts to pick up a microphone and speak in front of 100’000 people. You’ll get millions of people following you, and also millions of people criticizing you. No matter which one of these artists you prefer, there isn’t one better than the other. Is pizza better than sushi?

Many people fail to realize that the goal of a pop artist isn’t necessarily to perform sophisticated music, but to simply entertain an audience. If people like his musical entertainment, why would it be a bad thing that he is using music? It’s all about freedom of expression. Music or no music.

What does it take to reach worldwide fame?

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Forty years ago, being talented in your music was enough to become famous if you had the right contacts. Today, being a brilliant musician is necessary, but not enough if you want to be a mainstrea artist. There are too many people who are brilliant musicians. So what makes the difference between the rockstar and the average performer?

Many people say that if you want to be a famous artist nowadays you need to make it when your young. This is only half true. Making it by being young is one way but there are others. The fact of being young is part of a concept that is much more general and important. That concept is about being different, extreme, and interesting. People like extreme cases because they stick out of the boring garbage we see everywhere.

You can differentiate yourself from others by being old. Susan Boyle made a killing on the “America’s got talent” show because she’s an extreme case. She has talent, but she is old and unattractive. How many old people do you know that are trying to become famous artists? This completely set her apart from all her competitors. You can differentiate yourself by being in your own world. Lady gaga didn’t become famous thanks to her voice or her songs. It definitely helped, but one of the main reason she made it is because she was in her own eccentric fashion world. She transformed her world from looking weird into being cool.