If you’ve ever found yourself critiquing your favourite artist’s new album while keeping their music on heavy rotation, you’re not alone. The fascinating paradox where fans remain fiercely loyal despite artists’ perceived setbacks is due to the interesting phenomenon of brand loyalty in the music industry.
Brand loyalty in the music industry defies conventional consumer behaviour. Usually, when people don’t like a product, they won’t repurchase it. However, this isn’t the case in the music industry. Fans, often creatures of habit, continue to support their favourite artists, demonstrating the remarkable resilience of brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is when customers continue to support one brand, person, or entity regardless of controversies surrounding their favourite artists or better options in industry. While loyal fans may miss the old Drake, they keep tuning into his new releases, despite reservations about the music.
Though there are many factors that influence brand loyalty in the music industry, social media, streaming platforms, and creature comforts associated with an artist’s discography keep fans coming back, time and again.
Social media is arguably the biggest revolution in the music industry, allowing artists to draw in new fans with accessible content while connecting with their existing fan base. Fans can interact with their favourite artists by commenting on their posts, tuning into live TikTok concerts, and sharing newly released music.
A recent study highlighted that 90 per cent of social media users engaged with content created by artists on a regular basis. Artists can easily create an unwavering bond with their fans by creating personal content which takes fans behind the scenes and into the mind of the artist.
The consequence is the artist’s brand becoming the focal point rather than their music, which could potentially fall victim to homogenization.
Playboy Carti and his Opium label have created a cult-like following through a brand centred on punk, gothic, and horror themes, which is reflected in their music’s consistent sound. While Carti and the artists under his label exemplify a compelling case of social media creating a cult-like following and subsequent music homogenization, an equally intriguing phenomenon emerges.
Let’s say the artists begin releasing singles and albums that lack substance, sound repetitive, or belong to completely different genres. While this should push fans away, it often doesn’t.
Drake and Taylor Swift are prime examples of the brand loyalty paradox. Following the release of his recent studio album For All The Dogs, Drake is facing major criticism for repetitive musical concepts, lack of substance, and missing his “old touch” from fans who miss his earlier music.
Taylor Swift has faced criticism for re-recording her old albums, which critics argue is lazy, lacks creativity, and is a ploy to earn more money. Despite this, both artists are still at the top of the music industry and continue to sell out arenas.
This is where creature comfort and the convenience of streaming come into play.
When fans listened to a new body of work by their favourite artist in the past, they had to trek to the nearest record store to purchase an album to own forever. Artists had to focus on writing music that would capture radio jockeys’ attention, get airtime, and then encourage fans to buy their records.
With the advent of streaming, artists don’t have to rely on the originality and quality of their music to have a successful career.
Easy access to an artist’s work through steaming and social media helps fans develop a stronger connection to fellow fans and the artist’s discography. Being a member of a fanbase provides a sense of belonging and community, which keeps fans engaged with an artist and their music.
By focusing on brand loyalty in music, artists may prioritize their brand over their craft, and devote less time to creating original music. Despite this, cultivating a loyal fanbase enables artists to experiment and explore new sounds, expanding their fan base and appealing to existing fans in new ways.
As fans, it’s crucial to strike a balance. Our brand loyalty shouldn’t blind us to a potential lack of effort or creativity. Instead, we should place art as the focal point, supporting artists who continually push their boundaries, enriching our own musical experience while encouraging our beloved musicians to keep evolving and surprising us.
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