Does Fame Have A Positive Or Negative Influence On An Artist's Music?

music-beyonce The very nature of fame means it has an incredibly potent effect on a person - we've seen it in both its positive and negative forms. For every inspiring story of overcoming adversity, there's a couple of breakdowns, a few car crash stars whose star burned bright and burned out pretty damn quick. In the end, though, when it comes to musicians, arguably the most divisive brand of fame-propelled humans that we regularly discuss, debate and deliberate over, the end product of their success, their music, really can be affected, one way or another, by fame. The question is: does fame have a positive or a negative influence on the artist and therefore their music? For some artists, the position and status that fame brings has a positive boon on the artist's work - that initial rush of recognition, the popularity of their work means deep down, that people like them, that people like the stuff they work hard at and put their name to. Therefore, fame can be a great motivator - it's very easy to compose your own songs in the comfort of anonymity, because you have nothing to lose. No one is going to give you a negative review for a song you wrote in your bedroom on an old Casio keyboard. Being famous and being famous for your music, therefore, is a bit of a metaphorical boot up the backside - it can lend focus an artist, make them much better when they've discovered their unique niche in the music world. music-adele Take the incredible Adele for example - while she wasn't exactly a nobody in her earlier years (a BRIT school alumn), it was her initial successes with album 19 that led to creating the mega-album 21 is now a modern classic across the globe and increasing her fanbase to a ridiculously big amount. Having fame can mean that you create something really important and positive in of itself because of the support you might feel you're receiving from your fans. However, that isn't to say that becoming famous guarantees that you'll instantly transform you and gives you that edge and focus you need to become a superstar - it doesn't. It really doesn't. For some, it means that finding your niche means that you might feel so comfortable, so snug in churning out another replica of your big Billboard Top Ten debut, that you never try anything new, never try to expand or change or evolve your music or skill into something new. This works for some artists, but it shouldn't be for all of them; particularly in the modern music industry where trends come and go, and those late to the bandwagon often find interest waning. Consider the big electro/dance-pop phenom that swept the world a few years back - everyone was creating their dancefloor anthems and they were good, they were different. Fast forward to now and with a re-emergence of 'authentic' music, a lot of artists are still trying to do the next great dance anthem is at risk of being left in the dust and their supposed 'fame' might not be enough to stop their careers waning. The fans can easily turn on a record that while 'on-trend' doesn't feel true to the artist or that feels generated solely to keep them on the radar of the music scene - the next time a popstar drops a 'club anthem' consider whether it's sincere enough or whether they're just treading water due to company demands. JM_22231_01.tif Of course it doesn't always turn out that way - plenty of artists are willing to dabble in several different genres at the same time and often it can be positively enhanced by that musician's standing and status. The fact that you're getting recognised and praised for doing the music you want, for baring a little bit of your soul with each tune and track, can be a wonderful emotional boost and can lead you to take brave leaps and challenges into new territory. Ke$ha, famous for her electropop club tunes, might have never felt confident enough to make her second album into what is essentially a hippie rock record; Linkin Park might have never moved past slickly catchy nu-metal blasts into anthemic rock; Kanye might have never engineered his own brand of intelligent electronic-hip-hop; and Beyonce might have never kept taking chances, twisting the traditional song format and evolving with every era into a force to be reckoned with when it comes to creativity. Fame allows artists the chances and freedom to explore their creativity in an open and largely supportive environment and introduce new genres and types of music to people who might never have explored it beforehand, which is, of course, always a good thing. An artist's creativity isn't always so positively supported, however - more often than not, there are dime-a-dozen artists whose cookie-cutter sound is the result of corporations electing to produce bland music at a mass rate, limiting the chances you might get to actually explore your tastes as a musician or singer. Point in fact, being famous might not help you there - it's entirely feasible that incredible pressure from companies to replicate those successes might lead to retreat into safe territory. After all if it's been a hit once, why not again? Look as global icon Britney Spears; more than once she's been accused of being just a pop puppet despite venturing out into urban and dance in previous years. Unfortunately her first full dance record was marred by her public troubles in 2007 and her second in the spring of 2011 was very controlled if a huge critical and commercial success. Fame doesn't ensure creativity and often, it can limit what you can do, both personally and professionally. popacts2013-ladygaga On the other hand, fame's impact on the artist truly can be a positive and beneficial thing - largely down to what the artist chooses to do with their status. Our culture worships celebrities - more people follow Gaga and Bieber on Twitter than the President of the United States and more often than not, the lists of important people in the world are dominated by singers and musicians. Fortunately some celebrities do choose to use their music for a positive means - take Lady Gaga's divisive LGBTQ-anthem 'Born This Way' which is a danceable self-acceptance-a-thon and (all unfortunate 'Express Yourself' comparisons aside) does a commendable job of preaching a message of love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wV1FrqwZyKw Let's be honest - if Steffani Germanotta had released that via YouTube or it had been Gaga's debut single, it probably would never have had as strong or positive an impact as it ended up having. It might have never even ended up being written - it was only after Gaga's fans (the Little Monsters, one of the most ardent and devoted fanbases out there) started telling her about their struggles with their sexuality was helped by her music and activism. If it's in the right context, with the right message, a song really can help change the world - look at the It Gets Better movement from 2010/2011. Songs from Ke$ha, Pink and others were deeply tied to that movement and helped increase awareness in the wake of some truly tragic teen suicides. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case - someone once said that making someone famous allows their true self and true being to emerge fully and it makes a lot of sense. The truly cool celebrities remain truly cool and the mean people become public. Look at the now infamous Rihanna/Chris Brown incident in 2009; following his public trial, Brown went ahead to release Fortune. an album that seemingly made no atonement for the incident and even in some songs suggested that people should leave Brown alone. I'm not even going into the situation in detail, largely because my feelings on it are loud and angry, but the situation is merely a perfect example of fame and celebrity inflating an ego to the point where the musician's work is being negatively affected by it. A more timely example could be Justin Bieber's recent antics in London - from being two hours late to a performance to throwing tantrums, it seems like Bieber's ego might be taking over. More than anything, it shows that fame can crumble away at the hard work that artists such as Bieber and Brown have put in and can affect their future works and their careers - the music industry is fickle as hell, folks, and one bad record that flops is easily more than enough to send someone dropping out of the music A-list. justin_bieber_terrible_lyrics In conclusion, fame is very much the proverbial double-edged sword. It can equally give you the freedom and the support you need to support your musical aspirations, those secret dreams you've always wanted to; it can also equally corrupt those dreams and inflate the egos of those involved until there's an incredible sense of entitlement, a demand that everyone love their music simply because it's by them. Ultimately, a lot of people will always want to become famous and the media utilises this to full advantage - we enjoy raising them to the heights we never dreamed of and we love watching any slip or fall they experience on the way, bringing them back down. The artist's music might be a direct product of the fame they're experiencing, good or bad, and sometimes it doesn't matter. Sometimes you can release a fantastic song in the midst of a personal and public crisis brought on by fame. Whether or not fame actually has a massive effect on each individual artist depends on exactly that - the individual artist. The only thing we can guarantee is that when the next musical starlet or sensation rolls around and no doubt, we'll all be watching. I obviously can't have covered absolutely everything in the article and I really would love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, opinions or examples you have to mind - so please stick them in the comments section below!

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Leeds native, film fanatic, TV obsessive and relentless pop music fan. Sings off-key at any chance.