What makes a (music) artist and sucess:
I’ve seen people annoyed by fans of YG groups calling them an artist rather than an idol and its something that’s bothered me for a while.
Firstly, the problem with the term idol in Kpop is it implies manufactured and fake or subpar (not a true singer, musician or even person) even to the extent that their an entertainer for the jobs sake and whatever that requires, variety shows, mcing, dancing, singing, rapping, acting etc. they’ll do for the fame and not for the ‘arts’ sake. Unfortunately, not just in YG, many people who are artists are bracketed as idols because of the route they took in life.
Secondly, I do agree not every idol is a artist but they become apparent pretty quick, they never improve, change or even stick to music, rather focus on other activities before they’ve shown their worth as an individual creative or performing talent.
Thirdly I think many people put down YG artists simply out of resentment, possibly because the first point is used often to put down many other performers in this industry and they want to get back at YG artists. However, when one looks at the words music artist technically I think its impossible to deny any YG performers the claim of the term ‘artist’:
According to Wiki a music artists ”is a musician who records and releases music”.
According to wiki a musician ”is a person who is talented in making music or performing music creatively, or one who composes, conducts, or performs music. Musicians can specialize in any musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles. Examples of a musician’s possible skills include performing, conducting, singing, composing, arranging, and the orchestration of music”.
By these definitions everyone involved in the creation and performing of music, so from producers to performers, in YG are a music artist. Yes that includes the people like Lee Hi or Bom or Minzy who has no composed yet or play an instrument. This also goes for people outside of YG as well, and they do not even have to be passionate. Being an artist doesn’t equal greatness, not every painter, actor or craftsman who practices and art form will be a great artist but they are still technically an artist, because their putting the work into the creation/performance of art.
So what makes a ‘true’ artist? Well that’s subjective and answering that people will give different answers from people that ‘truly’ care for the music they make and getting it noticed and loved by people- technical ability is secondary to passion. There are others who on the other extreme emphasis that the music MUST show originality and or creativity, no cliques and meaningful lyrics and/or good technical ability with good rhythm and timing, where passion is secondary to more academic and technical achievement.
Personally I like Bruce Allen (President of Bruce Allen Talent, an artist management firm based in Vancouver. He manages the careers of Bryan Adams, Anne Murray, Martina McBride, Michael Bublé and producer Bob Rock.) comment on what makes a successful artist- and to me a True artist-
"….I can recognize talent but I don’t know what to do with it sometimes. What a wonderful guitar player. This guy can play more notes than any three guitar players I know, but what am I going to do with it? Okay? The artists that I’ve done the best with, every one has been driven to success. They might not be the best songwriters, they might not be the best players, they might not even be the best performers, but by God, they’re going to do, they’re going to work so hard that they’re going to basically force everyone around there to believe that they’re great…. That’s just in his [Bryan Adams] mindset. He’s going to be the best he could possibly be…”
The ‘Drive’ to not only do something but to go the next level with it. Many of the people in YG (not all) have showed they have this drive by how they got into the company in the first place and survived to debut, most at some point showing a stubborn determination that refused to ‘go home’ and do what it took for a second chance.
I like Bruce Allen’s quote because it points out that being technically the best is not what makes the most successful, it those that push themselves to convince others they are the best. I have been well ‘educated’ on the flaws of the artists in YG but that doesn’t make them any less of an artist nor does it make them any less successful and brilliant at what they do.
People praise the clique things, technical ability and ‘meaningful lyrics’ but that means barely anything if the artist is not doing something to convince people its worth more.
I also like his words on this
“ If you’re great you sell millions of records. You know that’s just the way it is. You want to make the big vote; the big vote’s the cash register. Somebody doesn’t buy it, how can it be great, you know? You artists, you critics, you’re just like eunuchs in a whore house, you’re just saying that. Okay? You’re just saying that it’s great because you want to be smarter than you want to be hip, okay? But success, I guess, is just up to the individual.”
I think the bold bit is important, its about the defensive attitude towards low selling musicians who are claimed to be ‘real’ superior artists to big sellers. Most (but not all) of the time these low sellers are technically good in some way but fail in universal appeal, and rather than take that they lash out at a general public for lack of ‘taste’ or insult ‘pop’ music or whatever is popular as not being ‘true’ art to cover themselves. Simply put, great art doesn’t need the ‘right’ audience to appreciate it, it by its own greatness will ‘demand’ appreciation.
Promotion can only take you so far, and if you lack promotion but are truly great and have the drive you’ll make it anyway (like Nicki Minaj). The industry may have shortcuts for some people but if their not truly great to deserve to be at the top than they fall fast. Anyone worth their salt sticks however they got to the ‘top’. Part of the drive, and single mindedness to last also takes the mental resilience to cope with the responsibility of success. Those that truly have that distinguishing drive will be the people who keep getting back up not matter how many times they fall. Time is the real separator between true great artists and plain ones, but the average person is too quick to make a label to appreciate this and its only in hindsight do things become apparent. Promotion helps people see the talent initially but it can’t keep the respect and faith the artists earns themselves for what they do.
Hipsters want more people who can be ‘technically’ good but a business wants people who can convince people they’re great even without ticking all the technical boxes. I think YG has artists that are either worthy technically or worthy more because of drive and conviction or even both, but they are all worthy of being call musicians and artists.