The Two Biggest Artist Killers

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

Right now, there is a kind of chaos in the industry. After COVID now is the time to restart artist projects and at the same time, new artist projects can start. I guess now I can talk about the two things that really kill an artist’s career.

Let’s start with the first one. You see them quite often since you feel for them. A bunch of new artists that are promoting themselves very intensive. They do everything right by showing up at every conference. They set meetings, and have a business plan. Their social media is on point, and the look and even grants are in place. They just forgot one thing; you need good songs. You can do everything right, but in the end, the songs have to be good. That is the only thing you really can’t paint over or just fake.

There is of course a solution to this, and that is to buy the songs from a songwriter. The feeling I have gotten over the years is that these people that do everything themselves and do it well, also want to control and write the songs, so it usually never goes well when you start to propose that you might want to buy some good songs.

And proposing that they should co-write is not a good idea either. Since they obviously can’t write songs, putting them into a room with a good writer will make the good writer insane.

I don’t know how many of these stories I have. It’s a very common fate though. In the end, you can do all things right but fail on the song. You can do everything wrong but have good songs and it will save you. Or does it?

The other artist killer is the opposite. Here the artist is a genius at writing songs, but there is no setup. In many cases, the artist is introverted, and hard to be in crowds of people. Usually, the artist just plays at the conference and then goes home, no meetings, nothing. Since they are this way you also think they are very lazy.

I asked one of the artists that are in this way if they wanted to be in a radio show in front of a couple of million listeners? All they had to do is to record a message and send it to me. I need it fast. Two weeks later no message, time is running out. You remind the artist about it and they start to argue why they should put down the time to record the message. Recording an audio message on your phone takes one minute so it is not really a lot of work. The problem here is that they don’t take things seriously and most of the time just want to focus on stuff that is safe and done before. The problem with these artists is that they take their career for granted, No work is needed. And that will never take off.

It seems very hard to just meet an artist that has the drive and the songs at the same time. 

I’ve got the brains

You’ve got the looks

Let’s make lots of money

You’ve got the brawn

I’ve got the brains

Let’s make lots of money

Sang Pet Shop Boys, I wish it was that easy.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.