By: Mo Paynter
We’ve all had that artist or band that we’ve loved for years. The one that we can always go back to and think, “Man, I’m always going to love this band.” The band that brings back memories and instant nostalgia while sitting at a red light and suddenly remembering that one life changing crush you had that you swore your heart would never heal from.
Here’s where my question comes into play. When you think about that one band, was there a time you weren’t 100% satisfied with a new album, a new single, a new sound they were putting out? A new trend in music they were adapting to.
Can a band maintain a career in the music industry without adapting to new trends and sounds? Additionally, if a band changes and adapts to the music industry, will those “lifelong fans” still remain ardent fans and love their sound? Will you dance to the beat of a bands proverbial different drum?
With a landscape of ever changing underground indie bands and Billboard Top 100 artists, the music industry sound itself is a living, breathing entity. No, I’m not stating the obvious and pointing out the living breathing members in the band, I’m talking about the actual music itself. The sounds. The bass, the synth, the guitar, the drums, the virtual heartbeats of a song.
Very few bands have been able to withstand the industry and still have a lifelong career. Of course you have the classics like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith to name a few. But even The Beatles and Aerosmith changed up their song and sound formula to create great hits.
Aerosmith was almost off the map until the 1986 come back smash up “Walk this way” with Run DMC. Some fans loved it...some fans HATED IT. Couldn’t believe their beloved Aerosmith was collaborating with that loud, offensive rap trio. But it breathed new life into Aerosmith, put them back into the relevant radio playlist rotation and they are still here today.
Now was that a lifeline that had to be taken by Aerosmith to remain a constant in the industry? They lost some fans out of it and they gained some fans out of it. Some say yes they had to do it, some say no they could have survived without it, that’s a late night bar debate if I’ve ever heard one.
But what about bands that aren’t the legends? Your favorite underground indie band that pushes out music yearly trying to “make it big”, still touring and connecting with fans but never in a place to become “a legend”? If your favorite indie band puts out a new album or single completely different from their “sound” are you still going to be a fan? If your favorite indie band changes its sound to stay with the times and adapt to the new ideas and music coming into the industry everyday, will you still go to the shows and pay for the merch?
It can be argued that bands have to adapt to stay relevant. Most listeners and fans adapt with the industry too. Think about it. How many times have you showed a friend a new song from a band you’ve accidentally stumbled upon live or on spotify that was a new sound you had to share?
We all hold that special place in our heart for our favorite bands. Whether that be the legends or our favorite hometown indie rock group. We also, although some won’t admit it, never want our favorite bands to change up their sound because they are just perfect the way they are. But alas, bands need to adapt. Maybe because the sound of the industry is changing, or maybe because creatively they need to expand and challenge themselves in order to keep the drive going.
Next time your favorite band puts out a questionable song that’s off from their “normal” sound, give it a chance. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t dismiss it. Take the time to ponder the question, “If they don’t adapt, will they be here next year playing my favorite venues and putting out new music?” And then when all the new fans show up, just bask in the glory with pride and say, “I heard them first.”