Porter Robinson and Hugo ‘Madeon’ Leclerq are two prominent artists within the electronic music industry who shared a meteoric rise to success. On one end, Robinson signed his debut EP titled ‘Spitfire‘ on the OWSLA imprint that year while Madeon posted a viral video on YouTube by the name of ‘Pop culture.’ Both artists are currently thriving, sustaining their success over a long period of time which is substantial when considering how quickly most musicians fade out of the spotlight. What’s essential to note, is their initiative to retain complete creative control over the direction of both artists’ projects.
In this digital day and age, labels typically find musicians online, sign them as acts, and grant them the resources to brand better and reach masses through a public platform. More often than not, the artist’s compositions will be strategically marketed through public relation firms, gaining media traction for a short period of time in preparation for an accompanying tour to support larger acts. This process is catered to garner public notoriety while associating with larger names in the industry. However, imprints usually have packed music release schedules, so focus will quickly shift from one artist to another while constricting the people signed to an exclusive mean of output.
With record labels focusing on the short-term development of their artists’ careers more than ever before, they should look into Porter Robinson and Madeon’s method of branding as an example of investing into longer spanning careers.
Grouping and Association / Availability
To start off, imprints nowadays group many artists in their repertoire together in compilation albums. The tactic has many purposes, including furthering association with other acts by plastering names together in one place, building brand identity, a larger community, and banking on the likelihood that a track or more will stand out, acting as the money-maker. While this practice is understandable from a business point of view, it still heavily diminishes the long-term potential value of the music since it gets drowned out by the amount of content available.
On that note, this model portrays a product-line train of thought, such as going into a clothing store and having many pieces to choose from. Based on taste, consumers will pick out only what suites them, and would likely return if they find themselves interested in a brand. However, that notion devalues each individual product as none of them stand out among an array of choices.
To look back on when Porter Robinson and Madeon’s music gained traction, they clearly showed public support towards one another since they were friends at a young age. That backing came in the form of sharing kind words and suggesting that fans hear both their music. Building on that, an association between the two was created, giving an image of an endearing sincere connection.
The pre-existent personal relationship translated into fans being adamant on supporting both, due to what felt like a sentimental tie rather than by product association only. This image can show how their brand is perceived, and indicate how likely they are to gain free media attention without having to market. What this shows is that projects, even ones with a different overall sound and vision, can be associated on an organic level without melding into one body of work so each can stand alone.
Furthering that, this is likely to be more individually beneficial for the artists in question and labels altogether, as it builds loyalty while allowing diversification. Following the wrap up of their debut album main tours, Porter and Hugo released their first public collaboration, ‘Shelter,’ that evidently became the most successful song for each of them. What’s interesting to observe is the way both established individual brands and went on to fulfill that vision, and then converged for what seemed like an inevitable collaborative track. Again, this is a prime example of managing individual success by focused branding, followed by a joint venture.
Identity vs. Conformity
Second of all, record labels’ success strategies focus on single releases or shorter bodies of work, and maintain albums for planned headlining tours. Throughout the time this is happening, the artist is expected to be consistent with timely delivery of work that is also approved by the label. When inspected, labels typically have an umbrella style or genre which they attempt to make themselves synonymous with.
For the most part, this serves search engine optimization and emphasizes what can be expected from their brand. It attempts to create an environment where a particular style of sound resides, in order for consumers to identify and remember it easily, expanding brand loyalty. Nonetheless, narrowing releases into one genre causes artists to restrict themselves, and to compromise personal style which is usually their brand identity.
By dampening the capability to pursue that, labels minimize future potential for musicians to branch out, especially if their character is tied to the imprint. Diversely, Porter Robinson and Madeon had a lot of time to build encompassing albums which lived on successfully for years.
A Holistic Artistic Vision
As soon as Porter released ‘Worlds‘ while Madeon revealed ‘Adventure‘ in 2015, both were quickly identified to be era-defining albums in the electronic music industry. Preceding the albums, their brands weren’t fully established to encompass individual identity and an album, but leading up to the releases, they found a way to use their history as launching pads. From that point on, each artist went on to cement their sound and vision by building holistic concepts surrounding the albums.
On one end, Porter painted in his outspoken love for the Japanese culture all over the album and live show. Particularly, he tied in concepts of beauty and vulnerability which again, are part of his brand that echoes personality traits and perspective. On the other end, Hugo coined a language and implemented that into his album, also adding puzzles for fans to solve.
What that showcases, is that brands tied into personal ideas or traits, are more understood due to the relatability and crystal-clear concepts they hold. Taking that into consideration, labels can utilize the notion in order to help their artists develop ideas and brands based on personal preferences. As a result, the imprint’s influence can remain obvious over its own output while allowing artists to sincerely present themselves, rather than force their style to conform. To elaborate, Sounds used in music are in of themselves branding efforts, so conforming to fit another brand will only damage the artist’s identity.
Unique Live Experiences
In continuation, tours are a vital part of musician’s careers in the digital age, notably because it’s where most of the money in the industry is made. Music streaming services have long taken over due to their convenience, and royalties are typically low. When it comes to that, Porter Robinson and Madeon built a compact system around the music throughout their album tours. To be specific, they developed unique stage designs, visual content, and most importantly, distinguished live concerts from a DJ show where they perform other peoples’ music too.
On the divergent end, labels will simply work to organize a DJ tour with minimal visual content where artists more often than not, perform similar sets. Overall, fans can get together in a space and enjoy the music, but are deprived of a unique immersive experience. Putting significant thought and effort behind experiences where artists gain the most income will keep fans returning and increase demand by people sharing content on social media. This is particularly important for shows since they’re pivotal in building individual brand identity.
Frequency of Posting
Lastly, labels are constantly on social media channels pushing new releases or upcoming ones. With a packed schedule, there is nearly never a lack of content to promote, and sometimes they overlap. Notably, overlapping promotional campaigns to multiple different artists will negatively impact their exposure. Moreover, consistently pushing out promotional content on social media channels deters fans due to the presumption of availability, but it also keeps them updated.
On one end, that’s beneficial when it comes to being up to date with what an imprint has in store. On the flip-side, it’s marketing that appears as passionless, and will not illicit reactions of excitement from fans. The case in point can be made by looking into Porter Robinson and Madeon’s Twitter accounts, which are often silent.
The moment they post anything, they get flocked with likes, retweets, and impressions, regardless of the content. That’s mainly because their character and brand is built around not spamming fans, so people know they’re not being promoted to. Even when releasing music, both artists have shared personal sentiments about it and promoted each other, acting as a sharing mechanic rather than a spam marketing one.
Generally, when people subscribe to new content, they’re looking for an introduction, or to get a clear image of what a brand has in store. Utilizing constant promotional tools cause consumers to quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of content. However, sharing and promoting on a relaxed or strategic basis can create a sense of excitement and curiosity. Furthermore under that umbrella, individuals can always access previous tweets for example, and each would reflect the persona and brand in development giving them greater context.
Above all, due to the packed music release schedules, labels are pressed for short-term campaigns to diversify resource allocation. As a result, there is less time to focus on individual artists who are already expected to deliver music on a timely basis as their contracts dictate.
The issue behind that timely bind, is that imprints want to maximize on the musician’s value for the duration they’re signed, therefore not giving artists enough time to develop larger contexts for their work. On the latter end, they might be rushed to produce a large body of work and album to go on schedule, without being prepared for the task. Once the pressured piece of music goes into the touring phase, the lack of clear vision and development would reveal itself.
They Take Their Time Producing Music
Since emerging to the spotlight in 2011, both Porter and Madeon took four years to produce their debut albums. In that time, each release along the way was furthering their individual brands, and their interactions with each other and fans echoed that.
The point of it was to showcase their personality, and portray the music as an extension of them which speaks for what they think. Forwarding to 2020, it took both artists 5 more years since the debut records to produce new albums, and they’re reflecting on ideas and experiences. Knowing the ideas are flowing from a place of experience, there is plenty of time to figure out a message, brand direction, musical style, and have it be substantial to the character arc being developed.
Labels constrain time to condense this process, but that dilutes how effective and sincere it is while surrounding itself with other products. In terms of long-term thinking, imprints can implement ways of diversification by acting as more of a branded marketing platform that backs up artists in portraying their vision. This can allow the label to retain its own identity and brand while investing into the long-term careers of the artists they’re supporting.
In conclusion, record labels are able to support artists and consider their long-term career prospects by taking a look at the branding initiatives of artists in the music industry such as Porter Robinson and Madeon. If artists and labels were able to work better together without having to compromise vision to conform, loyalty to each brand would exponentially grow.
It seems these days imprints value their image over all else, avoiding risk and maximizing profit in a way which makes artists dispensable. Eventually, when fans connect to certain artists and support them, putting them to sidelines will only damage their trust in record labels to deliver good music consistently. To take Porter and Madeon’s branding example, there is clearly a place for strategies which bide their time, showcase personal branding, build more homogenous bodies of work, and create supportive communities rather than those by association only.
All in all, this can be more profitable in the long-term for both artists and labels while establishing presence to support newer talent without completely side-lining them. This is because newer talents can filter through when the dedicated artists are either touring, working on new music, or on hiatus.