Updated: Jun 8
Remaster, repackage, reissue, remarket? Successfully managing the legacy of a career artist means staying culturally relevant and not merely reselling versions of the same product to the same fanbase.
Legacy is something that we, as human beings, create every day. In who we are, what we do, what we stand for and who we surround ourselves with. This is how the minutiae of how we are thought of and how we will be remembered (or not), is formed.
Any artist who has built up a substantial body of work has created a professional legacy for fans to enjoy, and for new listeners to discover. But that doesn’t mean that artists and their teams shouldn’t be thinking ahead and planning for the future.
David Furnish, speaking in a 2022 interview after winning Music Week’s Manager Of The Year award with his colleague Rachael Paley, attributed most of their extraordinary recent success with Elton to having established a five-year plan.
Plotting out a long-term roadmap to “elevate and celebrate” Elton’s body of work, provided the foundations for an exhaustive exercise in securing his legend amongst existing fans, converting previously casual fans and introducing his artistry to a younger generation. Their five-year plan produced a biopic, an autobiography, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, the corresponding Disney+ concert film, rejuvenated social media channels, a refreshed and modernised profile on DSPs, and the Lockdown Sessions album that gave him a UK number one single in a sixth consecutive decade. Oh, and a multi-platinum greatest hits campaign in the shape of Diamonds.
Taking this long-range perspective enables all partners to get ahead of the curve and to proactively contribute to collective success. Artists are often reticent about thinking about themselves as businesses or even brands, however few would argue that robust long term planning for any business - with enough flex to react to any tactical opportunities that arise - is just common sense.
Perennially running on the fumes of your most commercially successful album or track, or (worse still) cranking out endless formats of the same product at every five year anniversary is ripping your fans off and is more likely damaging your legacy as a musician. Even though that album or track may have opened a door for you as an artist, it’s not necessarily one that you need to keep stepping through to provide leverage for your latest project.
If your work has already been reissued, remastered, repackaged (sometimes multiple times over), what purpose - aside from purely economic - is served from just more of the same?
In the US in 2022, streaming from ‘catalogue’ (= albums originally released over 18 months ago) topped the 70% mark versus newly released music. It could be argued that a number of factors drove that new threshold, most popularly the theory that we all turned to the more familiar music we love during the pandemic. But factor in the Kate Bush / Stranger Things phenomenon and the point of view that all music is new music to anybody who hasn’t heard it yet, and you can start to imagine the opportunities for a well managed and proactively marketed body of work.
We layer our data-driven approach at Deadly Hits with recommendations on what your fans actually want. Looking across the artist brand in its entirety, reviewing what your recent focus has been, taking into account any non-music projects, getting into the guts of what is special and specific to your fanbase and your relationship with them, means that we can help you understand your current fanbase and provide a foundation for future audience development.
This intel will enable informed decisions to be made in the longer term in the context of the direction of travel, not dictated by one album cycle or near anniversary.
For more information on what we do, please visit www.deadlyhits.io/legacy