Idol vs. Artist
Being an idol and being an artist is not the same.
If I would have to put it into one sentence, I’d say the difference between idols and artists is that idols go with the trend using talents to satisfy the fans, while the artists go with the avant-garde, creating thing based on their own idea by themselves, regardless of other people opinions and with a lot of (financial difficulty, fameless) risk. Of course it’s not as simple as that.
Ability can be hidden very well, for a very long time. Since there are a lot of people dreaming to be an artist, there is a lot of competition. That’s one of the reasons why there are so many unemployed artists, who have a hard time earning enough money and feed themselves. Also they may never gain (enough) recognition, or if they finally do it might be only after their death. Any kind of art can be cruel and a difficult path to walk on. As for idols: Some idols started out as trying to become artists as well, but considered giving up (part or their) freedom for a higher chance to secure enough income to cover their living expenses. Talent agencies/entertainment companies normally don’t care much about their talents’ thought, unless they are a company with mainly artists and not concentrating on certain trends, but on how to promote and help their artist to make a living. Normally making money comes first. And depending on the company its either profit orientated or “existence” orientated. They are a company after all. Entering a company as a trainee is only the very first step and no guarantee to ever be able to debut. Even a person with stunning talent may end up not being able to debut to various reasons (no stage presence, stage fright, unable to adapt to any concept, problems within the company etc.) or having to drop their carrier and passion later on for some reason.
Playing safe, reusing ideas and styles are traits quite common within money-orientated companies. Just taking a fast and absconding look at the Korean music market (which is not the only market working that way) it’s obvious how entertainment business have some well running bandwagon that everybody tries to jump on (such as a certain music-style “same company – similar sound” or genre , acting cute/sexy, a certain image etc.) Well, playing safe surly has several advantages, but kind of loses out when it comes to creativity. Experimenting would be the cleverer choice in terms of art. What some companies seem to forget is that even idols (at least if they have some experience) know what works best for them: their own ideas and concepts. Having an idol experiment with their own ideas is a risk that many companies don’t like to take; especially if the pressure and concurrence on the market is high. So rather than blaming the idols, people should start thinking about the management (but also about how the management has to react to the situation of the music market). And: idol is not an equal of untalented. They are just caught in the market’s clockwork and seem to be unable to develop their talents and ideas fully. I feel: Rather than raising money the focus should be on raising artists. Always sticking to what seems safe and promoting it as the non-plus-ultra leads to be lacking creativity and lets the spirits (ambition, dreams, hard work, motivation) die.
Of course it’s not only the companies who are at fault, but also the fans. Regardless of who they want to support and why, they should keep in mind that buying an album/fanartical always sets a statement. The simplest one is:”I support them.” But it’s also:”I support their music” (even if you only bought the CD to support the persons themselves but actually not their music at all, the company doesn’t have an extra statistic for that). Worse than that are the frequently read comments on songs/albums/MVs:”It’s good because it’s by XXX” etc. Just because it’s by XXX it doesn’t mean it’s good at all. Fans need to do more constructive criticism and be more objective about quality and if necessary say it clearly as:”Even though I like them, they didn’t do a good job this time”. Don’t favor something that was not well done just because it was done by your favorite. It only makes you seem like a person who lacks the ability to form an independent opinion.
Growing from an idol to an artist is possible and something that is worth trying. Not only as a singer going solo after quitting an idol group (or similar paths to walk), but also more experimental ones or simply reducing commercial characteristics seems to be a good point to start out on as well. People seem to overlook that for example a boy/girl group has certain charms that would work well within an artistic and experimental style. Combining acoustic /a-cappella with dance and with all the aspects of being an idol group seems tempting and interesting (at least it does to me). “Idol” and “artist”: They may be regarded as paradox together, but I am positive it’s possible to combine them, even though it will be a tightrope walk.
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