4 Signs That an Act is Going to be Commercially Successful


Today’s generation pride themselves on knowing an artist before everybody else. It’s a big deal to have known Conor Maynard back when he was singing Drake covers on YouTube or Odd Future before Earl Sweatshirt’s mother grounded him and sent him to Samoa.

I’m guilty of it myself, I love trying to find new up and coming artists and following them on their journey, and there are signs that indicate whether the artist you have found will be commercially successful or just be another artist lost in the mix.


Before we even get into the musical ability, a lot of what makes an artist is their image, how they are portrayed and how they portray themselves. With social media being the forefront of almost everything, fans are now able to interact with their favourite artists on a more personal level than in previous years. So how they are portrayed on TV will always be 2nd best to how they portray themselves on Twitter or Facebook.

The rapper Danny Brown is a prime example of how image can boost your music career and fanbase. His lack of (dental) care for how the world sees him makes him a role model for fans as he proves that it’s not all about looking like a stereotypical “superstar”. Rebellious.


Have you ever listened to a new artist and thought “oh I don’t like this, this is weird” but could never really explain why? You have? Well, that artist is more than likely going to be your’s and the world’s favourite artist within the next year or two. There was a time where James Blake was only enjoyed by a small group of London Music students, drinking Pimms in Soho Sq.

Now, everyone loves James Blake! Why? Because his sound was new, fresh and a bit weird when it first came around. Now he has an army of bidding producers trying to get that “James Blake” sound to their music. More examples of this are: The Weeknd, Maverick Sabre and Disclosure (although I still don’t like Disclosure, but everyone else does).


A wise man once told me, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. That wise man should’ve told me his name so I could credit him in this article, a prime example of what happens when you don’t follow your own advice.

An artist could be struggling to get views on Youtube, let alone get their music shown on the box. But one collaboration with the right person and their music is on every major radio station, TV channel, movie soundtrack, everywhere.

Look at 2Chainz; no one really paid attention to him until Drake sang the hook to “No Lie”. Now 2Chainz is on every major album, every music video and collaborating with every major artist. It’s not necessarily about who you sign to because sometimes signing to a major label can kill your career, not boost it – an example being Jay Sean signing to YMCMB.

Change of Direction

You’ve been listening to a heavy metal band or a grime artist for years and all of a sudden, their music doesn’t sound even remotely like them anymore. Prepare to see and hear them a lot more.

This tends to annoy a lot of fans as they see it as “selling out”, and therefore lose respect for the act. It raises the argument of Art vs. Money; fans want their artists to do it for the love of the art and stay “true to themselves” whereas the artists might do it to raise money for their children (i.e. Wiley). Some artists like to work outside of the box and try new things, and their new direction could be the reason that they become commercially successful. When Drake softened his music up and combined R’n’B and rap together perfectly and his commercial success is there for all to see.

These are just the signs I see when I start seeing an artist elevate through the ranks to commercial success. Although these signs don’t always lead towards them becoming successful, Wiley has changed his musical direction previous times over the last decade and it never really took off for him until the last year or so. We’ve seen Chipmunk collaborate with Keri Hilson, Chris Brown and Trey Songz, and fans just refused to see past his Grime/Rap background which held him back, so association doesn’t always help if people still refuse to care about the artist.

Some artists just try too hard to create something new which only damages their career, but within the music industry, a lot of the time, it’s a matter of trial and error – our generation have experienced many errors over the last 2 decades or so. It just shows these signs don’t necessarily mean they are on their way to super-stardom and other people may see different signs.

If you have any other signs that you look out for, comment them below.

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