Group Hug: Why Are Artists More Popular than Bands?
Throughout my career as a young musician, I've bounced back-and-forth as a solo artist and member of bands...
When I was 14, I got to play drums and sing in my first band - a suburban pop-punk trio called Axis 43. When I was 16, I created a Myspace account for "Dan Collins and a Piano" and have been releasing music under that eponym through my most recent record. When I was 19, in college, I was lucky to meet a handful of like-minded pop-rockers, and we formed Mouse Pocket. When I was a 22-year-old college graduate, I moved to Chicago to form a jazz-influenced pop trio- Nonpronto was born and continues to thrive.
...all the while, I've never committed exclusively to either format - solo artist or band.
This blog post, however, isn't about me, but rather the conundrum that I've faced throughout my early career as an artist. To restate the question as it reads in the blog's subject line, why are artists more popular than bands? This question arose while I was perusing the Top 40 in search of today's teachable pop songs. Just one of the top 10 songs was released by a band - Clean Bandit's "Rather Be." The other nine were released by what one might call "pop stars." In 2011, seven of the top ten songs were recorded by solo artists; in 2012 and 2013, eight of ten were... so this isn't a fluke year. I'm not advocating for one over the other, and I'm not going to try to answer the question, but I'd love to spark some conversation or at least consideration on the subject. Why does today's system favor solo icons? Is this simply the product of the profit-machine? Is the Top 40 indicative of the general trend, or are bands–in reality–more popular than solo artists?
I'm stoked with my current situation, as one-third of Nonpronto and a solo singer-songwriter, but I'm always interested in hearing opinions on the subject... so what do you think? Is your favorite music recorded by bands or solo artists? What's the general pattern for you? Am I completely wrong?