Why Do So Many Artists Follow Up a Hit Album with a Flop?
This happens so often: an artist releases a highly successful album only to follow it up with a record that stiffs. Why does this happen? Here’s a hypothesis from Ruth Blatt writing in Forbes:
The discomfort that some artists feel when they make a commercially successful album comes from their dual identity as both commercial and artistic enterprises. They have competing values within their core identity, both of which are essential to their endeavor. Without commercial success, they cannot sustain their artistic careers. And no one will know their work. Yet they are artists, which means that they value self-expression, experimentation, and risk-taking. Without artistic values, they are merely entertainers.
Other businesses also deal with competing agendas. Companies need to innovate but stay consistent. They need to compete as well as cooperate with their competitors. They need to create the best products possible but keep costs low. They need to standardize but also enable creativity, to control but also allow individual autonomy.
As with artists, these tensions are good for companies. They need a little bit of both, not to pick just one. That way, in theory at least, they can have it both ways. But how?