In an Op-Ed with the Huffington Post last week, Dutch hardstyle frontman Headhunterz poses an important question most artists face at some point in their career - How to you remain true to your current fans while broadening your audience?
It's a difficult dilema to solve. On one hand you want to increase your fan base, but on the other if you go to far it can easily be perceived as 'selling out".
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In Headhunterz particular case, he's referring to reaching an American EDM culture audience that has grown, in his opionion, accustomed to more 'traditional' 130 bpm range tracks. He says:
And then, suddenly you're closing a huge festival where people have never gone beyond 130bpm. And although the first few rows consist of true fans who have waited for years to see you, the rest is overwhelmed by an explosion of sound, racing at 150bpm. Some are pleasantly surprised, others choose to find their way out before the rush."
Whether or not American electronic music fans are already accustomed to hardstyle is debatable (attendance at Q-Dance events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas says we are), but Headhunterz begs the bigger question- how dow you play to a crowd that might not be exposed to your sound? He goes on to say:
There is simply no way to keep everybody happy. As an artist, I am up for a new challenge. This counts for everyone who's passionate or ambitious about their career, in any profession. You want to keep moving forward. Trying to keep angry fans happy is an impossible task. It brings along a lot of negative energy, and keeps you away from what YOU want to make"
A real artist is always evolving, and Headhunterz knows this. Also, regardless of whether or not you consider yourself more of a DJ or a producer, part of a DJ's job is 'to play to the crowd'. Of course that does not mean take a bunch of requests or play Bon Jovi if some rich dude offers you $200k (please see definition #2 of 'selling out'), but it does mean that some consideration of the audience must be included when programming your set.
The fact that Heathunterz is wrestling with this shows his head and heart is in the right place - his music. He recognizes hardstyle will evolve, and doesn't waste time trying to predict what the evolutions may be. He closes aptly by stating "Let's see what the future will bring. Whatever that is is, you can count on one thing. I will continue to be me, and do my thing."
Source: Huffington Post