After a hugely successful EP in 2014, with streaming numbers well over 11 million and being featured on platforms like VOGUE, it seemed Sydney-born artist TIAAN disappeared... The truth is, like many other artists, she was stuck in a badly structured deal that left her no control in what she was doing. Instead of giving up, TIAAN put her own projects to the side and started writing for other artists.
Now living another dream of residing in Los Angeles, TIAAN is ready to release an abundance of new music. Managed by top female music executive Sarah McCann at B|O|O (Band Of Others), who was responsible for launching the careers of Julia Michaels and has worked with every major player over the last decade, such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige and DJ White Shadow, TIAAN is in great company.
1. What are the main challenges that you had to go through as a musician and how did you manage to overcome them?
Honestly, the biggest challenge has been to be taken seriously. Iʼve had to deal with a lot of men thinking Iʼm just a pretty up-and-comer that they could possibly take advantage of, especially in a sexual way. You have to stay strong, be upfront and very clear about what you want and who you are and if they donʼt like that (which has and will happen), then itʼs their loss and you walk away with dignity and pride.
2. What are the main opportunities that you acknowledge as promising for developing a career in music in the current landscape of the business?
I have been in the industry professionally for over 10 years and – to me – itʼs quite scary for both beginners and veterans. What was valuable back in the day and is not now is talent. Pure talent that can be developed and inspire everyone around you to work to want to help you achieve your goals and dreams and everyone benefits from the pay off of that. Anybody and their dog can do anything creatively now since the dawn of technology that teaches anybody anything at the click of a button.
Social media seems to be ruling how seriously you are taken in the music industry. You could be an influencer with a million followers on Instagram say, and you decide that you want to be a singer. Thereʼs your opportunity. Great. Autotune, because youʼre actually a terrible singer. Pay for an average production by some big-shot producer that has probably passed the track on to his sidekick. Release the song. Do a video with your also insta-famous friends, wear designer clothes that every girl and boy wish they could afford, beat your face to look almost unrecognizable, change your wig in every scene and youʼre taken seriously in the music industry, because you have a million followers.
So, to be quite frank there are ample opportunities for everyone nowadays with social media ruling everything, you just gotta be the lucky one in the right place at the right time with the right person. Or an Instagram influencer.
3. What are the main struggles that the artists are facing nowadays in terms of music promotion and what is the best approach that can be utilized in this area?
Saturation. Basically, anyone can upload anything on most platforms. I believe that songs are uploaded to Spotify, Apple, Google Music, Napster, Deezer, and the other streamers every hour. That's 24 000 songs every day and a million tracks every six weeks, so itʼs very easy to get lost in the crowd unless you somehow know how to make it onto top playlists.
Hashtags on Instagram is one thing they say is a good way to build followers and to promote yourself, but thereʼs millions of people using the same ones. Paying for promotions on social media, sending your EPK out to bloggers, reaching out to multiple online music magazines and platforms and so on is great, but you also need a bit of luck with that too.
I think youʼve just gotta be extremely strategic and adapt with the times. Social media rules the world. Check out whatʼs working for someone reasonably successful that you admire, make a similar game plan and be dedicated to that.
4. Discuss the challenges and the opportunities in terms of fan engagement, retention and growth that you – as a participant in the music business – are facing at the moment.
People’s attention spans are no longer existent lol. They want everything NOW. More, more, more. Itʼs a lot of time and work to have to keep up with demands and youʼre most likely not getting paid for any of it. Again. Itʼs all about social media.
Yes, it has given us great platforms for creating content that keeps people engaged and helps to build your following, but itʼs also ruined exclusivity and patience. I feel itʼs now about quantity over quality. People get bored if youʼre “too slow” with posts or releases and - once itʼs released - the excitement wears off very quickly and they want the next song. So you need to create ways of keeping people engaged 24/7 even if itʼs not about music.
5. How do you expand and retain your fan base? What should artists do to retain their fans?
If I knew that, Iʼd be Beyoncé.
JK. BUT. Brings up the point of adapting, but always being yourself. I think thatʼs what creates your fan base and helps keep them around.
6. How should an artist approach the process of developing a stable live profile nowadays? What are the main problems, which an artist is facing when it comes to preparing tours, organizing their own shows and so on?
You just gotta play man, youʼve gotta get on every stage possible. Learn what works for you live, learn your audience. Since itʼs been a long time since I have toured, Iʼd say the biggest issue are the funds! And having to be the brains the power and the talent to make it all happen.
Itʼs a lot to take on, but the reward of making new fans and connecting with them all is worth it.
7. What is the mindset and mentality that an artist should concentrate on in terms of the business performance of their respective career, considering the specifics of the music industry?
Youʼre the boss. Be a boss.
8. What do you think is the business skill that most of the artists are lacking the most nowadays?
9. What is the situation that you have experienced as a professional, which you would like to handle differently than you did, if you could?
Probably the twisted contract I signed many years ago. I wish Iʼd been better educated on contracts and had the desire to question and understand things
more. Would have saved me a lot of time and heartache.
10. What is the toughest lesson that the music industry taught you?
There are many, I wouldnʼt know how to answer that with just one. Also, Iʼm still learning. You learn tough lessons in this industry very often. People are sharks when it comes to making money, in any industry, not just music. So, not to be trusting is probably one of the toughest.
11. What is the one thing that every musician should never forget and should always keep on top of their head?
Itʼs all about the music baby. Donʼt forget why you started doing what you love!