Staying in Your Lane

Labels will tell you to stay in your lane; this basically means to not grow as an artist but to remain targeting one given audience. There are both positives and negatives to this situation but I always tell people fuck that. By staying in your lane it limits your creative abilities and your potential but by focusing on one group of people; but you have a better chance of taking that market. I am against anything that can prevent you from being yourself because we as people are not one given thing; only a robot can stay in their lane.

The positives of staying in your lane are that you know who you are targeting and that makes it easier to make sales. For instance Wiz Khalifa’s niche is the smoker market, so labels consider it to be business suicide if he makes conscious songs with the likes of Common or Mos Def. Yet since he is known for smoker music then smokers looks to him for their music needs and he owns the very profitable market. Once you have a market the money that you can make is massive; this is why labels tell you to stay in your lane, it’s all about the dollars for them so they know how to milk it.

The negatives are you risk getting played out. If you do the same type of music for year’s people typically will say all your songs sound the same or your music is nothing like it once was. It is very difficult to top your work when you were hungry, now that you are full and talking on the same topics you will never recapture that burning desire. The labels don’t tell you this because they don’t give a damn, they can just move on to the next artist. If you never limited yourself from the beginning you never would have been typecast as one thing while guys like Jay Z are able to change and sustain their position yearly in the game.

Business wise it is a smart idea to find your market and sell directly to them and no one else because you can reasonably do that. It is not difficult to target and market music to specific audiences because of the age of the internet makes it very possible for anyone with dollars. Yet musically speaking if you are not growing then you are moving backwards and most times trying new things is the formula of growing. If you are an artist then people will follow you in all your stages; if you are not then you only have one dimension and when it’s not hot anymore you will fade away.

Moral to this story is fans of you are difficult to find but fans of types of music is easy to find. Yet if you have fans that love you they will follow you as you change and get better. Staying in your lane is the easy route to get money quickly but not thinking about your future. Being an ever evolving artist is the only way to remain relevant for long periods in the rap game as a commercial artist but not very many people can achieve it.