Nobody likes to be labelled upcoming, right? However, artists are categorised every day by fans, bloggers, promoters, award organisers, and critics. unfortunately, most of the people receiving and giving these categories seem to be clueless when questioned about what they actually mean.

First of all, the most common mistake is for artists to label themselves based on age. In actuality, an artist who is middle-aged or older has no claim to label themselves based on age.

Similarly, young artists are labelled as “emerging” artists, but, depending on experience and career, this is not necessarily the case. I am consistently surprised at artists how they react when labelled under categories they don’t feel like they fit in. Here are a few definitions to clear up some of the misconceptions.

Disclaimer for you sensitive folks: Of course, as with any type of label or category, there is confusion and overlap, but the goal in this post is to clear up downright misinformation. When possible, it is better avoiding labels altogether, but, sometimes labels must be endured since it is needed in classification and categorisation, so let’s aim to do it all factual-like.

The Established Artist

An artist who is at a mature stage in his or her career and who has created an extensive body of independent work. An established artist has reached an advanced level of achievement by sustaining a nationally and internationally recognized contribution to the discipline.

This type of artist is considered a ‘blue chip’ artist in the market. Their work’s value has been decided through consistent years of album sales, staying top on playlists, winning awards, mentions, having their songs covered by other artists, consistency and sometimes longevity in their career.

Most artists don’t get to this stage even though it is the dream of every artist to have their songs on every lip.

a local example in Cameroon will be Stanley Enow, Petit Pays, Mr. Leo Daphne and Charlotte Dipanda just to name a few.

The Mid-Career Artist

An artist who has created an independent body of work over a number of years and who have received regional or national recognition through consistent release or on stage presentation of his or her songs. A Mid-Career Artist has had a significant number of solo performances at significant events, located nationally or internationally, rather than locally.

Notice this category says nothing about age of the artist or even a specific number of years in their careers. Look again, because this is very specific. To be considered a mid-career artist, you must have received regional or national recognition through consistent release or onstage presentation of his or her songs. What does this mean? The release part means that you have had significant publications about you and your work, most likely through major blogs, radio and television. (how to do this will be on another post) . Many artists remain in the “Mid-Career” category until after their deaths.

Mid-Career Artists have established a national or international following and have their songs in many different cities and countries, rather than in a local or regional area. A great local example of a Mid-Career Artist is Montess, Tzy Panchak, Tenor, Blanche Bailly etc.

Emerging Artist/upcoming artist

Most Cameroonian upcoming artists have a meltdown when someone refers to them as an “upcoming”. An emerging artist is someone who’s in the early stage of their career, someone who’s caught the eye of music sponsors/lovers but hasn’t yet established a solid reputation as an artist amongst music critics, music buyers, and music events. this is someone who recently decided to prioritize their art above everything else. You could say it’s a term label award organisers use because it sounds better than “new artist” or “unknown artist.

A great local example of an emerging artist is Dina Leonel, M-Pro, One237, etc

Other categories doing these other categories for artists who ;

1, Those have been in the music industries for almost like ten years, have songs but no hit song, no recognition and can not be termed mid-career because their songs have not made any impact on them. eg Snazzy Shikena.

2, the artist who records music but do not release them. These ones do it for their personal pleasure or for family. they always know a lot about music and thus tend to act like promoters or critics eg SAID BARA.

3, we can’t forget those who make a hit song and just disappear… have you ever listened to a song and love it then try to check out the artist only to find out they made just two or three songs? e.g Stanis Le Dragon, Coolkid Berka etc

I am aware that questions like How many solo shows/songs /albums do you need to have to be ‘significant’? Who decides this when you move from one stage to another but it boils down to taking your art seriously, day in and day out. This means showing up early and prepared for gigs, networking when opportunity knocks and honing your skills. Show up in support of your art every day, and put your money where your mouth and understands that work comes before accolades.

Written by:

Guest Blogger: Clari Banz (Ndolezone)

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