Tyler, the Creator has had a monumental 2017. His fourth studio album debuted #2 on the Billboard 200 chart and he’ll start his Flower Boy tour this month.
He has a new how-to series on VICELAND and an animated show coming to Adult Swim later this year. This year will also mark his sixth annual Camp Flog Knaw Carnival, featuring acts like Migos, Kid CuDi, A$AP Rocky, and more.
Tyler is doing amazing for himself and will only keep finessing life as he gets older. The 26-year-old creative has the platform to do whatever he wants whenever he wants.
His album sold 106,000 copies its first week despite leaking an entire week prior to its release.
His career is more than cemented at this point, so when I see Tyler gushing over his single “See You Again” getting play on the radio I don’t know what to think.
I mean Tyler is one of those artists with an extremely loyal fanbase. His album sales prove that fact as well as all his sold out shows. So, why does radio matter?
The radio is notoriously late to what’s popping on the internet and usually doesn’t break new records anymore. Hearing a song on the radio means it’s already been popular and is just being given extra life.
Tyler, the Creator has never been an artist who needs radio, which brings me to my question: Do artists need their music on the radio in 2017?
Recently we’ve seen 50 Cent argue with Hot 97’s creative director about the death of NY radio. A specific sound, as well as a specific rotation of artists, dominate hip-hop radio.
To be put in rotation at a station, artists need to meet a certain sound with a certain formula. More often than not the radio isn’t putting you on to dope artists, it’s letting you know what’s already hot in the streets.
In the era of streaming and playlists, the times of being at the radio’s mercy is over. Due to the internet we see more artists with a platform to get their music to the public without ever touching radio.
So why are artists still chasing a radio hit in 2017? Why is Chris Brown still the go-to singer for when you want your song to do numbers?
Personally I can’t tell you what’s being played on the radio. I haven’t listened to Hot 97 in years but I can still recognize what a radio hit sounds like. For artists who haven’t yet grown a strong fanbase, radio is a sure way of getting exposure.
Striving for a radio hit means you want to grow. Cardi B’s recent single “Bodak Yellow” would not have done nearly as well without being in constant rotation on the radio.
Artists creating for the radio have an agenda. To have that undeniable hit is to hear that record everywhere you go. For them the focus is the impact and the accomplishment of that possible Billboard spot.
Artists like Tyler, the Creator has never had a traditional radio song. Since coming out in 2010 he’s had a core following that has grown with him. All that considered Tyler still expresses how he’s always wanted a song of his on the radio.
i just heard "see u again" on the radio and started crying tears of joy omg
— Tyler, The Creator (@tylerthecreator) October 3, 2017
Having a song on the radio represents the artist’s evolution. It’s a sign that your music is being widely accepted and most people (aside from fans) are fucking with it. Tyler, the Creator has no need for any songs to be played on any station but it’s still a nice surprise when it does happen.
In 2017 artists are equipped to handle everything revolving around their music personally. With streaming services and internet marketing, radio realistically isn’t necessary. So, do artists need their music on the radio in 2017?
Definitely not, but doing so is still a huge accomplishment and can provide any needed help to propel the record beyond it’s initial impact.