2016 proved to be one of the most controversial campaign seasons of recent history. Despite the serious pros and cons of making a political statement, musicians played a significant role in this season’s problematic campaign. A-list artists like Sting, Christina Aguilera, John Legend, and many more openly supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for Election 2016 while Republican nominee Donald Trump gained the endorsement of musical legends like Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Kenny Rogers. Celebrities leveraged Twitter as a platform to speak out, the official accounts of Cher, John Legend, and Demi Lovato were littered with anti-Trump tweets and Hillary Clinton’s feed received some heat from Azealia Banks. Other musicians have gone out of their way to publicly ridicule Trump like Mac Miller’s rant on the Nightly Show and Romeo Santos’s outburst during a concert.
For content creators, there are a few things to consider before making a political statement. There are tasteful ways of approaching the situation to get your message across without ostracizing your fans.The upside to artists sharing political and social views with fans is that it can establish a deeper connection between listener and music that fuels a committed following. Famous rapper and Vydia published artist, T.I. recently released “Warzone” under our platform that does just that. He engaged his audience through this powerful video, said his message, and created a dialogue about the issue to stimulate change. T.I.’s video addressed the trend of police brutality against African-Americans and the need of reform for a safer community in a shocking, artistic way that every fan can resonate with.
The Black Eyed Peas also had a successful political song re-release in early September. “#Whereisthelove”, the successor of 2003’s “Where Is The Love”, acknowledges Americans’ desire for peaceful change and opens the discussion around how to achieve it. By enlisting the help of several famous artists, actors, and regular everyday people and highlighting a diverse list of human rights issues, The Black Eyed Peas created an inclusive experience for all listeners. These politically-charged creators were able to positively influence their listeners in ways that support their views in the most ideal way.
Be warned, there is always the risk that an inverse effect of choosing sides on a political issue can divide the musician’s demographic and fans on the other side of the issue are left in a strange position. The betrayal of discovering that an artist has conflicting political views could turn even the most dedicated fans away and repel new listeners, despite the quality of their content. This could best be seen on the fiery YouTube comments of Death Cab for Cutie’s “Million Dollar Loan” official music video, an anti-Trump song released as part of a creative protest by the group Artists for a Trump-Free America.
A big reason why artists go political because they want to influence change in their environment. T.I. says it best during his interview on the Daily Show, “we all have different approaches to our art, our entertainment. We all have different political view, but what we have in common is that we all know and believe something has to be done.” Regardless of the an artist’s personal ideas, they are public figures, sometimes even role models and idols. What you say, do, and produce as a creator deeply affects the audience. When creating your video content, it’s important to recognize how your message might affect fans and be prepared for backlash. Remember that the most efficient, political-related content has a balance between artistic message and political integrity to spread change and awareness, not hate and blame.