Discussion: What Frontman Attributes Are Crucial for Success?


Flush this hack!

What do you imagine your favorite frontman/woman as? Maybe as a mighty warrior standing atop a golden stoop releasing soaring vocals that could ruffle the feathers of a bald eagle? Or maybe as a soulless void in the bowels of the Marianas Trench releasing a silence-filled cacophony with the ability to switch the magnetic poles of the earth? Now what if the frontman/woman lacks tangible talent at all? Can you still enjoy the performance? Or will you ever even see the artist live? What attributes are most important to you?

First off, the motivation behind this discussion started from a recommendation to W. for Washington Think Tank. In that post, we discussed the three things that may help contribute to a great metal vocalist: vocal ability, showmanship, and longevity. I wanted to build off this and start a discussion on whether or not these three thing are as important for a band/vocalist to be successful in today’s musical climate.

In this age of DIY bands/artists, there is access to innumerable amounts of talent through a slew of different outlets. This saturation of artists seems to create a diminishing role for the classic “frontman” attributes (e.g. important frontman moves, such Rob Halford whipping his Harley Davidson motorcycle onstage). With so many of the artists we consume only available via online sources and with little to no chance of ever seeing these artists live, I would argue that the importance of some of these attributes has diminished.

As an object lesson, consider the huge number of underground bands from whom you purchase music on Bandcamp. Some of you have likely purchased dozens, if not hundreds, of albums. Of all those bands, how many will you ever see live? This has to decrease the importance of  showmanship, right?

Granted, music is not entirely consumed because of great vocal abilities or frontman showmanship. The marketing behind the accessibility of bands is a huge driving force, for instance. But in the live setting where you are unfamiliar with an artist (where music is typically at 11/10 and comprehending/digesting the music is at a staggering 1/10) the vocalist is crucial in captivating the audience’s participation. So does your obscure metal band vocalist get a pass on showmanship abilities even though his/her vocal abilities rattle the chest hair off Mr. Putin? Examples for each viewpoint are aplenty and will not be presented here (I want to keep your opinion untainted!)

I would argue that for a band to be successful outside of our obscure corner of the internet that a vocalist must have all of the  attributes I’ve mentioned and an array of complementary skills, amongst other things (i.e talent, perseverance, management, luck! ). However, if a band is widely successful outside of our murky pit, it is not likely we are going to be listening to them anyway.

So guys, what do you guys think? Does a singer need all three to be successful in todays music industry climate? Or could you give a rats-ass about any of the attributes as long as you dig the tunes? Sound off below!



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