Just like food, music differs from one region to another, from one country to another, and even more so from one continent to another. Let’s take a look at some major dissimilarities between American and European artists.
7. American artists see partying and clubbing as part of the job.
Parties have quite a negative connotation in the EU being associated with getting wasted, drunken sex, and kind of a shame really. It’s enough to take a look at Instagram of EU artists to notice few to no party photos. While in the US, parties are a MUST: you’ll meet rappers, DJs, singers, instrumentalists, beatmakers, producers, managers, engineers and even A&Rs in clubs. Most of the time being in top shape, sharpest outfits, and looking like they’re ready to walk the red carpet. When an European artist goes to the club, he/she kinda hides it, and gets to drink, dance, and have fun like every other person. When American artists go clubbing, they go there to NETWORK, take fancy pictures, and load up their Instagram stories with exclusive shots. My personal opinion on it: as a musician, you have to put your time to best use and if you can turn your fun time into networking time, even better. Definitely a lesson to learn from American artists.
6. European artists are insanely competitive.
It might be because there are few spots in the limelight for European acts. And you really have to force your way in. Every country has a closed circle of musicians that new artists can barely crack. And you’re like the outsider for quite some time, until the established acts acknowledge you and welcome you in their elite circle. Almost like having to prove yourself over and over again. This competitiveness is reflected in our yearly world-famous singing show: Eurovision. It sparks scandals, catapults new acts into stardom and makes old acts relevant again. As much as you wanna hate on Eurovision (which by the way has been around since 1956), it is incredibly prestigious to participating artists. Notable performers from the show: Celine Dion, Enya, Rita Ora, Dita von Teese, ABBA, Conchita Wurst, Arash. On the other hand, American musicians are quite chill about it. They can be competing for the #1 spot on Billboard and still see face to face and congratulate each other. Actually a lot of the beefs and scandals in the US are fabricated by their agents to keep them relevant. And Americans have plenty of reality TV shows, plenty of movies, festivals, award shows, contests and venues that give more opportunities to more artists. So a musician that hasn’t seen the top charts in years can still bank on their fading popularity on a reality TV show and is not phased by what’s going on in the industry. Europe does not have that luxury. At least not yet.
5. American artists have supporting squads, crews, groups, homies.
Where shall we even start with this one… 99% of American mainstream artists have a crew. An official group that they purposely associate themselves with, in order to gain popularity, credibility, and in some cases, even protection. It’s almost like a soft version of gang culture but with nice outfits, flashy cars, lots of money and selfies. Taylor Swift, for example, is the biggest pop star of this generation and she makes a point with every album, single, video to let the world know she has BACKUP. She is validated by other very influential people in the industry and she is very proud of it. And it works, because you may not like her but you see Selena Gomez, Hailee Steinfield, Ellen Degeneres, Katy Perry in her corner and you think to yourself ‘maybe she is important after all’. And you are kinda forced subconsciously to accept her because so many other celebs do. In some cases (predominantly hip hop), these groups reflect directly the label they’re representing along with their ‘co-workers’. Examples: The Fugees (Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, Pras Michel), Odd Future ( Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis, Hodgy Beats, Mike G, Syd Tha Kyd), Maybach Music (Rick Ross, Meek Mill, Wale, French Montana, Omarion, Gunplay, Stalley), Black Hippy (Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock), Bad Boy Records (Diddy, Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Faith Evans, Craig Mack, the Lox, 112, Black Rob), Young Money (Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Mack Maine, Tyga, Lil Twist, Gudda Gudda) and many many others. When you think about it, promoting each other to various fan bases and being constantly supported by affiliated acts, is going to boost your popularity to stratospheric levels and now you got a music family. It can only help. And at the underground level, independent American artists tend to associate themselves strongly with some bigger artist’s group. It’s not unusual in America to hear phrases like ‘he rolls with Clue’s people’ (Dj Clue is major in the urban scene in NYC) as part of an artist’s summary. Meanwhile in Europe… crickets!
4. European Artists put out higher quality music off the bat.
Recording in momma’s basement or sleeping with a producer for studio time is basically unheard of in Europe. People here sell their cars, houses, jewelry, take loans from the bank and have a strict standard of how their music is supposed to sound like. They know engineers cost, recording time costs, beats cost, so they make a lot of financial sacrifices to be able to put out music. If your song sounds subpar to top 40 at the moment, don’t even try to put out music in the EU. You learn this from a very young age too: ‘You are competing with everyone that is on the radio so you have to have your sh%t together. A radio station can’t play Beyonce and then put your song on and make themselves look like a fool. You are competing with the A-listers if you wanna reach the top of the chain in the music business. So don’t half-ass anything.’ – says Viorel Tiganas, a Moldovan-born producer, currently living in Canada. And God is he right. This is why btw, so many American acts remain at that underground level forever, although they have really catchy music and good lyrics. They don’t see themselves in the race with the likes of Drake, Ariana Grande or Nicki Minaj. So they never get there.
3. American artists take pride in their craft.
For some unknown reasons, we have very different standards even when it comes to embracing your own music. If you are not performing in places with wireless microphones, you are not a legit musician in the EU, so artists usually stay low key until their career starts taking off. Meanwhile, in America, musicians will keep putting out bad mixtapes after mixtapes, and tell everyone they’re in the music business. But they don’t get ridiculed as one would be in Europe. In this case, it actually helps the fact that diversity in America brought less judgemental thoughts overall. While in the EU you have to constantly fight to prove your artistry.
2. European artists complete their education, usually graduating from universities.
We have yet to meet an European act that doesn’t have a university diploma. Although the field European musicians specialize in, is usually completely different from actually doing music. Which is a Pro and Con at the same damn time. Pro, because they’ll never feel that they’ve missed out on that student experience, and the fact that they’re deemed as intelligent according to society. Con, because they never pull the rug and never feel scared enough to make their music career work, because they got a degree and a plan B. As of consequence, they are more educated academically, but less likely to actually make it in the music industry. American musicians, on the other hand, have little to no fear, usually drop out of college, and go all-in to pursue their dreams. That’s to be admired. It takes BALLS to do that, knowing that now you’re part of the stereotypical college drop-out and will have to work twice as hard to prove yourself. Also the job levels that you’re gonna have access to, will be limited a whole lot the moment you get out of the educational system. To each their own.
1. American artists have more inclusivity and are not forced to fit into a certain body type.
Rihanna was skinny for most of her career, now she gained some weight and is a BILLIONAIRE while still rocking the stage with loyal fans that will forever stan her. Nicki Minaj was very slim in the beginning, gained weight, lost it, gained again but whatever happens, she still has a career. Lady Gaga – same thing. Yes, there is pressure in the States, especially on female musicians to look good, BUT… they’re not bullied to the core as they would be in Europe. Overweight people are immediately noticed in the EU and people WILL comment on it. And not in a nice way. Stick thin bodies are the preferred type here. Just to give you an idea, in Italy for example, right after mentioning someone’s name, people will also mention that person’s weight, as if it is a metric of one’s value in society. We’re curious if Lizzo would sell out in Europe or go home crying.