On Childish Gambino’s Wikipedia page, he is listed as an actor, comedian, writer, producer, director, rapper, singer, songwriter, and DJ. Kanye West’s Wikipedia states his occupation as a rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. Rihanna is not only the seventh best–selling music artist worldwide, but also the owner of Fenty Beauty, a powerhouse makeup brand.
It seems that in our current music culture, being able to excel in just one industry or platform is no longer the norm. Instead, there’s been a rise in the concept of “the creator.” When we think about Childish Gambino, he’s no longer just the rapper attributed to “II. Worldstar” or “3005.” He’s also the director of Atlanta, a comedy television series about the lives of young rapper in Atlanta trying to make their way into the business. And Atlanta isn’t just any TV show—it has a rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and has won multiple Emmys.
Similarly, Kanye’s fashion line has been premiered at a number of famous venues, such as Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion week, while his Yeezy line is part of a partnership with Adidas. Over the last couple of years, Kanye has expanded his fashion line from a fun side hobby to something that’s part of his overall brand.
Before creating the her makeup brand in 2017, Rihanna trademarked her surname, Fenty, in 2014. Fenty Beauty immediately received international praise upon its release because of its wide range of foundation shades, making it more accessible to women of color.
With the presence of social media and the expansion of media platforms, it’s inevitable that musicians are able to more easily collaborate and promote their other creative passions. Platforms such as Youtube and Soundcloud make it much more accessible for musicians, such as Khalid or Billie Eilish, to enter the industry at earlier ages.
With so many more players in the game, it can become harder and harder for artists to stay relevant. One way to ensure the constant creation of new and different content is to branch out onto different platforms. The audience isn't only interested in one hit song, but also what other aspects of the artist makes them who they are.
Even if it’s not on a scale as large as Gambino, Kanye or Rihanna, many other artists are expanding their network to all aspects of the entertainment industry as well. Tyler the Creator’s TV Show, Nuts and Bolts, premiered on Viceland in 2017. Each episode of the show focuses on something obscure Tyler the Creator is passionate about and follows him on a journey to recreate his subject of interest.
The show has nothing at all to do with Tyler the Creator as a musician, but rather gives his audience a closer insight into his personality and character as a creative. In a way, it humanizes Tyler the Creator, making him more appealing and likable, which can inform the way a listener views his music. He’s even extended his platform to one that connects people the most: social media. From 2015 to 2018, Tyler the Creator ran a streaming service app called Golf Media that regularly streamed scripted content written by him.
The network of people that musicians have at their fingertips is now bigger than ever. The fast pace at which they are redefining the difference between being a musician and a creative, leaves room for speculation about what other industries they will expand into. All this leaves us to wonder whether sticking to one niche in the entertainment industry is enough anymore.