No, this is not another political rant regarding personal opinions and feelings toward our new president. This is about music and how artists’ careers are affected based on what they chose to do. I know I’m a little late on this article since the inauguration has already passed but I still feel the need to explain the logic behind an artist performing or refusing to perform at such a huge event. Basically what it comes down to is the artists’ brand. By brand I mean how the artist presents themselves to consumers. It’s the thing that makes them easily identifiable, what they associate with, and what they stand for. So they have to figure out if this event, which in this case is the inauguration of Trump, fits with the brand that is the artist.
As far as the artists that refused to perform when being asked it was probably more political than it w
as protecting their brand. Musicians such as Celine Dion, Elton John, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, KISS, Justin Timberlake, and even Kanye West turned down Trump for some reason.
The interesting thing is the acts that said that they were performing but then canceled. After it was announced that Jennifer Holliday was performing she got criticized for it. Eventually she backed out and released a statement saying “I apologize for my lapse of judgment, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history.” What it comes down to is that her brand would have been greatly affected. Her fan base is not one that supports Trump so performing at his inauguration could have costed her a fan base and a career.
For the artists that did perform, their brands never really were at stake. I say this because Toby Keith, Three Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, and Jackie Eancho’s fan bases either didn’t care either way about the inauguration or they support Trump. Toby Keith for example, not only do most of his fans support Trump, but Toby’s brand fit perfectly with the inauguration. It wouldn’t have mattered who was president because Toby’s brand is all about America. He regularly preforms for soldiers and has had multiple hit songs based around being patriotic. He saw the inauguration as supporting his country, not necessarily supporting Trump. Toby stated that, “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.” America is part of his brand so the inauguration wouldn’t hurt it any.
What all this comes down to is how an artist’s brand is going to be affected. If the fan base doesn’t support something then the artist shouldn’t either. The artist needs to constantly keep their brand in mind because that’s what they are known for. Without it there’s no career so touchy subjects like Trump need to be handled carefully so the brand isn’t damaged. So maybe instead of being titled Music vs. Trump, this article should be named the Artist Brand vs. Trump.