Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, has surprised the music world by releasing his third album, Awaken, My Love!, to immense critical and commercial success. His songs are receiving millions of views on YouTube, as well as 41.5 million streams on streaming services in the past week.
Musicians should look at what Glover is doing right and try to emulate it.
1. Bring back old trends.
Nothing in music truly dies because everything has the potential to come back full force. Bruno Mars brought his own style of commercial funk back into pop music.
Now Childish Gambino is bringing the influence of darker, underground funk artist like Funkadelic and Parliament. He has transformed their influence into his new album, giving young listeners a history lesson on funk.
2. Perform on live TV.
As important as it is for artists to play full concerts live, it is equally important to be able to deliver single songs on a live TV platform. Childish Gambino was recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and channeled all his energy into playing a song from his new album.
A performance on a late night show is like selling an album to fans. There are plenty of people watching Jimmy Fallon that would otherwise never know Gambino, but now they do.
3. Defy the expectations of others.
Before his most recent album, Childish Gambino has a reputation as a comedian turned rapper. Fans and haters alike put Gambino into a box that he couldn’t really move out of unless he proved something new to himself. By making a complete left turn, Childish reinvented himself.
Here’s his “3005” video from a few years ago. He seems like a completely different artist now.
By the art of reinvention, Childish Gambino is coming out on top. He has reinvented himself, as well as a funk music, which is making a big comeback. He committed himself to a great performance on a popular television show and will now know more fans through that exposure. Gambino’s career is taking off more than he could have ever imagined. Musicians can do the same if they reinvent in their own way.
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Will Randick is a blogger and educator working out of the Bay Area.