“Exploration is to arrive where we started and know it for the first time.” – TS Elliot

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Yuna is not quite R&B, but she does represent the global shift away from R&B. She grew up and developed as an artist in Asia. Discovered through Myspace and YouTube, her lyrics are innocent and sweet.

Yuna performing in New York City, 2014
Yuna performing in New York City, 2014

Jarell Perry and other new R&B entrants, are attempting to resuscitate the genre, but are differentiating themselves with the name alternative R&B or progressive R&B. Taking heed the lessons from the past, Jarell is injecting different styles and sounds into his music. To hear Jarell tell it “… part of being experimental,progressive and being alternative, is that it never has to be just one thing”. In addition he utilizes technology through social media. He releases his videos on YouTube, has an active Facebook page and tweets.

“Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana

Digital media has upended the dominance of radio. With the rise and global dominance of digital media, the R&B artist needs to adapt. Radio is local, digital is global. Artists who want to increase their popularity need to think global. Tweet often, post relevant content to Facebook, and most importantly v-log on youtube. V-log yourself walking in and out of the studio, give small snipets of your music, be creative. Ironically, think Ryan Leslie, without the Cassie part that is.

The digital medium does seem be reaching saturation, but it’s still growing. And unlike radio and the record store paradigm of the old music industry, digital media has a long tail. What an artist puts on YouTube today may only be worth pennies at the moment, but as long as YouTube is around so also will that content. As time passes, it may then be worth thousands. Stake your territory now. If anything the music industry and the Billboard charts tell us, music popularity is fluid and cyclical. What goes around, comes around.


Interview with Jarell Perry

Cassie’s Live Performances

Ryan Leslie’s Interviews

Girl’s Generation Win 2013 YouTube Music Awards

Great Commentary on the Decline of R&B