Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
The new album Anime 2, by Choo Jackson, formerly of Mac Miller’s Most Dope Family, fails to adapt to the times.
Anime 2 hit number 158 on the iTunes charts in its first week but has not made the charts on any other music site. While this does not seem notable at first, it is worth understanding that this is the iTunes charts – not the Apple Music charts. On streaming platforms, this work is not hitting the heights it is on for-purchase music sites.
Since the dawn of this millennium, the music industry has been shaken up quite a bit. It has seen trailblazers like Chance the Rapper find new avenues to make money in an industry that is finding it harder and harder to make money off the music they put out.
Why is that? Like Chance the Rapper or Billie Eilish demonstrate, an artist’s brand seems to matter more than the music content they put out. That does not mean these artists can put out terrible music and still succeed, but it does mean that their brand is what attracts listeners to initially hit the play button.
Jackson came to prominence with his album Beer Flavored Pizza in 2013 – prior to the rise of streaming platforms. Streaming platforms existed, but not as many people subscribed to them because they were relatively new. Now, almost everyone is signed up to a streaming service instead of choosing to buy individual songs.
This has not only rewired how artists get their money, but it shows that Jackson is still using his understanding from a previous market practice rather than current music business standards. Otherwise, why would his album be on the charts for iTunes and not on any of the streaming platforms?
As many people likely still remember, iTunes gives each song around a 30-second snippet to listen to before requiring a person to purchase for the rest. Streaming platforms allow anyone to listen to the whole track as many times as they like.
When listening to a snippet of something, it makes sense to put the most exciting part of the track in the sample. This is corroborated by looking at which songs are ranked higher on iTunes for Jackson. The tracks with shorter sneak peeks that focus on the chorus or pre-chorus of the song are the most popular.
The part with the most going on sound-wise, with the most energy and the catchiest lyrics, is pushed out first on iTunes. On a streaming platform, play starts at the beginning of the song. On Anime 2, every track starts out slow and melodic like a gospel track before ramping up the energy to the chorus or pre-chorus of the song. This, from an advertising standpoint, means people are not going to give Anime 2 a fair shake on streaming platforms.
Why does music site differentiation matter? Anime 2 is not a concept album, and in the modern music era, that typically hurts you unless each track is individually fantastic. While the production is largely similar on Jackson’s latest work, the rapper varies his lyrics and cadence. Simply put, there is nothing on this album that makes me want to put a track on repeat, which is an indication that no one song on this album stands out as a superior work.
While Jackson displays that he is capable of stringing together concepts and creating similar-enough productions to form a cohesive album, the fact that it is not a concept album only hurts the marketability of this work.
This approach only serves to hurt Jackson because he has not reached the heights for which people know his quality and will listen unconditionally to his work just to see what he came up with. Regardless of whether marketability should be a metric of success for an artist, in the society we live in, making money is important to continue living to create music. If Jackson wants to make it into the mainstream, his marketing tactics need an update.
When anyone can listen to any song as many times as they want for one price per month, the old snippet tactic is no longer relevant. Instead, the focus must be on pulling people into the album or work by finding some aspect of the market and cornering it before anyone else can. So far as I have seen it, concept albums seem to be one of the easiest ways to do this.
Jackson already has a production style that is distinct but his ideas are not fleshed out. His advertising, as well as what he stands for, is not clear either. However, when digging deeper, it is clear there are a few consistent concepts for Jackson: Growth, family and God. Yet, it must be said that if it requires extra effort for people to find out what someone stands for, then the brand aspect of the music industry will suffer.
The most disappointing part of this album is that Jackson has all of the pieces to create works that draw people in. His production style is attractive, similar to how Mac Miller grabbed people, and his ideas are broad enough to allow people to find meaning where they choose to. The key for him is to assemble the pieces in a clearer format so that he can succeed in the streaming age in the same way that he appears to in the snippet era.
All he needs to do is follow his own advice off the track “Gold Medal” — “Like, I can evolve as an artist all I want, but if I’m not evolving as a human being first, then there’s going to be a disconnect. I have to grow as a person. I have to be a more well-rounded person before I can evolve as any type of artist.”