Thank U, Next: What singers can learn from Ariana Grande’s hit album

Thank U, Next

With her latest album Thank U, Next Ariana Grande is breaking all sorts of music industry records. iSingmag looks at the pint-sized pop star’s achievements and what they mean for the music artist.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ll no doubt be aware that Ariana Grande is storming the charts right now.

With her fifth album Thank U, Next, Grande has cemented her status as the biggest female artist in the world at the moment.

Released ten days ago, the album serves up a healthy dose of confessional female empowerment. Lyrically, it’s peppered with references to Grande’s personal life – ex-boyfriends Mac Miller (who sadly died of an overdose last year) and comedian Pete Davidson are both name-checked. Vocally it features Grande at her best, with the five-foot tall soprano utilising her four-octave range with velvety ease.

Here are some numbers that put Thank U, Next’s success into perspective.

307 million – That’s the number of on-demand audio streams that Thank U, Next clocked up in just one week – the highest number for a pop album ever. All the other albums on the list of top 20 most streamed in a week are hip hop.

45 – That’s how many years it’s been since a female artist had two number one albums in the Billboard charts within six months. Grande pulled off this neat feat with Thank U, Next and Sweetner, which hit Number 1 back in September. The last woman to achieve this amazing chart double was Olivia Newton John (yes, we remember her, though many won’t) back in 1974/75.

34 – That’s how many years it’s been since a female artist held the number 1 and 2 spots in the UK singles charts. Grande achieved this last week with Break-up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored and 7 Rings. Madonna managed the same thing back in 1985 with Into The Groove and Holiday.

1 – The number of promotional interviews Grande gave to promote Thank U, Next. There was no massive press junket to push the album, just a one-off interview on Zac Sang’s YouTube show.

What can singers learn from Grande’s success?

While few artists will ever command a fan-base as big as Grande’s, all singers can learn lessons from her approach to the music business.

Firstly, it’s interesting that Grande chose a YouTube show, not a more traditional mainstream media outlet, for her single interview to promote Thank U, Next. And it’s testament to how well she connects with her fans on social media that the album generated such a storm, with almost zero media promotion.

But with more than 60 million followers on Twitter and 145 million followers on Instagram, Grande has a well established direct line with her fans – she doesn’t really need to rely on a middle man to connect with those who buy her music. These fans have been with her during the bad times (the terrorist bombing at her gig in Manchester in 2017 and the death of Miller last year) and feel like they know her.

Like Taylor Swift, Grande very much wears her heart on her sleeve, a trait that endears her to many fans. Not all artists will feel comfortable about being so open about all elements of their life, but it’s proof that creating an authentic presence of social media can help build a connection with fans.

The other interesting thing is Grande’s decision to release so much material in such a short space of time. It’s rare for an artist to put out two albums in six months. For many years the perceived wisdom in the music industry was that artists carefully timed and planned releases, so as to avoid over exposure and ensure enough breathing space between projects.

In a digital world that demands content, content and more content, this strategy appears to becoming a thing of the past. Many artists are working hard to maintain a constant relationship with their fans by providing regular content in the form of songs, pictures or messages across a number of different platforms.

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