What Is The "IT" Factor? What Is The "BUZZ"?

What Is The "IT" Factor? What Is The "BUZZ"?

Don’t ever tell a consultant that something cannot be explained... You will keep them up at night!
So when I jumped into this music trade, I watched industry members discuss the artists that THEY were watching at showcases. It was fascinating to hear them comment: “She’s got IT” “He just doesn’t have IT”, “You can tell that they’ve got IT”…
“What’s the IT’” I asked. “You can’t explain something so mysterious. But when you see it, you know" was the answer.
And they were half right. You definitely know it when you see it!

Goosebumps. A magnetic pull to the song, to the singer. The room fades away and the music surrounds you, fills you. And you want more...

I've witnessed it. It's magical.
And I've spent hours trying to articulate the elements that come together to create the glow!

Why try to break the spell?

Well, here's the thing. I think it's cruel to tell earnest and hard-working artists that they're missing something - that they don't have the "it" - without giving them some direction on what it is they can do to stand out. Our industry is built around power games - who has it, who wants it, and who shares it. "Empowering" artists is about making sure they can read a situation more clearly and make their own decisions with confidence.

So, here's my thinking these days...

I think "IT" is about excellence - full commitment - in three, aligned areas: PROJECT - PURPOSE - PERSON


  • PROJECT - The music, the lyrics, the arrangements, the delivery. I've heard labels talk about the "hit" or the importance of THE song. There's no denying that a compelling song that sticks, a hook that stays with you, is music that you need to hear again.

    Nowadays, Shazam lets us capture a tune in public place. Spotify offers us a listen to this and that. It's easy to fall in love with a song. There are artists and songwriters who do well by putting all of their effort into writing, recording and performing songs. And there are songs we recognize without necessarily knowing who's behind them.


  • PURPOSE - Some of our strongest connections come through a sense of connection, the sense of validation that comes when we meet someone who cares about what we care about. We can forgive a missed lyric or fumbled chord when our hearts meet around a cause that stirs us deeply.



  • PERSON - There is something about an artist who radiates with confidence rather than bravado, an artist whose actions follow their words. These are the artists that inspire us to be better people despite our flaws. They show us that vulnerability is strength. They care deeply and live life fully. We may never meet them, but they are family.

    (This last area is growing in importance. Talent is not enough - character is key! A local musician made a fuss at a local restaurant where my daughter was serving. He told her that Covid was a hoax and that she didn't have the legal right to ask to see his ID. Now, she handled the situation with grace and stood her ground. But when I heard about it, I was disgusted. It was her first day back to work after months of restrictions and we'd been hearing of front-life staff getting abused by conspiracy theorists among others. Her day of reconnecting with colleagues and clients was marred by the bad behaviour... The Mama Bear that I am felt her claws extend, ready to swipe at him... I asked Elise what she wanted me to do and she answered that had spoken her piece and didn't need me to punch him! But then she said this: "One thing that would be helpful, Mom, is to talk about this in your training... artists need to know that we're working hard and that we're on the same team. We guessed he was having a bad day - he's always been a bit of a grump. But we're kind of sick of those artists who act like they're better than us. They need to know that we see it and it gets around..." )

    Thankfully, there are many artists who are not grumpy-grumps. They build a following of loyal fans. They may not excel in their craft just yet. They may still be finding their anchors. But their joy and generosity draw folk who want to see them succeed and stay with them throughout their journey.


Think about the artists you know... you'll probably notice that one of these areas stands out more
than the others do. And some of the artists on the rise have at least two out of three of these going for them. You can build a career around any of these and make a living.

Yet, when all three areas are fully developed, the alchemy is mesmerizing: Love the song, I care about what they care about, We're kindred spirits... We want to enter their world. In French, we talk about "L'univers de l'artiste" - the world they are creating and invite you to step into.

So, my belief is that we can lay these three areas out, and even measure a progression from 0 to excellence. (That will come in time!)

For now, this is what you can take from it:


  • What draws people to you? Do you know?
  • What are your strengths? What do your fans say they're attracted to?
  • What is special or unique about your music? Where can you improve? Do you let yourself get lost into your music when you play? Is that musical experience shared by the audience or listeners?
  • What do you stand for? What's your "what for"? ;-) Can you express your purpose in words that lift you?
  • And what about you? Are you kind to the sound techs, the festival volunteers and random strangers? Do you want to share the fun of your music? Or share the peace? There's no rule on how to be - except that you be true to yourself, and the true you to others...

We all have blind spots, and asking for feedback from trusted team members and friends is the only way to shed light on those.

Can every artist develop their project, purpose and personality?
I think so. It does takes work: a project that seems to flow easily is most often the result of thousands of hours of grueling practice and effort. And emotion. And confidence... but those last two seem to come out when purpose and personality come forward. So it's not impossible!

In my latest work with artists, I've been feeling these areas out with them, stretching this, challenging that... and their results encourage me to encourage you to try.
We can talk about it at the Hang!

And the BUZZ?

It's actually not complicated at all. When an artist's three areas are fully developed, the draw is irresistible! And we want to tell our friends about our excitement! We want to tell the world!

And Industry folk are folk, like everyone else. We get really emotional and excited when we see something that makes us feel special for being witness to IT, for being part of this new world.

I tell my friends, they tell theirs, and so on... and the whispers turn into loud acclamation as more people join the Artist on their path, celebrating excellence in song, direction in purpose, and joy in camaraderie.
So there you have it... a bit of food for thought. I cannot wait to hear your comments on this - you can comment below!


xo Nat

Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 24 Feb 2021