Aretha Franklin: Quality Content Lessons Taught by the Legendary ‘Queen of Soul’

Update: August 16 The legendary artist passed away the morning of August 16, at her home in Detroit

Aretha Franklin. Singer. Songwriter. Legendary entertainer. The “Queen of Soul.” Most people will only be able to dream about achieving the amount of success that Aretha Franklin managed to achieve throughout her career – a career that lasted more than 60 decades! One could spend hours reflecting on her accomplishments and accolades – such as her impressive list of awards, Hall of Fame inductions, hit songs that are still cherished decades after they were first recorded or even the jaw-dropping collaborations that she managed to create with other legendary artists. However, we will now take a moment to focus on the lessons in content development that Aretha Franklin inadvertently taught through her hard work ethic, her approach to recording as well as her humility when it came time to produce her work. 

Exercise Your Skills, Adaptability Strengthens Content

 How is it that a singer can preserve his or her voice for decades and still be able to almost match the same performance level that they mastered in the prime years of their career? One may ask that very question about this music legend who has been justifiably called “The Queen of Soul” for quite some time. Keep in mind that Aretha Franklin’s career in this industry first started making moves towards superstardom in the mid-1960s – more than 50 years ago!

When you compare her longevity in the industry to the starlets who were not able to protect their voices for a fraction of the time, one may wonder how exactly did Aretha succeed? During a March 2012 interview with The Guardian, Franklin stated that she performed vocal exercises known as “vocalistics” to keep her voice strong and protected over the years. However, a more meaningful point that she made during the same interview was that she adapted her voice to the changing climates as she traveled. For instance, when traveling to the U.K., she admitted that her voice would “go down about two octaves.”

How are you able to adapt your content to the “climate change” of your audience? Many content creators make the fatal mistake of keeping their train on the same track regardless of the territory into which it travels. You must be able to protect your “voice” by paying attention to your surroundings and the “change” in your audience – adapting your content accordingly as Aretha did to protect her voice during performances.

Resonate with Your Audience to Create a Lasting Impact

Most fans and critics of music in general will admit that Aretha Franklin mastered the art of resonance with her uncanny songwriting abilities and overall talent. During an interview with Billboard Magazine, Clive Davis stated that Aretha belonged “to all-time hits that still resonate.” He further explained the importance of people with “great” talent to be fully aware of the type of material that will resound within his or her audience. The longtime music mogul and industry executive likened it to having a wonderful actor but being too dependent on the script – stating that “you can’t just have talent in the abstract.” Aretha found artistic ways to resonate with her audience and get her point across to an extent where there was nothing else that needed to be said. In addition to entertaining her listeners, Aretha Franklin was able to beautifully educate, engage and inspire generations of listeners for years.

As content creators and marketers, it is essential to focus on the long-term impact that your work will have on your audience. Instead of quickly becoming too distracted by the immediate gratification of viral content or what is trending today but will be forgotten tomorrow, a healthier approach would be to focus on resonating with your audience in a way that will never be forgotten. Just like any of Aretha Franklin’s hit songs, mastering the art of resonation is what will turn your basic content into timeless classics.

“Live” With Your Content Before Publishing It

 Aretha Franklin was widely known as a perfectionist when it came to her making chart-topping hits and beautifully-written albums. Clive Davis compared her routine to the standard routine that many other artists follow by going into the studio for a week, a month or even several months until they feel as if they have finally perfected their performance. On the contrary, Davis claimed that Aretha’s approach was much more efficient since she came “fully rehearsed to the studio” and was a perfectionist when it came to her work.

Clive claimed that Aretha would nail her songs within the same studio session and never needed “more than three takes.” What was her secret? According to Clive, Aretha Franklin found an effective way to come into the studio only after “living with the song” beforehand.

In today’s digital age of online content development, it seems as if everyone is in rush to publish their posts. Some feel as if they can post their content without a second thought to “get it out in the open” and then make the necessary changes later – basically behaving as the “typical’ artist who spends weeks or months recording the same song repeatedly. However, if you take the Aretha Franklin approach, you will give yourself plenty of time to meditate and fully develop your content from start to finish.

As a rule of thumb, it is always better to wait and hit the bullseye than to rush and miss the target entirely.

There is No Need to Carry the Burden Alone

 Even with Aretha’s perfectionist approach to recording quality content in the studio, she also made it clear that she refuses to wear all hats when it came to the production of her music. Keep in mind that she worked with an extensive list of legendary musicians and singers over the years – from George Michael and Stevie Wonder to Curtis Mayfield and Luther Vandross and many more. She even co-produced her records actively to make sure she was involved with the performance and the production of her work. However, she made it clear that she never wanted to carry the full weight of the production burden on her own shoulders simply because it was “just too many hats.” “It’s enough singing and writing material… Writing the tunes and just perfecting your own vocal performances is enough work.”

An important lesson in content creation and marketing is taught through Aretha Franklin’s humbling mentality. At times, it is easy to think that you can research, create, produce, publish and market your own content without requiring any professional assistance from a third-party expert – such as a content marketing firm.

If it worked for a legendary songwriter, singer and performer with 112 charted Billboard singles, 21 #1 R&B singles, 18 Grammys and more than 75 million records sold around the globe, why wouldn’t it work for your content?

It’s Been an Honor to Learn from Aretha Franklin

 The bottom line is that it truly has been an honor to learn from Aretha Franklin over the years. The mark that she made in the world of songwriting and content development will be forever remembered and cherished along with her award-winning, record-setting legacy. She proved time and time again that quality content creators all deserve a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. regardless of the specific type of content that they chose to bring to life.

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND -Bigstock Images – Statue to Aretha Franklin designed by Italian artist Marco Zeno stands in the gardens of the Montreux Palace

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