In today’s music industry, the yardstick for success has evolved. Streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have replaced traditional revenue streams and now act as significant indicators of an artist’s reach and impact. While terrestrial radio and album sales still have their place, they have been largely supplanted by a digital landscape where the right playlist or feature can rocket an artist to global recognition.
Deborah Fan is a fascinating case study in modern multidisciplinarity. As the Main Sound Designer for Fisker Inc., she’s helped craft the sonic world of the company’s debut vehicle, the Fisker Ocean. She’s also the brains behind the soundscape for the company’s launch film, which has attracted over 25,000 YouTube views. Her collaborative film project “Fisker x Geoff McFetridge” has been featured on platforms like Retrospective of Jupiter and Film Shortage, showcasing her depth and versatility.
Parallel to her accomplishments in automotive sound design, her artist project Deb Fan has soared to impressive heights. With over 350,000 streams across all platforms, her music is clearly hitting the mark. Her song “Run My Mind” was not just a hit on streaming services but was also featured on Billboard. A track titled “Pull My Hair” found itself featured on MTV’s website, cementing her status among industry heavyweights. On Spotify, her songs from the EP “Gemini Moon” and other singles like “@me” have been placed in influential editorial playlists, and she has chalked up millions of collective followers. Deb Fan’s Audiomack charting and recognition from Lyrical Lemonade and A1234 further demonstrate her broad appeal and industry standing.
We had the privilege of discussing Deborah’s astonishing streaming success and industry recognition in an exclusive interview. With more than 800,000 streams across various platforms, she has captivated a broad audience. She attributes this to the authenticity of her art, saying, “I focus on creating art that stays true to my vision and resonates with those who genuinely connect with it.” This sincerity in her craft has been validated by mentions in significant publications like Billboard and MTV.
Deborah’s story also includes academia and fellowships. She participated as the lead singer in the 2017 ICCA Central Quarterfinal with Vocal Point, where they finished second. She also received the Wachter Fellowship in 2019, a prestigious accolade that has further supported her career development in the labyrinthine music industry.
From creating immersive driving experiences to composing tracks that resonate across continents, Deborah Fan is a genuine modern Renaissance woman.
We’re so excited to have you here and learn more about your work, Deb! With over 800,000 streams spanning various platforms, can you pinpoint the moment or track that you feel was the turning point in your streaming success?
The turning point in my streaming success undoubtedly came with my project “Headlights,” especially when it received coverage in Lyrical Lemonade. This significant exposure set the stage for my collaboration with Aisu on the track “Like Me (Walla),” which garnered almost 200,000 streams on Spotify alone. These milestones were instrumental in boosting my streaming numbers to over 800,000 across various platforms.
While you’ve had success across various platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, do you find that one platform resonates more with your music? If so, why do you think that is?
While I’ve been fortunate to experience success on multiple platforms, Spotify has been particularly impactful in resonating with my music. Over the years, the platform’s editorial playlists have played a pivotal role in promoting my work. Spotify offers a diverse array of playlists that are specifically curated to help independent artists like myself connect with their audience. Although I value support across all platforms, Spotify’s focus on aiding independent artists in gaining exposure has been particularly beneficial for my music.
Achieving such impressive streaming numbers is no easy feat. What do you believe sets your music apart, allowing it to resonate with such a wide audience?
Achieving significant streaming numbers has been a journey, one that I attribute to the authenticity of my music. My approach isn’t about chasing viral moments or targeting a mass audience just for the sake of it. Instead, I focus on creating art that remains true to my vision and resonates with those who genuinely connect with it. The goal is to build a dedicated fan base around the art I create, rather than attempting to make art that appeals to everyone.
You’ve been recognized by prominent platforms such as Billboard and MTV. How have these, and other industry giants, influenced your music over the years?
Being acknowledged by influential platforms like Billboard and MTV has had a profound impact on my musical journey. As a child, I vividly remember watching MTV, particularly during the days when they premiered new music videos. These experiences—watching artists express themselves so vividly—greatly inspired me and sparked my desire to create music that could build its own immersive world.
As I pursued my music education, I also became engrossed in charts and data, drawing inspiration and insights from industry giants like Billboard. This exposure not only fueled my artistic development but also played a role in shaping my approach to the music industry. In essence, the recognition and influence of these renowned platforms have been pivotal in shaping my artistic vision and contributing to my growth as a musician.
Being featured on influential Spotify editorial playlists puts you alongside major artists in the industry. How do you feel your music complements or stands out amongst such recognized names?
Being featured on influential Spotify editorial playlists means sharing space with some of the biggest names in the industry. I believe my music both complements and distinguishes itself uniquely within these playlists. When I scroll through a Spotify editorial playlist, I often find myself drawn to unfamiliar names and songs, hoping to discover hidden gems. I like to think that fellow music enthusiasts share this curiosity and will explore my tracks as well.
Most of my playlist placements have been in the R&B genre, which aligns well with my own musical style. This creates a seamless flow within the playlist, allowing my music to both complement existing tracks and stand out as a distinctive addition. It offers listeners a fresh perspective and a unique sound to enjoy.
How did it feel the first time you saw your music mentioned in notable publications like Billboard and MTV? And how do you think this recognition has shaped your career trajectory?
It was both surreal and humbling. It felt like a validation of all the hard work and dedication I’d poured into my music. Seeing my name alongside established artists in these outlets was a dream come true. This recognition has significantly shaped my career trajectory, providing me with increased visibility and credibility in the industry. It’s opened doors to new opportunities and collaborations and expanded my fan base. The experience has also fueled my motivation to continue pushing the boundaries of my artistry and strive for excellence in my craft. Overall, it has been a pivotal milestone that has propelled my career to new heights.
Given the rapid growth in your streaming numbers and the consistent industry recognition, where do you see your music and career in the next 5 years?
I envision my music and career flourishing over the next five years. My plan is to continue releasing projects while pushing the boundaries of my creativity. For me, consistency and creativity are key; my aim is to attract and retain a dedicated fan base by staying true to my artistic vision.
Looking ahead, I see myself evolving continuously as an artist, exploring new musical horizons, and collaborating with other talented musicians. My overarching goal is to maintain a relentless passion for creating music and to sustain this momentum for the foreseeable future.
With the increasing number of streams and growing fan base, how do you plan on keeping the connection with your listeners authentic and personal?
As my streams and fan base continue to grow, my commitment to maintaining authentic and personal connections with my listeners remains unwavering. The key to this authenticity lies in creating music that genuinely reflects my own identity and experiences. I firmly believe that listeners connect with my work because it’s a true expression of who I am, not an attempt to cater to external expectations. An expanding fan base simply means I’ll have more people to connect with, more individuals who resonate with my music, and more opportunities to share my story. The core of our connection will always be a shared appreciation for the art and the authenticity that drives it.