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Niall Horan Steals The Show

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Niall Horan is generally well-known for being one of the members of One Direction. However, as much as his boyband days certainly add to his popularity, his solo career seems to be going from strength to strength, with more and more people joining his fanbase as times goes on. It’s not easy to be successful as a solo artist following a highly successful boyband career, as many other artists who have attempted the same thing and failed will attest, so what makes Niall so appealing?

On the 9th of June, Niall Horan released his third studio album, The show, under Capitol Records. The album reached number 1 in the UK album chart, while scoring number 2 on the US Billboard 200 Chart. The album topped the charts in 8 countries worldwide, with the singles from the album scoring within the top 50 of the UK Official Singles Chart, with Heaven and Meltdown scoring within the top 20. Metacritic scored The Show 83/100 – a high score indeed – and stated that the album had received ‘universal acclaim.’ Even writer Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine seemed to be impressed, stating that the album was full of ‘empathy,’ stating it was ‘touching to hear [Horan] get so intimate on his own.’ 

On the 22nd of May 2023, Niall announced that he would tour in 2024, which initially consisted of 50 shows. However, due to popular demand and sold out dates, he added more dates. Although this is Niall’s third album, it’s only his second tour, as his second album was released during lockdown. Since touring is a large part of being in the music industry and staying relevant to fans, the success of The Show is particularly interesting. 

Certainly, some of Niall’s fan base will be made up of Directioners from when he was part of One Direction. Additionally, some of his fans will have crossed over from the other boys from the band, e.g. Harry Styles fans may also be Niall fans. However, this wouldn’t account for how well this album has done over the course of this year and one has to wonder how much the promotional campaign and live appearances had to do with his popularity.

On the 17th of February 2023, Niall released the studio version of the first album single, Heaven, which was soon followed by an acoustic version on the 10th of March. The second single, Meltdown, was released on the 28th of April. The third and last single of the album, You Could Start A Cult, was released via acoustic  music video on the 16th of June. Later, on the 27th of October, the song was released as an alternate acoustic version and featured singer Lizzy McAlpine, drawing in Lizzy’s fans as potential new Niall fans. This schedule of regularly releasing new content was well planned and timed, giving fans time to enjoy the content and react instead of bombarding the with too much at the one time.

Another promotional tool Niall’s team utilised was televised exposure. Niall made several television appearances throughout the year, such as The Late Late Show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and The Jonathan Ross Show, where he would perform his latest singles and discuss his journey as a songwriter and solo performer. He also rejoined The Voice US for the second season, where he not only mentored singers hoping for a music career, but also performed his music live on the show.

These appearances were strategic as each of these shows cater to wide audiences, bringing Niall’s music to many people who wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to hear it. Many new fans would have been made this way, as if they liked what they heard on these shows, they could potentially listen to more of his music on streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and even Youtube. 

Festivals is another method that has successfully helped keep Niall in the public eye. Over the course of 2023, Niall has appeared at 9 different music festivals, including TRNSMT Festival, Music Midtown, and the Isle Of Wight Festival. These shows are fantastic opportunities as they require far less planning, expense, time, and coordination that tour shows and also allow artists to reach a wider range of fans who might not have otherwise heard their music. 

Social media is a huge tool when it comes to promotional opportunities. Niall makes liberal use of his X (formally known as Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok accounts, regularly going live and sending fun and heartfelt messages to his fans. His messages all come across as authentic and heartfelt, as he shares samples of his music, his day to day life, and engages with fans when they comment and like his content.

When talking with GMA in an interview, Niall stated that social media had really helped him to stay connected to his fans in a big way, ‘I started my career when social media was kind of kickin off so it’s always been a bit of a thing for me.’ Even back in 2020 when promoting his album Heartbreak Weather, Niall told Rebekah Clark in an interview with Icon:

“I like chatting to them and a lot of the faces I see online, I see all the time and I get to know them. I think it is important. I’m one of the lucky artists that has a career globally and it is the best way to connect to people around the world. Sometimes it has its bad sides but for the most part it is a proper tool and I find it really helpful. I just sit there and chat and get their reactions to music or just life, and ask them how they are.”

As well as using social media himself to engage with fans, there are many trending Youtubers and Instagramers who have thousands, sometimes even hundreds of thousands of followers who have reacted to Niall’s music positively. For example, Blake McLain, a musician and producer, has 381,000 subscribers on Youtube, and regularly reacts to songs and even whole albums on his channel. When Heaven was first released, he reacted to the song positively, stating the song was ‘well balanced,’ ‘beautiful,’ ending his reaction to the song with a jubilant with a ‘hell yeah, dude!’

Suffi Reax, who has 89.6 thousand subscribers, is another Youtuber who has reacted to all of the One Direction boys, both when they were part of the band and in their solo careers. When he reacted to Heaven, he noted the Beach Boys-type influences the song has, stating the song was ‘perfect, because it’s catchy, it’s fun, it’s sweet…this song has very good replay value.’ These kinds of reactions are important as these Youtubers build up trust with their subscribers and if they like the song, then their fans are more likely to seek out more of that artist’s music.

X (formally known as Twitter) is another place where Niall’s fanbase seems to be growing. Not only does Niall have 40.2 million followers on X, but there are several fan update accounts, such as Niall Horan Updates, Niall Horan Stream Updates, and even OT5 Daily, which covers all of the One Direction boys. These update accounts are important as they give people the chance to catch up on anything Niall might be doing, such as festival appearances, tour announcements, and of course, fan projects! 

As we can see from how much Niall likes to use social media to engage with his fans, his fans clearly love to have contact with him and creating fan projects for upcoming shows is one clear way they can show Niall their appreciation for him and his music. These projects, which are often planned and carefully put into action months in advance, are time consuming and are done completely at the expense of the fans themselves. At the moment, there are many fan projects being put together for Niall for many different shows within the tour, but luckily two of these industrious fans have agreed to talk to No Stunts Magazine about their projects.

The first project is for the show in Raleigh, North Carolina, which has been organised by Taryn.Having been a fan of Niall since 2011, Taryn told No Stunts that she knew she wanted to organise a fan project as soon as she heard Heaven for the first time. Taryn stated that she was ‘trying not to cry’ as she listened, the idea for the project slowly brewing in her mind. Although she hadn’t organise a fan project before, she had been part of one for One Direction in 2015 and one for Niall in 2018. Finally, after a lot of thought and hard work, a truly fantastic project was born. Taryn can be contacted on X at @1d.taryn or @NHfanprojectNC. 

Another fan project that looks to be amazing has been organised by Abigail, who can be contacted on X at @abitaylr. This project is for the Birmingham, UK show on the 27th of February 2024 – which is very soon! Abigail stated that the project involves ‘holding up love hearts and flash lights to specific songs, such as Meltdown and Heaven.

If you happen to be going to either of these shows, please join in the fan projects as they look like a lot of fun, a lot of hard work went into them, and Niall’s face will be a picture of happiness to see. 

In all honesty, it’s not surprising that Niall’s latest album is doing so well. The amount of work he put into creating the album is clear in every note and the passion he has for his music is palpable from the very first listen. Not only that, but the amount of hard work Niall has put in to promote his album is exhausting to just think about, but has certainly paid off as most of his upcoming tour shows are sold out! However, it’s not only fans who support Niall, but also the other One Direction members. For example, when Harry won a Britt Award for Best Artist earlier this year, he thanked his fellow One Direction band members, just as Louis did in the credits when he released the All Of Those Voices DVD. Additionally, Niall himself has stated that when he was writing for the album, he sent the songs to both Liam and Louis to get their opinions on his music. It’s clear that the boys have a special bond from being together in One Direction, and the support of them, as well as his fans, will continue to help Niall achieve new heights in his musical success.

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