Well, I cannot say that I have all of the answers, but I do understand a few things. People are fickle and no one knows exactly what will tickle their fancy at any given moment. Their moods are always changing, so what may please them one moment, might bore them in the next moment. That last part is the real key to engaging and holding an audience. Understanding that moods change, in order to please the audience, you must plan your programming to ebb and flow to take that audience on an adventure through many different mood swings and genre changes. Good musical compositions will follow this rule, too. The well-crafted piece will have changes in dynamics, and tempo, and textural colors and lead the listener through an adventure of emotional and/or spiritual awareness. And yet, a piece of music that will please one moment, the audience might not be in the mood to even listen to in the next. VARIETY is the key to holding an audience.
The most powerful influence to how a group or composer will attract an audience is through word of mouth comments. People tend to act on other people's recommendations. If enough people buzz about a song or a group, more people will take notice. That is why disk jockeys and critics have always held such enormous power. They can be "king makers" and even "career breakers" all depending on how they play-up or tear down a new group or song or composer. Social media has come on the scene in recent years and has given more power back to the actual listeners and performers. But, the principle is the same -- word of mouth accolades or criticisms amongst the public will determine the fates of the performers or products. The real difference here is that a performer or composer might have some very vocal friends who spread the word to other friends who spread the word to their friends and so on until the song or group suddenly and miraculously builds a following of fans all from a grassroots effort.
Many composers and performers have delicate egos. They work and work to create and offer their music never knowing if it will be favorably received. They may struggle for years with hardly any recognition at all. They may suddenly have success for time but fade in the next instant. So, on behalf of all the struggling artists out there, I plead with the public to support music and art and be vocal with your praise. It is a little thing for you to give a favorable comment or a "like," yet so powerful and meaningful to the struggling artists in your midst.