The terms favorite, best, and popular seem similar but they are actually quite different. Favorite is completely subjective. If someone’s favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla, there is no debating because that is their personal view. Best can be a mixture of subjectivity and objectivity. It will still be primarily opinion based, but someone could use some measurement to support their position. Popular however is objective. There is no denying that someone or something is popular. You cannot deny that vanilla ice cream is popular as we have the sales data to back it up.
If you ask a musician what their favorite song is, chances are it won’t be their biggest hit. In fact, it seems that bands actually loathe songs that are their biggest hits. I believe the reason is because to become a hit, it has to not offend. It cannot be that deep and has to apply to a general audience. It takes the soul out of a song.
I think Brad Fillatre is great. He has 868 monthly listeners on Spotify. Compare that to someone like Justin Bieber who has over 50 million monthly listeners. I would argue that Brad Fillatre is greater than Justin Bieber but there is no denying Justin Bieber is more popular.
I think those who aim to be popular should be prepared to make some sacrifices and concessions. They may not always put out work they are most proud of but rather work that will be most likely to resonate with a general audience. There is nothing wrong with being popular but just understand that great is not popular and popular is not great.
I hope people put out work their proud of that will be someone’s favorite and then have popularity be a byproduct.