A lot of musicians find it extremely difficult to mould their own unique songwriting style.
Many of them could make it much easier for themselves if they would only open their ears to different genres…
The invention of the internet has made the songwriting industry seem much more diluted than it actually is.
What I mean by that is:
Imagine how many styles of music were readily available to the entire world before the invention of the internet. How many genres were globally recognised?
The answer is a handful, at most. Certain cities and countries would have had musical genres that were typically recognisable for that area… (Think Jamaica with Reggae!). Only word-of-mouth or touring musicians would allow music to travel to listeners in other countries. People could have been missing out on hearing what might have been their favourite artists!
Looking back at the world, in terms of music, it seemed very organised. “That music is from there” and “That Punk song sounds very British!…”. Of course it was.
And I’m certainly not insinuating that the internet is completely to blame for “diluting” the world’s music scenes. Both musicians, and the incredible music fans of the world, had a big part to play in that too.
But now, we’re faced with the world-wide-web, which means anyone in the world is capable of hearing music that you just released moments ago. You don’t even have to play a gig to be found!
You can live in Seattle and your most engaging fan base could be from Amsterdam. What a wonderful world!
Suddenly, each genre of music is made readily available throughout every corner of the globe, making our jobs (as creatives) much harder.
Now, not only do you have to compete for the local limelight but you also have an entire world of your chosen genre to compete with as well.
Sounds bleak right!
It’s not all that bad though, because now that the world’s music has diluted and spread to each and every corner, we have all the inspiration we could have ever hoped for. In addition to being able to utilise a world-wide promoting tool (the internet!).
As much as I mentioned that this is still a competitive, diluted industry, there are always people out there who want to hear your music!
Whatever style it may be, there are still prime locations dotted around the globe that are better suited to specific genres. It’s not entirely diluted after all!
If you zoom in near Japan on this Map Of Preferred Music Styles Around The World by The Grammy Awards, you’ll notice that K-Pop is primarily favoured there, as opposed to America or Africa (Kind of goes without saying since K-Pop means Korean Pop music… but you get the picture!)
The truth is that due to the diluted global music scene, it is very difficult to successfully create a brand new sound.
Not impossible! but yes, very difficult. The good part is that you can still quite easily sound unique, even with the amount of music made available now.
I recently read some of Pat Pattison’s books on songwriting and lyric-writing, and I paraphrase: “Nobody currently has, has ever had, or ever will have, those thoughts in the same way as you do. You just need to find a way to replicate and convey through song“. I paraphrase because I lost my page!!
Here, I found so much truth. So much motivation. I too have struggled with believing that I will never be like my hero musicians. My idols. When genuinely, I needn’t have worried, because they will never be like me either.
As long as I understand who my audience is and how to best reach out to them, I will succeed in organising success for myself and my music.
So many people have asked me what style of music I write and I refuse to just claim it as “Rock”. It is rock, but it’s so much more than that too.
It would be insulting myself for me to define my entire catalogue of songs as an umbrella genre when I can clearly narrow it down.
I have never released a ballad and I doubt I ever will. I’ve never released a song without drums.
Most (90%) of my music falls under the “Progressive” title. All of my songs involve either a piano, keyboard or synthesizer and at least 75% of my music is based around a topic that would be deemed “Science Fiction” or “Fantasy”.
So how I would define my songwriting genre would be “Science Fiction / Fantasy Progressive Rock”.
The reason I explain this is so that I can then narrow down my own target audience. I need to know my audience as well as they know themselves if I am to promote in their direction. I need to know where they congregate, why they congregate there specifically, how I can involve myself on a personal level in order to both keep up appearances and engage on a 1-to-1 basis with my potential music buyers.
It’s not all work and no play!
If these people are hanging out together, doing all of the things that you have written about in your music or gossiping about the same things that have influenced your music, then the likelihood is that you will find a lot of new friends, a lot of people with the same interests as yourself. People that you are not just utilising for financial gain but who are genuinely willing to back you up, financially, with your awesome new projects!
But let’s stop. Rewind.
Before you look for this illusive congregation of awesome people…
Let’s recap and structure a plan for you to follow in order to reach a better position.
If you feel that your music sounds exactly like it was written by someone else, then it may be time to expand your listening horizons. Take some weeks to get to know a new style. Play around with writing music in those styles and you’ll find that your old style doesn’t entirely disappear. It just dilutes with your new-found techniques, pulled from other sources. Take time with this. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Work out your songwriting genre. Go into detail, the more detail the better. You get to find specific fans around the world. People who you can make into superfans! People who will buy your products because they have a genuine interest in your creative output.
Look for the best forums to meet people with the same interests as you write about in your music. Find out what their approximate age bracket is. Find out which way the scales are tipping when it comes to the gender of your audience. Figure out ways to tap into their attention. Find out why they hang around certain places or why they mainly happen to live in a certain place. Work them out and join them. They have most of the same interests as you anyway! You should get along with them. Gain trust, gain friendships and gain superfans / supercustomers.
Apply yourself to a strategic release plan. One which utilises the key factors about your target audience. A plan that uses your knowledge from the forums. From the facebook groups. In my case, I would search for Science Fiction fans and other bands who have similar sub-genres to me. Work out their fan base and cater my promotional campaign directly towards them.
Watch those numbers rise!
Keep Playing & Good Luck
Director of Content, Buden Bay
p.s. Is there anything I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section.
p.p.s. Have you followed Buden Bay on Facebook yet?