Making music is one thing, but being known for a particular sound is another. Being a successful artist, most of the time lies in your ability to create a signature sound that you’ve made yourself, out of your different influences.
Many artists out there only copy other composers’ style and don’t really develop their own, which is kind of sad. In this post, we’ll talk about the importance of artist originality and how to apply it to your music.
The Importance of Sounding Original
As we’ve mentioned above, sounding original can help you leave a mark as an artist. For example, if you’re only going to follow the EDM trends and not create your own style (e.g. Daft Punk’s “technologic French house style”), you might just end up “just another artist”. It’s easier to remember an artist if they have a specific style so that when your music plays on the radio, they’ll know it’s you.
Sounding original also has an impact on making cover songs. Thousands to millions of people make covers but don’t really apply their own originality to it, and they end up just becoming a sort-of “remaster” of the original songs.
For artists to grow and to be recognized, doing a cover song in your own flavor enhances your creativity, originality and makes you develop your own identity in the world of music.
Tips on Sounding Original
Below are a couple of tips and tricks in order for you, as an artist, to sound more original:
Don’t Stick to One Musical Influence
The most common mistake that beginner artists, singers, and composers make is that they don’t expand their horizons in terms of music. For example, a certain composer is a big fan of Linkin Park. While “borrowing” some concepts from their music is okay, completely putting their style onto your music is a pretty bad thing to do because you are only repeating their signature style and none of your own.
Do this: listen to different artists. Try streaming services like Spotify or browse awesome stuff over at Soundcloud. You can also get inspiration from other independent artists other than mainstream ones depending on the type of sound that you want to build.
It’s not wrong to idolize an artist, but it’s kind of wrong to just “copy” their style of music when you can produce your own.
Learn Actual Musical Production (Studio Work)
Many artists, such as bands and solo singers or groups, often let their composers or studio engineers do the production work. If you are such an artist, it may help if you let your producers teach you how to do some simple studio work, such as mixing, adding effects, editing vocals, arranging MIDI notes and others.
By learning the basics of musical production, you are opening doors to a whole new horizon of possibilities. Music production lets you experiment with the kind of sound you want. Will you fuse EDM to your alternative-rock style? Are you planning to add 8bit or chiptune sounds to your hardcore/ screamo compositions just like Rainbowdragoneyes?
Learn Different Musical Instruments
A great way to help add your own flavor to your sound is to explore different musical instruments aside from the guitar and the keyboard. While it is obviously expensive to buy different instruments, such as brass ones, or even a drum set, you can emulate these when you use a DAW (digital audio workstation) or a synthesizer. You can also emulate drums using a drum machine or pad.
You don’t actually need to learn how to play the violin or saxophone – just knowing how the instrument is typically played and the usual note structure is enough. This can help you to grow both as an artist and as a composer, especially if you’re aiming to be a musical scorer for film and TV.
Try Listening to Other Genres
Even if your biggest forte is EDM, that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to 2000’s punk rock. Combining different genres together is what makes an artist stand out – you aren’t bound by your primary genres of music!
A good example would be the song “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, which combines country folk style and EDM. Remember that creating music is like painting on a canvas – you choose your own art style, colors and subject to paint. By combining different genres, you may be able to create a music that hasn’t been done before – or one that’s truly what you want.
Conceptualize and Plan Your Signature Image
Having an original sound is not just in music – you can also put up a plan on your image as a whole. For instance, Skrillex has his signature one-sided hair. Daft Punk always wears their helmets. Marshmello and deadmau5 both wear head props as well.
Building an artist image also has something to do with lyric writing. For example, Eminem’s rap lyrics are often moving stories with lyrical poetry that usually talks about social, sometimes political issues and may contain a plot twist.
Artist growth is always a challenge, especially in the digital age, where more people learn to produce their own music easier. However, you can actually use these digital tools to your advantage – to learn how to expand your musical horizons and become a better musician as you go on. Which tip do you find the most useful? We’d like to know!