How to Develop Your Sound
Creating a sound that’s unique to you is vital to your career as a musician, or producer. Not only can one say this from an artistic standpoint, but you can say this from a place of branding, too. Every artist should seek to develop a style that genuinely makes them stand out from the millions of other artists out there trying to make it. But, on the other side of the coin, you want to create music that people will like, and can maybe spread beyond an obscure inner circle.
To do this, you have to genuinely understand your sound and continue to develop it. So here are a few tips.
Get to know your influences (but be careful)
It’s quite common that artists, especially ones young in their career, try to imitate a certain band or sound. While it’s fine to emulate an artist’s vibe due to a trend in the genre, it’s totally different to copy an artist’s style and sound. The secret here is to study your influences, but don’t copy their work, or don’t study them too hard. Every band has their influences. For instance, The Beatles were certainly pioneers, however, they were still greatly influenced by the blues. The Beatles weren’t trying to be Muddy Water, but they did take note of how he played. This is the part that’s supposed to be fun! Go and spend some time with your idols, find why they inspire you and do what you have to do to incorporate it into your own work.
Fail Better Each Time.
We all have to start somewhere. This could be making beats for a neighborhood rapper, or even playing in a cover band at a bar. This is totally natural. We all have ancient Mp3 files or demos that we don’t want people to hear because they were made early in our careers.
The idea here is to grow each time — every track you make isn’t going to chart on the Billboards, but if you do listen to those old demos of yours, take note of the slow but steady evolution of your sound. Don’t forget that what you do is your art. Things take some time, but it’ll get there.
Don’t Be Repetitive, Be Consistent
You don’t want to be a sound-alike or have a cheap gimmick. Except for Weird Al Yankovic, there hasn’t been many artists out there who have made an entire career with a distinct gimmick. (Plus, Weird Al also reinvents himself depending on the era, too).
An artist should never get caught up on what they think is their “thing”, even if that “thing” works out for a while, it’s not going to be fresh. It’s going to be stale and stunt your growth as a musician.
Be sure to be consistent, in delivering good work, but not sticking with the same style and brand for years to come. Think of your favorite artists or even legendary ones: Bowie, Prince, Jay Z, Drake, even EDM artists like Skrillex have all changed their style over the years.
This is simply so you won’t be stale — switching up your style also ensures growth and fun as an artist. Be consistent in giving fans good music, but don’t get caught up in the few “gimmicks” that you think make your style.