One of Picasso’s most famous quotes is the legendary comment on stealing from other artists: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” It’s true—every piece of art has an origin of influence. And while we aren’t encouraging you to steal (get your samples cleared!), we recognize that one of the best ways to build your own sound as a producer is to look to your influences. Every producer who opens up a DAW for the first time has an established history of love for various artists that inspired them to open a DAW in the first place. Right away, you’re probably going to mimic your favorite producer, whether it be their drum patterns or use of effects. But in the 21st century where producers are becoming a dime a dozen, it pays to stand out. You can own your influences, but be careful not to wear them on your sleeve. For the producers who successfully balance their influences with their own original ideas, your work will be much more in demand. Here are a few ways to achieve that goal.
Having a blog express interest in your music can be exciting and affirming for a band. Love it or hate it, tastemakers in the blogosphere are largely responsible for determining what kind of music the world listens to these days. Even passing mentions of bands on popular music blogs have the power to launch careers. So it’s no wonder why so much effort is put into pitching singles and albums to bloggers on behalf of bands and their publicists. Many bands looking for exposure reach out to blogs in hopes of having them debut their singles, but giving exclusive debut rights to just one outlet isn’t always the best move.
In 1980, the Roland Corporation introduced the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer — what we know as the 808. It was among one of the first programmable drum machines. And despite being decades old, it’s as prominent as ever in modern music. Though, producers today may not be using the actual drum pad, they’re using the samples: booming bass drops, digital snares, tinny hi-hats, artificial claps, etc. In rap music today, the 808 drum kit can be found everywhere from Grammy-winning artists and producers like Kanye West and Jay-Z.
But with such prominence also comes a lot of repetition. When listening to a handful of hip-hop’s most popular trap tunes at any given moment, can you really tell who the producer is without the producer tag? Certainly Metro Boomin is going to produce differently than Mike WiLL Made-It, but in many scenarios, their use of 808 drum kits ends up sounding very similar. This isn’t a bad thing — most acoustic drum kits sound similar, whether it’s Led Zeppelin or The Who. But in this modern era of production, taking the time to make your 808 drum kits unique will go a long way in helping you to stand out among the rest. Here are a few ways how:
I’ve got a controversial opinion for you: playing a show at a “real” music venue isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be. When you picked up an instrument and started performing, you probably had big dreams of playing massive stages in front of sold-out crowds of adoring fans. But the reality is that it’s pretty damn hard––if not near impossible–– for most bands to sell out even smaller venues, and that not all music venues are created equally. In fact, depending on your unique situation, skipping the venues to play more house shows might be a much better bet.
If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a million times—there’s nothing quite like the power of community to take your career to the next level. Calling on your network in times of need is one thing, but the real power of a strong community is that they call on you before you’ve even had a chance to ask for help. They’re the ones that connect you with an opportunity before you even knew it existed.
But one thing that doesn’t get talked about a lot is the power of local community, and how musicians can leverage what’s right in front of them to give real boost to their career. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, these tips are for you.
While seeing Phish perform a sold out show in Charlottesville, Virginia, a naked man ran onstage and interrupted the performance until security could catch him. It was very strange and unsettling, and for a moment, frightening. But what happened later in the show was absolutely incredible. During the band’s encore, they performed a fan-favorite song, “Run Like An Antelope.” The lyrics are simple: “You’ve gotta run like an antelope, out of control.” The crowd always sings along loudly and gleefully. But on this particular night, Phish took advantage of that weird scare earlier in their set and changed the lyrics to, “You’ve gotta run like a naked guy, out of control.” Now, this might sound weird on the surface, but for everyone in the audience, it was magic! Everyone sang along, screaming at the top of their lungs, laughing. The show became known as “the naked guy” show. It created a special moment for the concert goers.
So, what’s the story here? During live performances, there are going to be mistakes, slip-ups, gear malfunctions, and everything your nightmares can possibly imagine. Sometimes these mistakes are as simple as landing on the wrong note for half a second; other times, it means taking a 15-minute break out of your set to address a complex gear issue. When these panic moments appear, have a plan ready to control and own the issue, and even turn it into a special moment with the audience like Phish did that night in Charlottesville.
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. This shouldn’t be news. These days, it’s easier than ever to connect with friends, fans, and total strangers. For musicians, it opens new portals to press opportunities and even lucrative contracts, but as with everything, there’s a certain level of finesse for each and every action.
Unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever tried online dating will tell you, a certain level of decorum disappears when people are protected by the internet’s veil of anonymity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to retain dignity and treat others, particularly music industry professionals you’d like to work with in some capacity, with the same respect you’d show total strangers in real life
As a music journalist in the digital age, my inbox is literally bombarded with cold calls and requests for coverage from artists and publicists alike. That’s to be expected and while it’s somewhat annoying when the requests obviously aren’t genuine or were mass sent, the real frustration comes when my social channels are bogged down with insistent, even aggressive, messages. And, like online dating, there’s barely a, “Hi! How are you?” before the sender explains what he or she wants in explicit detail.
This isn’t to say that you should never try to connect via social media. On the contrary, if done properly, it’s a great entre onto a writer’s radar. Here are a few tips to contact music journalists on social media.
You may have heard the news concerning SoundCloud’s future. No one can see into the future, but what if SoundCloud does go away? What will happen to your music? How about your fans? Where will they go? IS IT TIME TO FREAK OUT YET?!!!!! Well, no. But, also, kind of yes.
Regardless of what actually happens to SoundCloud, this should be a moment of awakening for artists of all types. There are a few actions you can take – right…dang….now – to protect your music and your digital relationships with fans in uncertain times like these. And yes, before we go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room:
Is ReverbNation a good replacement for SoundCloud?