As a music producer working with many artists over the internet I spend a great deal of my time listening to new music. I started to think about my quest for new discovery. What was it that made me prefer one artist over another when both might have equal amounts of talent? What made me download and purchased one artist’s music over another? What made me really want to follow one artist over another?
To answer these questions I engaged in a little research. For the last two months, I have kept a written log of all the new artists that I have checked out. (Around 500) In this log, I recorded information about my interaction with the artist’s website and music. Information about how many times I went back to their page, if I downloaded free product or not, if I purchased music or videos, and if I put them up on my website.
What I soon realized was all the artists that I had started to follow had one thing in common, they were unique.
Unique in sound. Unique in appearance. Unique in their approach to video. Unique in the way they presented their products.
For much of my professional career, I’ve seen so many artists allow other people to persuade them into becoming a copycat of some other currently successful artist. Mostly at the hands of the “major” label. They let other people talk them into changing their hair, clothes, songs, and sound.
This might very well work for some to gain immediate success, but there is no better way to damage your career than to become a copycat. What do Kanye West, Prince, Usher, Drake, Madonna, Metallica, Slayer, Johnny Cash, and DJ Tiesto all have in common? They are unique. They all have inspired tons of other artists to copy them.
In the past, the only true way to get your product (you as an artist) out to the masses was to go through one of the major labels. They controlled most of the major distribution outlets and had a tight grip on commercial media. (Radio, TV, Magazines) If you wanted your video played on MTV you went through them. If you want your recorded music in a department store you went through them.
Then along came the internet and digital music downloads. No longer could the major music companies completely control the distribution and major media outlets. Now the independent artist has a level playing field. Most of the time these days you can’t even get signed to a major label without creating your own buzz.
Always remember that you are creating a brand. You are just like a car company that has produced a new product line and has to get its message out to the world. The car company has to give people a reason to buy their new cars. A reason why people should buy into their brand. You are a company that is building a brand and selling a product. You have to give me a reason to buy your music, watch your videos, buy tickets to your concerts, put you up on my website, or tell my friends about you through social media and word of mouth.