At this point in the history of humanity, it’s easy to think everything has been pretty much said and done. That’s a disheartening thought, especially when you’re searching for your own sound. It’s exactly the kind of motto that will lead anyone down a path of copying favourites and not daring to go beyond what they already know. And yeah, sometimes being the copycat works, but more often than not, success and recognition requires finding a unique sonic language that makes you connect with others and stand out.
It’s easier said than done. Finding your own sound takes a lot of time and effort. There really isn’t a shortcut or a tutorial to teach newcomers how to do it. Is a more or less holistic process that every artist has to go through individually. Luckily, there are some tips to help you be on your way:
Forget About All the Others
One thing that bands need to do, is learning how to differentiate influences from references and their own sounds. If you’re trying to be “the next” something, you’re wasting your time. You can’t out-Queen Queen or have a more Arctic Monkeys sound than the Arctic Monkeys. That defeats the entire purpose of finding your own sound.
You can study the history of the genre you want to play and know what the bigger bands are doing but do so as a way of understanding what resonates with you. Learn to recognize what kind of sounds you find attractive and why, rather than just learning how to copy them and incorporate them into your own music. When it comes to actually figure out what you want to sound like, forget they exist. Especially when it comes to this next point…
“This is not what X band is doing, so I shouldn’t do it”, is not something that should come up while playing around to figure out your voice as an artist. There’s always a place for playing it safe and it’s definitely not when you’re still figuring out what makes your sound different for everyone else’s.
The best thing you can do is allow yourself to organically be drawn to certain sounds, compositions and feelings. Experiment to your heart’s content and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Often, it’s that willingness to be vulnerable and show your true emotions, that gives you an edge and separates you from your peers. Because sure, everything has been said and done, but not by you. Play with the uniqueness you can bring to the world.
No Fan Service
This is probably easier to spot in other mediums than it is in music, but you’ve definitely seen it. Every time a great show comes on air, everyone gets obsessed with it, and then a second season comes on and it seems they no longer have a storyline besides “pleasing the fans”. It loses what makes it interesting in the first place.
That can easily happen to bands, even if they have no fans to speak of yet. When writing your songs, forget about what you think an anonymous audience will like. If trends are always influencing what you write, there will be no consistency in your body of work which will make it hard for people to instantly recognize they’re listening to you and not anyone else.