Only 594 pages left on your journey to becoming a rock star!
1. Develop your own sound and style
I have never learned to read or write music so I am not a virtuoso musician (…) I am completely unable to play like them because I never learned classical music, I just developed my own crazy style! –Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep)
If you take a look at all of the most successful artists from the 1950s to the 1990s, then you’ll notice that they were all quite UNIQUE.
They not only had their own visual style, but they also had their very unique SOUND.
The Rolling Stones didn’t sound like the Beatles, Queen didn’t sound like Led Zeppelin, and U2 didn’t sound like Depeche Mode. Sam Cooke didn’t sound like James Brown, Aretha Franklin didn’t sound like Dusty Springfield, and Michael Jackson didn’t sound like Bruce Springsteen. This list could go on forever.
All of those artists were icons, and they all had their own unique and iconic sound.
If you listen to today’s music, then you’ll notice that almost everything in the Top 40 basically sounds the same. And, most importantly, there is nothing really crazy, special, outstanding, or revolutionary anymore. Even Miley Cyrus is not really crazy – she may be embarrassing, but that doesn’t make her special in a way Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, or Pink Floyd were special for example.
New styles and genres permanently emerged in the Golden Age – at least one new major music genre had been developed every 3-5 years from 1955 to 1995, a phenomenon that was often sparked by subcultures. But no new major music genre has been created in the 21st century so far. Even worse, previously existing genres such as pop, EDM, R&B, and hip hop have been merged into what has become current chart pop, a non-definable mashup of genres that eliminated most elements that once made those genres unique and distinguishable, in order to create something like a mass-compatible “super-genre” that shall appeal to everyone. And the result is music that’s boring and irrelevant. From a commercial point of view, this is already a huge problem:
If all products on the market are more of less the same, then they will be in a competitive situation, and people will if fact buy LESS.
And yes, artists and their music are products after all. Why should I buy a record by artist X, if I already own a record by artist Y that sounds exactly the same? If artists X and Y sounded completely different, then I might actually want to buy both records. And why should I buy artist X’s album anyway, if all songs on the album sound more or less the same, just like the single that’s getting played on the radio every 45 minutes so that I just can’t bear it anymore? But this problem doesn’t only affect chart music and professional artists.
One of the major problems of amateur artists is that they all sound more or less the same too.
Of course they’re playing different genres and even different subgenres, but within their subgenre they’re not really standing out. And that’s one of the first things you’ll have to change. If you want to become successful, then you will need to be the one tree that people will notice when walking through the woods. You need to be different on an entirely new level that makes you clearly stand out of the masses. One of the problems you will instantly notice is that “the masses” are bigger than ever before, especially because of the internet. You don’t have to spend hours on YouTube in order to find the craziest shit you’ve ever seen, so at first this might seem to be a non-solvable problem. How will you be able to stand out, with all of that craziness out there?
Don’t worry about being a star, worry about doing good work, and all that will come to you. – Ice Cube
Well, the answer is that you can be different by adding some real QUALITY to the game.
Most of the things you’ll find on the web will either be very low quality (from an artistic point of view), or they will only be attractive to a very tiny fraction of the population. Either it’s on a reality TV trash level, or it’s just overly artistic, too weird and too uncommercial to ever attract a larger number of people.
But there is a niche of people looking for something that’s special and attractive at the same time. This is a small niche, and in this manual you’ll learn that only about 10-20% of the entire population are interested in good music at all.
The fraction listening to really great music is even much smaller. 80% of the population are listening to crap, and this has always been the case since the 1950s, and even long before.
What changed since the 1990s is that today’s music industry is completely ignoring the small fraction of people listening to good or even great music.
This is a great situation of you, as it means that chances to succeed in that niche are bigger than ever. And the great advantage is that people looking for great music are more loyal and willing to spend much more money on music than the masses that only consume crap.
Chances to become successful by focusing on the smaller fraction of the population that’s looking for good music will be much higher than by focusing on the masses.
If you want to make music for the masses, then you will have to produce crap. There will be much more competition as everyone is after the masses, and you probably won’t make any money in this market anyway.
I like things that are unique and extreme. –Rick Rubin
So here’s our plan: In this manual you will learn how to define and how to create your own unique style, so that you can become successful in the niche of good or even great music, by standing out of the masses. During this process you will also evolve, you will improve your songwriting, and in the end you will have become a better artist. If you think that you already are special and unique, then I can tell you that chances for that to be true are very, very low. Most artists think they’re special, but in the end they’re not. Chapter 4 will address this problem, and we’ll try to turn you into something really unique while remaining true to your origins.