Music Genetics: the importance of knowing where are we coming from
Some artists have it very clear. Some artists hate talking about it. In the same way that every person* is made of a unique blend of genes, the sound of each artist is (or, at least, shall be) special and different from others. This uniqueness is what helps the artist to stand out and create a special, genuine connection with their fans.
Following the analogy, those "genes" that should be making our sound unique aren't something that we, as artists "invent", but rather something that we, consciously or unconsciously, take from other artists and styles that came before. This is what we commonly call influences.
Some artists fail to identify these influences in their music. Sometimes this happens because we didn't take the chance to think about it, and, in other cases, it happens for the fear of "categorization" or "boxing" of our sound within a particular genre or style. There are artists that consider that "tagging" their music can suppose a burden for their creative licenses. This normally occurs because the artist doesn't think the said categorization satisfies their music standards, or describes accurately their sound. "My music is unique, I don't want to be labelled" is something I have heard several times so far, but, dear artists, in music, as in many other fields, we should also apply Sir Isaac Newton's** sentence "If I have seen further it is by standing upon shoulders of giants".
Music is an ever-changing beauty, dynamic and alive, always challenging its limits, always evolving. New styles and tendencies are formed by evolution or innovation of previous ones, and it is that confluence of the old and the new, that converges inside each artist, which keeps the party going. And this is something very pretty and fascinating.
Our sound is a mix of our personality and character, personal preferences and the music we've grew up with and that made us be who we are now. Being able to identify or categorize the type of music we make is not only useful for explaining our music to ourselves and to others, but it is also essential for the success of other important tasks linked to the business side of music, and, in particular, the music marketing. So... which is your music style? How do you sound like? Can you imagine how to use these important pieces of information for music marketing purposes? Let me give you a push and help you understand how important (and useful!!) is it to be aware of your music genetics:
1) Music genetics for identifying and pitching the adequate press outlets: this is one of the most straightforward advantages of knowing well our style and our sound. As most of you may know, normally, press outlets (blogs, magazines, playlist curators, radios, etc...) are specialized in particular styles of music. If you know that your music has a sound that reminds others of, let's say, the Beatles, it is a good idea to identify writers or radio hosts that are known to like the band. In the same line, if you know your sound often reminds of this or that indie band that popped out two years ago in this or this other market, you will have way more chances to get press attention from the writers or radio specialties that wrote or talked about them. It will also save you to submit your music to outlets that don't cover your style of music and your sound. Yes... I know this point is quite obvious but I have found several artists that consider it an offense when you try to define their music by a genre of mix of genres. Do you think they know how useful is it to have a "mother style" to hold onto? I will be developing soon some materials to perfection the techniques of approaching and pitching press, but I think this can serve as introduction!
2) Music genetics for making win win connections with other bands and multiplying the impact of your gigs: finding and booking venues, negotiating deals, getting on the road and moving forward out of our comfort zone are tasks that are not only physically and mentally demanding, but also expensive. Touring is, nowadays, the main source of income for a great majority of artists, and the number one activity to grow an artist's fan base, but the costs of touring, especially for artists that are just starting their career, can be very high, and it is not strange to complete a tour with a balance of zero, or, even at loss, when we commute all the expenses of the activity. Wouldn't it be nice to count with the help of other touring bands, to help us out in new cities? Imagine dividing costs with another band, and join efforts with them for promoting a tour, selling tickets... and expanding each others fan base! This can be accomplished if we find other bands that are close to us in style and sound. When this happens, if the bands play together, the chances of getting their music exposed to people that will actually like each other's sound, are exponentially scaled up. This not only helps the bands... but also pleases the fans, since the band gave them the opportunity to meet other cool artist whose music they can love. This joint venture will not only be good for increasing our fan base, but also will help us to move faster when we reach new territories, get to better and most adequate gigs and establish most fruitful connections with that market. Having ambassadors is always a good thing... specially when we are exploring unknown music realms!
3) Music genetics for finding and engaging with potential new fans: our style and the bands we have resemblances with are strong threads to pull from when we first start targeting potential fans and the adequate outlets to expose our music to them. If partnering with similar bands for touring can help us to identify venues and potential fans in live shows, studying who are the fans (online!) of bands with whom we share sound and mood, can help us to target the adequate people for receiving music. Identifying and defining the so called "psychographics" of our fans or potential fans is an exercise that we should take care of from the beginning of our journey as artists. When we still don't have a fan base of our own that we can study, focusing in fans from other bands that share resemblances with us can be the only way to start focusing in these aspects. Identifying potential fans, and further ways of gathering and analyzing their psychographic data are topics that require several posts by themselves. I will eventually get back to it, but I hope this glimpse already gave you some interesting ideas about areas to explore!
4) Music genetics for tuning up your image and marketing strategies: what approaches did similar bands use to reach and engage with their fans? Which campaigns seemed more effective? Which social media platforms worked better for them? These are other precious pieces of information and tools that are normally accessible online, and that can give us ideas for our marketing strategies for expanding our music to the world... and that start by identifying and defining our music genetics. What do you think now about the importance of identifying your music genes? Can you see how useful it is to be aware of our origins? There is a lot of beauty and a lot of opportunities in not being alone in our music universe... so let's embrace it!
There are a lot of aspects to discuss and develop over this topic, and each artist, each particular case is unique and fascinating. I can't wait to get to know you all better and keep finding ways to help you as much as I can to achieve your music dreams, because that is part of my music dream as well... and I will be back soon because I have so many things I would like to share with you! Stay tuned! KiMi * With the exception of identical twins. Those have the same genes on their DNA.
** This sentence is normally attributed to Sir Isaac Newton,since it appears on a 1676 letter directed to Robert Hooke, but it actually comes from a previous sentence by John of Salisbury in 1159.