Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Go and make your music stand out

In November last year, I was invited to speak about music production, music publishing, and online music distribution.  The event was Ad Camp 11.0 : Social Media Marketing held in Davao City organized by the University of the Philippines Visayas, College of Management.
Photo taken at Eden Nature Park, Davao City by Sham Leonora
At the end of my presentation was the usual open forum where students are encouraged to throw in questions.  Many questions were raised and I had to muster every inch I know to throw the right answers back at them.  Because they asked the right questions.  I didn't expect them to be that accurate.  But they are intellectuals.

I recall one question was thrown in, "How do you make your music stand out?"

A very curious yet common theme in fact.  So common that for a moment I caught myself unable to dissect for the right ticket.

There are a thousand and one ways to skin a cat.

If one is patient enough to count the ways maybe success can just be right under one's nose. Unfortunately, cats according to some only have 9 lives, reducing the option from 1001 to 992 (okay I'm just trying to be funny).

Observing around, many bands almost sound the same. For a time, most of them scream in the middle of a song. This I can't seem to digest what they're trying to convey here.  And it didn't have anything to do with my age.

Many start with slow intros and builds up to heavy riffs and "powerful" drum beats. I can deal with this.  Then some vocalists sing on "forced voice quality" trying to sound like Vedder, Stapp, or Weiland - at least by how it sounded to me.

Nothing wrong with this. It's just that if you have a band and you hope to get people to listen to your music, consider these as symptoms to becoming like them.  You're not really making a difference and you're not telling a new story.  Ergo, you don't stand out.

See?  When Urbandub's music significantly gained massive attention, almost every band I know seemed like they wanted to sound like them. When the E-heads got hype, all of a sudden the rest of the band population sounded like "Pare Ko". When Slapshock was king, bands mimicked screaming at the top of their lungs.

Scary thing is that they probably were not aware of this.  You don't believe me?  Take some time to meet with them, interview them and ask them if they find their music comparable to the above mentioned.  Chances are they'd give you a defensive 'no' backed by a supporting background of how their music transpired.

Because it's easier to take the safer route and play what is deemed "acceptable."

But when you copy and your goal is to stand out, you fail.

Making your music stand out is a bit challenging especially if you're part of a band or musical group yourself. I suppose it's because one has to be "vain" somewhat to make things work - of course not in all instances.

So how do you make your band's music stand out?

If all other bands are doing emo, rehash - do something else.  A derivative perhaps.  If all other bands are doing reggae and you dig "the joint" too, experiment under this blend but mix it with other music types. Death reggae perhaps (trying to be funny again)?

Do not do what other bands are doing. If you can, do not listen to any music in the radio.  Instead listen to anything off your comfort zone.  Play from your heart.  Music is an extension of one's personality - see if you can bring that creative character in you.

This may not be an absolute advise but it's worth considering and trying out.

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