Today, it seems like technology and the internet have drained all of the uniqueness of the music industry. All you need is a computer and a few sound clips to churn out song after song. They don’t even need to be good sound clips.
Anyone can create music. However, when everyone with a guitar and a YouTube channel fancies themselves a musician, it can be hard to set yourself apart. Here are a few tricks to help you stand out and succeed in this competitive industry.
Play to the Audience, Not the Media
Media is an enormous part of the music industry, but focusing on reviews won’t bring new fans to your sound. Everyone is competing to be featured by the top magazine and talk shows. Even if you manage to get selected, talking about your music isn’t the same as getting people to listen to it. Media that caters to the music industry is one of the hardest places to get your music noticed.
Don’t abandon the idea of getting featured on the front cover or on the radio, but don’t make it your primary focus. When you obsess about what others are saying, you neglect the people you should be focusing on. Instead, play to your target audience, and the media will follow. If you make quality music, it will speak for itself.
Design A Unique Aesthetic
Your music isn’t the only thing that will help you stand out. Take the time to develop a unique and memorable aesthetic that makes you different from the rest of the pack. Consider your clothing, your makeup, your hairstyle or a combination of these three points.
You can also apply this aesthetic to your instruments. Even if your audience doesn’t see your face, they’ll associate the music with your look. If you don’t have the funds to purchase a custom paint job — as most starving musicians don’t — you can change up your existing equipment with vinyl wraps.
Vinyl wraps protect your instruments while they’re on. If you decide to change up the look, you can remove them for up to three years without damage to the surface beneath.
Create High-Quality Audio
Everyone has a cell phone in their pocket capable of making audio recordings. Even in the best scenario, however, the sound quality isn’t great. It might work for TikTok or YouTube, but if you’re trying to record music to share or sell, don’t do it on a cell phone — they’re not designed for it. Neither are the microphones on laptops or cameras. They’ll work in a pinch, but they won’t give you the best audio quality possible.
Instead, invest in a high-quality microphone, such as a lapel mic when you want to hear a voice clearly. Record music in a room with decent acoustics, where you can control background noise like pedestrian chatter and wind. We’ve moved away from the age of cassette tapes — no one wants to listen to crackly, grainy-sounding music unless it’s a hip throwback.
Don’t Give Up
The music industry is one of the most competitive in the world. Anyone can strum a few chords, sing a few notes and call themselves a musician. In fact, there’s a whole sector of reality TV dedicated to the concept.
However, it takes a special kind of person to put in the work required for their music to stand out. Do you have what it takes? If so, focus on creating high-quality audio recordings and a memorable aesthetic. Excellent, audience-driven music does more for your career than a short blurb in a magazine.
Scott Huntington is a writer from Vermont who covers music and more. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.