Have you ever looked at the mirror and asked yourself the question “Are you a unique artist“?
Every human been is unique, I know.. My mom has always said that I am special, too. But are you a truly unique artist?
I bet that 99 out of 100 DIY indie artists will answer an absolute “YES” to this question. So for those who answered “YES” to this question I will kindly ask: What makes you unique as an artist? Where does it show? In your songwriting? Your live show? In the way you dress? In the way you perform? In the way you walk and talk? In the way you look? Can you describe it in words?
I can only say that one of the most overlooked attributes among independent musicians today is uniqueness. Most independent artists today are trying to write, perform and look like another artist that is already successful today, mostly because they think that if they do the same they will have a huge success, too. Of course, the music industry as we knew it before the digital era was working that way – the big labels used to sign an already successful independent act or up and coming acts that sounded and looked like an already successful act. When the DIY indie music dream has launched, this was one of the most relieving element for aspiring independent artists. They don’t need to act like an already successful artist to be noticed anymore. The bad news is that still, most independent artists still do it.
Unfortunately, this route almost always leads to disappointment. The truth is that no one will want to listen to you if you sound like Foo Fighters or Coldplay, simply because Foo Fighters and Coldplay are already available for everyone to listen to. And they sound like… You guessed it – Foo Fighters and Coldplay.
From time to time I bump into a random band on the net that claims “If you love XXX (fill in your favorite successful act) you will love us”. Most of the times it just sounds like a poorly performed rip off of the same artist. There is also the popular phrase “our genre can’t be described, we sound like ourselves”, which is good for making you want to listen, but most of the times exposes poor self awareness of artists that sound like a bunch of old records put together into one song, or even worse – poor songwriting that is far from being cohesive or communicative (yeah, it is “unique” but musically unappealing as well).
As an aspiring independent artist, one of the most important things you should know and live by is that The most successful alternative acts of all times LEAD trends instead of following trends.
In today’s music marketing themes, we always hear the term “branding” as an important element of artist marketing. Branding is that very element in an artist that makes him unlike other artists. This is what the majority of independent artists lack. Unfortunately, “Sounds like XXX” is not a very appealing phrase when trying to communicate a brand.
An artist that cannot define his unique attributes will have a very hard time communicating his brand to his audience and the industry.
Building a brand relies in having a truly unique artistic personality which is expressed in the artist’s music, look and performance.
If you were wandering around the web looking for “marketing tips”, what I wrote is not new to you. Well, it’s one thing to be aware of this and a totally different thing to really have it. And even then – there is a lot more to be aware of when building a career as an independent musician other than being unique (or in other words: being unique is not enough). We’ll go through everything when the time comes, but first I would like to help you find this important element in you and build around it.
How to know if you’re unique? How to be unique?
On the next articles we’ll discuss different ways in which you should self criticize yourself and your music in order to find and build a unique artistic character.
So are you a unique artist? Please comment below and describe in words – what makes you and your music unique?
Please send me your unique music to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to personally respond and discuss your music here for everyone to learn. Don’t forget that if you help other artists getting better at what they do, it can only be for your benefit – no one will be able to compete you because they will be unique in their own way (sounds good isn’t it?).
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