As we’ve seen on the last few weeks, uniqueness is a key element for artists looking to stand out in the sea of mediocrity that is today’s norm. Of course, there are successful artists that are not unique, or in other words, artists that are nothing but a copy of other artists that are unique. The bad thing is that if an artist is not unique, chances are that even if they succeed – they will have a great difficulty sustaining a long career. I’ve seen enough huge overnight successes of artists that followed a certain trend. After a year or two headlining every major event, TV and radio in the country, they disappeared as quick as they became “famous”. The audience has already moved on to the next trend.
I just know that alternative music that stood the test of time was always sparked by uniqueness and unique ideas.
Alternative music artists that are known today by more than just “a few” fans, rather if they still exist or not, couldn’t ever be these artists or bands if they didn’t strive to be one of a kind or weren’t driven by unique ideas throughout their careers. They also seemed to have that rare quality that builds on older music, but, incorporating unique ideas, creating something totally new and different. I am talking about widely known – to major consensus bands such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Radiohead, Coldplay etc. These names are just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s just for getting the (unique) idea across. can you notice something here? None of these bands sound, look, talk, perform or write like each other (or any other artist or band for that matter), but could as well be influenced by each other (for instance Radiohead>Pink Floyd). In my opinion, the key is to build upon the artists you admire but to never imitate and use exactly the same ideas.
Notice that I intentionally picked these major hugely known and influential bands, just to show that even these bands, that their music is widely known today, have started as alternative artists. They just happened to be so unique and emotionally powerful, that they just couldn’t be ignored. Considering the amount of music and musicians today compared to even ten years ago, the scarcity of alternative artists that may become huge in our days leaves something to be desired.
A unique idea can be a certain guitar riff, a musical line, harmony change, lyrics, instrumentation, sound, style or a piece of clothing, whatever that sparks a feeling of freshness and makes you feel like “this hasn’t been done before”. These unique ideas might become the building blocks of your musical and artistic personality. Never stop looking for these throughout your quest for uniqueness. It is important that these unique are conveyed through every aspect of the creation. Lyrics, music, looks, sound, whatever that creates the impression on the audience and your listeners that you are one of a kind.
Now, after this important value has been communicated across, you should already know that with no unique ideas, point of view or experience, it might become harder and harder for artists to be valuable for their audience.
It’s true, a major portion of the music industry is still driven by trends, celebrity figures and Billboard hits. What is missing today, in my opinion, is a healthy alternative artist community, which goals are to bring listeners fresh, unique and emotionally exciting music that will stand the test of time and will be listened to decades after it was introduced.
One last thing, keep in mind that uniqueness in itself might not be the only important element. There are plenty of “unique” and “different” music and artists today, but it is still missing other crucial elements I will discuss soon. Next week I will start exploring the next artistic value that is important in raising the emotional value of alternative music.