So you’ve been in the music industry for a while now, you’ve put out a minimum of 20 songs, you got a decent following on social media, you make some dollars here and there from gigs and streaming numbers. But how do you know it’s time to shift, or possibly even change completely, your musical approach? Because it happens to ALL OF US. There’s a reason why initial Drake does not sound like 2020 Drake. Why Eminem is sorry for having trashed his mom in past lyrics, and why Beyonce has applied plenty of autotune in her more recent creation. Times change and music changes too. Here are 7 signs you should review your act.
7. You are bored most of the time.
Music is fun. Music is joy. Music is life. Even with sad or angry songs, music manages to capture raw emotions and feelings. When you are bored, you lack drive. When you lack drive, you lack organic energy. When your energy is low, you transmit your boredom in your songs. And fans FEEL IT! Guess what happens to boring music? It is soon forgotten. If you are bored with your music, try switching an instrument for another. Try new vocal layering. Get a new sound engineer. Try some fusion with other popular genres. You absolutely have to put an end to this predictability that is killing your soul and your connection with your fanbase.
6. You get told your music is good.
If you are confused, let me help you. An artist’s music is supposed to make an impact. Ideally, you want your music to be loved or hated. A strong impression creates strong feelings. You are doing great if people either love you or hate you. That is normal for someone exceptional. If, however, your music creates neither positive nor negative feedback, trust me, your sound is stale and not getting you any new fans. When you start getting told: ”keep going”, ”this is good”, ”wishing you the best”, ”never give up”, it’s damn time you change your whole image and sound. You want your fans to say stuff like: ”I can not stop listening to this!!!”, ”I’m sharing it with all my friends and family! This can not go unnoticed!!!”, ”I just found my new favorite artist! OMG!”. You clearly see the difference here, don’t you? So monitor those comments closely because they’re an incredible indicator of how you’re doing artistically.
5. You start getting less engagement from once very supportive fans.
”The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off”, the intro to N.E.R.D’s with Rihanna song – Lemon. Truer words could not have been spoken. If you find yourself starving for attention and support from your followers, and try harding in your IG stories to get it, you are doing something wrong. In an era where Billie Eilish reigns, and has insane music videos with people undressing her and sticking needles in her back, you got to step up your game. Gone are the days when you could just shoot a simple music video and you were done. No, no, no. Now you have to go all 9 yards. And get weird and weirder. It works. And it makes sense. We got an oversaturated music market. Only the crazy ones stand out. So get really bold, step out of your comfort zone, and do things in your music videos you could never even think of. Your competition is 18-year-olds who do crazy sh1t for Tik Tok videos of SIX SECONDS! and you’re only changing your clothes ONCE in 3 minutes of video material? just NO.
4. You wouldn’t listen to yourself either in your down time.
Do you know how you can tell if an artist is putting 100% in their music? They bump to their own songs in their downtime. Ever took notice how often Cardi B posts stories and videos on her social profiles dancing and singing along to her own songs? A LOT. If you are doing music and are NOT having fun with it outside the studio, you must STOP. How am I, the listener, supposed to stream your songs and share them forward if you, the creator, are NOT into it yourself? Whatever issues are bothering you, FIX THEM to the point you like your own music more than anyone else’s. Too much autotune? Get a vocal coach and learn your comfortable scales. The composition is too dry? Get a 2nd producer to enhance the sound of the 1st one. The voice does not mix well with the beat? Change your flow and delivery until you like it. Whatever it is, you must find a solution and improve your craft.
3. You are too comfortable in the recording booth, and on stage too.
Remember the 1st time you went recording in a professional studio? Remember how excited and nervous you were? The smell of the gear and the colored lights on the mixing boards? How you were amazed at hearing your own voice during playback? And equally how insecure you were because that was NOT how you imagined you would sound? It felt like being in a damn fairy tale. Now instead, it’s like going grocery shopping: you don’t really want to, but you have to. If you can’t wait to get out instead of actually enjoying the whole process, time to take a step back and reflect on what is causing this rupture between you and the initial enthusiasm you had. Human beings need to innovate their lives in different ways PERMANENTLY! It is one of our basic needs. We are so flexible mentally and so capable, that it is truly a shame we don’t realize how much we crave NEW.
2. You don’t have a clue what are the hottest songs right now.
I know you will always feel that the music you grew up with was ten times better than today’s music. I know that you think this new school is void and meaningless. I know you appreciate a real guitar player rather than a digital keyboard player. But that does not give you the right to put all new music in one box. It is ignorant to do so, and very unfair too. I don’t care how much you are hating modern music, it is YOUR DUTY as an artist, to stay updated constantly. At the end of every month, create a listening session where you hear out at least the top 40 hit songs of the moment. You will stay in the loop, you will get used to the new sound, and you might wanna change your own production after understanding how things are currently working.
1. You feel your best days are behind you.
If your joy can only be sparked by past memories, you are in deep, deep trouble. One can not move forward if the only way they’re looking is back. You’re still here, still alive, still capable, and more experienced than you’ve ever been. Right now, at this very moment, you have more knowledge than you ever had before. It is very probable that the biggest accomplishments you had in the past, were due to you striking a chord with those times and those sounds. Now things are different and you need to be different too. If you’re trying to produce the same type of music that brought you past achievements, DON’T. Experiment and stay true to who you are but please grow musically. People used to cut their veins in order to bleed out the diseases in the 1500s. Today we take pills and vaccines. See the difference? Humanity evolves all the time on all fronts. Gotta keep up the pace and adjust accordingly. Good luck and good fun reinventing yourself!