Why it Pays to be Unique

In 2019 there is literally no logical reason why a musician should sound like everybody else. I hear it constantly from electronic music, hip hop, rock, and every other weird and obtuse music genre that exists. I used to think that it was greedy music executives, who plotted and schemed to make music sound as bland as possible. Boy, was I wrong!

You can hear it in nearly every Soundcloud artist, who so desperately want to hop onboard whatever is popular at that moment. They do everything in their power to polish their sounds to a pristine mediocre copy. And guess what? 99.99999% of all of them are going to fail.

So what proof do I have? Well, let’s take a look at investing. A good investor always looks out for blue water. Blue water is basically the untapped market. The fresh original ideas that nobody has discovered yet. It’s where we get products like Apple, Walmart, Ford, McDonald’s, etc. If you notice that I chose all huge corporate conglomerates, there is a reason for that. It’s because they all became successful by doing something that nobody else was doing. Or better yet, if you don’t believe me then watch the video below.

Now notice that this guy, who is worth 2.3 billion dollars, who should be the very definition of an out of touch rich guy, is advocating originality. If a billionaire is telling you that being original is a wise market decision, then please for the sake of God listen to his advice.

But let’s say you don’t follow my advice. You got your plan down to a T. You know exactly how you’re going to climb that imaginary ladder to superstardom. Then I have to ask a few questions.

Do you come from a wealthy background?

Because if you don’t, then doing the whole starving artist thing is really, really, going to suck. Even Vincent Van Gogh, the epitome of the starving artist archetype, was given money by his brother Theo Van Gogh. Not only that, but do you know that one person in your graduating class? You know, the person who seems to be traveling all over the world, doing crazy shit, clubbing every night, and you just know that the only reason they’re doing it is because Mommy and Daddy are paying for it. Well guess what? That is going to be EVERYBODY from your graduating class. We can romanticize being a starving artist all we want, but the bottom line is being poor just fucking sucks.

Let’s not even look to High School, let’s go to your peers. If everybody is using the exact same techniques, the exact same rhythm, the exact same notes, the exact same formula, then who do you think is going to make it? It’s not going to be the guy who is working a double shift at Wendy’s passing out his mixtape. It’s going to be the guy who can afford to travel across the country, who can afford to buy the latest and greatest gear, who can afford to pay a studio to mix his single, it’s going to be the guy with the most cash. Yeah, it sucks but that’s the world we live in.

Are you incredibly attractive?

This is going to piss a lot of people off, but the fact of the matter is looks do count. You can always with almost 100% pinpoint accuracy tell when a music genre is beginning to die, by the amount of pretty boys there are in it. The fact of the matter is, when your music sounds like everybody else’s then what else do you have to offer? Because you’re not saying anything new, you’re not making anything that changes our perception of music, and you’re not doing anything that’s interesting. So then what do you have to offer? This can go from the Harvey Weinstein’s to the crowd of screaming girls, but all of that isn’t because of your music. It’s because of your looks. And unless you are a 10/10, one in a million faces, then you just aren’t going to get that recognition.

Do you have any connections?

This is self explanatory, yet it has to be said. That unless you got some connections, you aren’t going to make it, making unoriginal music. Now I don’t mean those kind of organic connections that every artist wets themselves over. You know the ones, “Oh, I was doing my Uber shift, when all of a sudden I pick up this guy. And do you know who he was? He was Rick Ross! So I played some of my music, and he liked it…” and blah blah blah. You get the idea.

No what I’m talking about is, your Dad was a tour manager for Led Zeppelin. You were one of Post Malone’s best friends growing up. Your Mom was a groupie, and you’re the progeny of some great rockstar. Kanye West is your Godfather. Etc. Unless you have one of those one in a million freak accidents, where somehow you know somebody who can hook you up, it just ain’t going to happen.

But for argument’s sake let’s say you do have that connection? What then? Well look at celebrity’s kids. Look at Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, Paris Hilton, etc. Look at how many people hate them. I mean, I’m guilty of it too. Whenever I hear about some celebrity’s kid doing something, I instantly want to vomit. Because I know that for some reason, celebrity kids have the reverse Midas touch, where everything they touch turns to shit. Where they think that just because their Dad is Will Smith, they can make an ear rape song about their hair. Yet there are those people, myself included, who think “Oh man, I really like so-and-so, and their kid is making music/movies/whatever so I’ll go check that out.” It’s such a large expectation to live up to, and when you make generic shitty music, people are going to be pissed at you. And why shouldn’t they? You had every tool at your disposal and you squandered it.

Do you have an interesting backstory?

Now I don’t mean some, “Man I was really struggling, I had to sell my guitar and amp just to have electricity” kind of story. That’s nearly every artist. Shit, that’s nearly every average Joe Shmoe. I mean the kind of backstory that could almost be a superhero origin story. You have to be missing arms, legs, be blind, deaf, dumb, get shot, have your wife murdered, your village raided, and your father’s sword stolen from you. Okay, I am being a bit hyperbolic, but the point still stands. Unless you have some incredible life story, that is so incredible that the audience feels sorry to boo you for your generic music. Then you aren’t going to make it.

Everybody loves an underdog story, because every single one of us see ourselves as the underdog. To have that catharsis, that all the struggle, all the pain, is worth it–because this one guy was able to make it despite the odds, means that we too can make it. It’s Joel Olsteen level marketing for musicians. Yes, it sounds like a cruel interpretation, but when you are doing what everybody else is doing; your life story is a marketing tool. It becomes a gimmick. And really, who wants their lives condensed to a such a finite point, only to sell tickets?

Are you successful in a different entertainment field?

Are you a popular youtuber? Did you write a popular T.V. show? Are you an actor? Were you a reality T.V. star? This goes back to the “Having connections” shtick but the fact of the matter is unless you have a built in fanbase who will follow you wherever you go, you aren’t going to make it. I will give Filthy Frank several listens, I will listen to Donald Glover, and I will even watch a Pewdiepie music video. Why? Well one, because I’m curious. And two, it’s the cult of celebrity. I don’t particularly like or dislike any of the artists above, but because they have brand recognition, I am at the very least curious as to what they are making.

I could say this is an American problem, but it’s not it’s become a Global phenomena. Where it doesn’t matter how shitty a person is, how terrible they are in their new field, the cult of celebrity is far stronger than any mediocre music that they make. And let’s be real if you are reading this blog, you haven’t got that hit of celebrity yet. Because if you did, we’d already be hearing about it.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that it is far too risky to follow genre rules, to stay in your lane, and to follow what everyone else is doing. Nearly every musician seems to be diving straight in the area with most competition, where they are competing against people who HAVE connections, who ARE more attractive, who HAVE a tragic life backstory, who ARE celebrities, and who HAVE more wealth. And if you are playing that much of a rigged game, then why play the game?

Now I’m not dismissing artists who self identify as a trap artist, an electronic artist, a rock musicians, etc. What I  am saying is that if you are within a genre, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Think outside the box. If your music genre is too simple, then apply some music theory, and become the Bach of Trap. If your music genre is too complex, make it fun, strip it down, and let it all hang loose.

But these are all superficial answers, because the bottom line is, you started making music, not because you wanted to be famous, not because you wanted to be rich, but because you wanted to express yourself. Ignore that desire for fame, ignore that desire for wealth, and focus on that singular goal. To make music that shows the world who you are. That maybe somewhere out there, there is some other wayward soul like yours, who feels the same way as you do. And maybe, just maybe, by writing that song, baring your soul to the world to see. You gave that person hope, that maybe, just maybe, they’re not alone as they thought they were.