One of the keys of being a content creator, perhaps THE key of being a content creator is to be a content curator and to be consuming content constantly. You need to be out there listening to new shit and trying develop your tastes in order to create something substantive. This is not my usual thing about ‘being a part of the scene’ this is about just knowing what’s going on in the world of music – a fairly obvious piece of advice that very few musicians follow. Like – if I were to ask you, what are ‘twenty non-major label releases that you listened too and spent time with this year?’ You might not have an answer, and that’s a problem, because I guarantee you Kanye does. If you think that you don’t need to be listening to non-major label releases or you think that you don’t have the time to discover them because you’re too busy creating your super ‘unique’ or ‘visionary’ art then you can just go fuck yourself.
With regards to how you start to dig into the music world there is sort of a chicken and the egg situation going on. On the one hand, you want to have unique tastes that are not derivative of whatever is being popularized in your genres publications, but on the other hand you sort of want to have tastes that make sense in line with the audience you are trying to cater too. For example, if you’re a pop artist it makes sense that you would like the new Taylor Swift, but you should also be trying to dig into someone like Marc Broussard, and if your tastes are really broad then you could go even deeper and look into visionaries putting a new spin on pop music like Nothing are. However if your list was exclusively made up of acts like Taylor Swift and Kanye and you had a hard time even naming artists who hadn’t blown up in the last few years or were massive genre mainstays then people are going to seriously doubt your authenticity
Not only that but your music is going to end up being derivative. Look at every ‘dad band’ from the last twenty years. They have all been feeding off of the same basic five or six albums, shit like The Black Album, Back In Black, Led Zeppelin IV and all of that good stuff. There’s nothing wrong with those records, in fact I love all of them. The problem arises with the folks who don’t even bother to dig deeper, who are vaguely aware other shit is going on but who simply can’t be fucked because again, they think that their art is ‘unique’ and ‘visionary’ when in reality it’s just playing on the exact same boring fucking tropes that everyone else has been using. Here’s a thought – maybe you should be digging into acts that when you go to see them have less than five hundred people in the crowd, not because obscurity means greatness, but because if you’re not truly digging into the music world then why are you even here?
Here’s the thing – if you can predict what’s going to blow up before it does then you have significant potential to blow up as a band in your own right. You should be using your tastes to guide your music, and if your taste is only good enough to reflect that you like the same bullshit that literally everyone you know likes then are you really doing something new? Everyone likes the classic bands for a reason, they rule. It takes a real artist and someone truly intelligent to dig in and try and identify which bands that they think are really going to be able to make it to the next level and do something grander. If you look at the longterm musicians who stay relevant, they all keep in touch with their core scenes because they legitimately enjoy digging into the music and they understand the need to try and figure out what’s actually going to make a difference. They don’t care about sucking their friends dicks, they care about the new wave, and THAT, that is exciting.
When it comes down to it, the people who get big are often the people who have good taste. Not even because their taste informs their music, but because having good taste earns them respect in the scene. Getting respect in the scene means that people listen to your records. People listening to your records means that tastemakers listen to your records. Tastemakers listening to your records means that you finally have the chance to get somewhere. Never before has it been easier to share that knowledge and show that you know what’s up than in the era of social media. You can directly interface with some of the artists who you think are going to be the next up and coming thing, and since they seem to be on an upward trend that often means that they are going to remember you believing them back in the day and so when the time comes then the odds are that you are going to get brought up alongside them into the light.
So no – this article is not about trying to be a part of a scene. It’s about knowing that you need to dig into your musical universe. This is why bands of dudes starting in their 30s and 40s rarely ever get popular, because those dudes aren’t spending time digging in. Sure it happens now and then, but when you meet those bands ask them about their tastes. I guarantee you that they are all music addicts, constantly discovering new and exciting stuff and not rehashing the same boring fucking records from when they were 16. Sure those records will always have a place in their lives but if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
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