How Independent Artists Can Develop Their Own Sound


Independent Artists

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Independent artists should take note of our most recent guest post by J Bettridge on growth and experimentation when it comes to developing your sound.

As an independent artist, you must create something truly attention-grabbing to grow and sustain your listener base. Our article ‘Staying In The Spotlight’ explains you have to market yourself by creating content and developing an image that will keep audiences engaged. Yet beyond this, you must also let your music speak for itself to deliver the messages you think will resonate with your listeners.

Ultimately, nothing will capture your audience’s loyalty like a unique sound. When you create music that’s unlike anyone else’s, you give listeners something to return to. But cultivating this style is easier said than done, and it can take years to discover it. Here are some tips to help you get there.


Explore the possibilities

Continuously experimenting and breaking the rules, trying different things, and finding new sounds can make the creation process more enjoyable for independent artists. It also helps you cultivate a fresh, new sound. The best way to do this is by changing your tools or methods.

If you play the guitar, you can experiment with pedals that can help you create versatile sounds. For this, you can use Eventide pedals equipped with algorithms and presets that allow you to layer and bend sounds in innovative ways using various reverbs, delays, and overdrives. Likewise, if you’re a trained classical musician, you can take your craft one step further by going electric. Musician Tina Guo did this when she experimented with the Yamaha SVC-210s electric cello to play metal as an adult after being raised to play classical music her entire childhood. This allowed her to transition from relatively gentle music to music that is “hyper-emotional… with intense energy.” By adopting new tools for experimentation, you can also develop a unique sound that’s identifiably yours.


Emulate your heroes

As a professional independent artist, taking inspiration from other musical acts can be productive. This doesn’t mean copying or stealing their material. Think about how Da Vinci’s students were taught to paint by copying his works and then taking what they’ve learned to execute their own vision. In the same way, you can learn music by studying your favorite musicians. Once you understand their styles and techniques, you can tweak them to suit your style. It’s how the greatest musicians came to be.


Take The Beatles: on their first trip to America, the influence of artists like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard was heavily apparent in their music. The band then moved on to create more unique sounds in their later albums, but you can still trace their early influences in songs like “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Building on your heroes’ works can give you a solid foundation to be inventive with your own compositions and give them a unique twist.


Be consistent

Sound is all about instinct—but you can’t create music instinctively until you’ve mastered your technical skills. To do that, you must consistently practice and create as much music as possible. By doing so, you can branch out to other styles. It also enables you to discover the parts of music that excite you—and playing music that excites you always helps audiences resonate with you more.

That’s why perseverance is ultimately what makes a good artist. Take Eminem, whose honest lyricism and complex rap style have made him one of the biggest icons in hip-hop. The first time he rapped in front of an audience, he was booed and almost gave up. Yet although no labels wanted to sign him, he kept going until Dr. Dre helped him kickstart his music career. With hard work, Eminem has successfully cultivated a signature style that makes his music recognizable to the general public. So although things may look rough for you at the beginning, being consistent and persevering can help you improve your sound until you discover what sounds like you.

Developing your sound doesn’t happen overnight. As independent artists, by experimenting and finding what excites you, you can cultivate a style that sounds unique to you.

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Post by: J Bettridge

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