Have you got your own unique songwriting style?
Not sure?… maybe you just don’t think it’s a “unique” songwriting style.
Either way, you’re in the right place!
But first, a quick tip!
The invention of the internet has diluted the songwriting industry.
What I mean by that is:
Imagine how many styles of music were readily available to the entire world before the invention of the internet. How many genres were globally recognised?
The answer is just a handful. Certain cities and countries had musical genres that were typical for those specific areas (think Jamaica and Reggae!).
Only word-of-mouth or touring musicians would allow music to travel to listeners in other countries.
People from abroad could have been missing out on hearing what could’ve been their favourite artists!
Looking back at the world, in terms of music, it seemed very organised. “That music is from there” and “That Punk song sounds very British!…”.
I’m certainly not insinuating that the internet is completely to blame for diluting the world’s music scenes. Both musicians, and the incredible music fans of the world, had a big part to play in that too.
But now, we’re faced with the world-wide-web!….. which means anyone in the world is capable of hearing music that you just released moments ago. You don’t even have to play a gig to be found!
You could be based in Seattle and your most engaging fan base could be from Amsterdam.
What a wonderful world!!
Suddenly, every genre is made available to every corner of the globe, making our jobs (as creatives) much harder.
Now, not only do you have to compete for the local limelight but you also have an entire world of your chosen genre to compete with as well.
I know… I’ve made it sound so bleak!
It’s not all that bad though, because now that the world’s music has diluted and spread to each and every corner, we have all the inspiration we could ever hope for.
In addition, we’re able to utilise a world-wide promotion tool (the internet!).
As much as I mentioned that this is still a competitive, diluted industry, there are always people out there who want to hear your music!
Whatever style it may be, although the world’s music scene is diluted, there are still prime locations dotted around the globe that are better suited to specific genres.
If you zoom in near Japan on this Map Of Preferred Music Styles Around The World by The Grammy Awards, you’ll notice that K-Pop is primarily favoured there, as opposed to America or Africa (Kind of goes without saying since K-Pop means Korean Pop music… but you get the picture!)
The truth is… due to everybody having access to any music, it is very difficult to successfully create a brand new sound.
Not impossible! but very difficult.
In fact, in another blog, I had a bit of a rant about how songwriters are technically just modifying the things that they’ve heard and calling it their own. It sounds like a bad thing but it’s been the case since year zero, it’s not really new news. Here’s the blog in question… What Makes An Instrumentalist Start Songwriting?
I’ve read Pat Pattison’s books on songwriting and lyric-writing. (Which you can find these on our Resources Page. They really are excellent)
I recall reading something like “Nobody currently has, has ever had, or ever will have, those thoughts in the same way as you do. You just need to find a way to replicate them and convey it through music”.
This was a revelation for me. It offered me an answer to a question I had for years…
My question was “Do I need to be just like my heroes / idols in order to become just as successful?”
This passage made me realise that the songwriters we idolise are so popular and successful, because they never tried to be just like somebody else.
Which lead me to understanding my next steps to creating my own unique songwriting style. I need to:
- Identify my own genre.
- Figure out who my target audience is.
- Reach out.
- Apply what I’ve learned.
Let me explain!
I’ve been asked countless times “what’s your genre?”
I don’t know what you would say to answer, but it always takes me a while because I refuse to just claim that it’s just “Rock”.
It is rock music, but it’s so much more than that too.
I would see it as such a mistake to define my entire catalogue of songs as something so diverse; so non-specific.
I might as well say singer-songwriter!! (that infuriates me! haha).
In order to figure out who my target audience is, I need to seriously narrow down my genre.
Most (90%) of my music falls under the Progressive title.
All of my songs involve either a piano, keyboard or synthesizer and at least 75% of my music is based around a topic that would be deemed Science Fiction or Fantasy.
So I define my songwriting genre as specifically as I can… and my answer is always Sci Fi / Fantasy Progressive Rock.
I urge you to do the same thing with your genre. It’s similar to choosing a career path. You know what you need to study and where you need to congregate in order to stay at the top of your career game!
Beyond this point, you can find out who your target audience is, you can reach out to them, do some research and put that research into practice. This is something I go into much greater detail with in another article of mine called How To Find Your Target Audience. You’ll notice that narrowing down your genre is in that blog too. It’s a very important step in your songwriting career.
In the end, the truth is, there may be no such thing as unique anymore
The only way we can stand out in a crowd is by embracing everything that we are, from the inside, out.
Stop following the road signs that are put in front of you by corporate entities like record labels and producers.
Do your own thing because that’s what you’ll do best.
Word of warning… if your genre is anything like mine, you’ll find that writing cheesy lyrics is unavoidable…
“As the final star goes by… we descend through your sky…” <— real lyrics of mine! 🤣 🖖🏼
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