When a passionate fan discovers the music of a relatively unknown indie artist for the first time, it's easy for them to develop a strong attachment to the endearing sound and distinct style that initially drew them in. There's just something special about being "in the know" and discovering the work of a talented, yet under-the-radar musician who's bound for a promising future. But over time, artists tend to evolve and venture into different creative spaces, a natural result in a profession that requires originality and weeds out those who remain stagnant. Sometimes this occurrence is due to artists wanting to reach a more universal audience, while other cases are simply thanks to organic progression. The quality of the music may improve or suffer depending on the details of a particular situation, but what arises in most cases is a divided fanbase, a split between those who want an artist to stay in their well-paved lane and others who are supportive of unpredictable experimentation.
Regardless of early success with a particular approach, most forward-thinking artists usually feel the need to expand in order to truly grow both musically as well as from a business perspective. And despite having intentions which may be pure, things get tricky when there's pressure to adapt with popular, trendy sounds that are seeing success in both the independent and mainstream worlds. With this in mind, the most pertinent question an artist should be asking themselves is this: How can I properly evolve my sound while also maintaining a genuine level of authenticity with my day-one fans? This guide will help you handle the adjustment by providing five action items artists can implement in order to refine their artistic makeup without abandoning their origins.
1. Learn a new instrument
Whether you're a rapper or a guitarist, most musicians have a niche specialty when it comes to their craft. Artists tend to have a specific sphere in which they excel, and it is these areas which initially kickstart careers. However, an effective way to push your own creative boundaries and take your music to the next level is by learning a new instrument. It's not necessary to become an expert at the instrument of choice; the focus should be on tapping into an untouched area of your instinctive musical identity. This journey will not only bring about a new ability which you may have never imagined, but also positively influence your current artistic traits. Study the instruments that play key components within the realm of music you're aspiring toward, and take the time to at least become proficient in them. If done correctly, you'll be your own pioneer as a catalyst of invigorating creative energy.
[4 Valuable Benefits of Being Proficient on More Than One Instrument]
2. Change up your studio routine
Every artist has a particular approach to their studio time and how they undergo the process of recording music. If you're striving to evolve your sound, one of the best ways to accomplish the undertaking is by switching up your routine. We're all creatures of habit, and the best way to break habits is by setting rules for yourself. Go back and listen to your old material. When you're recording new music and notice that you're playing previously used chords or singing/rapping in an all too familiar delivery, scrap that material. Avoiding repetition is an extremely effective way of staying on your toes and ensuring that your artistic sound is futuristic rather than reliant on already-solved formulas. And ultimately, modifying how you record your music will inherently change the components of the final product.
3. Get inspired by different music
Some of the most acclaimed albums are shaped by the outside influences of artists, spanning all genres and all time periods. These days, many artists are engrossed in the never-ending stream of new music, and this results in a large amount of copycat material. Intentional or not, as an artist you want your music to stand out from the pack rather than get lost in the mix. In order to avoid this pitfall, fill your playlist with more uncommon material, and this will help add more distinctive qualities to your music. If you're a rapper, go back and listen to some vintage jazz/soul/rock music, even if these genres are of no interest to you. More likely than not, you'll find some gems throughout your exploration which may inspire your own record that you may have never thought to make otherwise. Innovation can come from the most unlikely places, so make sure to broaden your musical horizons as you work toward evolving your own sound.
4. Purchase new equipment
If you continue to use the same equipment and programs over and over again, it's more than likely that your music won't deviate too far from its already traveled path. Purchasing new equipment is a great means of remedying this problem, and while it'll require dipping into your finances, the investment will be well worth it as you work toward diversifying the reach of your music. From newly released drum kits to the widely available listing of recording programs, the rapid pace of our technology provides more than enough options for musicians to choose from. If you're truly serious about investing in your craft and taking your sound to the next level, updating your toolkit is an essential task.
5. Make wise collaboration choices
Artists should have the ability to evolve their own sound through personal experiences, but collaborating with other artists who possess experimental and distinct attributes is a wise method of moving things along on your end. There's a fine line between collaborating with constantly growing musicians and ensuring that you have an organic chemistry with their working style, so it's important to be selective when choosing artists that you feel could naturally join in on the creative process. Sometimes, it takes a random bit of inspiration from a peer to spark the light bulb within your own artistic brainpower. Working with a different artist and using his or her fresh sounds is not evolving, but leveraging the inspiration in the studio and implementing it within your own craft is a great way of taking your music to unknown heights.