For those of us that really love music, there comes a moment when we stop watching the people on stage and start to think of being up there ourselves. After all, it’s this impulse that’s behind how every great band got started. First we listen, then we learn, and then we do it for ourselves.
Now, a quick thought experiment. When you picture yourself as a rock god (which we all have moments of doing - admit it), which do you imagine yourself as?
Lead singer? Probably - but then again, not everyone can sing.
Guitarist? More than possible. Richards was always cooler than Jagger anyway.
Bassist? Sure, but remember that no one will ever ask you anything in interviews.
Drummer? No one pictures themselves as the drummer. Even Ringo Starr didn’t, and that’s why we ended up with Yellow Submarine.
If you’re aiming to make music yourself, you’ll know that bands all too often end up sounding alike. This is - in no small part - because everyone thinks they have to fit into one of the above roles. When everyone is following the same formula, everything will sound the same.
Remember when the White Stripes released Seven Nation Army and it was everywhere? A huge part of the reason for its appeal is that it was different. Two members; no bassist; huge hit. So if you want to make music people will remember, embrace the idea of change. Forget the prescribed ideas of cool and do something genuinely innovative.
Try A Less-Clichéd Instrument
There are only so many notes and so many melodies, and before long, bands who use the same equipment will sound like tribute bands for each other. So why not use an instrument that’s less played out?
You can, for example, find the best concert ukulele for under $300 and bring some novelty to your songs. The ukulele not quite cool enough for you? Bear in mind that Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam wrote and performed an entire album of ukulele songs. It even won a Grammy.
Push Your Own Boundaries
One reasons the Beatles stayed so big for so long is that they assimilated influences and changed their style. Even Oasis - famed for being as basic as it gets - sampled Dr. Dre on D’You Know What I Mean?
If you want to be known as something more than the basic package of a band, then broaden your horizons.
Hate jazz? Listen to some Miles Davis. Proudly independent? Listen to nothing but Fifth Harmony for a day. It doesn’t mean you’ll end up sounding like these acts - but it jars you out of your comfort zone and introduces you to other styles, which can then influence your own sound.
Make Music You Like
It may seem to go against the grain of the previous two tips but, in the end, you need to make music that makes you happy. Radiohead had huge commercial success with OK Computer; but they then got so sick of hearing it that they spent years trying to make something that sounded completely different.
So stick by what you like - and will continue to like - and let that be your guide first and foremost.