Nobody exists in a vacuum. Inspiration comes from what you read, watch and experience. Inspiration is the merging of these experiences and influences into something new. When Metallica came on the scene they were inspired and influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They were influenced by Punk. They were inspired and influenced by Classic Rock. They were excited and this made them nervous. Nerves made them play faster.
When Black Sabbath came on the scene they were originally influenced by the Blues. Just another blues band among the many blues bands doing the rounds at that time. Then they applied their gloomy industrial upbringing and the rest is history.
Inspiration doesn’t take place in a vacuum. All day long you are experiencing.
Could Nikki Sixx have written Kick Start My Heart if he didn’t experience death and life? Could James Hetfield have written The Unforgiven if he was brought up in a wealthy household that didn’t have Christian Science beliefs? Could Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi have written Wanted Dead Or Alive if they never toured? Could Dee Snider have written We’re Not Gonna Take It, if he was rich?
If you think you can write a hit song with no prior experience, you’re dreaming. Our whole life is information. Be ready to reference it. Trust your first initial feeling.
Sign Of The Times
Don’t get caught up in doing things in the old way. Today’s medium is the Internet. No one wants to hear new music from their favourite artist every two years. We surf the net each day, looking for new music and information. If there is a demand for your music, you should create and distribute constantly.
The days when we used to have very little music are over. The days of saving up to buy an album and the playing the same album over and over again are also gone. Now, we’ve got the history of recorded music at our fingertips. YouTube has everything that you want, Spotify has almost everything that you could want and if all of that fails cyber lockers and The Pirate Bay fill the void.
Product Of The Times
The old rock star is dead. Its time to create a new rock star that is a product of the times. Keep innovating. Embrace the new reality that is being born. Stop playing by the rules of the Classic Rock artists.
Look at the band Heartist. When they formed, they decided that they would not play by the old rules of playing as many gigs as possible just to get noticed. They decided to not play by the old rules of guaranteeing promoters 50 presales for each gig (which more or less meant, the band either had to beg people to come to their show that didn’t want to be there or they basically paid to play). They decided to write songs. They decided to keep on writing. They started posting demos on YouTube. They started building a buzz. The songs had quality. People started to spread them, share them, talk about them. They played ONE gig and got signed by Roadrunner and management.
What Does Music and Success Mean These Days?
Music is for the fans. Music is for the people. Music is not for a record executive to make billions so that they can compete with the Forbes 100 Rich List. If you want to be in the music business, you need to focus on what music means. Be inspired! Create! You have to practice, be original and wait for your moment, when you have to deliver.
Def Leppard’s Hysteria was out for over a year before it exploded on the back of the Love Bites single. A sleeper hit that no one saw coming. If the song is really damn good it will get people’s attention.
If you want success, you need to get people’s attention. If you want success you need to work hard and don’t plan for it. If you want success, practice and be ready to turn that inspiration into a product. If you want success, you need to know that you have no control over what spreads and what doesn’t. Don’t judge the success of your project straight away. Success is always ten steps behind. It takes a while for it to happen. Don’t just the success of your project in dollar terms. Success is about laying a solid foundation and building on it.
Your music has to be accessible. It needs to make an instant impact. Fans do not have the time to spend on letting an album sink into our brain like the old ways. These days there are so many options and people don’t endure that which is not pleasing to them, They move on. Repetition is not an artist’s friend in the current times. The life span of a song is different these days.
Most of the time you get one shot for each new fan. It is that one time when people will hear what you have created. One time where you need to satisfy them, so that they can respond and share.
Today, you need to have that one unbelievable cut, that makes the people need to hear it over and over again. That one cut that makes the people want to go and find out more about you.
Whether it be Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, Dio’s “Holy Diver”, Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”, Kiss “Lick It Up”, Shinedown’s “Second Chance” or Metallica’s’ “One”. It works in every genre of music.
Artists can go straight to their audience, there are no restrictions. Artists by now should know that their career depends on building a loyal relationship with as many fans as possible. In order to build relationships, you need to get people’s attention. You need to find a way to be heard over all the noise.
Standing Out – Visuals and Music
You want to be remembered. You want to be talked about. How can you achieve that? Society is a visual culture. That is why we watch TV shows, movies, take pictures and film ourselves.
Why do you think, when you see a preview for a new movie coming out, the studio marketeers have music with it? Why do you think TV shows and movies have soundtracks? They are re-enforcing the visuals with music, as people take more notice when that happens. If people notice they will talk about.
Putting your music with visuals is a big step forward to getting people’s attention. How many times have you walked out of a movie, thinking, what a tough score. I just watched World War Z and I loved the track that Muse did for it. Man Of Steel had an unbelievable score by Hans Zimmer, that captured the emotion in each scene. It was also inspiring and uplifting. I still remember the preview to the Captain America movie, where they had the music (46&2) from Tool playing and that was almost three years ago.
Standing Out – Opinions
No artist can please everyone. So don’t try. All artists stand for something. If you write a song that is anti-(insert topic here), you will alienate some, and connect more with others. When people get fired up (via positive or negative feelings) they pay attention.
Standing Out – Different = Success
If you look at all of your heroes, they are there for a reason. They are different. When they came on the scene, they were different. Twisted Sister was different to all the other bands in the Eighties in how they dressed and looked. Their style was a combination of AC/DC style rock, mixed with Judas Priest metal, with a dose of punk chucked in. Metallica was different to all the metal and rock bands when they came onto the scene. Motley Crue was different to all the new wave music that was popular at the time. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were all different to the Eighties Glam Rock movement. Black Sabbath was different to all the hippie folk music at the time.
Different also includes doing cover versions of popular songs. Take jazz songs and turn them into rock songs. Take pop songs and make them into rock songs. The original artist’s fans will be curious to hear these versions. Led Zeppelin did a lot of covers, Metallica the same. Van Halen had cover songs on their first five albums. Motley Crue did Smokin In The Boys Room and Helter Skelter.
What Does It Mean to be an Artist Today?
You don’t want to be an artist that becomes who others want them to be. You don’t want to be an artist that whores themselves out to make money. You don’t want to be an artist that does what they have to do to keep the status quo.
It’s okay to not be liked by everybody.
Real artists don’t believe in conforming. Real artists stay true to who they are. Real artists play to their fans and allow the fans to talk about them. Do not change for all the new people that could tag along to your success train, that’s death. You need to keep playing to the hard core fan base. A great artist is someone who leads us into the unknown who we can’t help but follow.
Dream Theater is one artist that comes to mind, that did it their way or the hard way. Signed as a progressive band, they released When Dream and Day Unite, which the label ignored and then went on a long search for a vocalist. When Pull Me Under got traction on MTV and Radio, the band was then a commercial prospect for the label. So the label now wants more crossover songs, and this lead to the issues with the label around the Falling Into Infinity project. After that the band stayed true to who they are and they have grown with each album and are more successful now than ever.