I was listening to a podcast the other day and a story came on about the craft beer industry in Japan, which is still in its infancy. They did an interview with a craft brewer and what he said can, I think, be applied to many fields of life; including music production.
He claimed that, what every craft beer maker in Japan had to do was to make their beer as personal as possible. Make exactly the beer that they want to drink. Make beer you are sure no one else will like. Make it personal. But, in the process of making it personal, know that some people, a lot of people in fact, will hate it.
This is exactly the opposite of what corporate beer makers do. They try to make their beer as nondescript as possible. In order to not offend people, you have to appeal to the lowest common denominator. And the thing that corporations fear more than anything is not being popular.
So, my advice to you, if you are dealing with haters in any endeavor is: Take it personally. Because, if you have people who hate on what you do, it means that you are putting some style into your music or your product. And that is a good thing, because style is the future.
I muse a lot on the lingering effects that the mass production of music has had on us, even though the industry has changed so much. One of those effects is to depersonalize music and anonymize the people who make it. We imagine that people want ghetto-tech from DJ Cray Cray, not music from Ted Jones from down the street.
One of the best ways to depersonlize music is the genre name. As far as I can tell, genre names are useful mostly for the people who are USING music, not people who are MAKING music. Calling something such and such a genre is a way for the record industry or the advertising industry (the latter of which has become the main patron of music) to predict its utility to them. The Justin Bieber dubstep debacle is a great example of that.
What’s weird is how that mindset flips back on the producers. The Internet is full, FULL, of tutorials about how to make a (insert genre) bassline. Or a (insert genre) buildup. The question is, Why would you want some faceless Youtube guy’s interpretation of someone else’s style?
Now, I’m not at all saying that those videos are not a great way to learn. They really are. You need to become comfortable with your tools before you can begin expressing yourself. And those genre-based tutorials are a great tool to do so. But they need to approached with caution, since they run the risk of undermining your most valuable asset: Your style.
I try to make the information on this site, and in the Live Course, applicable to making whatever kinds of music you like. I can’t teach you how to produce like anyone but yourself. Would it be easier to have a “Just Add Water” approach to production? Probably. I’d also probably have a bajillion hits on Youtube if I made videos like that. But I don’t. And I probably won’t.
It’s just not my style.
Am I getting too New Age here? I did some yoga yesterday, so that might be the problem. What do you think?