M: It sounds like you’re asking about is artistic sensibility, balancing issues like: what you think sounds good, what you think the fan wants to hear, what will sell. I tend to put them in that priority order. There will inevitably be issues that come up in the creative process where you have to choose between those problems (picking on over another, a versus situation), and there will be times when you can create something that allows you to address them all (I call see this solution as a better design–where you can “have your cake and eat it too,” as they say).
To get there, you probably need to have some understanding of the music and culture that came before you. Let’s talk about that.
I listen to a lot of music. As of this afternoon, I have 11,953 songs–that’s 30.8 days of music without repeating a track–in my iTunes. And there are probably a hundred albums I own that aren’t in my iTunes (CDs I haven’t imported yet, and music on vinyl). By enjoying and studying as many good songs as I can, I hope to learn from them and be inspired by them; I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, so I try to educate myself about what’s already been done.
Some artists, usually younger ones, like to say “I don’t listen to xxxxx because I want to make music that’s original.” You may have heard them say: “I don’t want to be influenced by it,” or “My music doesn’t sound anything like it.” They all want to “do something different.”
But if you do something “different” without a thorough understanding of what’s already out there, how do you know your thing is “different?”
If you’re a metal-head who refuses to listen to hip hop, how do you know the “new” thing you’re doing hasn’t already been done by an adventurous hip hop producer? The same goes for the hip-hop producer who only listens to rap. Expanding your knowledge of a subject will help you avoid doing what hasn’t been done, but also help you discover the best tools that you can use when crafting a good piece of art (song, painting, whatever).
I kinda rambled on this one, but I hope it was interesting 🙂