There are all sorts of genres under the sun from Classical-Pop to Reggae-Soul and other outlandish combinations. Every musician by way of introduction always gets asked what category they would place their music in. I have always found this a little difficult to answer because although ‘soul’ is an umbrella term for what I do, I am influenced by other styles of music.
Why must we limit ourselves to the confines of one particular style of writing, producing and recording when music is much more exciting if its explored?
“Music is there for us to explore. To intentionally limit yourself to one, two, or three genres is limitation at its worst. Music is huge; it’s a gigantic history lesson, and if you are a true music fan or a musician, you should explore it. It’s all right there in front of us.” Phil Anselmo
Based on my experience, I’ve come up with 5 reasons why focusing on genre as an artist (and as a listener) may not be such a good thing.
1). Sticking To One Genre May Stifle Creativity
Genre is like the confines of a small box or like a small room bounded by 4 walls. Sticking to one sound may stifle your creative juices and what else you may be capable of.
Expression should never be limited to a particular type of sound if it stops you from fully exploring your talent and creative skills.
2). Focusing On One Genre Keeps You Away From Other Genres
Being solely dedicated to one genre could possibly make you tune out the creative benefits of exploring other genres while you write. For example; who says you may not be even better at Reggae than the Neo-Soul you are currently fully invested in?
A combination of 2 genres or a temporary shift to something new may be just the creative jolt you need to inspire some amazing songs.
3). Exploring Other Genres Attracts New Audiences
Being self-managed has taught me to be more aware of what the average listener is listening to, what the radio is playing and how people are responding to the current trends on the charts. Being geared solely towards afro-soul for a while has given me a sense of the kind of people who listen to my music and who come to my shows. As I keep introducing new genres into my performances and set lists, I have seen a difference in the people who are taking interest in my music.
The key is to remember to carry your loyal supporters along as you aspire to gain new followers. Even though you can’t please everyone, remember why your first fans fell in love with your music in the first place.
Case study: Asa’s 2nd album was more geared towards ‘pop-country’ after her extremely successful afro-soul-folk 1st album. Now with her 3rd album, she has found a happy medium between the two styles and has gained several new fans along the way.
4). The evolving artist will always remain relevant
Pop music is constant on our airwaves because it simple is ‘popular’ music and the artists who fill this space are the ones that stay relevant or adapt their music to the era of sound in which they live.
I think it’s important to be aware of the sound that is reigning at a particular time and even if you can’t jump on the bandwagon fully, making reference to certain styles and using popular trends to make your music more commercially viable should never be considered ‘selling out’.
I reckon as long as we are progressing digitally and have access to music from all corners of the world, genre-specificity as it pertains to an artist will eventually cease to exist. To get to a destination, there would’ve had to be the start of a journey first. Being open enough, as a developing artist, to embrace various music styles I believe is a key to growth and key to finding yourself. The only common thread that needs to run through your music is you and your voice.
With that said, there are always exceptions to the rule and remaining in a box can be beneficial for various reasons such as being identifiable by a potential audience. We’ll discuss this next week.
Till next time, stay safe and be brave.