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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Are you a Music Genre Hopper?

Okay, so many of you are asking yourselves, "Am I a Genre Hopper?" Or maybe you're asking, "What is a Genre Hopper?"  Well, in music a genre is a style or certain type of sound of music. Each song technically can be classified as falling generally within a certain musical genre, such as jazz, pop, rock, classical, country, blues, etc. Most songs fall within one type of music genre, but certain songs can be considered belonging in two or more genres such as Latin & Jazz (Latin Jazz); or Pop, Singer/Songwriter & Country, (Alternative pop-country) etc.  A genre hopper is someone who loves so many genres, that they can't seem to focus on which 1 or 2 genres they prefer to write/sing/listen to.

Here's a great article if you're a musician (or just a music lover), that talks about why genre is so important to music listeners and to music creators/performers. If you're like me (and most people), you probably like and listen to many different genres of music.  For example, I like most pop and adult contemporary, some classic rock, some folk or singer/songwriter, some country, some smooth jazz, many jazz standards, and some motown and blues. I also listen to 80s & 90's pop music since I'm sort of a product of those generations. However some people only like one or two genres: I know a few folks who only listen to or write classical music. I also have friends who only like Christian music or who only listen to and write country music.

Genre hopping can create a certain amount of excitement for many listeners and especially for singer/songwriters, (and yes, I admit that there are times and albums where I've been accused of being quite the "genre hopper.") This is all fine and dandy if you like variety when listening to music for your own enjoyment, however, if you're a singer/songwriter like me, it's a good thing to narrow your sound down a bit more (to one or two genres max), so that you and your sound are unique and easily "recognizable" by listeners.

Think about Dolly Parton, do you ever hear her and confuse her with another singer?  How about Cher? I didn't think so. That's because these talented pros have learned how to maximize and focus their sound, thus creating a following with their own personal musical style.  I hope you enjoy this great article about genre hopping from Cari Cole...

Commitment vs. Genre Hopping: Why You’re Genre Hopping and You Need to Stop

by Cari Cole
genresIf you’re like most artists you hate being put in a “box” and you despise labels. I get it. It’s natural, especially when your brain is wired to explore and create like a mad scientist!
Exploring and experimenting are good, just not on your album.
But truth is, unless you jump the proverbial “fence” and cross the line into marketability, you risk wasting all of your hard earned money and time on a record that hears nothing but crickets.
That said, why is it so hard to commit to a sound, style. Like I said, who likes being boxed in?

Here are 5 reasons why it’s hard to commit to a genre: 

(See if you find yourself in one of these scenarios below)

1.   Commitment phobic

If I commit to a genre then I might be stuck with it forever. What if I commit and everyone loves it and then I am stuck with it for my career. I hear about other artists who try to jump genre after they are established unsuccessfully.

2.   There’s so much more to me than just one genre

You find yourself having trouble committing because you like a LOT of different kinds of music and you like to sing/play in several genres. Choosing one (or two) is like parting with your arm.

3.   Your creative brain hates being limited

That’s okay, you’re supposed to be ridiculously creative with thousands of ideas, you just need to herd them into one corral.

4.   Something else always catches your ear

You find yourself never being able to nail your “sound” and are easily distracted with the latest trends or stay stuck in the past. Yup, as a creative music brain this is always going to happen. Stay current, but see this as being “inspired” and don’t jump genres. It’s GOOD to listen outside your genre and weave in threads of other influences. That’s what great music is all about.

Three Techniques for Honing Your Genre Commitment Skills  

Genre is there for a reason. Don’t think of it as a box, think of it as a definition tool. The closer you get to defining your sound, the easier it is for people to identify with you and make bonds. That’s what you want – right? Here’s 3 ways to help you hone your genre commitment skills and help you own your domain in music ….

1.   Pretend You are Your Own Manager

Pretend that you are your manager. A manager will have more objectivity about what you sound like vs. what kind of music you like. You can like a lot of different music, but you can’t play it all on your record and be successful with your career.

2.   Play “Match My Genre”

Match your genre with the kind of music you play when no one’s looking.  It might be a few things. Write it down.  Spend a whole month or two doing this exercise. Then review the results. You might be surprised at what you think you like. And you might be twisting your music to be “commercial” or what you think the industry likes vs. who you really are.

3.   Try a Genre Mashup

This one is fun ;). Mix 2 or 3 genres to come up with a fresh spin on what you’re offering. You might land on something new that strikes a chord, or be careful because you might end up too far left of center. Keep tweaking until you arrive at something that’s in the ballpark and that sounds  totally YOU.
Here are some genre lists and maps to have fun with!