Genres, a thing of the past?

As a consultant, I constantly deal with artists trying to make their music fit into a certain genre, my advice has always been to throw away the mold and see where the talent takes you, create your own mold.

You might have noticed that a musical genre is the first label placed on a band. More often than not, the labeling is a lazy one.

Not every band is able to fit neatly into a little box with a bunch of other bands but because of the desire to have everything packaged up neatly, the labeling of musical genres continues. There is no doubt that genres are the invention of record labels and music magazines (and now online sites) to reach out to new buyers and show them what they should be listening to.

It is important for a band to not think too closely about which genre they are in because this will immediately start to limit them. It is obvious that bands will have influences and it is inevitable that a new band will sound like other bands around or who have been around before. Most musicians started off as music fans of other artists and it would be wrong to think that this influence will not shine through in their own sound.

If a band or artist starts to deliberately sculpt their sound to fit in with a particular genre or fan base, it can go wrong very quickly. After all, music is best when it is free and loose and coming from a natural creative space. If songs are created because there are a lot of fans who like that particular sound, it will probably come across as being manufactured and fake. In this sense, genres are not important and they should be ignored by a band as much as possible.

However, if a band does have a sound that fits alongside other acts and the band enjoys this music, there is nothing wrong with being proud of the genre. After all, musicians should be music fans as well and if a musical genre genuinely motivates a group I would encourage them to try and fit into that grove.

Being involved in a music scene with like-minded people who enjoy the same sort of songs and sounds can be a good experience. Genres can sometimes be an easy way to work alongside other people and to introduce new fans to the music you are making.

No matter what, there are two very definite and different sides to the argument over genres. Both of these opinions are valid but it is important to know where you stand on them.

If you like the idea of musical genres and you feel it helps you find new bands, embrace the concept of musical genres and enjoy yourself. If you dislike musical genres, carry on treading your own path and don’t get too hung-up on the reasons that other people choose for liking a band. If you’re in a band, as long as people like your music, it doesn’t really matter why they got into liking the music.

I am crediting Andrew Reilly of Audio Issues for parts of this post.

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