Defining Your Genre
by India McCarty –
Music these days is all about defying the genre. We’ve got country-pop, hip hop-country, R&B-inspired EDM, and a whole lot of other subgenres that are redefining musical categories.
Refusing to fit into one genre is a choice that a lot of up and coming artists are choosing to make these days. It’s up to you to ultimately decide, but in a musical world that’s intent on individuality in every aspect, trying to fit in might make you stand out.
Here are a few reasons why picking a genre for yourself can be helpful.
Firstly, it lets your audience know what they’re in for when they turn on your music. It’s sort of hard to picture “80s-hip hop country” or “New Wave horror pop,” but everybody knows what a country song sounds like. Also, it helps when people ask you what kind of music you make. Nothing is more frustrating than hearing someone describe their sound as “different” or “hard to describe” and then leave it at that.
Being able to define the genre that your music fits into can also make it easier for you to get on playlists, connect with radio programmers or book shows. If you can describe your sound in broad terms, it’ll be easier for the people in charge to pick your music for their genre-specific playlists or shows. If you put yourself in an ultra-specific genre, chances are you’re limiting your audience.
While many music fans have moved on from the idea of specific genres, a lot of people in the industry have not. At one point or another, you’re going to run into scenarios where you’ll be forced to choose a genre, even if you don’t like it.
One of the problems with genre-blending is that a lot of music is starting to sound the same.
If everyone is making genreless songs, doesn’t that make “no genre” a genre in itself? By deciding to make a clear classification for your music, you – and your music – can stand out.
This isn’t to say that you need to feel boxed in or limited by sticking to one genre; experimentation is what moves music forward! But be wary of refusing to be defined. If you can’t explain the music you’re making, how can you expect your listeners to understand what you’re trying to say?
You might be charting some new territory with your songs, but it still likely fits into a broad category, like rock or pop. Start with the broad category before explaining how your music is actually much more nuanced than that – or just leave it at that. Simple is usually better, especially when it comes to describing your music to potential new fans.