Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would like?
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Old 17-06-2017, 05:17 PM   #1
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Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would like?

Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would like?

I tend to deviate to creating only my genuine ideas, because I find it uninteresting to try to subscribe to certain genre techniques. Rather I tend to write whatever comes. Whatever I think sounds interesting, regardless of what it is. Of course I'm influenced by others' music, but I never start writing music with a genre or something in my head. I merely try out stuff until I find something to work on.

This poses some problems though. How can you ever predict, whether your style will ever appeal to others. After all I think everyone desires to be liked, because it makes your music more "valid" or accepted. And some people believe that only music that appeals to people can be good music or good art. If the art never reaches the general population, then what is its worth?

Then again there have been artists such as Van Gogh who were not popular during their lifetime, but rather became admired after his death.

So should you listen to yourself and only yourself or should you listen to others as well?

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Old 17-06-2017, 05:58 PM   #2
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

I don't see these two mindsets as binary or mutually exclusive. I think you can write a song that speaks a wide audience and still remains true to your creative vision. Especially with the internet its easy to reach a niche audience.

Having had a quick listen through some of your work on HearThis, I'm not sure what you are worried about anyway--I'd say that chill out stuff and IDM type stuff has a fairly wide audience. That is if you are asking about yourself personally and your music.

To continue using your work as an example--if someone making the kind of tunes you are making asked me if they should stop making that kind of music and start making mega festival Avvici style tunes, I'd say hell no--because at that point clearly their only motivation is to be liked. However, if that person asked me if they should try making some Hospital Records style liquid DnB to reach a wider audience I'd say go for it as it wouldn't be that much of a stretch for current fans to like a more pop dance tune nor would it be hard for new pop dance tune people to like that artist's other music.

But I always feel I'm bad at answering these types of questions because I honestly get almost 100% of my enjoyment out of the process rather than the final product and marketing it for accolades/money.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:03 PM   #3
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

But the problem is that I've never understood how other artists think. I only know how I think. But I also perceive that some producers tend tend to work pretty confidently in some sort of "genre boundaries". Why else would their music sound similar to all others in that genre. And then, I don't write music in genres.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

Perhaps different artists take different perceptive on their art. Some find it worthwhile to try to invent new music, some like to advance existing genres, some like to stick to producing "classical" material in a genre.

So then they're just different matters of taste about art.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:08 PM   #5
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

I'm firmly in the "make what you like" camp. Contrary to your suggestion, I have zero interest in whether people like my art, and it's a non-issue because people don't get to hear it anyway. It's entirely self-fulfillment for me. It has value because I enjoy making it and listening to it. It would undermine the process if I considered other people's enjoyment while making it.

On the other hand, if your job is making music or you aspire to having that job, you probably ought to be considering who's going to consume it. If your job is writing commercial jingles or scoring corporate training tapes, you should probably just do what the client wants and get paid. Same goes for people that make club tracks or whatever - they're meant to be consumed by a very specific clientele and so you should probably consider that when you're making them. I don't see anything wrong with that. People gotta eat.

I'm obviously on one very extreme end of the spectrum, people who write pop-trash-country for a paycheck in Nashville are on the other. I would guess most people sort of hover in the middle, tending a little to one side or the other depending on things like time and age and finances. I mean, Van Gogh was basically a rich kid with mental issues that was supported by his well-to-do family. He may have given more of a shit about what he was painting if it was his only way of eating.
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Old 17-06-2017, 06:15 PM   #6
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

I believe that other people have to validate your art in order for it to be good art.

Otherwise everyone could claim their art "good art" and be fine with it.

But then "good art" would mean nothing, because everyone would have it.

I desire that one day I could create music that's admired as much as the artists that I idolize (e.g. Aphex Twin). Even if some of them don't really care what others think of their music. I still think it's a "confirmation" that you're doing something worthwhile. After all, music is meant to be enjoyed.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:32 PM   #7
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

Yeah, I disagree with pretty much all of that. I'm the only one writing or listening to my art, so I'm the only one that gets to judge it. I am enjoying my art; just because no one else is doesn't diminish that enjoyment for me.

Any statement of 'good' or 'bad' is entirely subjective. You don't get to define what I consider good and visa versa. Statements of 'popular' and 'commercially successful' are quantifiable, and if your definition of good is based those things then you can talk about those things. My definition of good doesn't have anything to do with those things. It's entirely based on subjective considerations and thus are only valid for me.

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Otherwise everyone could claim their art "good art" and be fine with it.
I hate to break it to you, but almost everyone who makes art thinks it's good. That's why they make it. And they're completely entitled to that opinion, even if they're the only one that thinks it.
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Old 17-06-2017, 06:33 PM   #8
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

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I hate to break it to you, but almost everyone who makes art thinks it's good. That's why they make it. And they're completely entitled to that opinion, even if they're the only one that thinks it.
But is it fair to put Justin Bieber and e.g. Richard D. James into the same box and claim that both are great artists in an equal way?

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:34 PM   #9
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

A really good chunk of the population does not enjoy Aphex Twin. If you tried to play it at a party, they would ask you to turn that shit off.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:47 PM   #10
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

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But is it fair to put Justin Bieber and e.g. Richard D. James into the same box and claim that both are great artists in a equal way?
You're continuing to conflate subjective judgments with objective terms. What makes a 'great artist' is entirely up to the individual consuming that art. In many ways, Justin Bieber is a more important artist to modern culture than Richard James. He will also likely have a longer influence and wider impact than anything Aphex Twin does. The fact that you and I don't like Bieber and do like James doesn't change that. That's one way to measure success or importance or 'greatness'. Or...

Bieber is a much better singer.
Bieber is a much better dancer.
Bieber makes more money and sells more albums.
More people know who Bieber is.
More people think that Bieber is more important to modern music than Aphex Twin.

The point is that I can make a case on paper for Aphex Twin being a relatively unknown fringe tecnho artist and Bieber becoming one of the hugest musical stars in the history of the world. Now, you and I don't think that's true, but every last shred of hard evidence backs it up. Try convincing a Bieber fan than he's not important and Aphex Twin is. Those people are entitled to their opinion, too.

Just because you like something doesn't make it good. It just means you like it.
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Old 17-06-2017, 06:49 PM   #11
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

I don't think it's fair to put artists that put more effort on their art in the same box with artists that don't. I'm not implying that Justin Bieber is not putting much effort, but Richard D. James surely is one of the most technical artists there are.

I believe technically accomplished art should be rightfully viewed above less technically accomplished art.

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Old 17-06-2017, 06:57 PM   #12
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

And you're entitled to your opinion. Just don't expect anyone else to share it.
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Old 17-06-2017, 07:08 PM   #13
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

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I don't think it's fair to put artists that put more effort on their art in the same box with artists that don't. I'm not implying that Justin Bieber is not putting much effort, but Richard D. James surely is one of the most technical artists there are.

I believe technically accomplished art should be rightfully viewed above less technically accomplished art.
Uh...so you can say objectively that Aphex Twin tries harder than Justin Bieber? That he puts in more effort? How do we even measure that?

So basically this is just another shit on pop music thread? I was hoping not, but that is clearly the case.

And also, dude, you totally write music in genres. Having skimmed through about a half dozen of your tracks I hear tons of references and they could all easily be seated inside a genre. Everyone does. No one creates in a vaccum. Everything is referential.

genre is really just a labeling system anyway, whether you are obessed with genres within genres or think their compelte crap they are simply a labeling system--no need to get bent out of shape about them regardless of which extreme end of the spectrum a person might be on.

It kind of feels at this point that you are looking for validation of your beliefs, which is fine. But lets not make more out of glitch beats and bleep blop sounds than we should....just as we shouldn't make more of Bieber-esque pop music than we should. Enjoy what you enjoy, don't worry about everyone else.

I'd even argue that while Aphex Twin and Bieber both make music its almost apples and oranges and judging one better than the other isn't possible because they are in totally different universes.

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Old 17-06-2017, 07:13 PM   #14
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

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And you're entitled to your opinion. Just don't expect anyone else to share it.
But it should be shared, IF it's reasonable.

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Old 17-06-2017, 07:14 PM   #15
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

Also, art theory has surely progressed beyond subjectivity. There's more to art than just subjectivity.

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Old 17-06-2017, 08:28 PM   #16
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

There comes a point when you have to realize that all of your ideas are stolen from others, whether it was intentional or not. If you don't start with an already established genre, you're just probably merging really horrible ideas together without realizing it.

If you're not making money, do whatever you want. It's called a hobby.

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Old 17-06-2017, 09:01 PM   #17
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

I do actually dig one of Bieber 's songs. The one with the video where the guy and the girl do a contemporary dance out of the bed. It's scary hearing the case for Bieber vs RDJ.

As far as my own music, yes I make things I like, but I definitely want other people to enjoy it too! One of the best ways to do that is follow some of the pre-existing rules of music. If you go too far towards mainstream, you will hate yourself, if you go too far out there, everyone will hate you. For me it's finding my happy medium.

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Old 17-06-2017, 09:14 PM   #18
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

No vocals = you instantly lose like 80%-90% of the possible audience.

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Old 17-06-2017, 10:14 PM   #19
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

This can be a tedious argument to get involved in,but I will echo that there isn't much use in making subjective statements about who's "better". Makes about as much sense as those endless SEGA vs Nintendo arguments we used to have at the lunch table in first grade.

I also think it's kind of useless to make some declarative statement "I am making this for me!" or "I am making this for other people!" or whatever. All this is going to do is limit your creative choices. In the moment, you may not choose what is actually the best route because that's not what "you" want, or not what "the people" want.

Clear your mind and listen to your heart. It's easier than all this.

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Old 17-06-2017, 10:21 PM   #20
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Re: Philosophy: Should you write music that you like or what you think others would l

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Originally Posted by Vault O))) View Post
There comes a point when you have to realize that all of your ideas are stolen from others, whether it was intentional or not. If you don't start with an already established genre, you're just probably merging really horrible ideas together without realizing it.
Not everyone copies forever. Some people do create new stuff eventually. Establish new genres even.

But probably anyone goes about learning by trying to mimicking those that already master the art.

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