Theres a great example of this theory in the show Seinfeld, where George Costanza realizes nothing ever works out for him with the way he operates, so he decides to do the opposite of everything he normally does. Jerry even says to George “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.“, which actually works out quite well for Costanza. The same theories can be applied to your career in the music business, or any creative field for that matter. For the sake of this article, I’ll stick to music as a basis for example.
The music world is a very familiar realm split into two different groups: fans and musicians. The fans are there to support musicians and enjoy the end product, while musicians have an obligation to provide original content for their audience. However, much of that content is rarely so original, and often ends up copying what everyone else is doing at the time. This is all too present in the heavy metal realm, and seems to be a never ending trend that we can’t seem to escape as a genre.
Using the Same Equipment
A good example of this right now is the use of a guitar amp modeling device called the Fractal Audio Axe FX II, which is an extremely popular amp simulator used by hordes of metal musicians in todays limelight. It produces life-like guitar amp tones, and does a great job of providing amazing sounding guitar effects for both live and studio applications.
The only problem that arrises from this, is that everyone keeps using it to make records. When you have the genres most popular guitar players promoting this piece of equipment, that endorsement trickles down to the many independent musicians who just mimic what they see and hear. What started out as a great way to get a good guitar sound has turned into an even better way to copy someone else’s sound.
Another example of this is the use of virtual drum machine software such as Toontrack’s EZ Drummer suite. Its a great piece of software that lets users create a realistic drum sound with nothing more than a plugin and a few presets. The same issue arises though, when you have thousands of metal albums using the exact same drum kit sound, and the exact same drum parts extracted from the program.
Go the Opposite Direction
One way to combat such overuse of the same sonic characteristics is to go in the complete opposite direction of whats popular at the time. If everyone is aiming to sound like John Petrucci by using the Axe FX to create guitar tones, use something completely different like a real amp or a different effects processor.
The same goes for drum software, if everyone is using the same drum kit on EZ Drummer, create and utilize your own samples. Play your own parts out by hand instead of letting the software play it for you. How else will your music stand out if it sounds just like everyone else? Create something original that nobody has heard before, and you’ll be more likely to draw in a bigger audience.
Sticking to Your Guns Never Fails
In the end its always important to stick to your guns, and never let trends dictate what direction your career is headed in. If you create your own unique sound today, make sure you stay true to the roots which developed that sound. Fans will appreciate you more if they recognize how original your content has been over the years as trends have come and gone.
Imagine if everyone used the same exact equipment to make music, and how stale that would sound. You would have uninspired and repetitive garbage that nobody would want to hear. It all depends on what decisions you make to shape your creative and artistic direction. If you wish to follow in someone else’s footsteps, then by all means do everything you can to copy that artist and feed off their scraps.
Though if you choose to build your career on a foundation of unique and original ideas, you will provide fans with something they have never heard before, thus giving them a reason to keep listening well into the future. There are several ways of keeping yourself original, and doing the opposite is just one out of many tactics you can try. Just remember that trends are here and gone quicker than you can imagine, and the same could be said about yourself, should you choose to follow them.