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Do You Focus On One Genre? I Find It Hard

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I know some people who are all about one particular genre, but it seems like the stuff that I write is all over the place. One day I'll be so excited about making rock music, the next it will be gentle acoustic folk stuff , the next it will be dance or some other random thing.

I'm trying to put together a bit of an album and really struggling trying to decide on what to include and what not to include.

There's songs that I like but I kind of worry that they wont fit with the general theme of the album, and at that point I don't really know what genre/theme I'm even going for!

Has anyone else had similar troubles? What have you done to focus and over come them?

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Hopefully, some of the pros will chime in here & get you a mix of perspectives.

Sorry, but it's just me. lol

To the question at hand, I would have to say that I write in phases. I started out writing love songs for my friend's sister. Then, once I realized that I could (lyricly speaking) write and entire album in two months (the longest summer break of my life up to that point), I decided I wanted to try and broaden my spectrum (pardon me ladies). Seeing as I was on a "21st Century Breakdown" craze, it only made sense to make a pop/punk opera (it failed by the way). Then I started getting into acoustic songs, and one cool winter night, the dog was barking at something and I went out to take a look (damn foxes), and as I was heading back into the house, I happened to glance up and notice the beauty of the little dots on the Earth's ceiling. I ran inside and wrote a song called "Starry Nights". So now I'm on an Indie acoustic kick right now.

Does the idea of different sounds on an album pose a problem... So long as you have them aimed at a specific genre, it shouldn't be an issue, but putting a metal song as track two with a country at number one and pop on the other end in third, you may get some people who complain.

At the same time, you don't want everything to sound too similar, or else people will likely get board, so switching it up a bit isn't a bad idea.

I guess it really comes down to how you release it, if you start your own web site all by your lonesome and let people download (free or at a cost is up to you) your tunes from there, you'll be fine (so long as you advertise properly). If you're on a label, then your producer and someone from the label will likely be there to say what to use and what to hold.

I'm anything but a pro, I like Tom write as a hobby, so my input is merely a shot in the dark (pardon the cliche).

In the end, I too hope that someone who knows what he/ she is talking about comes along and gives you some help, and I wish you well in creating your album.

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Personally, I admire writers who are eclectic… especially through the course of an album. To me, the albums that are the most interesting listening experiences are the ones that vary the feel, tempo, rhythm…otherwise the songs all start to run together and sound the same.

Although, what I don’t particularly care for are artists who write songs purely as genre exercises, like, “This is my rock song, this is my dance song, this is my country song”, without bringing anything unique of their own to it. The ones who do it right, IMO, incorporate and mix together all those influences and put their own spin on it, so it still sounds unmistakably like them.

But I think being concerned about what genre you are is best left to other people, really. As a writer, I think it hinders creativity to think too much about what box or category you fall into. Just pick your 10-12 best songs, period, and include those. Then, after the album is done, you can put on your marketing hat and start thinking about genres, target audiences, demographics, etc. But as a writer, that really shouldn’t be a concern.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good question. Gradual has a relevant point but I don't think it applies in this post since you're asking

what to include and what not to include
. You don't seem to have a problem being creative and writing across the genre's.

Let's look at this from the listeners perspective. When I was a lot younger, I only listened to 45's. I listened to the top 20 singles. I couldn't waste what money I had on an album which at that time, I thought contained irrelevant rubbish as the album songs we're nowhere near Top 20 quality (oh little did I know haha).

There were of course those bands that only ever made albums (I'm talking about a long time ago). They had a fan based who idolised them and they fit into a niche market - mostly heavy rock I'd say or psychedelic perhaps. Anyway, suffice to say I never heard any of that rubbish either (remember I'm a kid talking here).

But my older siblings who could afford albums, I began to hear the artists range. My own choice of music as a teenager meant I had an abundance of singles and it wasn't until later and older that I did a U turn and dived into albums. That was yesteryear.

Moving on to today. I've just watched "I Need That Record: The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store" from 2008 and this brought back a lot of memories though the documentary is based purely on America. Such stores were full of Albums (vinyl) and everything was split into genre's etc (dinosaurs like me like it this way). Today we have less albums and more singles because of the internet and artists trying to always crossover (and often failing badly). Yes, albums are out there (CD's) but what a load of rubbish (in general) and that's me talking now as an adult. Funny how that hasn't changed for me and yet it has. You see the old albums when I began to buy them sent me on a frenzy to catch up with all the amazing music I'd missed buying singles, that were on the albums. Now I feel it really is a waste of money to buy an album as there's only a few tracks worthy on them with multiple versions of the same song, so return to buying only singles.

But I want to buy albums! Buying singles I may as well just wait for the next "Now That's What I Call Music ...... 3704".

Napster (never used it) paved the way along with MP3.com for being able to dload your favourite songs so you could do your own mixtape. Ipod's & ITunes just made it legal.

This may all seem nonsensical and off topic but the point I'm hoping and trying to make is who is going to like your music? Kids, 20 somethings, die hard punks, Mums with a soft touch for ballads, Dad's wanting their old rock tunes? Will it be on CD or as a dload? Have you got sufficient material to split and so cater for more than one group? What do kids want? What do Mum's want? And I'm meaning by this, a single or an album, a dload or a cd?

So the answer to your question is identify your market (including age). If you've got different styles across different genre's, without a lot of expensive help and direction from people who know what they are doing, don't mix apples with oranges so much. Think of an artist that appeals to every group? I can't. I maybe able to think of a song that appeals to most groups but buying that artists album, most groups would never play the album again.

Are you getting what I am saying?

Let's take a universal icon such as Stevie Wonder or Whitney Houston or Robbie Williams. Whose album would you buy today and why? I wouldn't buy Stevie Wonders because I love his old stuff. Whitney's, well she's trying to be mass appealing and current by mixing ballads with disco and rap and hip hop and she's lost her soul to me, so I don't buy hers anymore. Robbie Williams will be the one for me and I don't really like his music - so go figure that equation out.

I will say in complete contradiction though, be careful how you start out. What I mean by this, I'll use the following two examples.

I heard Curtis Stigers perform on the TV (a long time ago), liked the song so bought the album (I was an adult at the time so in the album buying part of life) and liked it. I bought the next album and enjoyed that too. I recently bought 2 new albums without really looking at them. He's gone back to his roots - jazz. The 2 albums are basically jazz standard covers. A disappointment.

Long time ago, there was a song called "I Don't Want A Lover" by a Scottish band called Texas. I bought Southside and it was so far removed from my music tastes, for some unearthly reason I loved it as I did Ricks Road, Mothers heaven etc. They stayed true to a sound and style I found unique. They had a solid fanbase, not really large but obviously enough to keep them signed up. Then someone stepped in and commercialised them with White On Blonde. I've never bought anything by them since.

So I gather you are hoping to be what your songs are and by that I mean you want to be the writer/composer/singer. So for me you need to pick say a couple of styles to give you some variety. You need to choose and decide which market you want to sing for. You need to choose and decide how people will listen to your music (cd or dload). In whatever order you decide these choices (and more), you should get your answer as to what to include.

I'm lucky, I just want to write so I don't have to worry about this.

Hope this has been of some help (to someone) :)

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  • 5 weeks later...

I would REALLY encourage you to focus on one genre, or style.

If you're trying to develop a fan base, you are MUCH better off focusing on a niche rather than trying to write music for everybody.

There's a reason that the pros almost never cross genres - they develop a following that's interested in a certain type of music, and they give their fans what they want to hear. If you aren't consistent in your style and message (your musical brand), people will get confused and lose interest.

Imagine how frustrated you'd be if your favorite country musician started writing metal songs, or vice versa! Or if you bought a metal album, and one of the songs was acoustic Christian praise and worship.

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  • 1 month later...

This is something I used to care about. When I was in high school, I only wrote ska music, for some reason. I enjoyed all sorts of musics, but the only things I wrote were ska tunes (probably because I was in a ska band). Nowadays, I don't think my songs have a genre. They are pure representations of my mind. If there's a genre the song fits into, great. It's really not something to be focused on unless you are trying to make commercial music, like JohnMichaels said. As far as album themes go, it's conceivable, at least to me, to have a cohesive album, thematically, but have each song be a different genre. For instance, the last year or so, every song I write I plan on putting into an album called "One-Mind Band." Clearly, the theme of this album is that all the music came from one mind. Each song is quite different, yet, there's some thread running through each song that is typically "me" ....if that makes sense.

Basically, don't worry about genre, unless you are trying to take the money of the masses, and worry about each song as an individual being. Each song is its own entity with its own meaning. The way the song is portrayed should depend on the intent of the creator. Different genres lend themselves, generally, to different meanings.

But really, what it should come down to is do what YOU want! It's YOUR music

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think it is about you! what you are doing at the time , yea we all can say one thing or another , but bottom line , does the song make you happy, don't get me wrong . but I didn't know there was a right or wrong way to music , yea you got elements , that make a good song , structure and such , but genre , go for it , the stones, beatles , bowie , almost all go out of thier norm at some point(and on the same album) , that's what makes em. really , would you want to hear the same thing over and over , spread your wings , take the chance and follow your gut !! most of the time it will always guide you where you need to go . I am sure you have your own style and sound , but like been said above me , sounds ,feelings, sight , will bring new music to you , and why not , we all like genre's of all sorts , yea we tend to stay in our comfort zone ,but tunes from all sorts of genres at times makes our ears perk up or our foot tap, for a cd , album ,lol, most will stay in thier comfort zone , but also have a song or two that is out of the box for them , and at times it is that song that makes them !! we all want our songs to go places and do things , but if we do not emerge as the talent we are , then how do we grow to reach even more who , like us , like what we are doing and dig the sounds we are making , rock on !!

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  • 1 month later...

I listen to all kinds of music, but I create mostly in pop music with little varieties. It's kind of natural for me. If I try I can write a rock or hip hop song, but when it comes to lyrics - I'm a sensitive female, I can't make angry or very dirty lyrics when I'm not like that. For example I can't write about gangs or "homies in the hood" cause I know nothing about it.

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