Remaining Authentic With Your Music

July 31, 2008

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Every once in a while I get an email asking when I’ll release another volume of sample & breaks mixes.  Well, sorry to say that at this point it doesn’t look like there will ever be another installment.  This is actually due to a couple of reasons, but it mainly comes down to an issue of authenticity.

I’ve always required a certain level of authenticity from myself, which is why all mixes were made using actual vinyl records without containing any reprints, compilations, or digital versions.  This was not done out of some crazy hatred for technology or being stuck in old school ways, but out of pride.  I’ve always believed that a mix, especially one containing original samples, was a way to show off your record collection while at the same time opening others up to new sounds.  There was no fun in putting together a collection of mp3’s, it just didn’t pose a challenge.  Not that there is anything wrong with digital mixes or compilations; the fact of the matter is that times have changed and music along with it, however, one thing that should not change is authenticity. 

Making all-vinyl mixes was my way of remaining authentic, but this concept is not relegated to digital vs. physical music mediums.  Authenticity should be contained in the heart and soul of the artist and music.  A quote from producer 88 Keys immediately comes to mind when thinking about personal challenge and the need to create when he said, "I always felt doing loops was just too easy… I felt like I was kind of getting over on my audience."

The goal of a musician, vocalist, or producer should not just be to put together a hot beat or song.  When composing a artistic work, the goal should be to challenge both yourself and the audience.  Otherwise, what could have been a great creation and opportunity for change simply becomes another disposable consumer item, which I think we all can agree has already become all too common.

The point that I’m getting at with this whole sideways story is that regardless of who sold however many albums this week or whatever publicity stunt was used to promote an upcoming release, the music being produced must remain true to the artist.  Ignore what has been conveyed in magazines, websites, and television; selling one million copies is not the same thing as making great music!  It’s simply a sign of inventive marketing or, in the case of Hip-Hop, further proof that everyone loves a scandal.

The good news is that with the advent of technology and the increasing options and access for independent artists, there is absolutely no need to compromise creativity and vision.  While it’s unlikely that your independent, digital only release would do platinum numbers, there is still a great chance to build an authentic and substantial audience of people who actually love and appreciate a sincere musical connection.  Again, the whole quality versus quantity argument rearing its ugly head.

I implore all site readers, musicians, producers, and beatmakers to approach the making of music as an art rather than a means to reach a monetary or status related goal.  Receiving a track placement and subsequent royalty check is a nice affirmation of your skills, but the act of making music and open self expression is a reward in itself.  While there is certainly a very lucrative business surrounding the sale and marketing of music, the industry would cease to exist without the creative spark and innovative musical experiments.  Focus on making great music first… if you’re able to make a connection, the crowd along with its energy and monetary wealth will eventually follow.

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