It’s Hard To Be Different

The most common approach I receive nowadays with what I consider demo level recordings are:

“I want to create music that is different from others, I don’t want to be a mainstream artist. I do music for fun, not money.”

I guess everyone that does music wants to be unique. I don’t think that anyone really sets out to copy another artist. When a style of course is successful, you have several artists that sound and look the same, but I still think that it’s more inspirational than these artists stealing. I don’t think an artist just sets out doing music to copy another artist, to be a total copycat, if so then you can be a tribute band, then you can even play your idol’s hits.

Most of the time when I have heard artists saying this I when they are crap. There is a difference to be good but different than to be just crap different. My guess is also to be good different you really need to be a genius. Sure, you can make strange things that just appeal to a small minority of people. I had a friend who did noise tapes. It was cassettes with mainly just noise that he recorded in various situations. The thing was though that each cassette he did sell in two hundred copies.

Many people were trying to encourage him to make bigger releases, but he was smart enough to know that there are just around two hundred people on this planet that really would buy a cassette tape with 90 minutes of pure noise. He said that he had reached the global market for that kind of niche music.

Of course, my friend was a smart guy and an experienced musician. He also had a band that was one of the most successful bands of all time in the grindcore scene, there of course he made incredible melodies that were accompanied by noise. He understood through his limits. Even the grindcore scene is not for everyone. It’s a niche market, though much bigger than the pure noise cassette market. Still just a drop in the ocean of the well-established pop market.

You are totally free to do whatever music you want. What I don’t like is that most people don’t get that to stay where your audience is. There is no need to send grindcore or a noise cassette to a radio station that plays mainstream pop music. Just a waste of time both for you as a musician and the station that has no use for your music. If you do niche things get into the niche market. Today’s internet is making it super easy to find people that listen to the same things that you do.

I guess the problem then is that you get is that you are then mainstream in that niche market. Or that you are not good enough to meet the high standard of many of these niche markets.

My guess is also that most artists make music for fun. The money is just that you can’t eat or pay bills with just fun. Nowadays the music industry has also lost most of the nutty cases that were just doing music to have a stage to be on. They are now influencers that eat extra strong hotdogs and other stupid stuff on the free arena that the internet has created. In that arena you don’t need to have any talent, just make some nutty stuff. The ones that want to make it in music usually do it for their love of music and that is their way to express themselves.

Anyway, in my professional, I just look for music that can be played in the bigger field. In the niche market, you really need to have special knowledge and networks. My field is the bigger scene for mainstream music, there I have my big network and can work with music and spread the good work the artist does.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He 

has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.