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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.

How to Avoid Chasing Music Trends (ie Mumble Rap) as an Emerging Artist

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It seems like the music industry has sort of devolved into a bevy of trends instead of actual substance, like the recent debacle of mumble rap, a universal “Despacito” sound, and face tats have proven. A lot of mainstream artists follow these trends because they’re foolproof success formulas, but working within a boring template will only get you so far.

Be the black sheep instead and reap the benefits of innovation. First off, consider what exactly matters to you? There are different ways to get inspiration that aren’t following a trend stencil, like looking back to timeless musicians who are your role models. 

Study their music, and delve into what aspects of their songs made them timeless, borrowing them in your own tracks. Those timeless tracks worked for a reason, and it makes for good research in your field.

Strip your identity down to the bear bones, being honest with yourself. Make a list of five things that define you as a musician and let those lead you - not insecurity that leads you to follow the latest hypebeast trend. 

Not everyone is an Atlanta gangster or a sad boy rapper. There are millions of subcultures with avid followers. Looking to underground music communities to see whats trending is another way to gain inspiration without falling into a copycat trap.

Knowing your demographic is also essential. Does your target audience prefer contemporary genres, or a more nostalgic sound rooted in the past? What subcultures are they attracted to?

The next move is to leverage relationships with unique musicians who have their own strong identity and don’t follow the mainstream trends. In a similar vein, leverage relationships with bloggers who value these unique musicians instead of just being trend chasers. This networking will essentially create free marketing for you to get the word out about your content.

Remember: trends are just temporary “shiny objects” to distract from an artist’s lack of talent. Especially when you don’t have Migos’ producer on your side or a pile of cash to make mumbles sound catchier.

You need to create the trends instead of following them, because only big artists can get away with acts like that and still come out making money. But you can confront those trends in your music to create a little noise. Just don’t throw out any official diss tracks yet, lest you alienate some followers. 

It’s ok to create a little playful rap beef in part of your lyrics, or write lyrics about why those trends aren’t for you. This will let you tell the world what you’re really all about, and who you are, instead of someone who just jumped on a bandwagon.

Music is all beginning to sound the same, with the direction things are going in. So don’t be afraid to stand apart from the crowd and define something that has more meaning to you, rather than getting trampled under the stampede of monotony.