Have you ever let someone listen to two of your beats, one being obviously superior to the other, and the listener liked the inferior beat more? Or what if they dislike exactly that what in your opinion is one of the best things in the beat? Are they wrong? Or are you? To what extent should you listen to opinions and feedback of others; whether it’s a producer or not?
For my boss I sometimes need to create visuals. I always make two or three different versions of the visual for him to choose from. However, somehow he always manages to pick the one I like least. In music it can be the same. The beats I’m proud of the most are hardly ever the most popular ones; it’s always the more simple ones that seem to catch on the easiest.
The World of a Producer
Your beats are artistic expressions. So as a producer, you’re an artist. All artists, not necessarily in music but in general, somehow need to cope with opinions of non-artist, which can be difficult at times. A listener usually seeks for familiarity; it somehow needs to have a certain sound they feel comfortable with. They will be attracted to something that’s not too different from what they’re used to. Musical people listen to music in a different way than the average listener, which means they enjoy music in a different way too. This group of people often are not listeners, but producers, composers and other artists. Of course there are musical people among listeners too, but these are often not your target audience.
Being a Producer and Marketer
If you want your music to be popular, you should have some marketing skills next to musical skills. I’m not talking about advertising, but about knowing who your listeners are and what they want. Successful producers are always balancing between what they want and what the listeners want. Being aware of trends is very important because of this reason (also read: Artistic Freedom or Copyright Violation?). I’m not saying you should follow the crowd instead of leading them, but I’m saying that a good leader is one that knows how to connect with his followers.
So.. I Should Always Listen To Them?
Listen, yes. Follow their advice, no. Let me tell you why I’m saying it like that.
Once I invited a friend over to my place, and he wanted to make a beat together. Actually it’s me making a beat with him sitting next to me saying things like “Yes, I like this sound. No, I don’t like this melody”, but sure, ‘together’. I decided to do a little experiment, and let him make all the vital decisions. If he said he didn’t like a certain snare drum, I changed into one he liked. If he said he wanted to exchange the acoustic piano sound for a synthesizer trumpet sound, I did so. I just went along to everything he said. After an hour or so, he told me he didn’t like the beat. And that’s where I came in. I took back the control and changed a lot of things and within 15 minutes he said: “This is so dope!”.
What I’m saying is that at the moment you present two beats to a non-producer, you basically ask this person to tread your field of expertise. But the truth is; they usually don’t know what they want either. The average listener doesn’t know why they like or dislike a specific song; they just like or dislike it. My story is an example of exactly that; my friend thought he knew exactly what he liked, but when I gave him full control over it, it turned out he didn’t like his own choices at all. Did he understand what I was trying to prove? Well, I thought he did. But after he said the beat was dope, he said: “Hey maybe a synthesizer trumpet sound instead of that piano?”.
Enough about me, let’s talk about you!
What are your experiences with a non-producer commenting on your music? Let me know in the comments below!