“You sound JUST like…”
Local musicians, picture this:
Your last chord of your final song is ringing out in the venue and it’s sound is being overtaken by the applause from those in attendance. You grin, say goodnight into the mic, and then begin packing up your gear. After your show, someone comes up to you and tells you how much they loved your set, they thought your guitar solo was particularly face-melting and they think you’re the next big thing. You bask in the praise and your ego has been successfully stroked. They then say something to the effect of: “You sound JUST LIKE The Red Hot Chili Peppers!”
…Just kill me now, right? I mean, you do love the Chili Peppers. In fact, 80% of your t-shirts have their name on them, but this reductionist chump just thinks you’re some kind of Chili Peppers cover band! What do you do?
Well, if you’re smart, you resist the urge to choke-slam that person into your merch table whilst beating them with your empty cash box, and instead smile politely, thank them for coming out, and let him know you have CD’s for sale and that a fellow Red Hot Chili Peppers fan like themselves will definitely dig them. But it isn’t always so easy, and on one likes being told that they’re exactly like somebody else, especially us sensitive artsy types.
It’s human nature to make associations to try to understand new things. It’s like when a small child is learning words for the first time. When my nephew was two, he learned what was familiar to him first: Mama, Dada, and dog. For a while, everything he encountered that wasn’t mama or dada was a dog. Every animal he saw was a dog. Uncle Christian was ‘dog.’ Even inanimate objects, and even concepts were ‘dog.’ All the world was dog.
It can feel like your audiences are simply just two year olds pointing you out as “just another rock band” or “just another rapper” etc. And you’ll probably get sick of being compared to other artists pretty quickly. But you shouldn’t. Instead, this should excite you like crazy! You know why?
Because it means they are LISTENING.
Your average person doesn’t go out of their way to listen to new music. They spend the majority of their time streaming stuff they already know they like. Even less people go out to live music unless they know they already like the act that’s performing. When a new person approaches you and they utter such torturous words as “you remind me so much of The White Stripes,” train yourself to remember that it can take a lot to make a person come up to a band after their set to compliment them. They don’t know your artistic direction, and they’re not trying to put you in a box. They just like what they hear because they think the White Stripes are awesome, and anyone who sounds like that is awesome too!
You probably won that person over with your set, don’t sabotage it by letting your ego get in the way of someone complimenting your music!