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Who Do You Sound Like? (And Why It's Important)

by Bob Baker

Admit it. Most musicians hate to compare themselves to other artists. Does this describe you? If you feel you are a unique, one-of-a-kind creative being, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But if you think you shouldn't tarnish your musical identity with comparisons to other artists, I ask you to reconsider.

Why? It has everything to do with this crazy little hunk of matter called the human brain. According to the Berkeley Lab, "Humans retrieve information best when it can be linked to other related information." In other words, without a familiar reference point, people have a tough time filing away and remembering new sights, sounds, smells, etc.

Tapping Into 'The System'

In an article by Allen Barker, he writes, "Memory is a dynamic process. It arises from reminders and cues." The process that helps the brain sort out new stimulus is called "associative memory." Barker continues, "An associative memory is a memory system that takes an input 'key' and produces the 'closest' stored memory that matches that key. If the memory had stored a picture of a chair, for example, and were presented with a 'key' of half a chair, it would fill in the remaining half of the chair."

If you think this is all impractical mumbo jumbo, check out the work being done by Pandora. It's Music Genome Project is a system that analyzes music using "a set of attributes that capture not only the musical identity of a song, but also many significant qualities that are relevant to understanding the musical preferences of consumers who browse the material. Each song is analyzed along 400 distinct musical attributes to create a complete musical analysis."

Sounds deep, but in essence, the Pandora research works much like Amazon's "customers who bought X also purchased Y" recommendations.

Making the Mental Music Connection

Another site that understands the importance of this concept is The home page reads "Find new music like your favorite music! Just browse for your favorite music artists and we'll tell you the new and upcoming artists that are influenced by them!" To add your act, go to the submission page at

Convinced yet? Music fans need clues. People who enjoy your music also enjoy other artists. And many of those artists are more familiar to the masses than you are right now. So tap into the mental links that already exist in the minds of fans who support other similar-sounding artists.

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Bob Baker is the author of "Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook," "Unleash the Artist Within" and "Branding Yourself Online." He also publishes, a web site and e-zine that deliver marketing tips, self-promotion ideas and other empowering messages to music people of all kinds. Get your FREE subscription to Bob's e-zine by visiting today.

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