Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

January 24, 2005

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

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, etc.

In this 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 service being offered by Savage Beast. 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 Savage Beast research works much like Amazon's "customers who bought X also purchased Y" recommendations. This is very much an extension of what I discussed in my recent Long Tail post.

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!" Go to the submission page to add your act.

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.

posted by Bob Baker @ 11:22 AM   5 comments


At Jan 28, 2005 10:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for some useful insight. I think almost everyone sounds like someone, and it makes sense to identify that. Stevie Lee

At Jan 29, 2005 10:00:00 AM, Blogger Linda B. said...

I was told that I sounded like no one else? You can view my website at Maybe someone can help me identify who I sound like.

At Feb 1, 2005 8:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great concept. Its true that we do borrow from the culture that surrounds it. Although i do think that trying to sound like the bands that influence you in order to be successful is a cop-out for a lack of talent and/or creativity.

At Feb 6, 2005 8:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Jul 21, 2005 4:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of us have influences, but we have to realise it is too hard for lables, fans and radio to fit us in if they do not have some reference point.

While I do not 100% agree that my band Salem's Wych sounds a lot like early Metallica or Megadeth, I can accept the fact that we all came out about the same time and have a lot of the same influences, plus at least they are great bands. I have been called worse.

Don't get ticked off just be glad people can relate to you and you can take them on your own personal journey once they have heard you. As long as you know who you are and are doing it from the heart it is all good.

Cool article!


Post a Comment

<< Home