The unique voice of a musician or a music producer is their signature sound. Record labels will sign an artist only if they believe s/he is able to create original tracks within a certain style of music on a regular basis, which will be attractive to the wider audience.
A music career thereof, is based on unique sound. Seeking your own sound is a process; sometimes one feels it's an endless one. Research, discover, identify and write down the knowledge which you were able to synthesize. All will come in handy in due time.
As a complex process, the search for one's sound is often related to character traits, not necessarily to music. Thus, though musical talent is hugely important, on its own it is just a measurement of efficiency in learning music. The rest of the field is populated by the musician's personal traits. Let's dive in then and explore the things that require exploration.
Start by Focused Listening
Your favorite songs feature the ideas and style you are fond of, so that's a good starting point. Start developing your music from there. Art is personal and only you can find your sound as an artist; take your time.
It is at times challenging to "migrate" from listening to songs towards writing your own. However, remember that many artists have started in a similar fashion. Check out some songwriting templates ; check the availability of the best music-making apps ; learn through the experiences of others, looking into proven production tips and ideas .
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." - Hans Hofmann
Practice Sound Representations of Moods and Emotions
Composing (creating) music is often related to searching for new sounds. Listen to a selection of songs, each one representing a different mood. Try to avoid being affected by the music's mood though; otherwise the session might turn into an endless thought bubble.
Try using your voice also; singing is a nice way to create (or initiate the creative process anyway). Attend what you're feeling at the moment and try to represent it through music.
"Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times." - Sydney J. Harris
Unique Sound Does Not Necessarily Make a Signature Sound
Uniqueness should be observed as a consequence, rather than a cause. Pick a song, hear and pay attention to the ideas. Try to create something somewhat similar. Isn't your solution - technically speaking - unique by definition? Is that all that you're after?
The signature sound of a successful music producer/musician relies on more than just uniqueness. It is a mixture of original ideas, combined with the influence they picked up from other producers. Sounds are easily unique but most importantly - one's entire opus needs to be as well!
"Ramones or AC/DC are two bands that have managed to keep their signature sound and their signature formula for years and years and album after album after album, without it seeming like a dead-end street." - Dave Grohl
Always Remember That Intuition Evolves!
Your intuition, along with your sound, track ideas and a whole lot more will differ vastly a thousand songs later, when compared to where it was at the beginning. Find your sound and take the liberty to even define a genre through your tracks. Fear not - your intuition will follow!
Create and grow through your creation, along with your intuition. The experienced music maker and producer will listen to their intuition, but will not idolize it! It is only a tool after all, not a sacred chalice.
"I believe in intuitions and inspirations...I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am." - Albert Einstein
Learn From The Masters
Create a favorites folder and fill it with music you're most fond of. Think about what attracts you to a certain favorite song of yours. Is it it's overall sound? The ambience? The memories it brings maybe?
You aren't a huge fan of a certain artist by chance or coincidence. Study their musical style and signature sound. Voice your opinion on what matters most and practice that in depth. If inspiration is hard to come by at times - earn it by revisiting the most abundant sources.
"Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy." - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Train Your Ears
Training your ears with apps or simply through focused listening is at the core of learning anything music-related. So the more you do it, the more understanding you'll gain. You'll start perceiving your favorite musical style, your sub genre of choice and the songs and artists you want to be influenced by very differently.
A thousand songs (or rather a thousand exercises) later, your perception of sound will be vastly enhanced. Note that your voice and intonation also improve through this process. Even listening to ear training exercises without a certain focus can be fruitful in this regard at times, so long as there isn't anything overly distracting going on in your mind.
"All musicians practice ear training constantly, whether or not they are cognizant of it." - Steve Vai
"Music Sounds Better With You"
No, I'm not referring to the 90's hit by Stardust but rather to socializing. Ask your friends to have a listen to your songs or even simple musical ideas. Check out if what you're up to sounds fun to them.
Tips on unique sound, style or even genre can come from unexpected places. Give your friends a chance and hear what they have to say; you might discover "treasure chests" at places which seemed desolate before!
"We are each the star of our own situation comedy, and, with luck, the screwball friend in somebody else's." - Robert Breault
Instrumentally Imitate Sounds Found in Nature
Creating sound-based music, among the standard usage of different instruments, also requires an introduction to developing the skill of recreating natural ambiances with the instruments.
A musician will be influenced by his favorite artists in various ways, at times precisely by their approach and solutions with regards to mimicking the sounds of nature. Producers generally have more tools in their toolkit when it comes to reproducing natural sounds, yet the instrumental version of such solutions has its own special usage, value and merit.
"The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach." - Henry Beston
Challenge Yourself on a Regular Basis
Even when you feel as though you've reached your signature sound, consider taking into account where other artists or your favorite music producer would go from there.
Your sound will typically gravitate towards a certain style, based on your past experiences, the favorite songs, the genre and a plethora of other categories. This is perfectly fine but try to also be creative in various different styles. One thing's for sure: you won't be a worse musician at the end of such an endeavour!
"Challenge yourself; it’s the only path which leads to growth." - Morgan Freeman
At times you'll find yourself stuck. Take a break and consider what you might be missing when trying to find your sound. Seek fresh unattended (re)sources; being freshly inspired is at times the sole thing one is lacking.
The creativity of a music producer or a hip hop artist is observable through the songs they produce, along with their signature sound. What isn't obvious is that they spent tons of time contemplating things, and in that sense, it's best that time is invested into contemplation even when things run smoothly and according to plan.
"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Never give up..!
Create music. Focus. Improve. Correct. Repeat! Even if only for sake of perseverance. The music producers you love have gotten where they're at not only due to talent and/or luck.
Even when you rather wouldn't, invest significant time into writing songs or singing at the very least (straight out or through autotune even). Remember the artists you're most fond of and identify their music-unrelated personal qualities.
"Never give in. Never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense." - Winston Churchill.
Enjoy Your Own Sound
A time comes when your own songs will earn their place in people's favorites folder. You may not be at the top of the world still, but please find time to enjoy your tracks! Write a song so as to celebrate your music, your sound! Check out the options on how to get your music heard .
Where you're at when it comes to music and career generally speaking is a derivative of your taste and experience. The style of music you started with has been altered, upgraded! Create and produce further, always finding time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
"He appeared to enjoy beyond everything the sound of his own voice. I couldn't wonder at that, for it was mellow and full and gave great importance to every word he uttered." - Charles Dickens (excerpt from “Bleak House”).
...the things that lead one to the top! Stay true to your own style. Remember the influences and the top tips without which you wouldn't have been able to establish your signature sound. Remember the musicians and producers through whose examples you are constantly growing and improving.
Never forget to be thankful for what you've got and what you've achieved. Write a song to express this. The music world is a place full of enthusiastic audience and masterful musical craftsmanship, so keep on creating and bringing to it what you've got: your voice, your music, your thoughts, your experience, your thankfulness...
And most importantly: never forget to be yourself! The rest will keep on coming about as a natural product of your devotion, talent and charisma! Never forget: the best is yet to come !