Monday, September 20, 2010

Uniquely Influenced

paNASH Style client Claire Wilkinson (photographer: Robbie Quinn)

When it comes to doing interviews with the media, one of the most commonly asked questions is "Who are your musical influences?"  This question is also asked in talent competitions, various auditions, and many label meetings.

When I judge talent competitions or do mock media interviews with my clients, there is one thing I personally am looking for when I ask this question.  I want to see how unique and diverse your influences are.  Too many times I see artists naming the same obvious influences in country music such as Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Reba McEntire.  It's perfectly fine to name these type of superstars if they truly are your influences, but give me a little more to go on.  Show me who else inspires you, even if it is some unknown or unsigned artist that I may have never heard of.

Don't be afraid to show you have influences that may seem obscure or are from a totally different genre.  There is no wrong answer to this question.  But, when I ask this question and the only answer I get are the mega superstars, it makes me wonder if you are truly influenced by them or if you just want to emulate their success and only want the fame and fortune they have achieved.  The way you answer this question can sometimes lead to assumptions on your true reasons for pursuing music.

Another reason why you should list additional true influences is it will help you stand out above the competition.  If for instance 9 out of 10 applications for a talent competition such as American Idol list only George Strait and Garth Brooks as musical influences, then all those applications begin to look a like and can easily get lost in the shuffle.  By listing your obscure or "closet" influences (the ones you may be embarrassed to admit are influences), you become memorable to the judges, the audience, your fans, the label, etc.  Then, you must be able to explain why and how you are influenced by those artists.

The question of "Who are your musical influences?" is just one of many that will allow you to establish your uniqueness from the sea of other aspiring artists.  The main thing to remember in conducting media interviews or presenting yourself for potential music career opportunities is to always seek ways to show your uniqueness in as many answers to as many questions as possible.  By doing so you will not be forgotten!

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