I think the career of a musician or a producer today is very different from the scene when I started in the late seventies.
At that time live music was something new and interesting, you could pave the way for all kinds of new innovations. Just owning a polyphonic synthesizer had it’s edge.
Today with Logic you have thousand times more power than most producers in the eighties. With YouTube you could learn any kind of esoteric guitar lick; long time ago you have to listen over-and-over to a track. Or if you were one of the lucky few you could attend a concert, front stage and check out how guitar players did certain techniques.
Enter today. What I think is that the only big thing which differentiates anyone in the music world is originality. Let’s say someone wants to enter the world of dance music. If this producer takes the path of emulating DeadMau$ or something similar, or even worse, just taking the same trance patches that millions of tracks have used already, they immediately end up with limitations. Long time ago it took special skills to program external synths and make trance tracks — today it’s a trivial exercise.
Compare this with just inventing a new style, something close to the heart. Yes, it is an unpaved path but there’s a better chance to be heard in case this is indeed very interesting. Remember that there are hundreds of dance tracks released each day, do you want to sound like the most of them?
As for musicians. The amount of live events have shrunk. People stay home and play video games or watch DVDS/Blue-Ray/Netflix streaming/cable TV. This was not the case 30 years ago. In order to generate any interest to actually go out and check out a band you need to really go out there and make sure that people know of you. In addition, being on stage is more than just playing something perfectly — it has to be an event that people want to attend. Something they could blog or twitter about. So just being technically brilliant does not cut, unless you are marketing your music to a crowd of music lovers who like complex stuff — usually that’s another bunch of musicians and that’s not a big market. Then again, if you like doing that, go for it.
I might write more about this later. But shortly: be unique and you should get your fan base. If unsure, think of Radiohead.