I’ve learned that a lot of electronica music creators (genres like downtempo, drum & bass, techno, etc) are “plastic people” compared to acoustic music creators (such as acoustic guitar signers). When you look at engagement on places like SoundCloud, it becomes obvious.
Take two songs; one is a chillout song, the other is an acoustic guitar vocal song. Both will have the same “professional” production value and creativity. They mostly submit their songs to general genre groups and they both interact and leave comments for tracks with the same style. Both songs have 1,000 plays, 3 months old. Both artists have 1,500 followers.
But this is where the similarities end. The chillout song will have 15 comments. The acoustic song will have 150 comments. The chillout song is getting comments at a ratio of 1 comment for every 100 plays. The acoustic song is getting 1 comment for every 10 plays.
But it gets even worst than that. It’s about quality versus quantity. The chillout song is getting stupid BS comments that are so ambiguous they could be applied to any song, “great track!” “super sick” “this beat is fresh”. Looking at the people who leave these comments, you’ll find they leave the same looking comments. (Here’s the sad truth; they’re likely “listening” to songs for 5 seconds with their speakers muted while they listen to the TV in the background.)
Then you look at the comments that are left on the acoustic song. They’re all real, genuine comments. “I like the vocals :)”, “The guitar play paints a picture”, “So much feeling in your voice, I love the emotion your song brings. It..” and so forth (some of the comments are awesome mini paragraphs).
The comments are honest and REAL! These people actually listened to the song. The fictional creator of our acoustic guitar song also is leaving comments on other’s work. Actual, real comments, sometimes commenting multiple times on one song, mentioning things like “nice drop” followed up by “the solo guitar here is real nice” .
So not only is the engagement so much higher for acoustic music creators, but the quality of the engagement is the much more impressive thing! So why is engagement so crappy for electronica?
Acoustic Music Takes Practice And Skill
For acoustic music creators, it takes skill to do what they do. You can’t just pick up a guitar and instantly play decent music, let alone good music. The same goes for singing. Or at least singing requires natural talents that can’t just be learned through practice. (Haha, trust me, as a recording artist, I wish I could sing better through practice.) So, many of the people who’re doing acoustic music and / or singing know that it’s hard work or requires natural talent, so they respect others that are able to do the same thing.
Giving Honest Comments On Electronica
In actuality, the way acoustic music creators act on SoundCloud is the way we expect people to act. It’s the electronica creators that are different. I try to “give back” to the community by interacting and always leaving real, honest comments.
I only focus on original songs (sometimes mix sets) and I try to focus on songs that don’t have any comments (maybe it’s a new song) or songs that don’t have a lot of comments already. Given the fact that I’m the only one not leaving fake crap comments, “sweet sound”, you’d think my comments would warrant a LOT of interaction back.
…Nope. Say I comment for 10 songs posted to a chillout group. Freaking only 7 will have any interaction back. Of the interaction, most of it is just them responding to what I’ve said about THEIR crap (boosting their ego). “ohhh, thank you, I love your honest feedback!” and “wow, I can tell you really listened to my song, I’ll work on the vocals for my next song like you suggested!”. Cool, I honestly care about other people’s music. Yet they don’t do NOTHIN’ back. Out of the 10 people, 0 will return the favor by commenting on ANY of my songs. They’re not even visiting my SoundCloud page, they’re just hitting “reply” via the notification (and it’s obvious to anyone I’m a music creator, no one’s named “Mixer Jaëxx from birth, haha). The ratio for electronica creators seem to be about for every 30 people I comment for, about 1 will comment back.
I’ve left, currently, over 800 comments. My own music (currently at 11 songs, with Nice and Soft and Smooth’s remix just released) has around 70 comments total from people. 800 comments left, 70 comments received. …Eight hundred to SEVENTY.
My Theory: Electronica Breeds Plastic People Creators
Although there are people like me, who create music from scratch that takes a lot of time, practice and skill, most electronica “creators” are either cheating by using generic-sounding music loops / sampling (stealing) music from other songs or they’re spending so little time and skill that they’re “producing” songs that probably had less effort and time put into them than the post you’re reading right now.
Because electronica music is so easy to “get into”, the “music creators” of electronica don’t have respect for the music and certainly not for other people. Why, for instance, bother listening to another person’s song when it only took a few hours to create your own “dope new track”? You’ve got to spend your time letting people know about YOUR sick new “tune”!
Contrast that to non-electronica music creators. There’s no “ooo, sick loop pack!” or “wicked VST sound!” for them to fake their way into creating music. It takes hard work and determination. So acoustic music creators instantly recognize skill and they typically reward it by showing their respect (and the fans do also).
Electronica Even Has Big Names Utilizing Cheap Tricks
Very few not-yet-wellknown electronica creators actually put hard work into their craft. It shouldn’t be surprising, even electronica well-knowns like Blockhead just steal (sorry, “license music samples paid by their label”) from songs like Billy Joel and old hip-hop music from the 90’s.
Acoustic well-knowns stand next to their guitars or pianos they use to create music in photos, while certain electronic well-knowns stand next to crates of vinyl records they use to “create music”. If well-known people in the electronica scene are able to push an easy button in creating “tracks”, why should we really be surprised so many new electronica creators take shortcuts in everything they do? (“The right path is usually the hardest…“)
There Are Diamonds In The “Trough”
If you’re new and creating electronic, this doesn’t mean you’re lumped into this category. But stats don’t lie. Not everyone reading this can be “one of the good guys”. Look at your patterns of interaction. Clearing acting like “everyone else” in the electronica scene doesn’t cut it, since the majority of the people in the electronica scene are acting self-serving.
It’s a real simple metric to gage if you’re not like them; be more honest and genuine than those around you in electronica. Real freakin’ simple. Don’t give me BS that “But I leave happy faces for people, I bring people LOVE…” Stop. Be honest, be real. Everyone reading this knows most electronica on SoundCloud is not “dope”, “awesome”, “sweet” or heck, even “nice”.
Stop leaving BS comments. Maybe so many new electronica creators are using the “easy” music loop button or releasing randomly-played keyboard melodies is because all of you keep lying to them that their music is “dope”, “awesome” or “sweet”. Be real, you know for a fact you ain’t listening to their crap in your personal music collection; stop BSing (some of you even listen to tracks with your speakers muted). Constructively criticizing (kindly) someone’s work is far better than BS lies and smiley faces.
Wanna’ get your stuff heard more, or at least respect more? Be respectful. Otherwise you ain’t standin’ out from all the other “dope beats”, “sick synth” and “awesome bass” comments.
For Electronica Creators, Respect May Never Come Back In Style
As I’ve been saying for years, the barrier for entry into electronica is comically, extremely freakin’ low. For electronica, the number of enjoyable songs are far, far outnumbered by the number of unenjoyable tracks. This is only going to get worst, not better. Smartphone music making apps like Figure (from the company that makes my virtual music studio) will only make this worst. For every 1 person who creates something mildly-enjoyable with Figure, 19 more will create utter garbage.
We can only surmise that things are going to worsen, not improve for electronica creators. The good news is that, hopefully those of us that try to represent something real in electronica, stand out and get recognized for it.
Later. – MJ