Am I Stealing Like an Artist?

I recently bought the book “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, and it was actually a pretty good pick-me-up. Right now, I’m ramping up my video production, making something new everyday, and posting it to YouTube. I think it’s great that I’m making things again, each video resembling the style of a different creator. I’ve been emulating the style of others, trying to find my own. And I feel like given enough time, I will develop my own style. Until then, I can do whatever I want, without the fear of messing up, because no one’s around to watch.

And to an extent, that’s exactly what Kleon preaches in his book. He views the creative adventure as an active process, drawing constantly from other creators, trying to make something of your own. He says that when you finally realize that true originality doesn’t exist, then you can freely create whatever you want.

Kleon recommends the method I just mentioned, trying to emulate the style of others until you find your own. But he also argues that in doing so, you inherently start to make your own style, because you have to adapt to that genre in your own way. By adapting a method of creation, you are creating a new way to make whatever it is you’re making.

I think that’s awesome.

But right now, I’ve been stuck on video projects. I want to make music. The only problem is that I don’t know any music theory, I don’t know what I’m playing ever, and I can’t sing very well. But I am pretty decent at the guitar. And making beats. I think I’ll start there.

The only other problem is that I don’t know exactly what I want to make. I listen to a bunch of different artists, like Kleon suggests, but I don’t know which style I want to stick with. I’ve tried to emulate all of them, and I’ve been successful in a few areas, but only with specific parts of their music. Here’s what I mean.

I can play guitar like Hozier, but I can’t sing like him. I can make beats like Blackbear, but I don’t have his lyrical flow when trying to write a song. I can sing like EDEN, but I can’t synthesize music like he can.

I have bits and pieces of three completely different artists, and I don’t exactly know how to put them together. Now that I’ve actually labeled my musical influences and how I can emulate certain parts of them, I feel like I have a pretty decent starting point. The only trick at that point is to figure out how to blend their styles into one, and then call it my own.

I have an indie rock influence, EDM influence, and a trap influence. How the fuck am I supposed to blend that? I guess I’ll figure that out the more I try to make music. I just need to spend more time learning about each artist, as Kleon suggests. He says that I need to track the influences of each artist, listen to their music, and find their influences, and repeat, in a sort of musical family tree. Do that for each artist, and then I can gain a better understanding of how each of the three artists I mentioned makes their music.

When I do start actually putting my music out there, I can thank those three for their contributions to my music. Kleon says that every lesson that you need to learn from a musician, or any other content creator, is in their actual art. If you want to learn how to write a song, look at their lyrics. If you want to learn how to write their music, look to the instruments used, and how they’re played.

Honestly I’ve never taken the time to list my influences. Now that I have, I actually have a lot more confidence going deeper into music creation. The plan is to start putting out music before I turn 19. Any time before then. A single first, then an EP.

That’s the plan. Wish me luck, and follow this blog if you want to join the ride! I’m glad to have you. I hope to see you in the next one.


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