Learn From The Best Instead Of Your “Competition”?

Daily Blog - May 7th 2021

This post is not an opinion or piece of advice. It's about a question that came to my mind and I want to share it:

What should we be listening to for inspiration? 

And a question for you: What are you listening to for inspiration? 

In Tim Ferris' book "Tools Of Titans" (HIGHLY recommended), legendary music producer Rick Rubin says:

“Going to museums and looking at great art can help you write better songs. Reading great novels; seeing a great movie; reading poetry… the only way to use the inspiration of other artists is if you submerge yourself in the greatest works of all time. If you listen to the greatest songs ever made, that would be a better way to work through finding your own voice today than listening to what’s on the radio now and thinking ‘I want to compete with this.’”
Drum Room Mics And Low End – The Fine Line Between “Huge” and “Muddy”

The more you're listening to what's current, the more you'll eventually sound like it.

And if you want to make something truly great, it might be better to sound different and unique instead. Taking inspiration from timeless classics that people still consider the best of all time, finding your own voice through that and finally creating your own "current", but timeless style.

This is part of how I interpret Rick Rubin's quote and it immediately resonated with me. It makes total sense and it's actually something that I've always done as a producer and mixer, as well.

On the other hand, there are people who do the exact opposite. Jesse Cannon is an example that comes to mind. 

I highly respect this guy. The amount of work he puts out, the variety of projects he's involved with, his ability to figure things out and do proper research before talking about anything is truly impressive.

His expertise and knowledge ranges from music production, mastering, podcasting, marketing, working for major labels, artist development, writing, researching and exploring creativity, all the way to politics and social issues.

(By the way: Jesse Cannon has been a guest on Your Band Sucks At Business, an amazing podcast by my friend and The Self-Recording Band Podcast co-host Malcom Owen-Flood)

I heard Jesse say a couple of times that he doesn't listen to "old" music at all. He only listens to what's current in any genre! He wants to know what resonates with people right now and why. He wants to know what works and is constantly looking for new, exciting releases to listen to and study.

This is a radical approach, of course, but it works for him and I can also totally see why. 

So, where do you stand on this? I guess I do a bit of both. But I think it's an interesting question and when we ask it to ourselves, maybe we realize that we should probably do more of one or the other.


PS: You'll also find these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

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