How to Keep Your Influences and Stay Original

Even if you wanted to, there’s no way to keep your influences out of the music you create.

The music you love ends up shaping what you create in a big way. But if you’re still trying to find your original voice as a music-maker, knowing what ideas are truly your own can be tricky.

There’s more music being created and released online now than at any other point in history.

With that kind of competition, you won’t be able to find an audience if your music isn’t truly original and memorable.

How do you create in a way that honors your influences without ripping them off? It’s a question musicians have been asking themselves for as long as people have been making music.

Today, I’m giving tips on how to embrace your influences in ways that let you create originally and freely.

Discovering your taste and original voice

From your current favorite songs to the music you heard in the womb before you were born, you’ve been immersed in music your entire life.

As someone who makes music, everything you’ve heard informs the music you make in some way.

Creating with your authentic voice starts with defining your taste.

If you’re a massive fan of a certain type of music, start thinking about specific characteristics in what you hear. Then, repeat the same process with music you don’t like.

Your authentic creative voice comes into the picture the second you start making your own music.

When you have a full grasp of what drives your taste in music you’ll find it much easier to create authentic work.

Your authentic creative voice comes into the picture the second you start making your own music.

How to stay original while embracing your influences

Every note of music made today is created in the shadow of all music made before it. There’s no escaping the influence of other artists.

Even so, embracing your taste in music in ways that free up your unique creativity and style is crucial if you’re serious about making and sharing music.

Here are my best tips for using your influences creatively.

Emulate processes, not specific parts of another artist’s music

There’s a universe of a difference between replicating another artist’s methods and ripping them off.

Using specific aspects of their music like lyrics, melodies, chord progressions and rhythms is always closer to the latter.

If you love a specific plugin an artist uses or the latest setup they used to record their latest album, those processes can be a great place to start.


But stealing specific parts of another artist’s work is both unoriginal and illegal.

Let your influences be your starting point, not your endgame

When you write new music, your goal should be to create something meaningful and truly unique to you.

If you’re secretly trying to write music that sounds exactly like your influences, you risk writing something inauthentic.

Make sure what you create is really yours

Some musicians are so inspired and influenced by other artists that they have a tough time knowing whether the music they make is truly theirs or not.

Check in from time to time as you write to make sure your work is truly authentic.

Some musicians are so inspired and influenced by other artists that they have a tough time knowing whether the music they make is truly theirs or not.

How to emulate classic sounds and styles in an original way

From blues rock to 80’s electronic music, the music of the past continues to shape the modern musical landscape in a big way.

If old music inspires the music you’re making now, emulating sounds in a fresh way is a must.

Make it your own

Without imitating specific parts of another artist’s music, you can still stay in the safe, boring lane.

To fix it you’ll have to make those classical styles your own.

Instead of building replicas of songs from an earlier time, focus on using classical influences to bring out your original voice and musical perspective.

Say something new

Since you can’t transport yourself to an earlier time, everything you make now is contemporary, even if you’re emulating classical music.

When you draw from music of the past to make music in the present, it’s important to make something that’s truly new.

Using classic instrumentation, production methods, and styles in a new and compelling way is mandatory if you want to resonate with audiences.

Use a reference track

Being influenced by other songs doesn’t mean that you have to emulate each aspect of them.

But you can take some of their sonic qualities as inspiration using a reference track. Some music tech tools let you fold in sonic information like frequency balance, dynamics and stereo imaging from a reference track.

Some of the best music embraces classic influences by weaving them together in new and surprising ways.

LANDR Reference Mastering can create custom masters based on tracks you upload.


Just remember you can’t legally use any reference track you don’t have the rights to.

Start with a classically inspired writing framework

Instead of creating a song that sounds like your classical influences, write in a way that incorporates them. Just make sure to keep an open mind for what’s possible.

Some of the best music embraces classic influences by weaving them together in new and surprising ways.

Doing this allows old music to inform your work, but not shape it completely.

Original formula

It takes hard work and time to find your original voice as a musician. Your influences have such a big impact on your creativity and taste.

But the more you invest in creating thoughtfully and authentically while keeping them in mind, the better shot you’ll have of making music that sounds new and engaging.

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