Lately, I’ve been filling in a lot of EPK forms and social site forms in an effort to share my music with people, and in doing this I’ve noticed that everyone always asks what genre I am as if this were one of my defining characteristics as a musician. I understand that music must be separated into genres so that it is easier for listeners to find what they like. Do musicians have to be separated into genres as well?
I would be willing to guess that most musicians can successfully play in about 5 genres, yet because of the music business model as it is today, they are forced to choose only 1 genre. It is part of their identity. Taylor Swift might be able to perform genres other than country music, but for reasons unknown, people prefer for their favorite artists to remain in one genre. Oddly, when musicians decide to do songs or albums in other genres, people review this as “changing genres”, or “shifting genres” or “fusion of genres”. I’ve never heard a music reviewer write that an artist is including more than one genre in their work.
Sometimes, an artist will come out with a particular kind of music and it is so well-received that the audience (and record label) expects the same style of music for each subsequent CD. I wonder if Bob Marley ever wanted to release a gospel CD, or if Adele will ever crave the beats of dubstep or electronic. What if Pink wanted to release an album of ballads, or if Katy Perry decided that she wanted to be a Christian music singer….again. These artists are pigeon-holed to a particular genre of music.
I was in college studying music, I sang a lot of classical genre music. Opera. That’s right, opera. There’s even a page out there on MySpace.com that has recordings from my last recital at the university. Somehow I “became” a pop musician, and my genre became part of my identity rather than part of the identity of the music. Just something to think about.