How to stay “relevant” as a composer and musician

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Despite my years of experience in music training, I recently went back to school to study audio engineering and music production. My friends were surprised. Why would someone like me, armed with a Bachelor of Music as well as a diploma from the Royal School of Music in the UK, ever “need” to go back to school?

The answer is simple. I want to stay “relevant” to the music world – and that involves continuously understanding the latest technologies in music production and identifying music trends. There is an old Chinese proverb: “Life is a continuous process of learning”. The minute we stop learning, whatever our field, we trap ourselves in a box and limit our potential for growth. A musician who refuses to keep learning risks being obsoleted by the music world.

In the past, composers would only need to know the technicalities of their craft, from understanding music theory to writing notation on manuscript. In this day and age, however, composers must learn how to use technology to assist them in the creative process. In my honest opinion, computers can never replace humans. However, computers can help us to elevate and enhance the way our music is produced.

There are different schools of thought regarding the use of technology in music. I believe that the key to staying relevant is through continuous learning and being up-to-date on what’s going on in the world.

So what are some ways to stay “relevant” as a musician? 

  • Mingle with young people. This may sound odd, but young people are vibrant, full of energy and ideas. They have a ceaseless curiosity about the latest technologies and trending stories, and a zest for what they think is relevant. People with more life experience are undoubtedly armed with invaluable knowledge, but interacting with young minds can put us in a space where we feel ready to embrace both “current” and “future” trends.
  • Use and engage with different social media websites and platforms, with specific focus on how to build your own music sample libraries.
  • Listen to different kinds of music to get inspired. With the use of AI, Apple iTunes and Spotify are now starting to “push” new artists that cater specifically to our listening preferences.
  • Maintain a zest for creativity. It’s the one thing musicians and composers must never lose, whatever our age.

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