There is a broad school of opinion that holds most of the music on the market today to be derivative, copied from famous acts of the past, not creative enough. When a new band pops up and becomes popular, there always seems to be a caveat attached by the sage music experts. “The Strokes? They’re OK, but they sound like a cross between the Stooges and Blondie”, they might say, or equally they may argue that Snow Patrol sound like Coldplay, and Coldplay sounded like Radiohead, and Radiohead sounded like U2. If we listen to everyone with something to say, then everything has already been done.
This attitude can be pretty daunting for people looking to break into the music industry, and even those about to take up the guitar. When we first learn to play we are almost always trying to play someone else’s songs. And when we first compose something of our own, it is never long until the moment when someone says “Yes, that’s quite nice. Sounds a lot like Muse…” and under these circumstances it is hard to keep the motivation going. How do you differentiate yourself when you are starting out?
The truth of the matter is that this kind of accusation has been around for some time. The Beatles, the Stones, Elvis Presley and the Sex Pistols were all accused of plagiarism themselves. From time to time, some of them admitted to it. The key is to create what you want to create – because if you’re trying to please everyone, you’d be best advised not to start.