How This Student Became A Viral Musician

Maggie Rogers’s career all started in a YouTube video when Pharrell Williams visited music students at New York University and served as a critique for aspiring music producers. Rogers’s single “Alaska” struck Pharrell as being the most “singular” and unique of all contestants’ songs. He went on to say, “I’ve never heard anything that sounds like that. That’s like a drug for me.”

The YouTube video went viral almost immediately, with as many as two million views today. Maggie Rogers’s music career became an overnight success. What separates Rogers from other singer/songwriter artists is her sound combos and her willingness to follow her own inspiration and do what hasn’t been done before.

As a musician, how can you find your individuality, your sound?

Here are three ways that Maggie Rogers did just that.

1. Travel to explore international music.

In an interview, Maggie Rogers explains how she took a break from music, and “Alaska” is actually the first song she’s written in three years. During her hiatus from music producing, Rogers traveled to France. She quickly fell in love with electronic music and the beat and rhythm it brings. Rogers also describes her lyric inspiration originated from a solo hiking trip while abroad.

Going abroad to foreign countries can not only introduce you to a wider range of beats and sounds, but it can also enrich you as a growing artist.

Maggie heard music like this while abroad.

2. Stick to what you like, even if it’s not popular.

Maggie Rogers was raised in the suburbs of Eastern Shore, Maryland. She most identifies herself with folk music, and she has been a banjo player throughout high school and college. Though folk music isn’t necessarily in the popular realm of music, Rogers refuses to abandon that part of her. Both her songs “Alaska” and “Dog Years” have a hint of folk in them.

Today, a lot of artists feel pressured to create music that is meant to be popular hits. As a result, artists risk losing their own individuality. Stick to your own unique sound!

Listen to “Dog Years” below.

3. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Before her music workshop with Pharrell Williams, Maggie Rogers didn’t know if he was going to like it, hate it, not understand it, etc. But truth is, you’ll never know unless you try! Step out of your comfort zone and think outside of the box.

Right now, Maggie Rogers wants to take her time and not be rushed into signing with a record label just yet. She wants to take some more time off, and she wants to be more inspired. In her bio, she says:

“I can’t promise I won’t change or that I won’t fall in love with new people or ideas that’ll change the way I see the world, but I can promise to be me.
To be messy. To be flawed.
To be honest. To be open.
To be human.”

Roger’s new song “On + Off” was released a few days ago, and her new EP will be coming soon.

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Weng Cheong is a Psychology and International Relations double major in Syracuse University. She loves listen to music, take photographs, and travel in her spare time.

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