A band that has been getting a lot of airplay recently is Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots. On every album they have put out, their sound ranges from rock to pop to rap. This makes them not only extremely talented musicians but also highly marketable ones. Of course, air time isn’t the driving force behind the band’s constant departure from conventional musical stylings. Like all musicians, it’s the love of the art that propels them ever forward.
There is a lot to learn from these Ohio natives, so here are a few lessons to take away from their success.
1. Release music, even if you’re unsigned.
Before Fueled By Ramen signed the duo to a contract, Twenty One Pilots put out two self-released albums. Many musicians only write and record enough music for a demo tape to show to record labels.
While that is an important part of getting noticed by a label, it is still important to continually write and release music in order to grow a following. Releasing self-recorded albums can actually help record labels notice you if the albums are selling well.
2. Use electronic music production to your advantage.
Even though Twenty One Pilots is currently a duo, their recorded tracks have layered instrumentals and electronic effects. The band doesn’t limit themselves to what they are only capable of performing live, instead opting to produce the best sounding songs they can.
Don’t be afraid to produce your music past the point of what you can play live by yourself. Use the tools you have at your disposal to make the best music you can.
3. Don’t feel the need to be tied to one genre.
While there is nothing wrong with finding your own niche in whatever genre you feel comfortable with, don’t feel obligated to stay within the confines of it. If you want to write a rock song and then turn around and write and electro-pop song, go right ahead. That is exactly what Twenty One Pilots does on each of their albums. They refuse to stay tied to one specific genre and their fans love them for it.
Making music doesn’t have to be about making country music or rap music or pop music. Music can and should be all encompassing.
4. Follow a theme.
Something that Twenty One Pilots does magnificently is create a theme for each album. Even though their musical stylings differ from song to song, there is almost always a theme to unify them.
With their latest album Blurryface, the unifying theme is about coping with the present while confronting crippling nostalgia. By thematically linking an album together, you can control the emotional tone of the album while exploring different aspects of music making.
Twenty One Pilots have taken over the airwaves by storm. They are a duo with a lot of heart who don’t confine themselves to any one genre of music. The big lessons any aspiring musician should take away from them are always write and release music, use electronic music production to your advantage, don’t tie yourself to one genre, and follow a theme for your albums.
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Anthony Mauro is a San Francisco State graduate who splits his time between the Bay Area and San Diego. He spends his free time thinking long hair is cool, playing video games for an online audience, and writing short stories, comic books, and novels.