Arguing Against the Experimental Tag at Bandcamp

I make music out of my closet.  I honestly enjoy hearing what others make out of their bedrooms, closets, and home studios.  In the process of perusing Bandcamp, I also find a common red flag: “Experimental.”

The biggest reason I see for people using the Experimental tag at Bandcamp is when they feel uncertain about their music.  Every time, I want to beg them: do not feel uncertain.   You made art.  You are already ahead of everyone who only dreams of making the art.  By virtue of your recordings being published, you’re ahead of the game.  You conceived, recorded, and published the art.

Do Not Undersell Yourself

The uncertainty seems to come from two places.

The less common place is that the artist is seemingly looking for their sound.  Well, we all are.  Constantly.  Welcome aboard, artist.  In the process of looking for our sound, we found the pieces we have recorded.  Then we will look again, record again, shelve or discard pieces that elude us, look some more and keep the cycle going.  We will try a different turn of phrase, a different guitar lick, a different softsynth, a different mood, and any other difference that strikes our fancy.  That’s the creative process.  You now, rightfully, wield it in full.

We may have more experience putting the sounds we found into music, but we’re looking too.  You’re not less than anyone else on Bandcamp – you’re now an equal in this regard.

The second and more common reason I see is due to the quality of recording.  Again – you made the recording.  You are now ahead of the game.  You will learn from what you did right and learn what you want to avoid next time.  You will learn how to avoid it next time.

To this end, I would say to find another tag.  it’s that simple.  Lo-Fi.  Bedroom.  Enter a new one, like “I made this in my closet.”  Start a Subreddit for your new tag.  Whatever it is, turn that characteristic of your music into a badge of pride.

Ultimately, you should be proud.  You should feel like a part of something bigger.   You are a part of something bigger.  So is your contribution.  Everyone had to learn.  Everyone had to be uncertain.  Everyone had to start by simply making the best art they could.  This is the rite of passage.

You passed.

You did it.  Plus: by owning your art as it is, lo-fi, bedroom, DIY, whatever, you will actually accept the wonderful thing you have done.  You will also find your audience.   There is no shame.  There is art.  Welcome aboard, artist.

Times you should use the Experimental tag

Then again, if your recording matches these criteria then go ahead and throw that tag on your recordings:

  • You recorded a piece to answer the question: What if Diamanda Galás went one step further?
  • Your piece was inspired by Ravel’s Bolero and composed using an army of circuit-bent Furby toys.
  • Your music is made entirely without the trappings of traditional musical noises or structure.

In short, please use Experimental when it fits the classically approved definition of defying classically approved conventions.  LOL Hypocrisy, but just go with it.

You Made Art

What I want you to take away from this is quite simply: You did it.  This is entirely a badge of pride.   Anything you didn’t like is only a lesson for the next art you will make.  But, you made the art.  There is no uncertainty warranted in that.  Yes, you experimented.  That is the process.  Yes, you feel vulnerable. Much of the best art leaves the artist feeling completely nude and helpless to the world.  Yes, you want acceptance.  Why else would we ask for an audience?  But, yes, you committed your energy to conceiving and creating your art.  In all of these ways, you are now an equal to thousands of artists.

You created something to feel proud of.  I now urge you to drop the “experimental” tag.  You did better than that.

Andrew

Andrew is a web developer by day.He has played drums nearly all his life, creates music whenever possible, and plays too many video games.
He has worked as a level designer for a small online video game, as the grim reaper in a haunted house, and traded web design for concert tickets and tattoos.He can be sometimes found performing improvised comedy or stage magic in the south side of Austin, Texas.

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