Being different will get you further than being someone that simply blends in. Our brains are very good at remembering something that stands out. Memory techniques suggested by Tony Buzan (inventor of Mind Maps) emphasize exaggeration, and creativity in all of our sensory functions in order to remember more effectively. Try it yourself when you get a chance. It is much easier to remember a red fat clown stuck in a door than a suit crossing the road. Why? Because relative to his environment, he is out of the ordinary. Being different is one of the more significant ingredients in determining the success of a product, person or an organization. Multinational billion dollar companies know this. That is why Apple stress "different" in their products and marketing strategies. Anyone remember the "think different" campaign? They work hard to differentiate themselves from Windows and in doing so provide an alternative, a good alternative, to millions of users worldwide. Nintendo knew this when they came up with the design for the Nintendo Wii. Had they come out with another Xbox 360 or PS3 copy cat, offering the same kind of experience, their success in the video game market would be hindered. Equally, the Microsoft team differentiated themselves from the Wii, by offering more mature games, while the Sony team did so by providing a built-in Blue Ray player among other features. You are probably wondering, what has all this got to do with making beats and establishing yourself as a producer or artist? Well, the way I see it, we are all products in some way. The oxford dictionary definition of "product", is given as, "an article or substance manufactured for sale". Sale in this case is not restricted to monetary gains. You may "manufacture" your beats to please yourself, (giving up your time in exchange for the creation of a hot beat you can bop your head to) or to please others, (exchanging your time for recognition and other intrinsic rewards). If we are to take the perspective of seeing ourselves as products, it can not be such a bad idea to attempt to apply what has been proven over many years to work for commercial products. The phrase, "Unique Selling Proposition", first coined by Rosser Reeves, should be ringing in your head every time you head out for a meeting or start up a new song. What have you got to offer, that is not already being offered in the industry? That is not to say that offering what is already in the market is a bad idea. There are numerous soft drink manufactures enjoying healthy profits for example. However, the dominant ones who got there first, did so with a differentiating idea which other firms later copied. Look at Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper and Virgin Cola. You can choose to imitate and if you are lucky, you may get a slice of the pie. T-Pain differentiated himself in R&B and Pop with his auto-tuned vocals. Now numerous other artists are doing it. But when people hear that auto-tune effect today, who do they think of? T-Pain of course. Some people even call it the T-Pain effect, when in fact this vocoder effect has been around for years! (Computer Love anyone?) So be a copycat if you may, but be prepared to reinforce the branding strength of the originators. So how can you be practical and apply the principle of "differentiation"? Well, in the music business, know this, "the five most dangerous words in business may be "everybody is doing it". A quote made famous by Warren Buffet (richest man in the world as of February 11th 2008). This is not to say that you should start making beats with random continually changing tempos, off beat drums, squeaking screeches, farts, and gibberish raps with no musical form what so ever just for the sake of being different. Like anything in life, take heed to moderation. You can be different in your drum sounds choice, chord progressions, arrangements and many other things. You are an artist, express yourself creatively. "Differentiation" is not a hard rule. I am not from Atlanta but have Dirty South beats lying around. Why did I make them? It was fun. It is okay to copy. The results are even better if you copy, but make it "you". To conclude, I will refer to Apple again. They jumped into the mobile phones market, but they did not simply just release another Nokia look-alike phone. They took the phone game a step further with the iPhone, and in the space of a few months gained a significant chunk of the smart phones market share. We as artists, should look to learn from others, learn from the past and current markets, and take from it, while improving upon, and innovating on what our peers have already contributed. Being different is risky, but risk big and you may win big. If you decide to play safe and conform, then you will probably just have the crumbs that remain after the trend setters have had their bite. PS. I was inspired to write this article after reading a book by Jack Trout titled "Differentiate or Die". It is a great book and I would highly recommend it. It drew my attention to ideas that I normally would ignore. Not only can you apply "differentiation" to music, I believe that as a person and an individual, being different can go as far as landing you a job, to even landing you a girlfriend! Haha. So go be different!