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What’s the difference between style and voice?

This post loosely accompanies Gab & Jam, episode 248. What’s the difference between style and voice? (video: and podcast: )

One of the reasons that we chose this topic is because it is fascinating to us as artists AND because we know that MANY folks are tempted to feel like the terms “style” and “voice” are synonymous. –In fact, many people seem to use these words interchangeably, along with the term “genre.” We want to show how they are related, but NOT the same.

Gab & Jam, Episode 65, “Musical Artists who are Genres Unto Themselves”:

For the purposes of this discussion, “style” is synonymous to “genre,” as it is the type of music you make. As an artist, you may write music in the style of music of hip hop or rock. That is the genre in which you work. That is fixed for the particular songs—and, even perhaps, the body of work—that you do. However, an artist’s “voice” is his or her expression altogether, which may change as the artist moves between genres and styles. This means that an artist’s style may vary, but such a shift becomes a part of the artist’s voice, which is defined as his or her unique creative expression. For instance, Drake and Nas are both rappers, who create music in the rap style, but their artistic voices are distinct from one another, which is one reason why fans of one artist may or may not be a fan of the other’s music. And even as casual fans, we would likely NOT confuse one rapper’s songs for the other’s.

We alluded to this idea in one of our previous episodes (Gab & Jam, Episode 65, “Musical Artists who are Genres Unto Themselves”: ). We talked about how artists like Prince’s voice is SO strong that his creative expression is NOT associated with any ONE genre and, instead, you know him by the way his voice sounds and by his song production and, sometimes, by the topics he wrote about, because these were what he used to craft his particular musical voice. So, he could float between rock, R&B, funk, ballads, and even reggae and rap, but you would still know it was Prince. In fact, we could even say that MANY of Prince’s songs actually fell BETWEEN genres—meaning that he had elements of many genres in a song, such as “When Doves Cry,” which skirts the lines between electronic, rock, R&B, and was classified as “pop.” –We don’t REALLY view “Pop” music as a genre, but that’s a topic for a different episode…. (For a similar discussion, check out: Gab & Jam, Ep 137 Can Taylor Swift EVER Be Considered "Indie"? Podcast ) For all those foregoing reasons, Prince was an artist who has a rich musical voice.

Top 20 Prince Songs of All Time:

Another example of an artist embracing their voice is The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” It is a song that shows a branching out of their musical voice, which is a far cry from their poppy start of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Their music aand the band was always considered a “rock” band, even though the variety of their expression of rock shifted to combine many different stylistic elements.

Expanding the bounds of genres was discussed in two episodes:

One of the reasons trying to understand a voice versus a style is in the effort to explain who we are as D.I.Y. Rock Stars. One of the jobs that has been MOST difficult for a lot of us—ourselves included!—is to be able to market the music, since that task falls squarely on us. We have to frame how people see us BEFORE they listen to the music, so to be able to explain it BEFORE someone classifies what we “should” be doing, we have to find the words to express our style and to craft a unique voice. We need to be prepared to answer the question, “What kind of music do you do?” without limiting our expression to only ONE thing.

Five Tips for Finding Your Creative Musical Voice:

On the other hand, in the art versus commerce world, artists look at genres as limiting, but in marketing, comparing one’s self to other, more established artists gives outsiders a frame of reference for what to prepare for as they come to listen. It helps a group find its audience easier, because the groups that influenced us ALREADY have listeners, who might dig us straight out of the box. By offering comparisons, it allows the artist to take something as impractical as music and use a practical way to make it accessible to potential listeners.

We think the key is to frame what you have in reality—which is LIKELY not quite identical—to its proper influences by mentioning a combination of artists. –In our case, the “Sugar Fit” sound can be described as “funky, music that harkens back to the funk of Sly Stone and Prince, along with a little Rick James thrown in for flavor. It’s the album that we wanted to hear for funk fans of love that music of yesterday, but we’re ready for some new songs.” By doing so, we are hoping to invite folks who like these other artists to listen, but to let them know that it will NOT be exactly the SAME as these other artists, since we ARE trying to establish our own unique musical voice. –That’s our suggestion for others as well. If you list a few different related artists that overlap to help describe your style, it will be easier to welcome people in to listen.

Believe us, we are NOT HAPPY to continually have to concern ourselves with the intricacies of the music business, but, as D.I.Y. Rock Stars, we want to build a following for ourselves, so we HAVE to figure some of this stuff out. This is OUR attempt to make sense of marketing in a world where we are in charge of doing this for our own music. And, so far, our greatest successes have happened when we figure out which tools work for us. This is one of the MAJOR ones. You HAVE to put out the call for folks to listen and this is one of the most effective ways to do it.

So, think of the idea that “style” is confining and “voice” is the authentic expression (which is liable to change).

Appropriation vs. Appreciation: Where is the line?

Did you know that along with putting together our next album, we are working on our first book? Here’s the link, if you want to pre-order:

What do YOU think?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Talk to us in the comments below.


Here’s what we’re into now:

· Bass Day 2022 with our buddy, Earl Davis:

· Tom Ray’s Art Podcast:

· “Sugar Fit” on Darkest Corners of the World Podcast S2 E3

· “Flying High” (from “Sugar Fit” album) on Toes in the Sand Playlist

· “Sugar Fit” on his Spotify “Indie: Undiscovered But Brilliant: Vol. 3”

· “Sugar Fit” on No Sugar Radio

Check out our funk album, “Sugar Fit,” by Bourgeoisie Paper Jam and

follow on Spotify at


More Ways to experience B L O O M I N G P R E J I P P I E :

· All things “Sugar Fit”:

· Gab & Jam podcast:

· Soundcloud (music):

· Join the Bourgeoisie Paper Jam Street Team!

· Funky Happy People (Who Listen to a Variety of Genres of Music) Facebook Group:

· Be the Next D.I.Y. Rock Star Facebook Group:

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Until next Monday, here’s wishing love, peace, and chicken grease!




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