Who Do You Sound Like? Why RIYL Is Important


Photo by Gavin Whitner

If you’re an indie artist just getting your feet off the ground, it may be hard to describe your sound – especially if you’re still fine tuning it. Are you electro chamber pop? Or more rock infused hip-hop? Or is it easier to say that if a fan likes a sound by a certain established artist, they may also like your music, too? Might be.

It’s helpful to give potential fans a reference point so they can decide whether or not to give your music a shot. There’s where RIYL comes in.

What is RIYL?  Recommended If You Like.

It’s a term used often by those in the music – especially indie music – world to help generate interest in an artist or album by providing the name of one or more familiar, often more established bands, who sound similar to the artist’s music.

How do you determine what artists you should list as RIYL?

  • Listen to your fans: After your shows, do you ever get compliments like “wow, I really dig your sound. It’s like The Kinks meets The Byrds.” Or do you receive feedback online that says something similar? If so, listen – those comments may help point you in the right direction.
  • Think about your influences: Was David Bowie a big influence on your current sound? Can you hear it in your music? If so, he might be one to list.
  • Was your music constructed using a certain effect that may have been another artist’s ‘signature sound’? If so, think about who that might be.
  • Does your sound bring to mind a certain era? If so, consider that as a starting point to help you narrow down your artists.

It’s important to give potential fans, and music critics, a starting point from which to understand your music. RIYL is a great way to help people get a feel for your music, and fast.

Tell us what you think! If you were to suggest a RIYL artist to your friends, who would it be and why?

The SongCast Crew