The music that you listen to morphs your taste and moulds the way you grow; it is a huge influence on the music you write, so it only makes sense to pay some special attention to it.
As you listen deeper and deeper into the music that you have, you will start to have unique insights that you can apply to your own music.
On top of that, you will be feeding your subconscious mind all this diverse music that it will begin to draw from when you are writing, even if you aren't aware of it.
When you have a solid grounding of artists that inspire you, you are helping to create an "in the zone" state for yourself, where you are able to write music without even trying very hard; the creativity just seems to flow out of you.
There are a bunch of other factors that contribute to this sweet spot, but the foundational library of inspiring artists that you experience really help increase how effective your writing sessions are.
So should you listen to many artists less, or should you listen to a fewer artists more often? This is the whole "quality VS quantity" conundrum.
I believe you should find a balance between the two. I don't recommend finding 10 new bands every day to listen to, that will just be too diluted of an experience.
Here's how I recommend going about it:
Allow yourself to listen to an artist's album at least 3 times (unless you are certain that you hate it after the first listen). If you decide that you really like it after that time, then listen to that album much more, and get even more of their albums to go deeper with.
As far as the "Deep VS Wide" debate goes, if you had to choose between the two, I would say that it is better to go deep.
Going deep into an artist or album is what allows you to really gain some insights about music; this is where you really start learning.
Going too deep will keep you from experiencing some other music at that time, but that's really not too bad of a consequence now is it? It could even be considered beneficial if you are trying to focus on a particular type of music at the time.
Going too wide will leave you with a surface level knowledge of a lot of music, and you probably will learn more about the culture around that music, instead of the music itself. Some people like that, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who wants to write music.
I've made up a 2nd "infographic" to help drive that idea home.
Infograph displays on desktop only. To view on your mobile device, click here.
If you don't regularly discover at least 1 or 2 bands that you like every month, then I would recommend starting with at least that many.
From there, try and discover what you can while comfortably going deep (or rejecting) whatever you discover. If you're not sure where to start, check out the articles below, as well as The Real Musician top artist picks - it's an ongoing list of my favorites with previews of each artist.
Every music website has certain music that they gravitate towards, TheRealMusician included!
The following artists are some music that I really would highly recommend.
Everything here is what's on my personal music library, so you can get an idea of what a fully fleshed out library looks like, and hopefully you'll be able to take some of these artists and add them to your own.
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.