Anyone who has read my blogs probably knows that I am a big Tangerine Dream fan or at least of late. I am also a fan of Pink Floyd but after listening to a substantial sampling of their music and also time spam, I can see a distinctive pattern in both, the desire to fit in with the crowd. It's always an adventure in a record store to find Tangerine Dream that is often thrown in with New Age for lack of something better to call it although Tangerine Dream certainly had a New Age phase. but I would not call "Zeit", for sake of example, New Age.
Most genres define music and often have roots that are far more interesting that the latter forms of music that have become cliched and restrictive for the artist. Led Zeppelin for example started as a blues band with some other stuff thrown in. They were rather unique in their time but this type of music sometimes just called hard rock became metal. Zeppelin was creative often taking old blues riffs and transforming them. Metal bands seem content to just turn up high gain amps to 11 so that any signs of bad guitar playing get drowned out in a sea of distortion and then call it metal. Screaming as well is an obligatory element. That's so not so great vocal talents can sound like their hip.
The same with dance music. I am far from being a Madonna fan but if you listen to some of her early music you can find some interesting bass lines. Now I sometimes wonder if all the dance music is coming from a few drum marching settings.
So now beyond jazz and classical I try to listen to innovation. For Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd this was their early period for they tried to sound like everyone else. I listen to new artists as well because some of them have the courage to sound like, well, themselves, and not some musical cliche.
I know my music will probably never be popular and its only a hobby (sort of) but it's me. Do I take inspiration from others? Sure. I like certain sounds and try to copy the technique but never really exactly the sound because I want the sound to be mine. I don't' try to fit into any genre although I use the term "experimental" just so it fits into some category that is itself hard to define.
So sure, I will never make the big bucks playing cover music but my music is real, it come from my own creativity take it or leave it.