The stage lights dim as a single chord pierces the darkness. The crowd bustles in agonizing anticipation as a silhouette walks center stage. A rush of sound bursts out to the crowd as the flash of light fires overhead. The silhouette raises a hand. This is your moment. The crowd moves as one to the pulse of your sound.
From the earliest days of music education, we are often taught to imitate the sound of others. Many music producers find themselves doing the same thing, watching YouTube video after YouTube video of "How to sound like ILLENIUM" or "How to sound like POST MALONE". This isn't a bad way to get started. Every music producer was inspired at a certain point by someone else. But then, music producers asks themselves the same question. Is this who I am?
Here begins the experimenting stage. You try every little combination of plugins your DAW has to offer. You start learning music theory and play around with something more than the ever popular four chord pattern. You record sounds from your daily life and spend hours editing samples into Frankensteins of noise. At the end of this stage, you may find that you've made little progress. You've got a few good sounding licks, but it feels like you've regressed a bit.
At this point, many producers may give up and many more would have given up way before now. However, the answer should be clear by now: the combination of your experimentation with your influences is the key to discovering your own sound. Finding that middle ground will be challenging. For many, it's a journey that takes a lifetime of development. Personally, I think I'm always five years away from sounding like I want to. Venture too far into experimentation and you sound terrible. Be influenced too much and you're just copying your favorite artists again. But somewhere between those two points lies the hidden gem that is your sound. That is the sound that will move your crowd one day, but you'll never find it if you give up now.