If you’re good at waiting for things, music just might be the career for you. Whether it’s the thought of a young band breaking out after playing together for just a few months or the unprecedented access to a constant stream of new music delivered via playlist, patience is a profoundly impactful asset not nearly associated with music as much as it should be.
No matter who you are and what sort of music you make, learning basic music theory is something that can absolutely change the way you think about songwriting for the better. Sheer songwriting talent, solid instruments, and compositional technology can certainly help you write great music, but nothing can replace music theory knowledge as being the best tool for explaining what music literally is and how it works. Rather than explain what basic music theory is––I already did that in a two-part series you can read here––in this article, I’m making the case for why every songwriter should take the time to master music theory basics, and how it will improve your songwriting.
With a constant stream of analytic information measured in song plays, likes, views, and other stats, it can be tempting to play the comparison game in music. Because this constantly updated information is an important indicator of an artist’s success, it could lead some musicians to constantly compare their numbers to other artists. But while some helpful insights could be gleaned by seeing how well your contemporaries are faring in today’s tumultuous music climate, it’s a bad habit to be constantly sizing yourself up against other artists. Here’s why.
Most musicians know that rejection is part and parcel of working creatively in any medium, but that doesn’t make the sting any less discouraging when things don’t go your way. Whether it’s being turned down for a show or releasing music that listeners don’t seem to resonate with, some artists experience rejection so acute and devastating that it causes them to stop making music altogether. But while nothing can remove the pain a musician feels when things don’t go the way they’d hoped, all creatives can––eventually must––use rejection as a tool for success and artistic survival.
For songwriters who deeply resonate with the music of artists they love, it can be tempting to work out of the same playbook of your musical idols. But because music that embraces new ideas almost always proves to be the most impactful, imitating your musical influences is a bad idea. Here’s a few other reasons why you should develop your own musical ideas and not those of songwriters that have influenced you:
Lots of potentially phenomenal songwriters often fantasize about writing music but can’t bring themselves to write a song. For some, the problem is rooted in a lack of confidence and the paralyzing fear of being made vulnerable through music. But for other musicians, a complete lack of knowing what to write about is the culprit.
Knowing what to write songs about can be a challenge even for experienced songwriters, so this is a problem that plagues most writers eventually. Here’s five tips designed to help get you thinking about what to write about in your music:
Ah, the dreaded bad review. Even the most talented and successful songwriters often question themselves after reading a negative write-up about their music, but negative reviews are especially potent when they’re aimed at new and up-and-coming bands. No matter who you are and what kind of music you make, bad reviews and harsh opinions about what you’re doing are an inevitability, and crafting your music a specific way to please critics will only make your music worse. So, what do you do when a bad review comes along?
Whether songwriters like it or not, critics and tastemakers representing blogs and media outlets are a major part of how music is vetted, marketed and sold, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. With how important music criticism is to the success and longevity of a release, it can be tempting for writers to try and make their music sound like something they think will please critics, but they shouldn’t. Here are three reasons why: