When it comes to making it in the music biz, it’s a little bit of luck, a bit of hard work, and a whole lot of strategy. This, I’ve found, is where a lot of us get it wrong. We think the music will carry us into the arms of adoring fans and eager labels, and when that doesn’t happen on the merit of the music alone, it’s easy to feel like we’ve failed, or throw up our hands in defeat.
If I’ve learned anything over the last decade that I’ve been doing this, it’s that there are a few habits that successful musicians have, and they’re not as complicated or complex as you might think.
Writing music is hard. Writing lots of music is much harder. But between how insatiable audiences are for new music and the fact that the more often we write the better chance we have at creating great songs, it pays to be prolific as a songwriter. Making music takes hard and often thankless work, but it takes even more sacrifice, planning, and energy to commit to writing as often as possible. Here are three helpful tips for being prolific and productive as a songwriter:
As an artist, you have a completely unique perspective to draw inspiration from whether you’ve just started making music or have been writing songs for years. But just because you have the ability to create music that comes from an authentic place doesn’t mean you always can or do. Some artists struggle to trust their own unique musical intuition and shape their music too closely around what other musicians are doing, and you may be doing this with your music without even knowing it. How do you know when you’re not creating authentically?
Landing a big sync placement can give you much needed financial support and exposure for your music as an artist, but it’s not easy. These opportunities are usually hard to come by because of the overwhelming amount of music that’s out there coupled with how many artists there are with the same goals as you. But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost when it comes to finding opportunities to get your music licensed.
When you think of marketing, does it fall into one of two categories? Either sixties advertising execs in fancy suits and tall buildings or slick ads that won’t leave you alone (seriously, how do they know I was talking about nachos?!)
Rejection and disappointment are inevitable for those who seriously pursue music, so why not put these experiences to work and get some good out of them? You can think of life like a song recording. We can try, and fail, to ignore or edit out unwanted noise and mistakes, or we can seamlessly weave them into the production and let them add character and nuance into the music. Setbacks and pain are going to meet you at many points in your musical pursuits, and a lot of what you’ll experience will be out of your control. However, the way you respond to challenges is something that’s completely in your hands.
As much as you might want them to, loads of new listeners are probably not going to spontaneously flock to your next release and listen to it, especially if you’re a developing artist. Sometimes we get so caught up in the excitement of sharing new music that we forget that connecting with audiences is far from a predictable, sure thing. Music is not an “if you build it, they will come,” endeavor because when it comes to making and sharing music, the reality is that no one owes you anything whether it’s coming to your shows or streaming your songs.
Some of the best music in the world has come from collaboration, but creating with partners doesn’t come naturally to some songwriters. Every collaboration is a relationship, whether you’re writing with a partner or performing music as a six-piece band. When these relationships are built on trust, communication, and respect, creativity is allowed to thrive. If you’re looking to get the most out of collaborating with other music-makers, consider these tips: