The world has a romantic image of how music is made that often involves scenes of musicians caught up in moments of passion and despair expressing their emotions through music. Sure, this sort of thing does happen to some of us from time to time. Yet, the truth is that great music almost always takes hard, consistent work to make. Inspiration is essential for creating music that connects with people. However, it’s up to us to be listening and ready for when it comes to us. That’s where the importance of a consistent, productive songwriting practice comes in. No matter who you are, making songwriting a part of your routine will result in you creating better music. Here are four tips for building a strong, fruitful practice:
The streaming era creates its own superstars and music genres, such as bedroom pop. This particular style focuses on pop music that is written and produced by independent musicians largely in their bedrooms. Interestingly, bedroom pop has been attracting millions of listeners around the world, largely by listeners under the age of 25. In fact, we have a name for this group of audiences under the age of 25: Generation Z, or Gen Z for short.
I want to say this right off the bat. Music can’t fix what the world is going through right now. It doesn’t have the power to cure COVID-19, bring someone’s job back, or heal the sick. But what it can do is comfort and relate to people. That’s no easy task in a world chock full of despair and anxiety everywhere you look. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your music plans have dramatically shifted over the past couple of months. Mine certainly have. I don’t know what the future holds for my music career, especially when it comes to performing live. However, I do know how crucial music is in the lives of countless people right now. That gives me a lot of hope and purpose.
It’s becoming obvious that this crisis has already transformed the world beyond recognition, and there’s no sign of things slowing down or becoming easier anytime soon. But when the dust settles and we adjust to a new normal, I believe that music will have been an integral part of helping everyday people cope through what they’ve been through.
Pitching music is a frustrating but crucial part of being a serious musician in 2020. If you want to play shows or put your music into consideration for playlists, radio play, and press coverage, some amount of DIY pitching has to happen. It’s natural to view the people you pitch to as hurdles preventing your music from finding an audience. However, that attitude will make it harder for you and your music to be taken seriously. Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else is feeling. Embracing empathy is something that will help your music career in the long run.
How listenable is your music? It’s a question some musicians don’t often bother to ask themselves, but it’s important. Most serious musicians aren’t angling to become the world’s next big superstar. Striving to make music that listeners genuinely connect with should be the goal, regardless of the style. But, the art we create and our plans/expectations we had before we made it are two very different things.
When musicians experience loss, it’s natural, and typically helpful, to delve deep into the creative process to find solace. But viewing the times we go through grief as unique chances to make meaningful music is overly simplistic and can actually end up hurting us and our music. Death, disease, heartache, job losses, and frustration have and continue to serve as the inspiration for great music. However, we’re kidding ourselves to think they can and do for every musician.
For some, the idea of getting more time at home seems like something that would be good for making music. Many songwriters who completely or partially rely on non-musical careers to pay the bills tend to think of their homes as carefree places where writing, recording, and producing can be easily prioritized. I myself have spent the last five years freelancing and making music from home. I can tell you that balancing your home life with your musical one isn’t easy. In order to get the most out of each, you’ll need a plan.
Did you hear the story of the artist whose social media account got hacked and locked her out? Just like that, she lost 10k + followers. The worst part? This was the second time it had happened to her! The truth is, it happens far more often than you think, and not just to accounts with tens of thousands of followers. While sometimes it can be fixed, oftentimes, these users end up having to start from scratch and all those followers. Those potential buyers and supporters of what you offer are just….gone.
This is just one of many reasons that it is so important to have and maintain a healthy email list. Email lists might sound like something reserved for the big corporations. But when done right, your email list is the glue that holds you and your fans together. It’s a space for your most loyal followers, it’s a way to build connections, get vulnerable, and give them exclusive access to you. And best of all, unlike with social media, you don’t run the risk of losing those fans. There’s no risk of someone locking you out of your mailing list provider (and even if they do, odds are you’ve downloaded csv files of your followers and will still have their emails), or changing the algorithm (your emails will always be delivered to their inbox).