Why Objectivity Is Hard But Necessary For Songwriters To Embrace

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat. There’s no way for an artist to completely separate their experiences, opinions, and creative tendencies from the work they make. But in music, it’s important that we try. At the very least, we learn to recognize how our identities shape the work we create.

A never-ending idea we have to think about as songwriters is the role our music takes on once we share it with people. If you make music just for fun and never share it with a single person, it’s completely yours. This means there’s no pressure to relate to other people through it. But the second you sell it or even make it available online to listen to for free, it becomes something completely different. How can musicians maintain their authentic perspectives while creating music that resonates with other people?

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There isn’t an easy answer to this, honestly. It’s a delicate balance that many artists spend years trying to find. However, the inevitable place we all have to start figuring it out is by looking inward at our identities as musicians and the goals we have for our music. If you’re hellbent on becoming a conventionally successful songwriter, then objectivity should be a critical part of your process for creating music. But even if your goals for making music are purely based on creative expression and fulfillment, objectivity is still important if you plan on sharing your music. 

No matter what kind of musician you fancy yourself or your goals as a songwriter, the process of creating is probably deeply personal for you on some level. This is why when negative reviews come our way, or, potentially worse, our music gets ignored, it can be so painful. Since it’s impossible on some level for us not to put ourselves into the music we create, it hurts when it’s not accepted the way we wish it would be. But this is exactly why objectivity is so important. It’s about realizing that what we create will eventually be listened to, and asking honestly and frankly what’s in it for our audience. When you write something, would you listen to it?

The worlds we build in and around our music have the power to make deep and lasting connections with audiences, or just the opposite. In the same way that people outside of your close friend group aren’t privy to inside jokes and old stories, listeners can be alienated when what we create doesn’t leave room for them to be invited into the experiences we’re delivering through music. But creating with sole intention of pleasing anyone and everyone will probably result in music that sounds hollow and disconnected from meaningful human experiences. Like I said, it takes a difficult balancing act to create authentically while keeping objectivity in mind. 

Objectivity is important not just for shaping our music, but also for helping us to decide what songs are worth sharing in the first place. When I started making music, a creative friend advised me not to let anything “become my baby.” He was essentially warning me against seeing too much of myself in my songs in ways that would result in me sharing sub-par work. Every time we create something, we should be asking whether what we’re making actually has promise or not. 

There’s no avoiding feeling connected to what we create, but that doesn’t mean that all the music we make is worth sharing with the world. Embracing objectivity can help us determine what songs have true potential and which ones don’t. If you’re already trying to do this with your songwriting, you know how hard it can be. Songs you are crazy about can fall completely flat. Yet, others you didn’t feel particularly connected to can go on to mean something to listeners. In other words, you’re not always going to get it right when it comes to objectivity, and that’s okay. Remembering to make it a central part of the way we create music is the important thing. It’s about knowing the importance of what audiences think, feel, and want to hear while making music from an authentic place that is unique to you and your experiences. It’s not easy, but that’s songwriting for you. 

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

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  • hvrbivorr - September 22, 2020 reply

    imo: objectivity is communistic/socialist mindset. im not talking politics either (e.g. church commune, social structure, etc) innovation is anti-objectivity. considering fame, money, or others when writing what you feel is true, is the opposite of freedom. its being a slave to what other people think and feel. kinda like farting; you dont want others to hear it, so you hold it in and suffer. tho i agree farting is disgusting, but when making music? there is no such thing as disgusting! some of my favorite epic artists on spotify have less than 100 listeners. fame is overrated. famous musicians are just feeding on the excitement of attention. and the way modern society is structured, people stack up and listen to the same artist just to be ‘part of the group’ and have something in common. a circle-jerk hive-mindset. its not necessarily about the music itself.
    its a “Cult of Personality” – Living Colour

    i proved its not really about the music by writing an extreme polymetric track far more advanced than most, and nobody wants to hear it because its centered around ‘inconvenient’ subject matter (the life story of true underground metal btw) and is simply different. im an activist for animal liberation in my music. not gonna sing and dance like a clown and pose as ‘feel good’ while my friends die

    Leslie Camacho - September 24, 2020 reply

    You definitely have a point!

    Pat - September 25, 2020 reply

    I completely agree – you made some very good points here *thumbs up*

  • Xan - September 23, 2020 reply

    Well said Hvrbivorr! Pandering to the masses is a load of bull. The greatest bands in the world never did that. They just did what they thought was cool.

  • Blue Attitude - September 24, 2020 reply

    Just hear the music that is in you and do it the best you can to share this sound with the world. What does fame mean, money, then it will be never enough anyway…. Chris (Blue Attitude)

  • Leslie Camacho - September 24, 2020 reply

    Point well taken!

  • deiceone87kuttz - September 24, 2020 reply

    …. interesting point.i do this religiously…why my project has names like muralz and bernerz.i feel the songs I do release are masterpieces in themselves.they give a perspective of that artist over rythyms and beats I mostly have made from scratch…few and or no samples…I and numerous others bump hobbyshoppe music all day, everyday…trust I have an archive of not quites and wasted beats.but ones I released are just that,music.no the rich may not feel all our tunes but I guarantee we got hittz on every album.each album is a concoction of family members who each have their views.it makes for an interesting mixture of ideas that don’t need to be repeated and just enjoyed for the variety as to not bore a listener…makes excellent road trip music if one wishes to be entertained.who can really say what will hit or miss?we all know if u got the $ any song can b a hit…we all have heard worse that has done better.

  • Sidnei Falanga - September 24, 2020 reply

    Concordo plenamente que nós como Compositores expressamos em nossas músicas aquilo em que cremos, sentimos e importante pra nós, eu por exemplo sou Cristão e creio num Deus Altíssimo Todo Poderoso, que enviou seu Filho Jesus Cristo para salvar a humanidade e que o seu Espírito ou seja: o Espírito Santo , o Consolador foi enviado até nós para sermos convencidos do certo e do errado para fazermos a escolha certa que é crer, confessar e aceitar a Jesus Cristo como Único e Suficiente Salvador, essa é a minha verdade e estilo de vida, então é isso que falo em minhas músicas pois é o que o vivo e acredito, e não me importo se muitos zombam e não crêem, mas é a minha verdade, também sei que outros estilos musicais são muito mais fáceis pra chegar a fama e ganhar muito dinheiro, mas como todo setor tem sua fatia e público, continuarei em meu estilo e crença, mas claro como em tudo que fazemos comercialmente não só a Música temos que agradar não somente a nós mas também aos outros, pois são eles que consomem nossos produtos, ou nesse caso consomem nossas músicas!!!!!

  • Abrown - September 24, 2020 reply

    Points are good💪

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