‘Tis the season! Yes, I’m talking about the season of beautiful lights hung all around the city, twinkling Christmas trees, holiday music pouring out of every store, and of course, delicious baked goods. But you know what else it’s the season for? Incredibly unique and collectible merch from you to your fans (or gifts, if you prefer), in the most thoughtful and DIY way possible.
If a song is engaging and memorable enough, there’s a lot that audiences will happily put up with––subpar recordings, imperfect performances, messy production. But, in the long run, one thing listeners won’t tolerate is a forgettable song. Writing forgettable music isn’t the sort of artistic crime that draws boos from crowds at live shows or negative reviews. Instead, what happens to unestablished artists who write music that never sticks is, well, nothing. Bland music that follows trends might be just inoffensive enough to draw in a few fairweather listeners shortly after it’s made, but it won’t mean anything to audiences over the long-term. If we want to create meaningful music that endures in the lives of our listeners, we have to make songs that are worth remembering.
Like every musician, I’ve made plenty of mistakes throughout my career. So many of us start making music with big dreams and vague plans and quickly realize how hard it actually is to write and record great music and get the world to notice. But while plenty of the mistakes we make in music are inevitable, a lot of the emotional, financial, and creative trouble we get ourselves into is totally preventable. Had I known these four things when I started writing and performing music seriously, I would’ve been a lot happier and more productive:
As a serious musician, you probably think a lot about what it means to be successful in your work. For some of us, it’s making enough money to live comfortably. For others, it’s all about creating the most meaningful art we can and getting people to notice. The truth is that no matter how you define success in music, you’ll need dedicated and energized advocates of your work to be successful. These are fans, and they’re getting harder to come by.
Many developing artists are shocked to find how different recording is from performing in front of an audience. It can be tricky to approach recording with the same passion and confidence that you would display on stage, but playing like your heart is truly in it is crucial for getting solid recordings. It’s completely possible for artists to write great songs only to see them fall flat because of poor performances in the studio. Whether it’s performing too much inside your own head or not being adequately prepared, there are plenty of things that can cause the energy to slip away from your recordings. Here are four tips to help:
When it comes to releasing new music, it’s an exciting time. After all, you’ve been working on this new piece of art for months or even years, and when it’s finally time to bring it to fruition and show the world what you’re made of, it can be tempting to just throw it out there, wait for the crowds, the press, the labels to jump on it and realize your brilliance, and for fans to go nuts over it.
Your songs can benefit from emotional honesty in big ways when it comes to connecting with audiences. But when music is too emotionally obvious or extreme, there’s a risk that anyone other than the person or people who created it will be able to resonate with it. From lyrical narratives to the way your music sounds, emotional nuance is important for creating work that’s listenable and relatable.