In songwriting and in life, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that things need to be perfect before you can start working towards your goals. Sure, you’d love to finish your debut album, but a few of your songs aren’t as strong as they should be and it’s just not ready. You want to spend more of your time making music, but you’re waiting until your home studio has the ideal equipment setup first. Or maybe becoming a serious songwriter has always been a goal of yours, but a voice inside you says you just don’t have the talent it takes to succeed.
For young, ambitious artists, there’s nothing more romantic and hopeful than the idea of jumping in a van and touring around the country for months at a time. Tours are crucial for grabbing attention, building audiences, carving out performance experience, and building industry connections. And when labels and managers look for new artists to sign, artists who regularly tour are almost always the first to get noticed. But while touring gives artists a lot, it comes with serious risks, drawbacks, and costs to consider as well. A “let’s tour until we make it” mentality could end up breaking up your band instead of bringing you closer to your goals.
It’s true that the more time you spend engaging with the music creation process, the better songwriter you’ll become. But if you’re the type of workaholic songwriter that goes weeks without leaving the studio to see the light of day, you’re missing something important. Breaks are crucial for your process no matter who you are and what kind of music you make. Spending every waking moment writing might sound good for your process, but there’s a point where doing this actually backfires and starts to hurt your music. If you’re burnt out and think you need a break, here are five signs to look out for:
Playing live might be something you love to do, but that doesn’t make it easy. We sometimes only think about the work it takes to pull off individual shows without considering everything we’ve done to get where we are. Even if you’re an unestablished musician early in your career, you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on instruments and equipment and have devoted countless hours to your craft. This is all to say that you and your music are valuable, and what you do with your work should be rewarding in some way.
What it would feel like to step on stage and look into the audience to see all those excited faces staring back at you. You’ve thought about what it would feel like to hear them sing your lyrics back to you, to see them swaying along to the music.
But when you open your eyes, the reality is all but the magic you hoped for. In fact, when you actually step on stage, you’re kind of terrified. Sweaty palms, stomach in knots, heart threatening to beat right out of your chest..and you realize—you’re nervous. Like, crazy nervous. Every fear and doubt you’ve ever had about yourself is flooding your mind right now and you’re freaking out.
“Bad” and “good” are vague and frustrating terms when it comes to measuring up music. What’s good in the mind of one listener might be awful to another. A better way to think about it is determining whether a piece of music is successful or not, and as songwriters this is a topic that’s near and dear to our hearts. We don’t have to personally like a song to recognize that it has standout qualities that we’re looking to emulate in our own music. Similarly, there are universal qualities we can listen for and avoid in unsuccessful music. Here are five signs that a song isn’t going to make a connection with listeners:
‘Tis the Season! I have to admit, the holiday season is a special time of year for me. Not only am I a sucker for all the holiday festivities like the sparkly lights, ice skating and hot cocoa, gift-giving, and time with family, but it’s also such a fruitful time for creativity.
While the winter is naturally a slower time for the music industry, that doesn’t mean it’s all halting to a stop. And, if you plan it right, it can actually be a really good time to use some of that creative energy you have and put it into making something special for your fans, and doing things a bit differently.