We don’t need much other than an instrument and our desire to make music during the writing process, but we do need some things. What you have in the room with you while you write can absolutely have a big impact on the music you end up creating. Some of the items on this list might seem obvious, but their importance and benefit to your writing process really can’t be overstated. Nothing on this list should be too hard to get your hands on, and if you make sure to have these items out and ready when you write, your musical life will be a lot easier and more productive.
When you think about your favorite music, you probably immediately turn to the stories of what inspired great songs. Breakups, tours gone wrong, new love, etc. While these origin stories are crucial for shaping music and giving it purpose and urgency, there’s something important missing here that songwriters should know about.
There are the big stories behind great music, and then there are the many small things that had to happen in order for vague ideas and inspiration to combine and develop into something solid and memorable. Actions as simple and easy as having a recording device out and ready and labeling your spontaneous music ideas could make the difference of whether you’ll be able to create at your full potential or not.
Creating lots of music obviously takes work, but writing in ways that highlight your unique strengths and perspectives as a songwriter is much harder to do. If you’re new to songwriting, it can be hard to recognize your unique creative strengths. But even if you’ve been at it for years, it’s not always natural to create with your strengths at the center of your process.
As songwriters, we each bring a unique set of perspectives and musical assets to our music. But while each of us is different, there are universal strategies we can embrace to highlight our creative strengths in music creation.
By now, most of the world has gone without live shows for so long that it can often feel like they’ll never return. Luckily, that’s not the case. The transition from where we’re at now to what live music was like before 2020 isn’t going to happen overnight, and things might never look the same. But before packed arena shows and music festivals return, the live music industry is most likely in for a period of transition. These three show formats are the ones likely to first return after the pandemic.
As soon as lockdowns forced the mass cancelation of live events in the spring of 2020, it was clear that the music industry was going to be severely impacted. While solo artists and producers have taken huge hits, bands and other collaborative music projects have been uniquely impacted. While technology has undoubtedly helped musicians get through this last year, it’s also shown bands its limitations. Virtual concerts have been a godsend, but they’re nothing like real shows. The same goes for digital band rehearsals.
If you’re in a band or some other type of collaborative musical relationship, the way you approach songwriting credits should be something you take seriously. Ambiguity is a natural state of mind when it comes to musical creativity, but it’s not at all what you want when it comes time to decide who gets credit for writing your songs.
Because success means something different to each one of us as songwriters, we should also take time to think about what failure looks like to us. You might feel like you’ve failed in some way if the single you just released isn’t getting any attention or your band just split up, but there are almost always broader things going on behind the scenes that cause problems in music. Here are five common ways that failure happens in music:
Songwriting is a creative pursuit where it’s easy to get tricked into thinking that more is better––more production, more vocals, more complexity, etc. And, on the other end of the spectrum, it’s also tempting to leave ideas undeveloped and lacking direction by trying to keep things simple and straightforward. Before DAWs became an integral songwriting tool, deciding how much or how little to add to a song wasn’t nearly as challenging. Much of the time those choices were made for songwriters depending on the size of an artist’s band and their budget. But now that anyone making music has a virtually endless array of digital instrumental and production possibilities at their fingertips at any given moment, the minimalist vs. extreme dilemma is something many of us have to grapple with as modern music-makers.