In today’s music climate, technology gives us a constantly-updating snapshot of how our music performs over streaming platforms via play counts. The higher the counts are, the better the music is, or so goes conventional thinking. This is flat wrong for lots of reasons. Yet, with a healthy desire to find an audience for your music, it can be easy to give in to this idea in ways that damage your creativity and career in the process. There’s nothing wrong with wanting lots of listeners to love your music. In fact, wanting to build those connections is an essential part of building a music career. But if your only metrics for musical success are the stats behind your music, then you’re missing the point.
When you set out to create new music, what does your mindset look like? Are you curious and ready to explore ideas wherever they take you, or are you bogged down with the baggage of expectations? The truth is that it’s impossible to completely separate ourselves from our past experiences when we create. But when your desire to sound a certain way or accomplish something specific when you write overshadows your creative spirit and freedom, your work suffers badly for it.
If music is your career, it makes sense that you’d want to entertain the masses with your work. The more accessible your music is to everyone, the better chance you have of earning money and winning over lots of fans, right? Unfortunately, no. Music that’s made with the intention of trying to connect with everyone usually ends up doing just the opposite. As artists, it’s our job to create work that goes on to mean something special to the people who hear it. But shaping your music intentionally to reach as many listeners as possible is not only unrealistic, but can also be damaging for your creativity and career.
Isolation can be a huge asset for music-makers. Some of the most successful and captivating modern musicians have origin stories filled with major changes that inspire them to take impromptu songwriting retreats alone in remote locations. But isolation also has the potential to do damage to an artist’s creativity and productivity. We’re all stuck with some level of isolation right now whether we thrive through creative partnerships or do our best work alone. Whether we succeed or suffer through periods of isolation depends on the work we put into creating music and prioritizing connection with our audiences and ourselves.
If song lyrics had to be 100% real, music as we know it would be a lot less interesting. Fiction in music is empowering for songwriters and exciting for listeners. Instead of representing the world exactly as we see it, fiction lets us dream up entirely new worlds and invite our listeners to experience them. But if you’ve never added a fictional element to your lyrics before, it can be tough to know where and how to start. Here are four tips to help:
No matter what kind of music you make or how experienced you are as a songwriter, distractions have the potential to stifle your best ideas and make getting anything done a challenge. Even before the age of smartphone notifications, the non-stop news cycle, and social media, distractions were a significant challenge for music-makers. But today, they can become a major problem if you don’t have a plan for carving out distraction-free time and space to create in. Here are five tips for creating a songwriting practice that’s free of distractions:
Music is a creative pursuit where creators and performers can be talented, lucky, and ambitious and still somehow end up quitting a few years in. If you’ve been at it for a while, you know how grueling a music career can be. But have you ever nailed down exactly why?
Have you ever worked tirelessly on a new song, only to have it totally flop?
Or maybe you’ve spent thousands on an album, only to have the buzz die out about a day after the release?
And really, is there anything more disappointing than releasing a piece of music and feeling like no one cares? It’s incredibly discouraging!
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret—9 times out of 10, it isn’t because the music sucked. It probably isn’t even just because of the social media algorithm being against you. Instead, it has everything to do with your PR and marketing strategy—or should I say, lack of.