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:
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.
When we create music, what are the parts of it that we own, and which ones do we give away to our listeners? It’s a weird question, but it’s worth asking. Getting to the bottom of what your music means to you and what about it you hope to give other people through your art will give you direction, purpose, and clarity as a music-maker. It’s also an exercise that can help you move outside of yourself temporarily and allow you to hear your music the way one of your listeners would. When we make music for and about only ourselves, we risk cutting off the outside world and alienating our listeners.
If music is the biggest and most vivid passion in your life, then it’s probably something you’re used to sacrificing for. Whether you make music alone or play in a band, it’s natural to develop a “me” or “us” against the world mentality. There isn’t an artform more social and universally engaging than music, and yet making it is an isolating process for many artists. But when we cut ourselves off from the world or even just our local music communities, we end up hurting ourselves as well as our careers. No matter who you are, what sort of music you create, or what your goals are, relationships are important not just for your career, but also for your creativity and well-being.
If you’re like me circa 10 years ago, you’re kinda freaked out about networking. In fact, you’d do almost anything to avoid it. After all, talking to strangers, trying to “sell” yourself, and investing all that time and energy into something that doesn’t produce immediate results? Exhausting, right?!
Pursuing music in a serious way gives musicians proficiency on their instruments and specialized musical knowledge that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. But while we’re intimately familiar with the musical skills we develop as musicians because we rely on them so much, there are other important non-musical benefits we pick up along the way as well. Here’s a list of five of them:
So you got your first interview—congratulations! We spend a lot of time talking about how to secure your first few press placements. But what happens when you actually do? Well first, I hope you celebrate—this is a big deal!
Then, it’s time to talk strategy. How are you going to make the most of this interview? How will you present yourself? What stories can you tell? How do you remain professional yet relaxed enough to let your personality shine through?
Technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to music creation. On one hand, technology gives us the tools to write, record, and produce in ways we couldn’t have done otherwise. Yet, leaning too heavily into the convenience technology offers can be bad for our music. This especially goes for writing and performing with MIDI instruments.