Every songwriter has been in the unenviable position of loving a specific musical idea but not being able to take it anywhere. A dead-end idea can be as simple as a synth riff or as packed as an entire song. This situation happens when you come up with something you really like, but feel like it’s not going anywhere. When you’ve got a dead-end idea stirring around your brain and taking up room on your computer, do you pull the plug or forge ahead? The answer completely depends on your specific idea and goals. But if you’re leaning towards keeping your idea alive by giving it somewhere to go, these suggestions might help you make meaningful progress:
Inspiration is one of the most powerful forces in music and every other form of art. But like a great meal, it’s just one ingredient. Waiting for inspiration to fall into your lap before you start writing consistently and developing your unique musical voice is a recipe for not making any music. In concert with other habits, strategies, and approaches, inspiration will absolutely help you write your best music. Let’s talk about what those other things are and how to use inspiration when it graces us.
Without realizing it, we’re vulnerable to being sucked into lazy habits, ruts, and unproductive routines as songwriters. When making music doesn’t feel exciting or challenging anymore, it’s time to add newness and risk back into your process. However, for a lot of songwriters, this is easier said than done. What we often forget is that falling into ruts isn’t just a single decision, but countless small choices designed to keep things as comfortable and predictable as possible while we write. If it’s time to blow up your process and start over, consider trying out these strategies:
While there’s more music being made right now than at any other point in human history, there’s also no shortage of disappointments in music, whether it’s reading a scathing album review or getting news that an entire year’s worth of shows was canceled.
For countless developing musicians, the biggest forms of disappointment in music come in the form of silent rejections, like venues not returning emails or blogs passing on your music without telling you why or if they ever even listened to your submission. It’s rough out there, but you already knew that. But what you may not know is just how important resilience is for a musician.
The pre-pandemic music world brought lots of in-person networking opportunities for artists and music industry professionals. Major music hubs like Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville would house dozens of networking conferences every year, along with global music hubs like London or Paris as well. As artists and music industry professionals, we would travel to these conferences curated for specific areas of the music industry, such as performance, music technology, film scoring, composition, music business, and many other areas. These were great opportunities for networking and making connections with one another.
Keeping a band together over a long period of time can be incredibly hard to do, even for successful musicians with every resource at their fingertips. In part, this is because the relationships in bands are endlessly complex, but also because pursuing the dream of music alone or with a group of people is rife with challenges. It’s safe to say that countless promising bands break up before they have the chance to create truly great music together. This means the longer you can keep yours humming along, the better chance you’ll have at creating impactful music and realizing your goals.
If you’ve ever been in the thick of writing a song and felt like finishing it was impossible, you’re not alone. Every serious songwriter has been in this position. It’s easy to forget that what we do can be grueling work, and there’s often no benefit to our actions. Music creation is a pursuit where it’s entirely possible to work for days, months, or even years and not create anything we think is actually good. There’s no avoiding the fact that it’s hard to create music that’s truly meaningful for listeners, but that’s exactly what makes it special.
When it comes to creating music seriously, there’s what the world thinks and then what music-makers know to be true. Music is arguably the most impactful art form on the planet, but for how popular it is much of the non-musical world doesn’t know much about what goes into creating it. These are just five of the many popular misconceptions out there about making music.