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.
When young, developing artists think about succeeding in music, they often picture sold-out venues, full wallets, and loyal fans who know all of their songs by heart. But whether your goal in music is to become famous around the world or to merely make a human connection with your songs, it takes an immense amount of work simply to get your music in front of listeners. Your ability to do this sort of work consistently and well could mean the difference of being able to connect with audiences or not. If you’re new to music and want to know what sort of work I’m talking about, here are four examples of necessary tasks to get your music heard:
Making music can be a completely isolating experience. So isolating, in fact, that it’s easy to forget that what we’re doing is for the benefit of other human beings if we choose to share our work. If you’re a musician who’s been at it for years, you might be tempted to have an “it’s me against the world” or “it’s me and my bandmates against the world” mentality when you write music. Feeling this way is understandable if you’ve sacrificed many things in your life for the sake of your music. Unfortunately, it’s a destructive mindset that can leave you jaded and less able to make meaningful music.