Songwriters don’t have it easy. We’re writing songs during the most competitive time in music industry history. If you’re a professional songwriter, income sources that used to be reliable, like licensing, have become much less so in recent years. And with today’s playlist-centric listening culture, it’s a feast or famine situation for many professional songwriters. But even if you’re not writing songs for your main source of income, there are plenty of challenges you will likely face as a songwriter. If you love making music and want to do it seriously for the rest of your life, it’s helpful to know why so many songwriters call it quits.
When you’re involved in two sides of the industry like I am–being both a publicist and a writer, sometimes it feels like all you’re ever reading is artist bios.
Trust me, I’ve seen it all, and a lot of those bios I’ve read are not pretty.
A bio is a major reflection of the band or artist it’s about. This may seem like a big duh, but you’d be surprised at how many bios out there are poorly written or make the band look bad because they are poorly written.
And honestly, I think the truth is most of us don’t realize how important a bio really is, and we don’t know what to look out for when it comes to writing them.
Take a look at some of these don’ts to get a head start on what not to do in your next bio revision.
Even the most talented songwriters can’t create their best music without putting in the work. If you want to make the best music you can, you’ll need to show up to the creation process over and over again throughout your life, not just when you feel inspired to. Living a musical life happens week by week, and there’s a lot you can do each day to create the best work you can as often as possible. Adopting these weekly habits will help dramatically improve your life as a serious songwriter:
Every time I talk about online social media groups, I feel like I’m revealing this golden secret to the person I’m talking to. I mean sure, we all know what online groups are, and odds are most of us are in way more than we need to be (I don’t know about you, but my feed is practically overrun with groups that I don’t even want to be a part of anymore but also never seem to unsubscribe from) and yet, they are this beautiful untapped goldmine of opportunities and connections.
If you’re new to joining online groups, let this be your guide into why they can be one of the most useful ways to spend your time, build your network, and grow your music career.
Openness and curiosity are important positive traits for serious musicians to have. However, saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way is a bad idea. Whether you make music full-time for your job or during every spare moment you can, you have a limited amount of resources and time as a musician. Committing your time and attention to the wrong things in music means missing out on the things that will actually make a difference in your career. Here are five examples of things you should probably say no to in music:
Serious musicians hate failure. This disdain was bred in most of us back when we learned how to play an instrument for the first time. There are only a few ways to correctly hold drum sticks, finger guitar chords, or belt out vocal exercises; and there are countless ways of getting things wrong. When we master our instruments and start writing songs and playing shows, failure shows up for us in a myriad of new and painful ways, like when your local alt-weekly magazine trashes your album or when no one shows up to the show you’ve been promoting for months. Failure can be excruciating. But it can also deliver huge benefits to your music career if you let it.
Sticking to the same script when it comes to how you think about things like writing songs or connecting with audiences on stage as a musician is easy. But, unfortunately, limiting your perspective hurts your music and shrinks down your musical world as a musician. Reaching your true potential as a musician requires you to step back from the natural and comfortable ways you do things and ask if there are alternative paths for seeing, hearing, and approaching music-making. It’s not easy to do, but it’s something that can vastly improve your life as a musician if you put the work in.
When it comes to the things that can shape great music the most, inspiration is generally thought of as being the most important. But the hard truth is that inspiration is not the holy grail when it comes to factors that will help you write amazing music. Is it important? Yes, without a doubt. But it’s also deeply misunderstood, and, dare I say, overrated. We think inspiration falls into our laps and our ability to create our best work follows. This isn’t the case. While inspiration is an undeniable ingredient found in some of the world’s most impactful songs, it’s often not all it’s cracked up to be. Here are three big reasons why: