There comes a point in every serious musician’s career when creativity, fun, and inspiration are hard to come by. The causes of creative stagnation are different for each of us, but all music-makers experience it eventually. Some musicians are able to spot a lack of ambition or inspiration in their creative lives. Others slowly sink into ruts without realizing it. If you can easily spot one of these red flags in your music career, it’s likely you’re creatively stuck and need a change.
There’s no getting around the fact that live-stream concerts aren’t suitable replacements for the in-person shows. But that doesn’t mean that digital concerts have to be boring, bad-sounding affairs. During a time when the world craves musical connection and comfort, live-streamed musical performances are a lifeline for fans as well as musicians needing to stay in touch with fans and make up for lost revenues. However, it’s clear that some major pop stars and unestablished acts alike are having a tricky time making the leap from conventional shows to digital ones. Similar to normal shows, live-streams need to offer something engaging and exciting for audiences to feel invested. Here are a few strategies for transforming digital concerts into events that fans will be excited about:
Every songwriter has had the experience of getting sucked into a creative rabbit hole while working on a specific musical idea. If we’re lucky, momentary frustration leads to creative resourcefulness. Sometimes a great song is waiting for us at the end, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. In many instances, it’s best to quit working on an idea before we invest too much time into it. We can then save our time and energy for better songs. The hard part is knowing exactly when to stop and why. Every songwriter’s process is different. If you are in one of these situations while working on a song, it might be time to move on to something else:
I’ll be the first to admit that not every day of this quarantine has been productive. There have been days I’ve become one with my couch, pushed off tasks, or simply refused to get excited about the things that once lit me up. And for a while, I felt really bad about that. I questioned if my heart was still in it, if I had what it takes, and if I even deserved to still be doing what I was doing.
But the more I talked about this with others, the more I realized, I wasn’t alone. And it wasn’t that uncommon.
When I think of my strengths as a musician, a lot of skills pop up. Yet, none of them have anything to do with tech. The more I strive to create impactful music in a world that’s increasingly reliant on and fluent with technology, the more I realize there’s a growing deficit in my musical skill-set that needs addressing, and I’m not alone. No matter what kind of music you create in 2020, technology is almost certainly bound to be involved in some way. Whether you use DAWs to write, record, mix with, or share music online through a distributor, tech is integral. A lack of tech literacy hurts musicians of all stripes. Not only that, but the problem will only get worse for the ones that fail to address it.
You might be thinking “What does making music have to do with personal relationships?”Good question. From where I stand, music, and things like family, love, and friendship are inextricably linked. Everything from breakups to births is chronicled in music. It’s an art form we rely on to help us cope with life and understand our place in the world. But, strangely, some of us lead such unhealthy music careers that we end up damaging our relationships. It’s one of our jobs as musicians to bring people together, but our ambition and extreme approaches to how we prioritize music in our lives can end up isolating us and hurting the ones we love. If your music career is threatening your personal relationships, it’s time to take a good look at yourself.
There are no guidebooks musicians can look to for learning how to cope with COVID-19. If you’re reading this, it’s possible or maybe even likely that the pandemic has completely upended your plans, whether you were set to tour this summer, release a new album, or hole up somewhere with your bandmates to work on new material. If live performances are a part of the way you earn money, you’re being especially impacted by this crisis.
No one can predict the future. Yet, the world––and music along with it––is changing as a result of COVID-19. Instead of longing to create and perform in a pre-2020 world, we have to accept that our circumstances may not be the same going forward. Luckily, doing so doesn’t mean giving up on creating and sharing music.
Musicians are having an understandably difficult time in the age of COVID-19. Whether it’s a canceled tour or the inability to rehearse with bandmates in person, the pandemic is keeping us inside our homes and away from our musical routines. In strange and difficult times, embracing resourcefulness is essential when it comes to finding ways to stay inspired.
You might not be able to travel or leave your house right now. However, you can take a music-listening trip to inspire your process and transport your mind. An upside to our vastly increased time at home is that we can spend more time listening to music. And by listening, I mean sitting down and doing nothing other than listening to a piece of music. The following four listening trip ideas are designed to focus your mind on specific characteristics that shape music.