Let me get this out of the way right off the bat. There’s no way for an artist to completely separate their experiences, opinions, and creative tendencies from the work they make. But in music, it’s important that we try. At the very least, we learn to recognize how our identities shape the work we create.
As songwriters, we all have unique assets that we bring to the process of creating music. While the quality of your voice or your knack for writing hooks might come to mind first, the way you funnel emotional intuition and passion into your music shouldn’t be ignored. Feelings are some of the best music-creation tools a songwriter has. Learn to embrace and apply them to your music. In doing so, you’ll have a powerful way to connect with audiences by making your work relatable and human. But by ignoring your feelings or trying to artificially change them to make your music more palatable, you’ll make your life as a songwriter much harder than it has to be.
For songwriters who want to explore their creativity in meaningful ways, changing up old habits and taking risks over and over again isn’t an option. However, it’s not easy, especially if you’ve been making music for a long time. One of the most frustrating things about songwriting is that the routines you build can be both helpful and destructive for your process, depending on how you spend your time writing. Constantly renewing your creative curiosity with exercises like these will help you to write consistently, but in ways that are new and challenging.
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.
All musicians get bored with the process of creating and performing every now and again. However, if you’re suffering from chronic musical disinterest, it’s something you should worry about. We can’t always rely on our emotions to inspire us as musicians. If it’s been months or years since you’ve felt moved during your music-making process, it’s time for a change. By “change,” I don’t mean subtle tweaks in your musical routine, but a massive, top-to-bottom overhaul. When it’s clear the regular way of doing things isn’t doing it for you anymore, it’s time to blow up your music-making process and start over.
If you’re serious about writing music and performing, you already know how hard pursuing music can be. Musicians wrestle with a great deal of doubt that comes from things most of us have experienced, whether it’s playing night after night to empty rooms or investing lots of time and money into a new album without any idea whether anyone will listen or care. For serious artists trying to make something substantial happen with their music, the work of navigating a career in music can seem bleak and hopeless at times.
Simplicity is a great asset for musicians, especially if you’re the kind of artist that’s intent on reaching big audiences. But when it comes to emotion, dumbing things down underestimates the intelligence of your audience and dulls your sharpest ideas. Depending on your musical identity and goals, you probably want your music to be accessible to everyone in your audience. However, oversimplifying the emotional backbone of your work isn’t a good way to do it. Boredom might be an even worse reaction than disdain when it comes to how listeners receive your music, and emotion plays a huge role in keeping audiences engaged and invested in your work.
One of the trickiest things to balance in music creation is the desire to get things done versus the need to work authentically in an inspired way. Write only when you feel like it, and you’ll end up not making much music. But let routine, predictability, and creative safety define your process, and the work you make will probably sound forced and uninspired. Forcing the creative process is tempting, especially if you find yourself hopelessly mired in a rut where things don’t seem to click. But making yourself create when you don’t have the passion, attention span, or other resources to do so is a bad bet. Here’s why: