Have you ever had a conversation with someone who constantly talks but never really says anything meaningful or memorable? In our creative pursuits as songwriters, it’s essential to avoid doing this same thing with our music––filling valuable time on our tracks with ideas that we know won’t really say or mean anything to our listeners. Along with curiosity, honesty, and a willingness to fail, intention is one of the best traits we can have as songwriters. It’s an asset that can transform forgettable songs into solid, engaging, and accessible pieces of music for our listeners.
In today’s music climate, technology gives us a constantly-updating snapshot of how our music performs over streaming platforms via play counts. The higher the counts are, the better the music is, or so goes conventional thinking. This is flat wrong for lots of reasons. Yet, with a healthy desire to find an audience for your music, it can be easy to give in to this idea in ways that damage your creativity and career in the process. There’s nothing wrong with wanting lots of listeners to love your music. In fact, wanting to build those connections is an essential part of building a music career. But if your only metrics for musical success are the stats behind your music, then you’re missing the point.
In 2020, working out of a home recording studio doesn’t mean having to compromise on the sound quality of your music. We’re seeing more artists produce phenomenal sounding music from modest home studios than ever before. The good news is that you can do it on a tight budget. Yet, to get the kind of results that succeed in music, there are some basic things you’ll need to do to prepare your songs for release.
Things in music rarely work out the way we think they will. A song that you’re completely convinced will perform well with listeners falls flat while another you didn’t give much thought to succeeds. Something big happens in your life that you think will lead to lots of great songwriting inspiration, but nothing ends up happening. There’s so much we can’t control in music, which is undeniably frustrating, but it’s also one of the biggest reasons why we have to focus on what we have a say over. Waiting for the stars to align to create music is one of the worst habits you can get into in your music career because it forces you to invest your time and creative energy into things you have no control over.
In music and all art in general, there’s the stuff that thrives in the moment, and then there are the songs that stand the test of time. What was fashionable in music back in the early 2000’s isn’t in favor today, obviously. But while it’s easy to separate what’s trendy from what lasts in music after 20 years, it’s a lot trickier to know while you’re creating. When we listen to contemporary music, we’re exposed to fads that inform everything from lyrical content to production decisions. There’s nothing wrong with listening to trendy music, but letting what’s popular and influential now crowd out your creative intuition and authenticity in songwriting is a big problem.
When it comes to things that can ruin your songs, a lot can happen between the initial spark of an idea and a song’s completion. From bad performances that stifle a song’s potential during recording to ideas that don’t resonate with audiences, lots of factors can make music fall flat. A lack of imagination is one of the most dangerous among them.
When you set out to create new music, what does your mindset look like? Are you curious and ready to explore ideas wherever they take you, or are you bogged down with the baggage of expectations? The truth is that it’s impossible to completely separate ourselves from our past experiences when we create. But when your desire to sound a certain way or accomplish something specific when you write overshadows your creative spirit and freedom, your work suffers badly for it.
To some songwriters, a song feels like a living and ever-changing entity, even when it’s finished and shared with the world. To others, released songs feel like permanent fixtures that can’t and shouldn’t ever be changed. While these two mindsets couldn’t be more different, a situation every songwriter finds themself in is not knowing whether a song is ready to master and be made available for others to listen to or not. Here are five signs that your song is ready to share: