If music is your career, it makes sense that you’d want to entertain the masses with your work. The more accessible your music is to everyone, the better chance you have of earning money and winning over lots of fans, right? Unfortunately, no. Music that’s made with the intention of trying to connect with everyone usually ends up doing just the opposite. As artists, it’s our job to create work that goes on to mean something special to the people who hear it. But shaping your music intentionally to reach as many listeners as possible is not only unrealistic, but can also be damaging for your creativity and career.
Isolation can be a huge asset for music-makers. Some of the most successful and captivating modern musicians have origin stories filled with major changes that inspire them to take impromptu songwriting retreats alone in remote locations. But isolation also has the potential to do damage to an artist’s creativity and productivity. We’re all stuck with some level of isolation right now whether we thrive through creative partnerships or do our best work alone. Whether we succeed or suffer through periods of isolation depends on the work we put into creating music and prioritizing connection with our audiences and ourselves.
If song lyrics had to be 100% real, music as we know it would be a lot less interesting. Fiction in music is empowering for songwriters and exciting for listeners. Instead of representing the world exactly as we see it, fiction lets us dream up entirely new worlds and invite our listeners to experience them. But if you’ve never added a fictional element to your lyrics before, it can be tough to know where and how to start. Here are four tips to help:
Since songwriting is such an intensely personal thing for many of us, it can be hard to reach outside of ourselves to get a true perspective on our music. The kicker is that not knowing your strengths as a songwriter leaves you at a huge disadvantage when it comes to knowing which parts of your process to lean into the most. The better you can account for your strengths as a music-maker, the better music you’ll end up making. Here are four tips for accurately identifying what you’re best at in songwriting:
No matter what kind of music you make or how experienced you are as a songwriter, distractions have the potential to stifle your best ideas and make getting anything done a challenge. Even before the age of smartphone notifications, the non-stop news cycle, and social media, distractions were a significant challenge for music-makers. But today, they can become a major problem if you don’t have a plan for carving out distraction-free time and space to create in. Here are five tips for creating a songwriting practice that’s free of distractions:
Audiences always hear the finished songs that show up on an artist’s albums, EPs, or singles. However, they don’t normally get a chance to listen to the demos that preceded them. Demos are an integral part of constructing and solidifying musical ideas. Yet, it’s inevitable that some songs never exit the demo stage for artists. A demo might never grow into a full-fledged song because it’s not strong enough, or because an artist feels they don’t have the energy or tools to move it along. If you’ve got loads of demos floating around your hard drive, here are three tips for what to do with them:
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.