If you’re a songwriter trying to improve your craft, consistently making music is just one part of the equation. Listening closely to the music you hear is one of the most powerful ways to write better music. This means that every time you listen to music, you’ll have the opportunity to learn something that can apply to your work. Here are three ways to make better music through critical music listening:
If you’re having trouble finding your musical identity as an artist, it could be because your taste in music hasn’t been defined yet. Alongside musical intuition, writing music as often as you can, and letting life experiences shape your songs, your musical taste is incredibly important for your work as a songwriter. When you’re in touch with your musical taste, creating music that’s meaningful and authentic to you gets much easier. Here are five tips for defining your unique musical taste as a songwriter.
For most of us, falling into predictable songwriting habits is more and more an inevitability the longer we make music. It’s natural to favor certain ways of doing things, whether it’s a specific genre, DAW, or instrument. But even if cohesion is one of your top priorities as a creator, your fans probably don’t want to hear you make the same songs over and over again.
Songwriting is arguably one of the most compelling art forms. It is humanity looking back at itself – giving us the ability to reflect in profound ways. A song about heartbreak has the power to bring a person to their knees by ways of evoking memories that are universal. One of our most important missions as songwriters is to present universal experiences to listeners in human and accessible ways.
Making human experiences come off as interesting in music demands a delicate balance. By simply saying “I’m in love and am very happy in this moment,” you may be missing out on an opportunity for greater creative license. However, that same idea presented as “Since I found you, I don’t feel like eating spiders anymore,” rings cryptic and obscure past the point of comprehension.
The non-musical world often thinks that making and performing music is always fun, easy, and instantly gratifying. But serious musicians know that this is only one part of their story. Loading your equipment out of a venue you just played after a show that no one attended isn’t fulfilling. Pitching your new album to a long list of email contacts and never hearing back isn’t fun. And yet both these examples are things independent musicians have to do to find audiences for their music. You can think of it as “paying your dues,” but the kicker is that some artists never manage to move past the stage of trying to get the world to notice their music, even if their songs are great. That’s a hard truth about pursuing music.
Making music might be the thing you live and breathe to do, but it doesn’t mean you’ll feel motivated to write and record songs all the time. In fact, you might encounter months-long stretches of time where you’d rather do pretty much anything else more than writing songs if you’re a serious or professional songwriter with years of experience under your belt. This is normal, but you’ll need tools and strategies to get back to work eventually. Motivation is crucial for music-makers, but it’s not always easy to access. If you feel bored, aimless, or unsure how to make your next musical step, here are some motivation tips to help get you moving:
Because success means something different to each one of us as songwriters, we should also take time to think about what failure looks like to us. You might feel like you’ve failed in some way if the single you just released isn’t getting any attention or your band just split up, but there are almost always broader things going on behind the scenes that cause problems in music. Here are five common ways that failure happens in music:
Storytelling is the art of building a narrative around your music and your artist persona.
In the streaming age, your music will be exposed to a lot of people. This is a great opportunity by itself, but it’s also a big challenge. In fact, these days, the biggest challenge for independent artists is to convert their listeners into fans. This is easier said than done. Storytelling is a great way to show people who you are not just as an artist, but also as a person. It is what makes people care about your music and it’s what makes an artist likable, perhaps more than anything.