Creative risk-taking flies in the face of so much we think, feel, and do as serious musicians. The process of learning an instrument, making music, and sharing it with the world requires a great deal rigid predictability––regular practice, lots of discipline, showing up to shows on time, playing the same music over and over again until you get it right. Predictability and sticking to the rules is great as far as learning an instrument and maintaining a musical project goes, but if you’re interested in writing creative music, it can be much more of a hindrance than an asset.
Songwriters often struggle with not knowing what to write music about. For some readers, lyrics and written material for songs is something that comes naturally, but for others, finding out what to write music about feels like an insurmountable challenge. If you’re a songwriter that can’t find anything to write about, here are four tips to help:
Gratitude isn’t something we think about much in the music industry. The relentless work ethic it takes to make music and compete in a fierce and unforgiving music climate makes it hard for musicians to think about anything other than what it takes to make meaningful momentum happen for their work. But if you’re a musician trying to build a career in music, stepping back for a moment and being grateful for what you’ve already accomplished in music can help give you a positive new perspective and hope for your work.
When looking from the outside, songwriting can be an intimidating task. Our favorite bands might make it looks easy, and while some of the best songs are written in minutes, many take weeks or months to complete.
I’ve been with my band for about a year and a half now, and we just finished recording our 5-song EP. In my time with this band, I’ve learned a lot about writing songs from scratch.
Here are 3 killer songwriting methods my band and I use to write our songs.
Creativity is a tough beast to harness and understand considering how prone to forming habits the average person is. If you’ve ever found yourself writing the same things over and over again in music, it’s for a good reason. Our brains and bodies are set up in a way that favors patterns and habits so that we’re not forced to learn how to do things over and over again. This is why tying your shoes every day isn’t a major challenge. Things like muscle memory help us to internalize the actions behind patterns to help us work competently as musicians. But when it comes to songwriting, habits can be a major challenge to contend with.
Bring up the idea of working in exchange for exposure to a group of seasoned musicians, and you’re likely to get responses of anger and frustration in return. Musicians being asked to share music or perform for free is a topic that’s come up a lot in recent years, and it enrages most of them for good reason. Here are three ways working for exposure is a bad idea for eager and inexperienced musicians.
Vulnerability is something some musicians might associate with the more nauseating and navel-gazing aspects of pop music. Hackneyed ballads featuring tales of unrequited love or angsty music compensating for a lack of depth with extreme emotion and themes come to mind. But the truth is that there’s a big difference between broadcasting emotion in music from approaching it with real vulnerability. Emotion comes naturally to most of us, but vulnerability ends up being a whole lot trickier.
Musicians aren’t any different than non-musical people in the way that they typically try to avoid experiencing pain and loss. But where songwriters and all other artists differ from the rest of the world is in the way they’re often charged with converting painful personal experiences into work that moves and relates to people.