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.
If you feel aimless, stuck, and not sure how to take your next creative step as a songwriter, you’re not alone. Countless music-makers have been in your shoes. When creativity and exciting musical ideas seem easy to access, we forget just how hard and frustrating it can be when we’re lost and uninspired. The good news is that if you manage to work through the inevitable challenging and unproductive periods that come your way from time to time, there are better times ahead.
When you set out to write a new song, there are countless creative paths you can take. Most will lead to places you’ve been before, but some paths will take you to new musical territories. Obviously, new and exciting directions are the places we want to take our music as songwriters, but getting there is rarely easy. It takes work to write great music, but you already know that.
But what you might not realize is that embracing strategies and routines can up your chances of making excellent music in a huge way. Here are four of them:
Persistence is one of the most valuable qualities to have as a musician. The “I won’t take no for an answer” attitude is an amazing quality to possess when you can’t seem to move a song idea forward or get anywhere in your local music scene. But what about the times that you should really take no for an answer? Persistence is a gift in an industry as competitive and soul-crushing as music, but without a flexible mindset and a willingness to learn, adapt, and grow, it could be holding you back.
When it comes to creating music seriously, there’s what the world thinks and then what music-makers know to be true. Music is arguably the most impactful art form on the planet, but for how popular it is much of the non-musical world doesn’t know much about what goes into creating it. These are just five of the many popular misconceptions out there about making music.