Practise forms habits. So practise right!
Practise letting your writing flow, then coming back and editing. Practise finishing songs. This is one of the main areas I’m working on – I’ve spent years writing bits of songs and thinking I’ll come back to it later. Sometimes I do, but unfortunately that has distilled this routine of incompleteness in me and now it’s a bad habit to overcome, rather than the much more useful habit of seeing something through that it could be. And will be!
Of course all of this ‘practice forms habits’ is also true of recording, mixing, marketing and pitching. This is why it’s important to focus on quantity over quality. But remember – it can be easy to fall in love with your own work and want to record everything, especially if you can do that at home. Consider spending more time on your writing, first. It will make the time you spend recording that much better spent.
It’s an important question to answer.
My idea of success is almost certainly different from yours. It’s also something a lot of people never truly define for themselves, especially in the music industry. Make sure you answer this question for yourself. It’s important to be able to remind yourself that you have actually achieved success when looking back. If you don’t define what that means to you, there is the risk of always looking ahead to some vague idea of what success will feel like, some idea that you’ll know it when you get it. You won’t – it’s in our nature to always want more.
Three years ago I wanted to ‘make a living from music.’ These were my exact words to myself and many others and honestly I didn’t know what that actually meant. I think I probably didn’t care, just anything to do with music. I’m now making my living performing and teaching and have a fair amount of time most weeks to dedicate to songwriting, recording and producing, which it turns out was the real aim. In a sense I’m happy to have ‘succeeded’ in that now. Except I haven’t, not really.
If my aim had been that I wanted to ‘gig and teach to finance writing music’ then I could be happy in the success of that. As it is I never gave the aim that definition until afterwards and robbed myself of that sense of success. If I had also given it that thought I would have realised that what I really want to do was make my living from writing music then I could have focused on that more. I’d still be doing and enjoying everything else I’m doing, but I could have dedicated more time to the ultimate aim. There’s no sense in waiting.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading a songwriting blog then as a minimum you probably want to consistently write songs you’re proud of. That might be enough for some people and is a lot easier written than done. Maybe you’re aiming to be an artist with significant profile or perhaps you’d be happier getting songs and instrumentals placed on TV shows. Then again, maybe you want to write songs for other people to perform. There are a number of different routes and each has its challenges.
The important thing is to figure out which approach you want to take. It will help you set out a plan for what you need to do now and will help you take stock later on.
Songwriting is about a lot more than writing songs.
I know, it sounds silly. Some would argue that it’s not right and that songwriting should be ‘pure.’ But while they argue about it, the ones who get on with learning everything around songwriting will start getting the work!
Gone are the days of being able to send a rough demo to a record company and getting a record deal or a cut (another artist recording your song). To even be in with a shout any budding songwriter needs to learn the music business, music production, marketing and (of course!) songwriting.
It’s a lot of work, combining what might traditionally be four separate jobs. I’m going to share what I learn and document some of my journey of trying to ‘make it,’ whatever that means. Because there is money to be made making music, after all. And there is a lot of fun to be had on the way…