Put Your Energy Where It Counts

Put Your Energy Where It Counts

Many tips for songwriting seem too vague or unfocused. Do you have dreams of writing music and songs for Movies, Musicals, Games, Television, etc.? The following perspective might just help you develop the necessary skills and strategies for success in today’s marketplace.

These tips for songwriting will help you establish a realistic path for your future. If your efforts and desires aren’t based in reality, you may be living somewhere known as “la-la-land”. Suppose I want to write orchestral scores for movies, but am not willing to learn about Strings and Woodwinds. I have a problem.

Likewise, if I’m going to be the next Sting, (solo artist and singer for the Police), but my bass playing and songwriting stink… who am I kidding? Too often, our dreams don’t match our skills. (Watch “American Idol” auditions for a huge dose of that.)To make matters worse, We often don’t know what skills we lack… or… what skills we need! A music career is not like other professions with clear paths for success! I can tell you!

There are no guarantees of a paycheck for your efforts. (You won’t read that on the music school advertisements, will you?) My high school guidance counselor didn’t offer “Making Money with Your Songwriting Ideas” in his bag of tricks. He was disturbed enough by the fact that I wanted to go to college to major in music. That means we have to navigate this songwriting journey without much help from the educational system.

College programs have improved…some. At least Berklee and a handful of others offer programs with an emphasis in songwriting. But the truth remains that a career in music writing has unique hardships to overcome.

Let’s imagine for a second that you are sitting down with your very own guidance counselor. (Even if you are long-past the days of school, just go with me…)

She likes you and wants to help you achieve your dreams. She doesn’t care what profession you choose as long as you can make a living doing it.

Believe it or not, she’ll probably go back to the basics:

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?

2. What skills will you need?

3. Do you have the musical gifts required? (Yes, I know it isn’t politically correct to imply that you might not… but we’re not all songwriters. Some are doctors, electricians and bankers. Thank God we’re not all wired the same way!)

4. Are you thick-skinned and motivated enough to succeed?

You want to be a songwriter/composer. That is understood. Then you must be willing to develop the skills required. And you must possess both the basic abilities AND work ethic for success. Nobody ever handed me a clearly defined road map for a career in music. Even after a Master’s Degree in Music from a respected institution… I learned most things the hard way.

One of the most important things I developed was the ability to meet a deadline. It is easy as an artist to just enjoy the creative process and not the business aspects. This tends to breed many unfinished projects, songs, plays, etc… that COULD be quite good if completed, edited and produced.

I also found that “artistic types” are fun and exciting to be around, but somebody less creative usually gets the job done. The brilliant composer may not get the job simply because he can’t deliver the music on time. People who possess time management skills tend to break a big idea down into small steps. These little steps get books written, commercials scored and CDs recorded one-piece-at-a-time.

This is what goal setting is about. Clearly defining what the problem is and then taking the right steps to solve it.

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