Monday, September 8, 2008
What people want more than anything is just for someone to listen and pay attention to THEM.
I remember when I was green songwriter in my 20s (I’m not green anymore, I drive a minivan ;). The one thing I wanted more than anything was for someone to hear my songs in Nashville and just tell me I was good.
What I got ,and most likely what I needed, was criticism and “keep working at it, kid”. But all that did was make me mad and spur me on to be a producer and start my own company...
I find it’s no different these days as probably about a HUNDRED times as many people are writing songs and trying to be heard among the throng of independents. And many are still dreaming like it’s 1984 and they are about to signed to a record or publishing deal.
But in truth, what you need is to sharpen your songwriting steel against other steel that’s even sharper than yours. You need to take off your blinders, put a helmet on, and get your songs out there.
I harp on this all the time with artists. How will the world know about you and how will you ever improve without checking your skillz (mad or not) with professionals?
This does not mean your band mates who already think you are a prima donna, and since they don’t write, they don’t want you throwing your songs in their face again, besides haven’t they already told you that you rock, dude?
This does not mean your music minister. He’s heard them already and thinks you’re great. Although he still won’t sub any of your songs in for the standard praise and worship zombie nation choruses.
This certainly does not mean your parents. Oh sure, THEY are partial (unless you have really mean parents, then it could be the other way around).
No, you have to find pros.
You have to invest in your songs. You have to take the same care and creative power you put into writing them, and put that into finding folks to help you grow past where you are.
Have you noticed by showing them to your friends, family, and dog, that while they may have gushed, nodded, and wagged, YOU never really got better from that? That all the praise never helped you actually WRITE better?
As a producer and consultant I have the great pleasure of watching a strange side effect of artists and writers coming to town to work: They get better.
They get stretched. They get challenged. They get motivated and inspired to write in ways they never thought of before.
Have you ever had this happen? You write a song and make a demo, and you think it rocks. Everyone you know says it rocks.
Then you meet up with a pro. Maybe you travel to Nashville and you are sitting there with them, and they press play, and...you hear bad things. What? Wow that’s actually not very good. It’s kinda weak, and he’s gonna say it’s weak. Oh no. Why did I come here? I should go be a greeter at Walmart forever!
It’s because we actually HEAR things different when we are in the presence of someone who we know is more experienced than us. It still happens to me. I’ll go show a player or engineer a mix, or a song, and while I’m showing it (sometimes right before), I feel obliged to try and apologize.
Folks, there is value in getting evaluated by someone who works in this business all the time. Even for those of us who, um, work in this business all the time....
So, here’s this week’s challenge. Find someone in the industry. Approach them with your song(s). Invest in your writing in a way that will truly grow the very NEXT song you write.
It may not be your fifteen minutes of fame, but it certainly could be fifteen minutes that leads you to become a better writer.
Have a great week!
Eric Copeland has been humbled many times by trying to climb the songwriting mountain, but now tries to help songwriters in a positive way through his company Creative Soul in Nashville. Find out more at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com
- Eric Copeland
- Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com