Today, being a successful songwriter is not just about sitting down with your instrument and pouring out your heart and soul. Now it resembles more a juggler in a circus act. It takes songwriting balls! Once a song is completed, you can pat yourself on the back. But then you must throw the next balls into the air! Here’s a list of some skills (balls) that you’ll need along your songwriting journey:
There is no substitute for becoming the best songwriter you can be. Constantly learning and improving your skills is a must whether you are maintaining a songwriting career or just writing and growing for the fun of it.
Social Media Ball
Social media is becoming more and more important for letting the world know what you and your music are all about. It can help you network and find co-writers just like many of you have done on the SongTown Facebook page. Through social media, you can let friends and family know about upcoming shows you’re playing. Posting YouTube videos of your performances can drive traffic to your website, which might help you land that next gig.
Whether you’re recording your own songs for your project or getting your music placed on a TV show, understanding the basics of music publishing and how to collect your royalties is vital. The good news is that many indie artists I’ve worked with have new revenue streams that weren’t available a few years ago.
Recording Engineer Ball
Making quality demos at home has never been as easy or more affordable than it is today. A Mac laptop with Garageband and a simple mic/preamp/compressor set-up can often get your songs on TV or impress a new publisher into working with you. *Note: only attempt this if you have the technical head and enjoy it. The worse thing you can do is spend hours working on demos and find yourself disappointed with the outcome. And you won’t be writing as many songs as you once were. If you do have the inclination, then it can save you money on expensive demos!
Booking Agent/Manager Ball
Playing shows is still one of the best ways to get discovered, meet other talented writers and performers to work with, and have a lot of fun! Once you start calling on clubs and coffee houses to get gigs, designing and selling merchandise, and negotiating prices for your services, you’ll quickly realize you are officially a manager!
The Student Ball
Today it no longer works to have one thing you’re good at. The world changes fast. Songwriters have to constantly be learning and improving their craft. You can’t rest on your past success. Fortunately today, there are great books on songwriting. And places like SongTown have hours of video courses and lessons by pro writers.
This is perhaps the most important ball of all. Waking up every day with the courage to stare at a blank sheet of paper, create a new work of art, and then share it with the world takes a lot of courage. Most people are just not cut out for it. But that’s why you’re a songwriter. You show up and put into words and music the things most people are afraid to say.
Today there are many balls a songwriter has to juggle in the music circus. The good thing is you can be a jack-of-all-trades or you can master just a few and still define your own success. The important thing is to have fun with it!
Write On! Live On! Clay
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Author: Clay Mills