WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING?
I was meant to be in Austria today, but as a lot of us have had too, plans changed.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” - Yogi Berra
As a songwriter you have to be more than one thing:
Singing guide vocals when you are not really a singer.
Playing an instrument but you might not be confident as a gigging musician.
Arranging and producing but not a full time producer.
It can create some confusion, it did for me, and I had to decide what I was going to focus on. This was an area unfortunately lacking in the mentoring I received. I had to work a lot of it out myself, and to be honest I still am.
Where are you going?
Have you ever opened a window to let a fly out? They seem so focused on their current struggle against the glass they still can't get out. I wondered if we can be like that sometimes, so focused on the end goal that we can't see that what we are doing right now isn't helping actually get to that goal.
Here are some basic questions to try and answer for yourself:
Why do I write songs?
Who is my intended audience?
What are my ultimate career goals?
Is what I'm doing right NOW actually helping me get nearer to achieving that?
Am I actually enjoying what I'm doing?
Setting goals - External vs Internal
Setting SMART goals is always the advice. Work out the small steps towards your big goals. I suggest that isn’t always so smart. The biggest problem with this approach is that often we set our goals on what other people perceive as success. That can often be unrealistic
DON’T define your goals by external measures such as social media followers, likes, subscribers, stream counts, the number of Platinum discs on your wall. If you do, your success will always depend on someone else. I accept these things might be indicators of success, but they are not success itself, and will usually lead to frustration.
DEFINE your goals by what gives you an internal sense of fulfilment. Define it around how your music sounds when it makes you feel good. If it makes you feel good, then it stands a chance of making others feel that way.
How do you want people to feel when they hear your music? Try to write down some images that match that feeling. What colours, do a Google search for images that could be like that feeling. Look at other images that are similar. You can even Google search using an image rather than a word or phrase.
This can really help you pin down what it is that you are seeking and what success looks like to you. It can also be really helpful if you are trying to create a new band name, artist pseudonym, or brand for your music.
My own analysis of what I enjoyed and felt I was good at, made me realise that I needed to major in lyric writing. That doesn't mean I will never do all the other things I listed at the start, it just means I'm clear about my focus.
Having a lack of direction is tough, especially when you are starting out, you know nothing, and no one! It’s worth trying a lot of things out to see what you like, but it's also useful to find someone who can mentor or coach you. A bit of guidance might just save wasting time and focus your efforts in a more productive way. Producer vs Songwriter. Artist vs Songwriter. Who to write with - missed opportunities because you were chased down some unrealistic dream.
There is no doubt; having clear Goals and Strategies will help you make better decisions for your music career.
If you need help working out what your goals are, or what your next step is in your music career, then please do contact me. I would be more than happy to try to help or offer guidance based on my own experiences so far.