We publish pieces daily that show the latest in how to market music, but its essential to remember that it all starts with great songs. Music industry veteran and D.I.Y. guru Dave Kusek of New Artist Model offers 2 key lessons that drive all successful songwriters.
By Dave Kusek of New Artist Model
How do you think all the greatest songwriters got to where they are today? It’s easy to tell ourselves that they were born naturally talented and that we could never get to their level. But the truth is, behind every great songwriter is years and years of learning, frustration, struggles with writer’s block, and practice. But all that hard work that went on before they were famous isn’t what we see now. Now, we just see the outer facade of the career they’ve created.
They started out exactly where you did - in their room with an instrument and a notebook - and they built up from there. But there are two things that all great songwriters have in common: they were always learning from anyone they could, and they made their own opportunities.
Songwriting requires a lot of creativity, and a lot of times we think that creativity is an uncontrollable force that just hits us at some times and disappears at others. This is partly true - creativity is, by nature, spontaneous, but it’s actually something you can train.
The great songwriters in Nashville don’t have the convenience of only writing when they’re feeling particularly inspired. If they get a job, they need to get it done whether they’re “in the zone” or not. To put it simply, “writer’s block” isn’t a term in their vocabularies.
If you take the time to learn songwriting techniques and set up a writing schedule for yourself, you won’t have to rely on raw creativity as much. Set aside a half hour or an hour each day to just sit down and write - whether you’re feeling inspired or not. At first, it will be challenging, but eventually, you’ll find that songwriting becomes more of a skill.
You should also set aside time to learn. Just like playing guitar or piano, there are techniques for songwriting. You can learn ways to structure your songs, new ways to think about words, and methods for putting chords to your melodies. Of course, you can learn these techniques over time, but the absolute best way is to learn from other songwriters with more experience than you. Find songwriters to co-write with, take lessons or classes at your school or university, or take advantage of the wealth of information online.
Songwriters Kickstart is one of the online programs available for songwriters. Unlike other online courses, Songwriters Kickstart teaches both songwriting techniques and music business strategies to help you grow your fanbase, and get gigs and performance opportunities. A huge part of being a songwriter is sharing your songs with the world and having people relate to them, so having a basic understanding of how to promote your music is a must. If you’d like to learn more, you can sign up for free lessons taken straight from the Songwriters Kickstart program here.
There’s a common misconception in the songwriting world that some publishing company will come in, swoop you up, and give you your big break. While major and indie publishing companies do still play a big role in the career of a songwriter, it’s important to remember that you make your own opportunities.
Don’t sit in your room writing songs for hours and hours on end hoping that a publishing company will find you. The truth is, unless you get your songs out there, they probably won’t know you exist no matter how good you are.
Be proactive, get out there, and start setting the foundation for your own opportunities. Start performing at local open mic nights, collaborate with a local band on a song, perform at events, start building up a following on Facebook, release your originals and cover songs on YouTube to create some awareness, and start growing your email list. The more active you are in the music community, the better your chance of catching the eye of a publishing company. But if the publishing deal just doesn’t work out, you’ll still be setting your own foundation for a great indie career.
If you don’t know how to start getting all these things in motion, we go through a lot of it in the Songwriters Kickstart program. You’ll learn how to set up social media channels for your music, how to start using YouTube to grow your fanbase, how to create a professional website, how to start collecting emails, what to send to your email subscribers, how to start gigging, plus much more. If you’d like to learn more about the program, sign up for these free video lessons taken straight from the course.