4 ways traveling can make your music better
Whether you’re experiencing writer’s block or simply looking to branch out creatively and stylistically, travel can be a great way to broaden your horizons and imbue your songwriting with fresh inspiration.
Guest post by Patrick McGuire of the ReverbNation Blog
If you feel stuck in your music-making process, traveling is one of the best ways to shake things up. Whether you’re heading out on a long tour or a trip around the world, leaving home and embracing the unknown is something that can inspire your creative process and alter the way you view life. Here are four ways that traveling can improve your music:
Creates new personal connections
You’ll meet people traveling that you never would’ve run into at home. Every person you’ll come across while traveling or touring is different and offers a unique perspective, and these connections will ultimately shape and color your music. You don’t need to be especially close to someone you meet on your travels for them to impact your music. Instead, you simply need to be open to the experience of meeting new people and allowing what you observe to inform your music. Some relationships influence your music in subtle ways while others make big impacts. If you’re touring and forming connections with other musicians, you’ll have the added benefit of forming creative relationships that can help your music and career for years to come. When you’re open to meeting new people while traveling, your music improves as your views of the world expand.
Inspires your creative process
It’s easy to feel lost or uninspired during the songwriting process, especially if you’ve already been making music for years. But a huge benefit of traveling is that getting away from the familiarity of your surroundings has a tendency to energize creativity and unlock ideas. You don’t necessarily need to fly across the world and have profound experiences for this to happen. A week-long tour, impromptu road trip, or a quick weekend away from home could do the trick if you simply need to change your surroundings, though longer trips will probably deliver more inspiration than shorter ones.
Exposes you to new music
If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel around the world, you’ll hear music on your travels that you never would’ve been exposed to at home. But even tours around your home country or the region surrounding where you live will give you the chance to hear new music. You might love being a professional musician, but seeking out new music takes effort. Traveling and touring take the work out of doing this because unfamiliar music surrounds you whether you want it to or not whether it’s in a taxi, at a market, or at a cultural event. And, keep in mind, you don’t need to necessarily like the music you hear for it to make an impact on your work. Sometimes the benefit comes from hearing something and knowing it’s not the direction you want your work to go in. If you travel with an open, curious mind, you’ll get the benefits of exposure to new and unfamiliar music.
Shows you other ways of seeing the world
As a songwriter, your music will suffer if you stick to singular ways of thinking about music and approaching your craft. Traveling shows you new ways of experiencing the world through alternative perspectives, different cultures, and new ideas. Your songwriting practice can’t thrive without newness and energy, and travel delivers these benefits. It might not seem like it, but you’re faced with endless choices every time you write new music. Traveling will reveal completely new ways of thinking about and seeing yourself and the world around you.
If you feel bored with your music and unsure how to move forward, booking a long tour or going on an extended trip can help shake loose ideas and bring inspiration back into your process. But there’s a catch. Travel won’t benefit you or your music one bit if you’re not willing to do the work of paying attention to your life and the complicated world around you. Inspiration won’t show up for you unless you show up for it first, and this applies whether you’re working in your home studio or are halfway across the world in an unfamiliar place. With the right mindset, traveling and touring can gift you with a renewed musical perspective and energy that will fuel your process and shape your ideas.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.