Recording Artist Advocate: Stay relavent

Have you ever really liked a band and then as they become successful their music just gets… not as good? Or all their songs are the same? Or they piss you off by how much they’ve changed?

I think one reason is that they have a lifetime of experiences to write about at first and their songs are great. Then when life consists of playing and promoting their music, they run out of material.

There is another thing that I think contributes to this, the struggle to be successful. It’s from that struggle that the best material is born. When things are hard, when relationships come apart, when you really hurt – that’s when you feel things with the intensity to write the best material. Artists going through their lowest times have written even the best or most inspiring songs.

When all your bills are paid and everyone wants to be your friend and your living the dream playing to bigger and bigger crowds, where is that stress that produced such deep material?

Unless you want to write songs about the struggles of finding good investments, or how frustrating it is to keep a good personal assistant, you need to find a way to stay in touch with real life. Or the life of the people who will be buying your music and coming to your shows.

Even becoming a successful regional touring band is a life very far removed from normal. Do we really need another song about life on the road? Really?

I ask successful artists how they write from a perspective their audience can relate to. One answer I get a lot is to talk to them. Work the merchandise table and the meet and greets. Instead of talking all the time, ask questions and really listen. From real people with their real stories come some real great songs.

You can do this with your online presence too, but face-to-face is better.

Finally, realize that you can reveal as much or as little of yourself as you choose. Don’t let an interviewer pin you down if you don’t want to reveal something. You can say, “I’m not political.” Or, “I don’t know enough to have an opinion on that.” It’s not that you are playing a character or being artificial, but you can keep parts of yourself and your personal life private. This is especially true if that would create distance between you and your audience.  

Try to live with open eyes and take in experiences like you did before. And keep writing.