Art, music, and identity as a step forward

  • by
  • News

I heard this story about a songwriting class.

I think it was on an old CD Baby podcast, but I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, the story involves a songwriter roundtable at a college of music, one of those contexts where students share songs and receive feedback.

As I remember it, some of the students would share their music without comment or explanation, just plopping the song on the table like a cat with a dead bird. Some would share self-deprecatingly, like, “Eh, I just wrote this in thirty minutes the other night, it kind of sucks, please tear it apart.”

(This is probably how I’d share my own music, fwiw – set a low bar and you’re less likely to trip over it, you know?)

And then some would introduce their songs as if they were precious little children. One student, apparently, had the audacity to open their performance like this: “I believe that God gave me this song.”

What an intro, right?

So, the student played the song. The class listened in rapt attention. And after the last notes had died away, the professor cleared his throat and said:

“Well, it’s a shame that God gave you a shit song.”

This story cracks me up. It also terrifies me.

This sort of gap between internal expectation and external reality is one of the scariest things in the world, because it opens up the potential for deep shame. Do you remember those people who’d go on American Idol convinced they could sing, only to reveal an impressive talent for tone-deafness as they became the 2004 equivalent of a meme? It’s like that.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this:

There’s probably no way to totally bridge that gap – to ensure that you have an internal perspective on your art that exactly matches its external reception. But I think, as an artist, you can make the gap less of a shame-inducing abyss and more of a crack in the sidewalk by doing two things:

You should…

Detach your identity from your songs. (Stop being so precious about them.)

Make a whole lot more of them.

Both of these things are easier said than done. Still, they’re worth doing.

At Two Story Media, I’m getting increasingly wary of working on projects that carry the pressure of being “the best song” an artist has ever made, or their “big shot” at breaking a hit. Campaigns for those types of things usually end up being a disappointment.

There’s much less pressure when you treat each piece of art as a step forward.

You should celebrate each one, for sure, and it’s nice to be generally confident in the direction you’re going.

But remember that, if you’re doing this right, there should be many more steps and many more songs. And on the other hand, if you deliberate endlessly over making the perfect one, you won’t ever get anywhere.

So that’s what I’ve got. Here’s hoping you value your music, and that you keep making it.

The post Art, music, and identity as a step forward appeared first on Two Story Melody.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.