3 Tips For Pitching Your Songs to Recording Artists

[Editors Note: This article was written by Chelsea Ira.]

 

There are a lot of revenue streams available to songwriters, but today let’s focus on getting your songs cut by recording artists. This is something you see a lot in songwriter-hubs like Nashville, but you can pursue this kind of publishing income from anywhere, even if you’re just starting to make a name for yourself as a songwriter.

Today, I’m going to cover a few best practices that will help you move up in the songwriting industry. The world of songwriting can notoriously feel pretty closed off, so I’m going to focus on a few tips that will help you get your foot in the door.

Pitching Your Song – What Does it Mean?

Okay, first thing’s first, what does it actually mean to pitch your song to recording artists? Essentially, you (the songwriter) are licensing your song to a recording artist – you’re granting them the right to record and release your song in exchange for some payment.

Of course, in most cases this is a license, so you still own the song. That means, in addition to the publishing income, you’ll also get backend performance royalties any time their recording is played in public. In other words, this is something that can become a great source of recurring income.

1. Start Small and Climb the Ladder

Every songwriter dreams of getting their songs cut by some big-time recording artist. And while a big goal like that is an awesome thing to strive for, it may not be the best place to start. I want to avoid the “big break” mentality and instead focus on building up to success one-step at a time.

Let’s think about the numbers here… an extremely popular recording artist might get thousands of song pitches as they’re gearing up to release a new album. Going by statistics alone, standing out in that stack of songs is extremely difficult (especially if you have no connections to give you a recommendation).

It’s easy to get discouraged in these kinds of situations, and those little rejections can really slow down your momentum and your confidence.

Instead, let’s start small and build up little wins that will get your name (and your songs) out in the industry!

Do some research and target some smaller, up-and-coming recording artists and bands and pitch your songs to them. These guys are always looking for a great song that will get them noticed and if they start breaking into the bigger league with your song, your music is going to start getting attention from other recording artists and labels. It’s a win-win.

Of course, you have your reputation as a songwriter to consider as well, so really spend a lot of time on the research phase. You want to find musicians and bands that are dedicated and in it for the long run. Plus you need to make sure they will do your song justice.

2. Build Your Network

I think this point can often be overlooked, but as a songwriter you may not have a typical artist-fan structure for your career. Instead, you’re pitching your songs directly to recording artists and publishers should you choose to work with one – almost in more of a B2B (business to business) format. And that means, your network and your connections are everything.

A great way to build your web of connections in the publishing industry is to co-write with other songwriters. I know, you ultimately want to get to publishers and recording artists, but your relationships with songwriters can be a gateway to those connections.

You need to make sure your rights to any co-written song are protected, and for that, we recommend filling out a split sheet. A split sheet is a simple document that you and your co-writers fill out for each song you write together. It includes basic information like percentage ownership, PRO and publisher affiliation, and contact information. Most labels will want this kind of information before they move forward with any song, so it’s best to have everything down on paper from the start.

3. Relevancy is Key

Most recording artists want to use songs they can personally relate to – both musically and lyrically. Simply put, a pop singer probably won’t want to record a country song about growing up on a farm in Montana when her childhood was spent in busy New York. Relevancy is key.

With this in mind, it’s best to know as much as you can about the recording artists you want to pitch. Do your research, know their musical style, become familiar with their catalog of recordings, read interviews, and check out their bio to see if you have a song that might be a good fit.

When in doubt, opt for songs that deal with more universal themes that anyone can relate to – you know, love, loss, relationships, struggle.

If you think you have some songs with potential, only send those tracks along. A targeted, well-thought-out pitch will have a much bigger impact than spamming them with your whole catalog.


Chelsea Ira is the Director of Marketing at New Artist Model.

The Misery Myth: Why a Self-Destructive Attitude Won’t Improve Your Songwriting

[Editors Note: This article was written by Patrick McGuire.]

No matter how gratifying songwriting can be, making meaningful music and sharing it with the world is often tedious, thankless and discouraging. With that in mind, it’s no wonder so many artists associate emotional pain represented by addiction, depression and other self-destructive habits with songwriting gains. But while it might be tempting to liken the economy of songwriting to a bank where the more misery you put in the greater the songwriting returns, it’s just not true.

The Misery Myth

From modern songwriting greats like Elliott Smith, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to legendary musicians active all throughout the 20th century like John Coltrane and Bix Beiderbecke, misery has been associated with musical genius for a long time.

Some of the world’s most influential songwriters have fought and lost battles with addiction and depression on the world stage, so it only makes sense that music fans and songwriters equate self-destruction with songwriting talent and potency. And because the fact that pure, unbridled sadness is something everyone longs to relate to in music has never changed, the misery myth continues to persist and thrive today.

Recognizing the Problem

The fact that lots of phenomenal musicians have tragically succumbed to their own self-destructive behaviors doesn’t mean that misery is an essential ingredient for meaningful songwriting. There’s no telling what sort of music Elliott Smith would be making now if he were still alive today. Misery didn’t enhance his legacy, it ended it.

It’s time to recognize this problem for what it really is. Glamorizing self-destruction is foolish, destructive and completely disrespectful of musicians who’ve died battling their personal demons.

Music fans and songwriters alike have a habit of holding up a few examples of depressed, self-destructive musicians as sacred musical role models while ignoring the overwhelmingly vast majority of artists with the same behaviors who never became successful.

The truth is, things like substance addiction, depression and mental illness make it nearly impossible for musicians to create music. The great songwriters we associate with misery, self-harm and addiction somehow managed to musically thrive in spite of their demons, not because of them.

Rather than imitating and fetishizing self-destruction, if you want to become a great songwriter like Kurt Cobain, songwriters should try defining what it is they really admire about him.

Separating the Music From the Myth

Things like talent, musical intuition and consistent hard work are what make songwriters great.

And while dramatic stories about addiction and suicide often elevate artists to a legendary status, a songwriter’s legacy is built off their music, not their tragedy. Misery will only hurt you as a songwriter and as a functioning human being. If you want to thrive as a musician and writer, you’ll have to learn how to write great music. Using self-harm and destruction as tools to relate and connect with your listeners will only end up making true, impactful music a more difficult and remote goal to achieve.

Creating meaningful music over the long term is almost impossible without taking care of yourself. That’s something that isn’t discussed much in our culture for the simple fact that it’s less dramatic and sexy as the misery myth, but it’s true. It’s absolutely possible to emotionally resonate with listeners while being healthy and centered.

In fact, that’s a position the majority of musicians working today operate from. If every songwriter in the music industry was perpetually high, suicidal and on the brink of death, the world would have much less music. If you want to make meaningful music, misery in all its forms something important to write about, but it alone just isn’t capable of doing the job.


Patrick McGuire is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.

How To Write a Killer Guitar Hook

[Editors Note: This was written by Sarah Jacobs.]

The hook is basically what keeps you hooked on a song. It’s a selling point, that group of notes or that phrase that stays stuck in your head and makes you sing, headband, or rock out on your air guitar. Most of the time it’s the first thing that comes to mind when you mention a song’s title, and it’s what most musicians usually start out with when composing as it serves as the foundation for the verses of a song.

Consider the lines “We are the champions,” “I can’t get no satisfaction” and even “Ah, ha, ha, ha – stayin’ alive” – these are all popular hooks that have made their respective songs easy to recall. Of course, it helps that these are also part of the song titles, but not all hooks are in the titles or the chorus. Blur’s “Song 2,” for example, has “Whoo hoo!” that sets off the hook.

Writing for Gibson, Ted Drozdowski says that for guitar players, it’s wise to think of hooks as riffs. Riffs have the power to pull listeners right into a tune – recall the riffs of great guitar players in Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and you’ll see what riffs can do to make a song a hit.

What makes a great guitar hook?

Before you go writing a hook, it’s first important to know what makes a hook a great one. If you listen to the most iconic hooks in music, you’ll notice that they’re all short and easily repeatable. When writing a guitar hook, keep in mind that the longer it is, the harder it is to remember, which defeats the purpose of a hook – so keep your hook short and simple.

Music producer Kim Copeland says that different music genres rely on different types of hooks to sell songs. Country songs, for example, almost always have a story and characters. Country music artists are storytellers, which is why their songs would usually have a hook at the beginning or end of the chorus, or at the beginning or end of each section of verse. A great example is country favorite “Always On My Mind.”

For pop music, a melodic hook is key. The melody is what makes people burst into song, (even if they don’t want to), and what makes earworms stay in our heads seemingly forever. Hooks in pop songs make lyrics singable and hard to get away from – Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is one song you probably can never shake off because of its catchy hook.

And for rock music, you’ll agree that the most hooky hooks are there at the very beginning, way before you even hear a vocal melody. Copeland mentions AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as a prime example of a song with a killer hook.

So how do you come up with a guitar hook that will get people hooked, keep them listening and make them invested in the song and your music? Let’s look into three different kinds of hooks and what you can do to create them. By the way, you don’t have to stick to just one type of hook in a song – experiment and see which ones work best alone and which would work well together. Let’s get started!

The Rhythm Hook

The rhythmic hook uses a combination of instruments and essentially establishes a beat-rhythm combo upon which a song is built. Many of Stevie Wonder’s hits in the Seventies are built on rhythm hooks, such as “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “Superstition.” Creating a powerful rhythmic hook involves these steps:

  1. Keep a steady beat by slapping your knee or tapping your foot.
  2. Improvise (sing or hum) a short, catchy 4- or 8-beat rhythm.
  3. Come up with a one- or two-chord progression that sounds interesting when repeated, such as C-Bb, C-Fm7, C-Eb and so on.
  4. Make a bass line where the end connects easily and smoothly back to the beginning of the line. Make sure that this bass line has a catchy rhythm, one that is ideally different in rhythm as the guitar or other instruments.

The Intro Hook

The intro hook is mainly a melodic idea that, as its name suggests, gets established in the first few bars of the song. It is then repeated throughout the song over and over but it isn’t always present – it appears then drops out. Some examples of songs with an iconic intro hook are “Smoke on the Water” and “Moves Like Jagger.” The following steps can help you write your own intro hook:

  1. Think of a catchy rhythm (4 to 8 beats) and base a melodic idea on it.
  2. Stick to the pentatonic scale notes C, D, E, G and/or A (in C major).
  3. Come up with three separate chord progressions to accompany the hook. These chord progressions should be able to function as chorus, verse and bridge progressions.
  4. Let the hook appear and disappear throughout the song.

The Background Instrumental Hook

“With or Without You” by U2 and “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan are two fine examples of songs with great instrumental hooks. The instrumental hook is usually added to an already completed song, and it works well in combination with other types of hooks. Here’s how to create one:

  1. Make a short 2- to 4-beat riff (with a distinctive rhythm) on your guitar. The guitar riff should be able to be accompanied by most chords in the key you’ve chosen.
  2. Focus on using it mainly in the song’s chorus but instead of putting it on top of the chorus lyrics, fit it in and around the lyrics. Think of the instrumental hook as a counterpoint or answer to a chorus lyric.
  3. Let the hook stay in the background, complementing the other hooks you already have.

Now that you’ve come up with a hook (or at least an idea for one that you want to try), get songwriting! Remember to repeat, repeat and repeat – but not too much. Give your song a listen with different hook repetitions and you’ll know when it’s too much so you can adjust and make it just right. Change the rhythm between verses and choruses, or add effects like stuttering and pauses for variety. Lastly, make sure you highlight the hook. Again, the hook is the song’s selling point, so make it easy for listeners to pick out and sing or air guitar along to. Good luck and have fun!


Sarah Jacobs is a blogger at Know Your Instrument.

4 Music Theory Techniques To Help You Write a Great Chorus

[Editors Note: This article was written by Chelsea Ira of New Artist Model.]

 

I want you to think of some of your favorite songs. You know, those choruses you could sing over and over for hours and still not be sick of them.

How do you think those songwriters stumbled upon something so seemingly perfect?

Was it a bolt of inspiration out of the blue?

Or did it stem from their understanding of music and countless hours of practice?

More likely than not, it was a combination of the two. In songwriting, it’s important to find a balance between chasing inspiration and developing your skills. Too much or too little focus on either could leave you in a frustrating writer’s block.

But today I want to focus on the technical side of things. More specifically, I want to go through a few music theory techniques that you can use to spark killer chorus ideas and get your inspiration flowing.

Of course, these are only ideas to get you started. If inspiration strikes, follow your creativity and even break some music theory rules!

1. Simplify Things Down to a Motif

As songwriters we can sometimes get caught up in the big elaborate vision we have for a chorus. This top-down approach to songwriting can certainly work, but it’s very easy for the essence of the hook to get lost amidst everything else. And then you’ll end up with a non-descript chorus that falls flat compared to the initial vision you heard in your head.

In other words, the hook gets lost in translation.

An easy way to get past this is to simplify your idea, narrowing it down to one or two motifs – then build up from there.

In music theory, a motif is a short musical idea that is used to build phrases, melodies, riffs, and grooves. Typically, motifs are very short and simple. Think of them like small little Lego blocks that can be stuck together in multiple different ways to create larger things.

I can’t emphasize simple enough when it comes to motifs. Often it’s the songs that use the simplest motifs that really stick in our heads.

Blues songs are one of the easiest places to see motifs at work. Take a listen to Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues and you’ll hear a motif in the first line of the lyrics, starting on A, going up to B♭ and C, and then back down to F. That motif is repeated with subtle variations and is answered by a second motif.

Another example is Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. I know – it’s not exactly modern music. But, it’s a great example of just how powerful simple motifs can be. Almost everything in the song is created and derived from that iconic four-note motif. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Next time you’re stuck on a chorus, try simplifying things down and really think about the motifs you’re using. Try making small changes or variations to those motifs and stringing them together in different orders. Starting from the core of your hook and working out from there will give your choruses a very strong and cohesive sound.

2. Play With Sequences

Expectation and anticipation is something every great chorus harnesses. You want the listener to be expecting and waiting for that hook to come around – the hook and the sections leading up to it should almost act like a magnet that draws the ear to the most important part of your song.

In music theory, one technique you can use to create expectation for your hook is a sequence. A sequence is a musical idea that is transposed and repeated to create a pattern.

A motivic sequence is made up of a motif that is transposed and repeated using specific interval pattern. (For example you could move the motif down by a 4th and up by a 2nd.)

A harmonic sequence is made up of a set of chords that follow a particular interval pattern.

Our ears latch onto musical patterns by nature, so as soon as you establish a sequence your listener will catch on and begin anticipating where the music will go next.

In songwriting, you can use this to really build things up before or during your chorus and draw the ear into your hook.

Alternatively, you could also create expectation with a sequence and not follow through by playing something completely unexpected to create tension.

3. Pull From the Notes in Your Chord Progression

The notes in a chord will always be the strongest, so they can be a great starting point when you’re writing a strong melody for a chorus.

You see this all the time in popular songs. The hook will pull out one or two notes from the chord(s) underneath it, or even outline all the notes in the chord. Using your melodies to drive home the key notes in your chord progressions can create an overall more cohesive sound and a much stronger composition.

Of course, you don’t need to only use notes from your chords. Try using them as a sort of outline for your hook.

If you write melody first, try going back and creating a chord progression that incorporates some of those main melody notes. If you write chords first, try pulling out key notes to create an outline for your melody.

If you want to expand on this idea even more, try looking into modes. If you’re playing in they key of C Major, use the G Mixolydian mode to create the melody line over the G Major chord and the F Lydian mode to create the melody line over the F Major chord. This just allows you to pull out those strong notes that will really get your hook to stand out.

4. Harness the Power of Repetition and Subtle Variations

Repetition is often the thing that really drives a strong hook home.

Think about songs like “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. The chorus is simple and it’s played over and over (and over) again. But despite all that repetition, it’s pretty tough to get sick of that song.

Why?

If you take a closer listen, you’ll notice that there are subtle variations in each chorus. Different instruments are added into the mix and small compositional changes help keep things fresh.

Once you have a great hook or chorus, experiment with it, see all the different ways you can subtly manipulate it, and use those variations in your song to really get that hook in your listeners’ heads.


It goes without saying that if you want to write hooks and choruses like the greats, you should study their work. Make a habit to try to really dissect some of the choruses from your favorite songs to see what’s going on.

We gave you a few examples in this article, but if you want more, you can download the ebook Inside the Hits: The Secrets Behind 10 Hit Songs for free here. In that book you’ll see what’s going on from a music theory perspective behind 10 big hits by artists like Rihanna, The Police, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Jay-Z, Johnny Cash, and more.

An Examination of the Songwriter & Music Publisher Relationship [PART 2]

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Read Part 1 of this series here. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

We will now continue our examination of some of standard clauses contained in the music publishing company’s exclusive agreement with a songwriter.

Below is another clause included in a major publishing agreement.

ROYALTIES – Provided that Publisher has recouped any and all monies payable to Writer under this Agreement, Publisher shall pay to Writer the following royalties with respect to the exploitation of the Compositions: 

(a) Mechanical Income – fifty percent (50%) of Publisher’s Net Receipts derived from the license of the Compositions. 

(b) Synchronization Income – fifty percent (50%) of Publisher’s Net Receipts derived from the license of the Compositions for use in commercials and synchronized in audiovisual works. 

(c) Print Income – fifty percent (50%) of Publisher’s Net Receipts derived from the licensing of the right to print, publish or sell printed editions or other printed reproductions of the Compositions. 

As the paragraph heading states, the above language describes the royalty rate that the writer earns. It is important to note, similar to most agreements in the music industry; the music publisher must first recoup “any and all monies” already paid to the writer, such as advances or other costs or expenses incurred on behalf of the songwriter, prior to the songwriter earning any of the above listed royalties. This means that until the writer’s account is balanced, they will receive no additional funds from the publisher.

However, once the songwriter recoups the outstanding balance, they will begin to earn royalties based on the above listed percentages. For instance under the above language, the writer is entitled to fifty percent (50%) of the “mechanical income” (CDs, Downloads), fifty percent (50%) of the “synch income” (song used in motion picture or television show), and fifty percent (50%) of the print income (printed or digital sheet music).

The listed percentages are fairly standard and are applicable to most exclusive publishing deals. Nevertheless, it is prudent to at least attempt to negotiate for higher percentages or better provisions; ultimately, the publisher may not agree to any increase.

Writer warrants he is a writer member and publishing member in good standing of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. In the event that Writer is in breach of Writer’s warranty of being a member in good standing of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, Writer hereby warrants he will become a member in good standing of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. 

In addition to the above listed clauses, most standard publishing deals require the songwriter to be a member in good standing with their respective country’s P.R.O. This is typically due to the publisher requiring the P.R.O.’s assistance in collecting the public performance royalties due for the licensing of compositions. If a writer is not in good standing or is not a member of a P.R.O. at all, it could potentially cause issues in the publisher receiving payments, which they want to avoid. The above language helps obviate the issue by requiring that the songwriter warrant they are in good standing with their P.R.O. and will stay as such.

OPTION TO PURCHASE – In the event that Writer desires to grant, sell, license or otherwise transfer any right, title or interest in or to any of the Compositions, for a period of thirty (30) days, Writer hereby agrees to negotiate in good faith exclusively with Publisher, and to exert best efforts to reach an agreement with Publisher for Publisher’s acquisition of such rights in and to the Compositions. In the event that Publisher and Writer fail to finalize the terms of such agreement by the end of the thirty (30) day period, then Writer shall thereafter be free to negotiate with any third party for the sale, license or other transfer of such rights, but only on terms and conditions that are no less favorable to Writer than those last offered by Publisher. Furthermore, if Writer receives an offer from a third-party at any time (the “Third Party Offer”) to purchase all or any portion of Writer’s interest in the Compositions, or any one of them, and Writer desires to sell such interest, Writer agrees to first offer in writing to sell such interest to Publisher (the “First Offer”).

The First Offer must specify all of the terms and conditions of the Third Party Offer. In the event Publisher does not agree to match the First Offer within fifteen (15) days after Publisher’s receipt thereof, then Writer will have the right to accept the Third Party Offer. However, any sale to such third party must be consummated upon terms no less favorable to Publisher as those contained in the First Offer. If such sale is not so consummated, Writer will not sell all or any portion of Writer’s interest in the Composition(s) or any one of them without again offering such interest to Publisher as provided hereinabove. 

One way a publishing company ensures that they can potentially retain rights to lucrative materials after the expiration of the agreement is through a right of first refusal or a “matching right.” As described above, a right of first refusal provides the publishing company with the option to purchase a composition and/or all of the compositions, if the writer is attempting to sell the rights to the material. This language provides the publisher with a proscribed time period (30 days) where the writer must present any third-party offer they receive for the material to the original publisher.

The publisher then has a specified time period (15 days) to either match the third-party offer or to pass. If the publisher matches the offer, then a deal will be finalized on those terms; however, if the publisher fails to match the third-party offer, the writer is free to enter into a new arrangement with the third-party on the same terms as those presented to the original publisher. The above specific language requires that the deal must be consummated no later than a specified period of time (15 days). If the deal with the third-party is not finalized by the end of this time period, the original publisher has an additional opportunity to purchase the composition(s) for the same terms as those offered by the third-party to the writer.

Since “publishing” money is one of the most lucrative and consistent streams of income in the music business and music publishers are the top facilitators of licensing in this space, it is prudent to fully understand how they function and the best way to approach them. Overall, most standard deals are negotiable and should be viewed as so.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney specializing in the field should be consulted. Some of the clauses have been condensed and/or edited for content purposes, so none of these clauses should be used verbatim nor do they act as any form of legal advice or counseling.

Making Music After a Major Life Struggle

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

I used to admire how some of my favorite artists could seamlessly convert the most difficult challenges of their lives into incredible songs. But I found it nearly impossible to do just about anything, let alone write music, in November 2016 after my right elbow was shattered in a hit-and-run biking accident. Realizing that the process of pulling potent lyrics and memorable melodies out of my sudden intense pain and turmoil was going to be anything but easy and straightforward, I’d stare at my computer screen for a few minutes and retreat back to bed after using my good arm to set up my small MIDI keyboard that I planned on writing melodies and bass lines with.

Yes, making and experiencing music can be a powerful agent of therapy and comfort in all things – not just life’s unexpected traumas and setbacks – but it can be hugely difficult or downright impossible to keep writing songs after experiencing death or loss, or any other significant trouble. After undergoing the first of two surgeries I’d eventually need to bring full functionality back to my arm, I soon defiantly returned to songwriting in a percocet-induced haze, but the ideas I managed to eek out seemed uninspired and forced to me.

‘I’ve got plenty to write about,’ I thought. Why isn’t this working?

After a major setback, we’re often eager to make something good come out of a horrible experience, but that’s not always the way it works. For me, I couldn’t make meaningful music again until I was able to fully process and cope with what had happened to me. Yes, I needed and still need a consistent songwriting practice to feel happy and fulfilled, but I was woefully preoccupied at the time with more pressing matters like simply staying afloat as a human being.

Depending on your situation, you simply might not be able to find the time, energy and resources to make music after the trauma you’ve experienced, and that’s okay. That’s not a failing on your part or representative of you as a person. This can be a really difficult thing to accept if you’re a person who uses music-making in your life as a means to stay sane and creatively productive; but like with most things, the passing of time is the only thing that can get you back to doing the things you love.

It took me months before I was able to start making music again at full capacity. The most obvious challenge in writing and producing music after my accident was the temporary loss of my right and dominant arm –– I play guitar and keys –– but depending on your unique trauma, you’ll face an entirely different set of hurdles that need to be cleared.

If you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you, the act of creating music might be something that loses its meaning for a while.

For someone experiencing financial trouble like the loss of a job or an unforeseen medical expense, you might be forced to choose between finding time to make ends meet and making music.

But like with everything after experiencing a huge setback, it’s paramount to keep trying to get back to a sense of normalcy. Maybe you’ll be able to make some incredible music after your trauma about what you’ve experienced, but a more realistic goal is to return to your usual songwriting process whenever you’re able to. This way you won’t have to deal with your problems while facing pressure to create a masterpiece out of them at the same time.

Some musicians are able to completely immerse themselves in their work as a means for coping with life’s struggles, but you shouldn’t be discouraged if you’re someone without the means and inspiration to do the same thing.

Stories of how artists make music inspired by death, breakups and other traumas are good for dramatic bios and press releases, but they don’t reflect the often tedious difficult work of songwriting. If the music you make after a life struggle isn’t emotionally raw or moving, that’s okay. It might take a long time for you to make compelling music again, but you should do everything you can to be kind to yourself and to celebrate your songwriting efforts after experiencing hardship no matter what sort of music you manage to create.

It’s coming up on the 12-month anniversary of my accident, and my songwriting isn’t the same if I’m being honest. But how could it be? I’m a little better after what happened to me in some ways and noticeably worse in others. That’s life for you, right? All I can do is move forward the best way I can and be grateful that I still have the desire and means to still be making music.