Starting out as a songwriter is an exciting time, perfect for those who want to be surrounded by creativity and watch bright ideas come to life. The path to this world can be both thrilling and challenging as you start the chase for the perfect lyric, melody and song that can capture the hearts of many.
This week at our Music Industry Mondays event, we spoke with BEKA and Joel Baker, incredible songwriters who are currently smashing it in the field. We uncovered some real gems in the full-length talk that you can watch here but we’re also going to be kind and give you a quick rundown in this post.
How do you navigate the initial steps of your musical journey? What are the best ways to overcome writer’s block? How do you embrace the art of collaboration? We’re going to let you know.
Starting off as a songwriter
The best thing about songwriting is that you don’t need a degree or any fancy background to get started. BEKA struggled with the whole “Do I pursue my passion, or should I be “sensible”?” thing and ultimately realised being sensible really just meant daydreaming about your passion all day and ending up choosing passion. Evidently, she made the right choice as she’s now worked with people like Dan Smith and the Noisettes.
Joel on the other hand was made to be sensible and studied politics (of all things) but it did teach him a thing or two about professionalism in the music industry. No time wasted!
The beginning steps to becoming a songwriter are crucial. You’re probably already doing one of the steps which is immersing yourself in music of all genres and finding inspiration. But don’t stop there.
When it comes to writing lyrics and coming up with melodies, BEKA says to use your own experiences. What did the wind sound like in long car rides home when you were little or maybe the little bell on the door of the tiny bookshop you visited the other day had just the right pitch. Use your surroundings and create.
This is a time to find your unique voice so experiment, take risks and make sure you always stay authentic.
Overcoming (song)writer’s block
The enemy of all writers. The first thing you should know about writer’s block is that all the greats struggle with it. (If you’re struggling right now, congrats, you’re a great). It always feels worse when you’re in the middle of it but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
When this time arises, always look for change. A change of scenery or even focusing on a completely different idea can go a long way. Joel advises one of our lovely audience members to let ideas marinate.
Letting go of an idea that isn’t working at the time and moving on to something else may be just what that original idea needed. Sometimes you just need to come to grips with the fact that today isn’t your day. Like Joel, you can think of this process like a pregnancy. Perhaps the idea is still growing and needs some time before it can be born fully formed.
You can also try collaborating with other people and find new perspectives on what you’re working on. Most people prefer working on their craft on their own, maybe even to avoid others taking their ideas to places they don’t particularly like. But in this case, it’s a good avenue to try. Other people can help you see things in a new light and help you find your way through the block.
The art of collaboration
Collaborating with fellow creatives can be some of the best moments of your life. Being in a room with people on your wavelength all coming together with a collective vision in mind is sure to create some amazing ideas and final pieces.
But this extends beyond just sharing ideas. It’s where you can blend your ideas with others to create something even greater. And finding the right people to do this with makes it all the better.
Make sure you’re in an environment where you feel like your ideas are safe and will be heard. A space with open communication, diversity, unique experiences and where ideas can flow freely are key to a good collab experience. Also, don’t be afraid of constructive feedback and see it as an opportunity for growth rather than someone just being a downer.
Collaborating with others will not only refine your songwriting skills but also allow you to make solid connections that might be helpful throughout the rest of your career.
Whether you're just starting out or you feel more confident in your abilities, the heart of songwriting lies in expressing yourself authentically. There’s no particular right or wrong way to be a songwriter as long as you stay true to yourself throughout the process.
If you want to hear more from some actual songwriters, don’t forget you can check out the full talk with BEKA and Joel here. You can also join us live for more talks like this at our Music Industry Mondays events. Grab your free tickets here!