Meaning Something to Someone

What metric do you use to measure your songwriting success? Is it money? The size of your fanbase? Your own personal sense of musical satisfaction?

For me, it’s all about satisfying my musical soul. The music I write needs to be expressing some part of my innermost being. Not to be too corny about it, but my music needs to sound like a musical version of me. That’s my aim, every time I write something.


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But I have to say, I get a real kick out of people who tell me that the music I’ve written has powerfully affected them. Does that mean that, unbeknownst to me, I’ve been writing simply to please others? If that’s where I get my biggest thrill, are my priorities skewed?

What about you? Would you get your biggest thrill if you were told that your songs have, as you often hear said, “been the soundtrack” of someone’s youth?

Honesty is such a crucial part of good songwriting. The only way I know of to write honestly is to write for yourself. But I think for any good songwriter, there’s this other angle that’s always important: writing songs that mean something to someone else.

It’s possible to do both, of course. You can write songs that express yourself in honest ways, with a secondary goal of pleasing others. Bu tit has to be in that order: yourself first, others second, no matter how big a thrill you get from the excitement of your fanbase.

By putting yourself first, you allow your musical writing style to evolve naturally. With every song you write, you build on your artistic advancements, and your music changes.

Some of your adoring public will go along with you simply because they’ve learned to trust you as a musician and songwriter.

Others will abandon you, as your songwriting evolution takes you to places they’re not willing to go.

That’s fine. You do the same thing. You abandon songwriters and performers that have gone in directions you don’t like.

The building of a fanbase means losing some but gaining more. As long as the songs you’re putting out there are expressing the real you, your songs will mean something to someone, in very important ways.

And meaning something to someone is a powerful source of inspiration that can keep you writing a long, long time.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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