What do you do to make yourself “better”?
If you are a songwriter (and actually, no matter who you are), you need to be asking yourself this question. If you are not specifically considering ways to improve yourself, you are not even close to realizing your full potential.
If you aren’t actually thinking of ways to make yourself better at what you do, you are probably doomed to doing the same old thing in the same old way. The successful songwriters and performers are the ones who take every new song as a new starting point to making a fresh start. A great example of this is to study the career of Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, otherwise known as the Bee Gees. They’re a great example of a group that continued to remake themselves, to better their product, and to find new audiences. Consequently they found great success in five decades, from the 60s through to the early part of this century. And they aren’t the only ones: Neil Young, Cher, Dolly Parton, Chicago, Bob Dylan, and many others.
Every time you sit down to write a song, you need to ask yourself, “How is this going to improve on the songs I’ve done in the past? What’s the innovation going to be? In what way will this new song make statements I’ve never made before?”
And you need to strongly consider this: The only way, and I do mean the only way, to do that is to be a listener. You need to be listening to new music all the time. New music from your own particular genre of choice, but also other genres as well. Find out who’s hot in Country music, in Classical music, in hip hop, jazz, folk and more.
If your new song isn’t making a new statement, it’s not really new. If it isn’t trying to be better than the last song you wrote, it’s just the same old thing, adding to the noise that’s out there. Being better takes conscious thought. Writing a truly new song is a deliberate act.