Put the words “songwriting” and “voice” together in a sentence, and you’d think I’m talking about singing. But there’s another aspect of songwriting and voice that comes about when talking about musical honesty. Here’s more about what I mean by that.
If, once you’ve written a song, you ask a roomful of people what they think, you’ll find that some will like it and some won’t. The ones that dislike your song may not have any specific reason; it may simply be that you’ve written in a style that doesn’t particularly resonate with them.
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Whether you know it or not, everything you write and perform is targeting a certain audience. An obvious example of this applies to genre. If you don’t happen to like country music, let’s say, then you’ll find that most songs that make use of the production values of most country music will be songs you don’t happen to like.
Your own personal songwriting style will appeal to some people, and will be disliked by others. This is normal. That’s why some people might like the music of Bruce Springsteen, but may in general not care for the music of, say, John Mellencamp. It all comes down to personal preference.
If you write a song and post it online, asking people if they like it (and assuming it’s been well-performed and well-recorded), it’s a given that some will like it and some won’t. If you then try to adjust your personal songwriting style to accommodate the opinions of people who don’t like your song, you’ll wind up with a song that provides the same reaction: some will like it, and some won’t.
Since every song you write will have lovers and haters, there’s only one thing that makes sense: find your own voice. Stop working so hard to please everyone. The songs you write aren’t supposed to be pleasing people, per se; they’re supposed to be pleasing you by demonstrating who you are, both as a musician, and as a person.
In a way, it comes close to dealing with another question: how do you measure songwriting success? If songwriting success means coming up with songs that puts smiles on a maximum number of faces, then I suppose it becomes important to please as many people as possible.
But if, as I hope, songwriting is an artistic outlet for you, where you demonstrate your creative soul through music, you need to find your own voice, and be brave enough to show the world who you are.
And in so doing, be less concerned about what others think, and have the courage to be unique.
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