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Then again, it is not as if you are supposed to read and retain everything, from column to column, in preparation for a final exam. And there actually is a good reason for having forgotten what was in column number six - the fact that you did what the column suggested, put the advice into action, and moved on to do the same in column seven. There are many good reasons for reviewing study material, whatever the subject, and when it involves something so intimately connected with your identity - that is, your art, in this case, your music business - it rises from the suggested to the essential category.
No, I am not going to use valuable time recapping what was said in the previous columns. What I will do is throw a spotlight on the process of professional and music business artistic maturation, even as I prod you to
- Think once again about your repertoire, goals, milestones, and plan of your music business
- Consider, right now, what is up with your tunes;
- Rekindle your passions and inject some originality, another dose of you, into your music business, whether you are recording or performing; and
- Exercise your creative muscles.
Be honest with yourself now; you do not do yourself any favors by avoiding reality. Why are you doing what you are doing? Whether you are in a band or you work as a solo singer/songwriter, is it working? Are you fulfilled doing it? Is it always just work or do you still get the goosebumps? You need to consider making some dramatic changes if you are not getting your artistic fix through what you are currently doing.
If you are in a rock band doing cover tunes and you are constantly writing original folk songs, perhaps you should consider a side gig or two, to see if that is what really floats your boat. If you are a square peg with a bunch of round holes for bandmasters (perhaps you call them another kind of hole, too), then take an honest look at how that will get you where you want to go. Bottom line on this point: You do know where you want to go, right?
So, you are the songwriter for the band, or you collaborate, or you just left a band to work solo because you want to do originals. Well, how is your art, and how is your craft - and you do realize those are separate things, right? The art of music business, ethereally speaking, is in the sound and its effect on you and the listener; the craft is the musical technique and performing and/or recording processes that help you bridge the gap between the inspiration and the finished work. So, it is vital to check yourself on a regular basis for your Art and Craft Quotients.
Inspiration comes from many places, and no place in particular, so had the Greeks imagined the Muses just so they could thank someone for the poetry, songs, and art that were pouring forth during their Golden Age. Some attribute their songs to God, but I have had to question some of those claims because I know God is a better composer than that. But wherever it comes from for you, if you are like the rest of your composer/songwriter colleagues, you sure know when it is not getting through.
It is a truism of independent artist that their best work springs from strong emotions - not necessarily negative ones, although anger and jealousy and rage have given the world some great symphonies, classic literature, and masterly paintings through the ages. You also may be on one of those plateaus all artists get stuck on, and quite often the best way to jumpstart the creative process is to challenge yourself on your instrument; that is, learn some new chords or scales or modes, listen to music by virtuosos playing in styles you do not normally listen to, or, if you are a lyricist, read some T. S. Eliot or Ezra Pound instead of Rod McKuen or whatever you usually read. Break out of the box.
These ways of exercising creative muscles have an infinite number of variations. The main thing you want to do is get a fresh idea or notion or insight into your head and heart, and put it through the emotional vegematic of your life, the life of daily earthbound reality as well as the life of spirited imagination — until, perhaps, a new melody or chord progression or rhyming couplet issues forth.
I am not trying to be poetic here, but we are dealing with a poetic subject. If you can learn to invoke a state of mind with wild and curious associations of thoughts and sensations and sounds, then that just might work as an invitation to the Muses. By all means, let them in when you hear them knock!