All About Songwriting

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Month: June 2014

Songwriting Process – Bruce Mau’s “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth”

Below is the complete version of “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” as mentioned in my last blog post “Some Creative Suggestions For Your Songwriting.”

This manifesto was conceived in 1998 by Bruce Mau, the creative director of Bruce Mau Design. The purpose of the manifesto is explained on his website in the following way:

“Written in 1998, the Incomplete Manifesto is an articulation of statements exemplifying Bruce Mau’s beliefs, strategies and motivations. Collectively, they are how we approach every project.”

From what I have seen, Bruce Mau and his team certainly know what they’re talking about and from reading his manifesto below I can see how the creative process of design and writing songs can come from exactly the same place.

The muse is a multi-talented entity indeed…


An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth
By Bruce Mau

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.

The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good.

Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.

5. Go deep.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.

6. Capture accidents.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.

7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

8. Drift.
Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.

9. Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

10. Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

12. Keep moving.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.

13. Slow down.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

14. Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

17. ____________________.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.

19. Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.

20. Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.

21. Repeat yourself.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.

22. Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.

23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.

24. Avoid software.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.

25. Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.

26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.

27. Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”

28. Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.

29. Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.

30. Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget.

The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’

31. Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

33. Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

34. Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea – I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.

35. Imitate.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.

36. Scat.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.

37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

38. Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.

39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces – what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference – the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

41. Laugh.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

42. Remember.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect.

Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.

43. Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.


Wow!

Even though Bruce Mau and his team approach every new design project using these strategies and philosophies, I truly believe that the process of songwriting (indeed every creative endeavour) can be looked at in the very same way.

I don’t know about you but right now, I’m feeling truly inspired. Are you? Which points in the manifesto resonate with you? Let me know about it.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Some Creative Suggestions For Your Songwriting

One of my favourite songwriting websites that I visit regularly is called TAXI.

I really like the articles and helpful tips that they provide on the site as well as the songwriting A&R service that they’re so well known for.

Recently I came across an article by a songwriter named Michael Anderson called “Creative Suggestions”

The article is essentially a huge list of wisdom to help expand your songwriting process and at the same time, enrich you as a songwriter which is just the very thing that I’m trying to achieve with All About Songwriting.

I’ve included the article below for your enjoyment…


Creative Suggestions
By Michael Anderson

(Originally Published in TAXI – July 2008)

One of the great things I have found about teaching is how much you end up learning. The best way to learn about something is to help someone else do it.

As part of my teaching, recently I interviewed a guest, Paula McMath, who came in with amazing material prepared for the class.

I am going to share excerpts of one section here — it comes form a handout she gave the class called “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.”

I don’t know where it came from, or who wrote it — and I am editing it for focus and length here. If you are so motivated, I am sure you can find the whole thing on the Internet somewhere.

So here are some suggestions for your process in writing:

  • Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it.
  • The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  • Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on.
  • Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  • Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been.
  • Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, trials, and errors.
  • Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  • Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question.
  • Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study.
  • Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly Postpone criticism.
  • Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice – begin anywhere.
  • Everyone is a leader. Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
  • Harvest ideas – edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
  • Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
  • Slow down. Desynchronise from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
  • Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  • Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence.
  • Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with strife, friction, exhilaration, delight, and creative potential.
  • Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
  • Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  • Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
  • Be careful to take risks. Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
  • Make your own tools. Hybridise your tools in order to build unique things.
  • Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
  • Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
  • Avoid software. The problem with software is that everyone has it.
  • Don’t clean your desk. You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
  • Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
  • Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
  • Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device dependent.
  • Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise.
  • Don’t borrow money. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
  • Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
  • Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic-simulated environment.
  • Make mistakes faster.
  • Imitate. Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable.
  • Scat. When you forget the words, do what Ella did—make up something else.
  • Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.

Excerpted from Michael Anderson’s Little Black Book of Songwriting available at: www.michaelanderson.com

Need a to get your Songs to Record Labels, Publishers or Major Artists? Then check out TAXI: The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company, helping bands, artists and Songwriters get signed.

WOW! What an amazing list of creative suggestions to think about.

Reading this article reaffirms my thoughts, feelings and theories of the importance of having a songwriting process. I’m certainly going to look up “An Incomplete Manifesto For Growth” and really get my head around what it means.

Incidentally, what points took your fancy? Let me know what you think.

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tools – Randomness And Oblique Strategies

Oblique Strategies (with the subtitle “over 100 worthwhile dilemmas”) is a set of published cards first created in 1975 by ambient music pioneer and music producer to the stars, Brian Eno and his longtime friend Peter Schmidt.

They were designed to break creative deadlock through generating thought, discussion and inspiration from randomly chosen phrases or cryptic remarks written on a set of separate cards.

Oblique Strategies is now in its sixth edition.

A number of songwriters have used the concept of randomness as a songwriting idea generator.

Most notable of these writers is David Bowie who used the technique of cutting up words, throwing them up in the air and creating lyrics from the end result.

If my general knowledge is correct, some songs that were written in this way are featured on his albums “Low” (1977), “Lodger” (1979) and “Scary Monsters” (1980).

I have been fascinated by the Oblique Strategies concept for a long time and I can really see how they would be extremely helpful in my own songwriting process.

Like most songwriters, I have songwriting ideas in my archive that I can’t seem to progress any further because I’ve unfortunately set the songwriting idea in concrete.

Every time I revisit these ideas I find myself playing the same things over and over again and it’s in these types of situations that I would find the Oblique Strategies cards useful.

Speaking about randomness…

If you have taken my advice in my other blog posts “Brainstorming Possible Song Titles” and “Expanding On Your Possible Song Titles” you would have at your disposal quite a large collection of lines, phrases and semi completed songs.

Look at your list as your own personal set of Oblique Strategies. You’ve created your very own songwriting tool to help you break through those periods of creative deadlock that we all face from time to time.

Even if one line from your list sparks an idea that finishes a song that you’ve been agonising over for ages, it would’ve been well worth the effort.

Here are some other Oblique Strategies links for you to check out:

Plus, to finish things off, here is my favourite Brian Eno song. It’s called “By This River” and it’s from his 1979 album “Before And After Science.”

It’s a song I wish I had written. Enjoy…

Until next time, happy writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Mastering The Art Of Finishing Your Songs

I reckon one of the biggest self imposed obstacles that songwriters face is the inability to finish songs once we start writing them.

If you’re like me then you would have a large archive full of half finished demos and songwriting snippets accompanied with reams of paper filled with possible song titles and scrawled out lyrical ideas.

Let’s face it… The initial creation of songwriting ideas is far more exciting than the tedious re-writing and editing required at the end of the songwriting process.

Don’t you agree?

This is why I have a lot of unfinished songwriting business lying around which is why an article by Nicholas Tozier on his blog Song Written called “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started” really grabbed my attention.

In the article he starts off by writing…

Every song is written one word at a time. If you’re waiting for a complete idea to fall out of the sky into your head, perfectly formed, make sure that you’re comfortable right where you’re sitting. It’s going to be a long wait with nothing but a clean, white, virgin notebook to keep you company.”

This was what made me take notice. It made me realise that it’s perfectly okay for me to have a lot of half completed songwriting ideas at my disposal and that it’s all part of my songwriting process.

I’m sure that this is the same for a lot of other songwriters out there too.

Later on in the article, Nicholas goes onto listing five things that he himself does in one form or another, to help finish off the songs he’s already started.

1. Set aside time to FOCUS
2. Go about your day but keep the song in mind
3. Connect all the dots
4. Practise free-writing
5. Keep learning about songwriting

For a more detailed explanation read the full article “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started.”

I’m convinced that we are meant to have more unfinished songs than finished ones, that sometimes a start of a songwriting idea might lead onto the finishing of a completely unrelated song.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, but as long as you’re always practising, refining and constantly improving your songwriting process, you’ll be able to find a way to finish your unfinished songs.

How do you finish off the songs that you’ve already started? Do you have anything to add to the above list? Let me know.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Read the full article “How To Finish Writing The Songs You’ve Already Started.”

VIDEO: Austin Kleon – Steal Like An Artist

I’m a firm believer that when it comes to songwriting, the originality in your songs comes from the fact that you wrote it in the first place, not from any external source.

To reinforce this belief, I found a video of a TEDx talk by author and artist Austin Kleon called “Steal Like An Artist” in which he talks about how art can be put into one of two categories…

  • Art that is worth stealing
  • Art that isn’t worth stealing

He also talks about his poetry writing technique called “newspaper blackout” which is blackening out unimportant words in old newspapers and how this seemingly original idea actually has a 250 year history attached to it.

He finishes off the video with some quotes by Pablo Picasso, TS Eliot, Steve Jobs and David Bowie which all extol the virtues of “… taking the things you’ve stolen and turning it into your own thing” rather than just copying ideas for copying sake.

Anyway, I reckon you’re going to love or hate this video plus, pick up a fantastic songwriting idea generating technique as well.

Well, what do you think of this video? What do you think of the whole concept of “Nothing Is Original” in songwriting?

Comment below or contact me about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process – Reading Poetry For Lyrical Inspiration

“We live in a world of infinite songwriting idea possibilities. All we have to do is go out there and find them.”

I outlined in one of my past posts “Songwriting Process – Reading Books for Lyrical Inspiration” the concept of reading books as a way of gathering lyrical ideas.

Since then I realised that you can apply this concept to other forms of communication. However, if you’re like me and the thought of reading a whole book is a little bit daunting, try immersing yourself into some poetry instead.

A poem (just like a song) generally has a short space of time in which the reader is given the gist of the story or concept. Most works of poetry are short bursts of observation mixed with pure emotion.

A particular form of poetry that I have been getting into of late is Haiku.

Haiku is a Japanese writing art-form which is very, very constrained in its approach. You have three lines and seventeen syllables (broken into 5, 7 and 5) to get your story or concept across.

An example of some haiku is “Tree, Wind, Cloud and Sky” by a good friend of mine, Garth Dutton.

A lush green of trees
Contrasting with high wind clouds
That whiten, blue sky

Personally, I see haiku as a concise but ready made song synopsis. My challenge to you would be to expand a seventeen syllable haiku poem into a four minute song.

Give it a try and see what you can do.

However, for people who would rather read something less abstract but don’t want to be tied to a book for a long period of time, a collection of short stories are also a great way to gather song lyric ideas as well using the same concepts as my previous post.

Make a date with yourself and go to your local library and pick up a few books of poetry/short stories or, check out some poetry/prose blogs such as the ones I’ve listed below and put yourself up to task.

If you do write some songs using this songwriting technique, let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Write Your Songs With The Listener In Mind

Why are some songs embraced by the general public and some are not?

Does it have anything to do with talent? Or how much money is thrown at it? Or its production values?

Maybe.

However, I think the main reason that a song is embraced by the general public is that the general public “gets” the song. It’s like the songwriter wrote the song with the listener in mind.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of judging song competitions and mentoring a lot of up-and-coming songwriters and one of the major songwriting mistakes that I’ve come across is that the songwriter has not included me (the listener) in their song.

They have not acknowledged the fact that there’s another person listening to their song by not including me in their musical story or conversation.

When this happens I’m always left with a slightly cold feeling in my heart and I’m left asking the question “well, what was all that about?”

Let me tell you, if a seasoned songwriter like myself can be left out in the cold in this way, imagine how your potential audience would feel if the same thing happened to them?

I’ve heard songwriters from time to time say things to me like…

  • “I only write songs for myself and no-one else”
  • “If other people like my songs then it’s a bonus”
  • “I don’t care what other people think. I write for me”

Now, statements like this are fine if you’re a songwriter who write songs only for yourself and no-one else (if that’s the case then great) however, I know that there are many others out there who don’t fit into that category.

I mean, Lets face it… We, as songwriters generally want as many people as possible to hear our songs. Am I right?

Of course I am.

Therefore, it would make sense that if you write your songs with the listener in mind then your chances of a greater number of people hearing your songs would dramatically increase. Does this make sense to you?

Of course it does.

“So, how do we do this?” I hear you ask. Well, my answer would be this…

“Respect the listener and write your songs for them and not for yourself.”

It’s a simple concept, but it’s hard to master. That’s why songwriting is called a craft.

Writing a song that touches, moves and inspires people to listen to it lies squarely in the ability of the songwriter to involve the listener in the song.

A well written song takes the listener by the hand and walks beside them on whatever journey it takes them. As a songwriter you want the listener to know what your song is about after all, if a listener “gets” your song they also “get” you as well.

There’s a quote that’s normally associated with sales training that sums up beautifully what I am trying to say. It goes like this…

“In order to be understood first you must seek to understand”

You need to write your song with the listener in mind, you need to realise that the average listener wants to embrace your song without jumping through too many musical hoops and in the shortest amount of time.

Is writing songs for your listener “selling out?” No, I don’t think so.

What you are really doing by including the listener into your songwriting process is creating a gift for the listener and through the act of creating, you are also giving a gift to yourself.

Remember, seek to understand your listener through your songwriting and they will understand you through your songs. THAT is the craft of songwriting.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

VIDEO: Songwriting Tips With Beth Neilsen Chapman

This is a great video by M Magazine of an interview with hit songwriter Beth Neilsen Chapman who has had her songs performed by such artists as Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

In just over ten minutes Beth Neilsen Chapman eloquently answers these four questions.

  • How do you write a really good song?
  • How can someone develop their sense of creative flow?
  • How do you work through (song) writers block?
  • Is songwriting an innate skill or can it be taught?

I really love the way she talks about how important it is to just show up to write even if nothing is coming out at the time.

I couldn’t have said it better myself…

Until next time, just keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Value Of Open Mics For Singer-Songwriters

One of the largest growing sections of the live music industry in Australia and around the world today is the Open Mic scene.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an “Open Mic” is a forum for performers to showcase their material in a performer friendly environment.

You put your name on a list and when your turn comes around, you get the opportunity to play a few songs. Simple as that.

These events (held mainly on a weekly basis) have been the breeding ground for talented performing songwriters by creating a space for them. You don’t get paid as such but the exposure for the beginning singer-songwriter is invaluable.

Heres why…

As a performing songwriter almost any opportunity to perform your songs is a great opportunity however when starting out you’re faced with an initial “catch-22” situation.

You see, there are not many gigs for singer/songwriters with no performing experience but how can you get the experience unless you actually perform gigs?

This is where the Open Mic come into the equation.

An Open Mic then becomes the performance forum that a songwriter needs to gain their much needed performing experience from.

Bear in mind, Open Mics are not just for beginners either. From time to time I use an Open Mic to either showcase my best stuff or road-test new material to an audience that is there just for the music.

For me I see an Open Mic as a sonic sampler of my music for the purpose of selling my CD to the audience (that’s if the Open Mic organiser allows this – always get their permission, never assume that you can do this)

For those of you just starting out, here are my suggestions for tackling an Open Mic:

1. Make the decision to show up

It sounds a bit obvious but for someone who hasn’t experienced an Open Mic before you need to build up some courage beforehand. You say you’re ready but then your inner critic tells you not to.

Physically going to an Open Mic session is a major win in the ongoing battle you have with your inner critic. Just do it.

2. Don’t initially put yourself under any pressure to perform

Take your instrument along but never beat yourself up if you don’t perform that night. Sometimes it’s a good idea to soak up the scene, meet with the organiser and network with some really nice people.

It will be the people you meet that will give you the encouragement me to eventually get up and perform.

3. Make sure you are prepared

If you are going to perform make sure that you know the songs beforehand. If you need to use a music stand so you can read the lyrics then bring one. Its ok to do that.

Being musically prepared gives you one less thing to worry about on the night.

4. Make yourself known to the MC

Open Mics have an organiser (the MC) that introduces the acts and keeps the night running smoothly. Get to know them. The more they know you the better your experience will be.

The person who runs an Open Mic is someone who cares about nurturing new talent and is always a good person to have on your side.

5. Allow yourself to be nervous

Nerves are not a bad thing. It means that you care about what you do and you want it to go well.

Personally, I have been performing for over twenty years and I still get nervous. I know that if I stop being nervous before performing then that is the time for me to stop performing altogether as it means that I have stopped caring about myself, my art and my audience.

In time you will learn how to channel your nerves in a positive way however, deep breathing and trying to relax before you go on is still the best thing to do.

Don’t compare yourself to the other performers and don’t think too much about what you are going to do. Just focus on the here and now and do the very best that you can.

6. Enjoy yourself

You’ve waited for this moment to perform and now you are about to do it so try to enjoy the experience and remember, an Open Mic audience is there for the music, they want to be there and they want you to do well, play to them.

I can’t stress enough how invaluable Open Mics are to your development as a performing songwriter. Do yourself a favour and find out where the open mics are in your area and go to all of them.

Check them out, get to know the people involved and most of all, have some fun because you never know where the Open Mic experience might take you.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting