• What am I Literally Making?

Your thoughts and motivations for creating a work of art can be complicated, but when you focus on the concrete details of its execution, you take one step closer to your goal. If you want to release music, planning out the dimensions, studio, band members, music, rehearsals, distribution, promotion etc is the way to go.

  • Has This Been Done Before?

It’s okay if the answer to this initial question is, “Yes, this has been done before.” From there, the question can become…

  • How Will I Do This in a Way That Hasn’t Been Done Yet?

If the concept or theme has been done before, fine, whatever. But as long as the realized project is art that no one else in the world but me could’ve made, I’ll consider it a success.

  • Will I Actually Enjoy Doing This?

Potential clients will look to work you’ve done in the past to see if you’re the right fit for the job. If you’ve invested your hard work into projects you loved, you’re more likely to get commissioned for similar projects.

  • What Do I Want to Say?

Once you’ve decided to go forward with a project, contemplate what you want it to convey. Your “statement” can be simple or complex, and it can change over time. Your work should always have some kind of purpose, or it should evoke emotions in another human being. This question is probably the most difficult, so try not to put too much pressure on answering it all at once. I think that this takes years, even decades, to master.

  • Why Does This Matter to Me?

This question goes hand-in-hand with the last one, but it’s slightly different. If you’ve already determined your message or statement, it’s time to dig deeper and think about why it’s also meaningful to you personally.

  • Am I Challenging Myself?

Creative revelations are often the result of pushing yourself to try something different. These challenges can be big or small. 

  • Am I Overthinking This?

Asking yourself questions is an invaluable part of the artistic process, but so is knowing when to let them go. You don’t have to have all the answers and that’s okay.

Answer by David Plantz, creative director, media consultant, music writer/producer:

Data is certainly popular enough to sustain businesses like Hit Songs Deconstructed, which writers, producers, record label, and radio executives subscribe to. Just like in other parts of the entertainment industry, following music trends is important to economic success, not only for executives but also for artists.

Let me clarify what I mean by music trends. It is more than the genre discussions most of us find ourselves in from time to time: Is dubstep still relevant? Did hip-hop jump the shark? Is disco back? Is country too pop these days? Will their ever be a next Nirvana?

Song writers and producers want to know even more: What’s the average song length? Intro length? Structure? Start with chorus? Is there prechorus? Most common instrument? Most common secondary genre? Are male vocals or female vocals doing better? How long are echos and reverbs? What frequency range is most emphasized? Digital drums or analog? Acoustic versus electric guitar? Noticeable effects? Average BPM? Swing in the tempo? Most popular key? Major or minor? Popular lyrical directions? Snare hits on beat two or beat three? Which songwriters are crafting most hits? What genre is out of top 20? What genre is rising in past six months? And there’s so much more …

I’ve had access to this data before and wrote a pop song or two based off it. Quite honestly, the songs I write with data objectives haven’t been as good as the ones I write for fun. One would think all this data would make it easy. It’s not. You have to be able to balance trends while still committing to something. It’s more important to know when to use the data and when to ignore it. And of course, the song still has to be good, attention-getting, familiar yet distinctive, and memorable. On top of that, it has appeal to the artist on his or her own merits and fit  his or her image and audience.

If there’s anything people should know about pop song–writing is that these days the biggest hits are collaborative team efforts. The days of Brian Wilson crafting a top 10 hit are rare, at least for now. You’ll have one person craft the beat, another craft the chorus and foundation, and another craft the verses. Then the lead producer will work with the team to bring it all together into something that meets the artist’s and the label’s visions. (This is when things like guitar solos are nixed for length, tempos are adjusted, secondary genres are determined or change, etc.) The mixing engineer and the mastering engineers bring their expertise as to how to make something sound more modern or more retro based on the technical trends (frequency analysis, song dynamics, depth, etc).

So yes, data can and does play a big role. But there’s still an art to pop. Otherwise, we could just have machines craft the hits. Maybe down the road, though. Did you use data for making your songs?

According to Will: “Success is what you celebrate when you have decided your ready to give up hard work. If you want to be successful then first find out what success is to you. For some its a dinner with friends and family. For musicians.. Well who knows. Each to their own. For me, It’s seeing the influence in the world that music has created and feeling that my contribution of music has been a positive factor in that influence.

I’m not ready to give up the hard work yet so I don’t feel successful. It’s not about money or having a home or a family. It’s not about being loved or loving through your music, or about creating thought provoking art work or spreading a powerful message of hope through music. It’s not about how many album’s you have made, or how many T-Shirts exist with your band name on. It’s not about a long lasting influence on social cultures, such as the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, have had.

It’s about you. How music makes you feel. When you feel that you may have achieved something that can make you smile if your ever reminded of it. All those moments you have ever had. Add them all together on the day you decided to stop working hard towards your goals. Look at your goals. Did they grow as you grew? Have you been loyal to them. When the answer is yes. Thats when.

According to Leonore: “For most musicians, I’d say that you are a success if you can make a decent living out of playing music. I am assuming you are referring to performers. I agree with others that the most famous and successful musicians are often not the best, and the amount of albums and tours might rely heavily on marketing, management and public image. To me, when a musician is well-respected amongst fellow musicians, and his/her skills are in demand, that is a sure sign that you’ve made it as a musician. For orchestra players, it might mean getting a permanent position in a good orchestra (and becoming the principle player of their section would be the top position), for smaller ensembles, soloists, jazz and other bands, it might mean being invited to perform at sought-after events, or being asked to perform with a famous musician or group of musicians. If your music touches the heart and inspires other musicians, I’d say you’ve really made it. Unfortunately, I think the view of most people would be that success in music is measured by how famous, sometimes how prolific, and how rich a musician is.”

According to Paul Griffith: “The ability to express one’s inner soul and communicate on a completely different level through the power of music is unparalleled in any other form of human communication and having the ability and determination to achieve this is immensely rewarding.”

According to Francesco Tristiono: “To be in line with what you do artistically. (Whether this works out commercially speaking is another question).”

According to Reiko Fujisawa: “Of course we all need endurance and dedication to succeed. But sometimes, success can be measured on a more everyday level – like dealing with a less than perfect piano, or resisting the urge to run away just before the start of the concert!”

Annie: “Music can change the world, I can change the world…

Passion is a strong word that can take on different forms. Whether the form is love or hate or joy or sorrow, it is a driving force inside the human soul that brings about everything, from art to war. It is a result of great passion. However, passion does not always have to be a huge war to change to world. It has been said, “If you change yourself, you change the world.” The passion inside drives these changes, and my goal is to change the world with my passion: music.

People allow their emotions to be affected by the music they listen to and this vulnerability places a great deal of responsibility on the musicians. Songs can alter people’s perspectives on different subjects. There have been stories of people on the verge of emotional and mental collapse who claim that a song literally saved their life. One night after one of my shows, a girl around 16 years old came up to me. She expressed that my song, “Crash”, had given her hope. The line, “to crash is the only release,” spoke to her and told her that sometimes it is necessary to hit rock bottom to be able to rise again. Music is powerful. Musicians have been given the gift of this responsibility. Songs can change the world. I can change the world.

Music is my passion. I cannot escape it. It is a part of who I am. It has strengthened my understanding of people and their emotions. I have come to realize that music is my calling in life and it must be nurtured correctly to be able to grow and change the world.

Melodies draw people in; the lyrics keep them listening. It is my responsibility to use my gift to change the world one audience at a time. Whatever the feeling, I will use my music to guide, relax, entertain, evoke emotion, give peace, cause reflection, give hope bring a smile, and perhaps, lift a burden.”

Yvette’s story:

“I don’t want to be a musician, I am a musician!

I have always been a musician because in my eyes, if you desire to do music and nothing but music then you will always be a musician.

I first knew when I was 5 and I wanted to learn music but my parents couldn’t afford any expensive instruments so they got me a keyboard. It was okay but after a few weeks of lessons my piano teacher (bless his heart) said I was too advanced fro just a keyboard and suggested my skills would be much better utilised on a piano.

My parents finally said they would get me a piano (after trying to persuade me to play something cheaper) and the rest was history! My piano teacher Mr. Parr was probably the best teacher I had. He gave me things that were more challenging than they should have been for someone with about a year’s worth of experience.

I remember hearing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor somewhere once and I wanted to play it badly. So I went in and memorised the toccata from ear – needless to say he was quite astonished and he got me the score which I learnt. From here on then I had a big interest in classical music and I composed my first works sometime around the age of 6 or 7 which were based around Bach’s style.

It was at this time too which I played Toccata and Fugue and my compositions on a church organ in Fingrinhoe at the local festival – he played some of Bach’s works for me too.

I was also a very good improviser too and this meant that he gave me private sessions where we would ‘jam’ and improvise and he taught me all kinds of theory knowledge such as modes and extended harmony.

Unfortunately he moved away so in high school I stopped piano lessons and carried on, on my own. However, I still retained the knowledge he gave me and in music class they were quite impressed with my composing skills. I had some other really skilled musicians in my class whom I studied with for 5 years through the last two years of high-school and then in college and in my year out too.

I then started to go serious on the earning money side of things. I started getting around with my old music friends and helping them out in production and setting up and I even recorded bits for songs.

Later I enrolled in university and now I’m starting my career as a solo musician :-)”

I have asked some musicians: How do you keep your creativity?

Here are their answers:

Sebastian Fernandez: “Eliminate all potential barriers to entry into the flow by having an optimal setup that is ready to go. Listen to other people’s work (but pay attention to the details). Embrace it when it comes but learn to also let it go when it’s not there (go for a walk, take a break). Enjoy the creative process, it’s not about the outcome. Take your time. Use Youtube to learn and develop your craft. Be comfortable being out of a comfort zone (always try to learn new things while mastering the things you know).

Rosa: “I use TikTok… There’s a lot of creative people on there who share ideas and challenge/motivate each other. Also mini tutorials, vocal excercises etc. I followed a couple that I liked and now the algorithm keeps feeding me more, so whenever I’m mindlessly scrolling I always see lots of things that inspire!”