If you’re stuck at the bottom of your music career for a decade or two, stack the music you’re making now against what you did at the beginning. What is different and what is the same? If you have worked for years from the same musical book, you are essentially writing someone else’s music. Songwriters and producers have the best chance of creating engaging music when they embrace curiosity, novelty, risk and exploration. Everyone changes over time and your music should change with them. But following your musical personality evolution requires a willingness to fail and start all over again in your creative process.
I’m not the same person I was in 2010 and neither are you. Some musicians radically change their personal lives, but bend their creative processes to fit the music they created at the beginning. The reasons for Creative Stagnation range from musicians who want to take Nostalgia to those who hope to repeat the unexpected success they found at the beginning of their career. Others are creatively frozen by fear and refuse to try something new because they are afraid that they will fail.
If we make the same music today as we did years ago, we write someone else’s music. The person you are today is different from the person you were in the past. You look different, you believe in other things and you live in countless new contexts. Relying on the same musical and lyrical themes that you made in the past can be seen as a theft of someone else’s musical ideas because you are no longer that person. Your creative core – the energy and uniqueness you bring to your music – could be the same as it was 20 years ago. But it won’t help if you don’t take creative risks and make music that reflects who you are now.
The current you
Writing from your authentic current perspective doesn’t mean dropping everything on your old musical personality. If you wrote folk music ten years ago, you can continue to write it today. What distinguishes musicians who try new things and take risks is not the Genres they cling to or stray from. Rather, it’s about whether you honestly feel that what you create is personally stimulating and rewarding or not. Folk is apparently limited because it’s something we all understand as a musical genre. However, what ambitious songwriters can write in it is endless.
To create with true authenticity, musicians need to know more than in the past who they are right now. This means being brave enough to try out ideas, knowing that they may not work as we expect. Many of us write the same songs over and over because we believe that what we do works. Or maybe our time is not worth deviating from our creative formulas. But if you are not where you want to be in your career, you will never move forward without offering something new. The truth is that the fear of failure makes you create safe music, makes you fail.
Let your curiosity and risk guide your process
Like so many other elements of a healthy musical career, creating music written from an honest perspective requires balance. It means knowing who we are now, remembering the curiosity that led us to music, and letting that adventurous spirit continue to shape our process. Nothing prevents you from writing the same music as you did years ago. This not only harms your career, but also browbeats your ability to create music in the long run.
The only Guarantee of success in music that any of us will ever have is that we will be emotionally satisfied when we do. The longer you stagnate in your writing process, the sooner you will feel uninspired and listless while playing music. Novelty and risk are not only optional benefits for musicians. These are crucial elements necessary for creative survival. You can’t embrace curiosity if you recorded the outline of your new music before writing it.
The willingness to try and fail again and again is not easy, but it is a characteristic that keeps your work alive, rewarding and true to your authentic and current self.