An organ playing the longest and slowest piece of music in the world has changed chord for the first time in two years.

In a remarkable musical event, an organ at the Burchardi Church in Halberstadt, Germany, has recently changed chord in its ongoing rendition of John Cage’s piece, “As Slow as Possible.” This piece, known for being the longest and slowest in the world, began in 2001 and is set to conclude in 2640, marking a total duration of 639 years.

The composition, a brainchild of the legendary avant-garde musician John Cage, has experienced only 16 chord changes since its inception. Interestingly, the piece commenced with an 18-month silence, and the first audible notes emerged in 2003.

The recent chord change, a rare and much-anticipated event, occurred on February 5, exactly two years after the previous change. This unique musical experience has garnered significant attention, with enthusiasts booking tickets years in advance to witness the chord transitions in person.

The organ, specially constructed for this performance, employs an electronic wind machine and sandbags pressing down the keys to sustain the drone-like sound.

The score of “As Slow as Possible” spans eight pages and can be played on either a piano or an organ. While Cage intended the piece to be performed as slowly as possible, he did not define a specific tempo, leaving much to interpretation.

The current performance, set to continue for centuries, starkly contrasts with its 1987 premiere, which lasted less than half an hour. Subsequent renditions have varied in length, with a notable 14-hour performance by organist Diane Luchese in 2009.

This extraordinary musical endeavour, born from a posthumous meeting of musicians and philosophers in honour of Cage, continues to captivate and intrigue, promising a chord change next expected on August 5, 2026. As the organ plays on, “As Slow as Possible” stands as a testament to the enduring and evolving nature of musical expression.

This is the ultimate in “slow music.”


Source: An organ playing a 639-year-long piece of music has changed chord

Call me old fashioned but I still prefer writing songs with a pen to paper rather than to use a computer.

There have been many times where I’ve attempted to use a computer keyboard and word processor instead of pen and paper to jot down my songwriting ideas and I’ve found that each time the special feeling of continuity I get between head, heart and computer screen is not as intense as the organic scrawling of a really good quality pen onto paper.

It’s like the act of putting pen to paper somehow allows me to become an integral part of what I’m writing whereas I feel an uncomfortable distance from my songwriting ideas if I just type it out.

Yes, I know that for this very post to exist I would’ve had to have typed the words into a word processor or directly into the WYSIWYG editor in my blogging platform of choice, WordPress however, this particular post was written on paper first.

I got the idea for this post from automatically and randomly writing on pieces of paper as a means of clearing my mind of the stuff that has collected in it over time. A bit of mental cleaning as it were and some indication that automatic writing works.

I’m a big fan of technology but at the same time I’d hate to see the art of writing a song with a pen and paper disappear for good.

What do you think? Which medium do you prefer to write songs with? Pen and paper or keyboard and word processor?

Peace,

Corey 🙂

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

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.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

One of my favourite songwriting websites that I visit regularly and I’m a proud member of is called TAXI.

Apart from the songwriting A&R services they provide for their members, I really like the articles and helpful tips that they provide on the site as well.

One of these articles that I recently came across was 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 Corey Stewart Online.

Anyways, 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 LabelsPublishers or Major Artists? Then check out TAXI: The World’s Leading Independent A&R Company, helping bands, artists and Songwriters get signed.

Now that is what I call 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.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

Finally, there has been some progress with the studio build now that Christmas, New Year and my birthday are now out of the way for the year.

With some help by the wonderful Henry Sweet, all of the walls now have a framework to put in the soundproof insulation as well as getting a start on putting ion the electrical cabling.

I’ll be getting the insulation this week and it’s my hope that all walls will be insulated by the end of the week.

It’s really starting to take shape and the light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

We songwriters are very sensory creatures and we have been known to use a variety of stimuli to kick off our songwriting processes.

I have, in previous posts mentioned that listening to music or reading some poetry might be a good way to find some inspiration but I have not yet discussed whether a random image could spark off a songwriting idea or two.

So, with that in mind, try this songwriting exercise and see what you can come up with…

1. Go to any one of these random image generators

2. Go with the first image that is presented to you.

3. Start writing in point-form/long-hand your thoughts, feelings and detailed descriptions of what you see. Use all of your senses and your imagination. Give yourself a time limit if you like (say ten minutes).

4. Once you’re finished ask yourself… “Can I write a song from all this?”

Give this songwriting exercise a really good go, put your everything into it and write down as much as you can. The more information the better.

Doing this will train your eyes to really observe what it sees rather than just to casually look at something and by writing everything that you see down you’re giving yourself an excuse and a reason to write.

By eliminating choice through randomness you’re dismantling your inner critics tendency to become paralysed by too much choice.

If nothing comes of it don’t worry, the exercise might have been the very thing that break your songwriting block however, if something comes from it then let me know. I’d be interested to see if my theory works.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

You know, as I get on with the day to day business that is my life, I’m realising more and more that for most of the time we are all making up our lives as we go along which to a recovering control freak like myself, comes as a great relief.

Yes, that’s right, a recovering control freak.

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love to be in control, even though that I knew intellectually that the notion of control is but only an illusion.

Feeling in control has made me feel safe and secure with the world around me and the upside of this feeling is that I consider myself a very organised and punctual person.

The downside to always wanting to be in control is that I would almost always get highly stressed out when situations don’t go according to the pre-determined plan that I have in my own head.

I’d get so stressed it would at times paralyse me.

I really loathe this feeling of being out of control but I didn’t really know how I could rectify this, a pattern that has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

The realisation that we’re all making our lives up as we go along eliminates the need for me to compare my life with the life of others around me and therefore disengage myself from this need to be in control all the time.

Yes, I know that some people have their lives together more than others and I also know that we’re all unique in our own abilities, our history and the way we look at the world around us, but deep down we all want the same things, such as love, respect, validation, acknowledgement, recognition and happiness

When I look at life in this way I realise deep down we are all in the same boat.

Right now I’m working on creating some sort of balance between my need to have everything in my life catalogued and in its place and at the same time, being totally spontaneous.

Quite a challenge when it think about it but not an impossible thing for me to achieve.

I reckon there’s a song in this…

Peace,

Corey 🙂

In an earlier blog post I introduced the concept of the “5 Pillars Of The Songwriting Process” which were as follows…

Pillar #1: The Songwriter
Pillar #2: The Foundation
Pillar #3: The Creation
Pillar #4: The Revision
Pillar #5: The Business

In the world of songwriting, there lies an often-overlooked aspect to the craft: the business side. This component, though less glamorous than the creative process, is the unsung hero that ensures the sustainability and success of a songwriter’s career.

Understanding the business of songwriting isn’t just beneficial; it’s a necessity for those aiming to thrive in the cutthroat world of the music industry. This necessity stems from the multifaceted nature of the industry, which has evolved dramatically in the last few decades, especially with the advent of the digital era. 

The romantic notion of an artist solely focused on their craft is a relic of the past. Today’s songwriters must wear multiple hats, balancing their artistic aspirations with savvy business acumen.

I’m going to delve into why the business side of songwriting is as essential as the creative side. We’ll navigate through the complexities of the music industry, unravel the intricacies of copyrights, and discover how to monetize musical creations. 

Furthermore, we’ll discuss building a brand as a songwriter, the critical balance between art and commerce, and the significance of networking and collaboration.

My hope is that by the end of this journey, not only will you gain a comprehensive understanding of the fifth pillar of songwriting – the business side – but you will also be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions that can elevate your songwriting career beyond the notes on a manuscript or lyrics scrawled on paper.

1. Understanding the Music Industry Landscape

The Digital Transformation: A Symphony of Opportunities and Challenges

The music industry, once dominated by vinyl records and CDs, has undergone a seismic shift with the advent of the digital age. This transformation has rewritten the rules of the game, introducing both opportunities and challenges for songwriters. 

Digital platforms have democratised music distribution, allowing artists to reach global audiences without the traditional gatekeepers. However, this ease of access has also led to market saturation, making it harder for individual songs to stand out.

Independent vs. Major Label: A Melodic Dilemma

The choice between being independent and being with a major label is a critical decision for songwriters. 

Independent labels offer more creative freedom and a closer relationship with the team, but they often lack the resources of their major counterparts. Major labels, on the other hand, provide substantial marketing muscle and distribution networks, but they may demand more control over the artistic process. 

This decision can significantly impact a songwriter’s career trajectory and the way their music is produced and promoted.

The Songwriter’s Role: More Than Just Melodies

In the digital music industry, songwriters play a multifaceted role. Beyond crafting melodies and lyrics, they need to be strategists, understanding their position in a complex ecosystem. 

Songwriters must be aware of market trends, audience preferences, and the ever-evolving landscape of music consumption. This awareness is key to staying relevant and successful in a rapidly changing industry.

New Revenue Streams: Beyond Record Sales

The digital age has introduced new revenue streams for songwriters. Streaming services, although criticised for their royalty models, have opened new avenues for income. 

Additionally, songwriters can now explore opportunities in music licensing for films, TV shows, commercials, and even video games. These new streams require a keen understanding of the business side of music and the ability to navigate contracts and negotiations effectively.

It then stands to reason that understanding the music industry landscape is crucial for songwriters in the digital age. It involves adapting to technological changes, making strategic decisions regarding label partnerships, and exploring new revenue streams. 

This knowledge empowers songwriters to not just survive but thrive in the dynamic world of music.

2. Songwriting and Copyrights

Navigating the Intricacies of Copyright Law

Copyright law is the foundation that protects the creative output of songwriters and the very understanding the basics of copyright is essential for any musician. 

This legal framework grants creators exclusive rights to their works, providing control over reproduction, distribution, and adaptation. In the dynamic world of music, where imitation and inspiration often intertwine, understanding copyright law is crucial to safeguard one’s artistic creations.

A Global Chorus: Perspectives on Copyright Worldwide

Copyright laws vary globally, reflecting different cultural values and legal systems. This diversity can impact how a song is protected and monetized across borders. A global perspective on copyright is vital for songwriters aiming to reach an international audience. It ensures that their works are respected and compensated appropriately, regardless of geographic location.

The Art of Protection: Safeguarding Your Musical Creations

Protecting one’s work in the digital age requires more than just understanding the law; it requires strategic action. This process involves registering works with appropriate entities, such as copyright offices and performing rights organisations. 

It also entails being proactive in monitoring and enforcing these rights, a task made complex by the vastness of the internet and digital platforms.

The Harmony and Discord of Copyright Infringement

Navigating copyright infringement is a delicate balance. On one hand, it’s essential to protect one’s work from unauthorised use. On the other hand, the creative process often involves drawing inspiration from existing works. 

Understanding the fine line between inspiration and infringement is vital for songwriters, ensuring they respect others’ rights while defending their own. This understanding empowers songwriters to defend their creative works and ensure they are rightfully compensated for their artistic contributions.

3. Monetizing Your Music

Royalties: From Record Sales to Streaming

In the realm of music monetization, understanding the different kinds of royalties available to songwriters is key. Royalties from record sales and streaming are the primary sources of income for many songwriters. 

These royalties are paid when a song is purchased, downloaded, or streamed. However, the transition from physical sales to streaming has significantly changed the royalty landscape. Streaming services pay per stream, which often amounts to a smaller per-unit revenue compared to traditional sales. 

Navigating this shift is crucial for songwriters to ensure they are fairly compensated in the digital age.

The Encore of Live Performances: Earning Beyond the Stage

Live performance royalties offer another avenue for songwriters to monetize their craft. These are earned when a song is performed live, whether by the songwriter themselves or by other artists. 

Collecting these royalties involves registering with performance rights organisations that track and collect payments for live performances. Understanding this process enables songwriters to tap into a vital revenue stream that extends beyond the recording studio.

Pitching Songs to Artists and Music Publishers

Pitching songs to artists and music publishers is a strategic way to monetize songwriting skills. This involves presenting original compositions to artists or publishers who might be interested in using them. 

Successful pitches can lead to lucrative deals where the songwriter earns upfront payments and royalties from the future earnings of the song.

Licensing Lyrics: Music in Films, TV, and Commercials

Music licensing for films, TV shows, and commercials is another lucrative aspect of music monetization. This involves granting rights to use a song in various media in exchange for a fee. These opportunities not only provide direct income but also expose the song to wider audiences, potentially leading to increased sales and streaming royalties.

Exploring New Horizons: Additional Opportunities in the Music World

Songwriters can also explore additional opportunities such as writing songs for others, merchandise sales, and brand partnerships. These avenues can provide diverse income streams, enabling songwriters to capitalise on their creativity in various ways.

Monetizing music is a multifaceted process that requires a deep understanding of the various revenue streams available to songwriters. From royalties to licensing deals, each aspect offers unique opportunities to turn musical creations into sustainable income.

4. Building a Brand as a Songwriter

Crafting Your Musical Identity: It’s More Than Just Music and Lyrics

In today’s music industry, building a personal brand is as crucial as creating compelling music. Personal branding goes beyond just the music; it’s about crafting an identity that resonates with your audience. 

This involves defining who you are as an artist, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived. A strong personal brand can differentiate a songwriter in a crowded market, creating a unique identity that fans can connect with.

Amplifying Your Voice: Marketing Yourself and Your Work

Effective marketing is key to getting your music heard. This involves strategic use of digital platforms like social media, streaming services, and personal websites to reach your target audience. 

By consistently sharing your music, stories, and behind-the-scenes glimpses, you can engage your audience and build a loyal fan base. Remember, marketing is not just about promoting your music; it’s about telling your story and connecting with listeners on a personal level.

The Digital Stage: Harnessing the Power of Online Communities

In the digital age, online platforms offer unprecedented opportunities to reach global audiences. Utilising streaming services and online communities effectively can amplify your reach and impact. 

These platforms are not just distribution channels; they are spaces to engage with fans, gather feedback, and build a community around your music.

Networking and PR: The Unsung Heroes of the Music Industry

Networking and public relations are critical for building and sustaining a career in music. This involves building relationships with other artists, industry professionals, publicists, and managers. 

A strong network can open doors to collaborations, performance opportunities, and valuable industry insights. Working with publicists and managers can help you navigate the industry, secure media coverage, and elevate your profile.

5. Balancing Art and Commerce

Harmonising Creativity with Commercial Success

In the world of songwriting, balancing artistic integrity with commercial viability is akin to walking a tightrope. 

On one side, there’s the pure, unadulterated creative expression – the art. On the other side, there’s the need to make music that is commercially successful – commerce. Striking this balance is crucial; leaning too far towards either side can lead to either financial hardship or a loss of artistic identity.

Making Business-Savvy Decisions Without Losing the Soul of Music

The key to balancing art and commerce lies in making business-savvy decisions while staying true to one’s artistic vision. This involves understanding market trends and audience preferences, but also having the courage to take risks and stay authentic. 

It’s about finding the sweet spot where your creative expression meets audience demand, without compromising the essence of your art.

Nurturing Creativity in a Commercial World

The challenge for songwriters is to keep their creative flame alive in a world driven by commercial interests. This requires a deep understanding of one’s creative process and the ability to adapt without losing one’s artistic identity. 

It’s all about being open to new ideas and collaborations, staying inspired, and continuously evolving as an artist.

Balancing art and commerce in songwriting is an ongoing process that requires a deep understanding of both the creative and business sides of music. It’s about making informed decisions that align with your artistic vision while also considering commercial viability.

6. Networking and Collaboration

The Vital Role of Networking in the Music Industry

Networking is the heartbeat of the music industry. It’s about building and nurturing relationships that can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and insights. 

For songwriters, networking isn’t just about meeting people; it’s about creating meaningful connections with fellow artists, producers, agents, and other industry professionals. These connections can lead to collaborative projects, performance opportunities, and valuable mentorships.

Collaborating with Other Artists and Industry Professionals

Collaboration is a cornerstone of artistic growth and success in the music industry. Working with other artists and industry professionals allows for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and skills. 

Collaborations can result in unique musical creations that might not have been possible in a solo setting. They also provide exposure to different styles, genres, and audiences.

Leveraging Professional Associations and Industry Events

Engaging with professional associations and attending industry events are crucial for expanding one’s network. These platforms offer opportunities to connect with a wide range of industry players, learn about the latest trends, and stay abreast of developments in the music world. 

Participating in conferences, workshops, and music festivals can also enhance one’s visibility and reputation in the industry.

Building and Nurturing Long-Term Professional Relationships

Successful networking is not just about making initial contacts; it’s about building and nurturing long-term relationships. This involves consistent communication, mutual support, and respect. Strong, long-term relationships can lead to ongoing collaborations and can be a source of support and guidance throughout a songwriter’s career.

7. Conclusion: Embracing the Business of Songwriting

The Harmonious Blend of Art and Business Acumen

Songwriting, at its core, is an art form – a creative expression that captures emotions, stories, and experiences. However, in the contemporary music landscape, understanding and embracing the business aspect of songwriting is equally important. 

This integration of business acumen with artistic creativity is not just a necessity; it’s an empowerment tool for songwriters.

Throughout this exploration, we’ve delved into various aspects crucial for songwriters in today’s industry. 

From understanding the digital transformation of the music industry and the nuances of copyright law to mastering the art of monetization and personal branding. We’ve also highlighted the importance of balancing artistic integrity with commercial success and the invaluable role of networking and collaboration.

Final Thoughts on the Integration of Business in the Songwriting Process

Embracing the business side of songwriting allows artists to take control of their careers, make informed decisions, and ultimately achieve greater success and sustainability. It’s about being proactive, staying informed, and continuously adapting to the ever-evolving music industry.

As songwriters, the journey is not just about creating music; it’s about navigating a path that blends creative passion with business savvy. By embracing both aspects, songwriters can ensure their art not only resonates with audiences but also sustains their livelihood.

What do you think of this delicate balance between art vs commerce in songwriting? Do you think that all of the business talk belongs in the songwriting process? Have you experienced any of these songwriting business activities in your career? Let me know how the craft of songwriting has treated you.

No matter where you are in this songwriting caper, we’re all in this together. let’s help each other out

Peace,

Corey 🙂

In an earlier blog post I introduced the concept of the “5 Pillars Of The Songwriting Process” which were as follows…

Pillar #1: The Songwriter
Pillar #2: The Foundation
Pillar #3: The Creation
Pillar #4: The Revision
Pillar #5: The Business

The journey of crafting a song can be a complex and nuanced process, one that is more than just melody and lyrics. It’s an art form that demands not just creativity but also a meticulous approach to refinement. 

In the realm of songwriting, the process is often segmented into distinct pillars, each playing a crucial role in the evolution of a musical piece. Among these, the fourth pillar – The Revision – stands out as a pivotal phase, often overlooked yet essential in shaping the final masterpiece.

Revision in songwriting is more than just an editing task; it’s a deep dive into the soul of the song. It’s where a songwriter, armed with a blend of creativity and critical thinking, revisits and reshapes their work, ensuring that every note, every word resonates with its intended emotion and message. 

In this article, I aim to explore the depths of the fourth pillar, delving into why revision is not just a necessary step, but a transformative one that can elevate a song from good to great. 

I’ll uncover the techniques that can make this process effective, and perhaps most importantly, we’ll discuss how to recognize when a song has reached the point where further alteration might detract from its essence.

Understanding the Role of Revision in Songwriting

As we transition from a broad overview of the songwriting process to a more focused examination, it becomes crucial to understand the specific role that revision plays in the creation of a song. 

Revision is not merely an afterthought in the songwriting process; it is, in fact, a core component of the creative journey. This stage is where the raw, unfiltered expressions of the initial draft are honed and sculpted into a refined and impactful piece of music.

The purpose of revision in songwriting goes beyond correcting errors or making minor adjustments. It’s about revisiting the essence of the song – its emotional core, its narrative, its rhythmic and melodic flow – and ensuring that every element aligns with the songwriter’s vision. 

It’s a process that demands a delicate balance between attachment to the original idea and the willingness to transform it for the better.

Moreover, revision is not just a technical task; it’s a psychological one. It requires songwriters to step back from their deeply personal creations and view them with an objective eye. 

This can be a challenging but rewarding endeavour, as it involves overcoming the fear of altering initial ideas that may have come from a place of deep inspiration or emotion. Embracing this aspect of revision is essential for songwriters to grow and evolve in their craft.

Techniques for Effective Song Revision

Having established the importance of revision in the songwriting process, it’s essential to explore the techniques that can make this phase both effective and efficient. Effective revision is not just about making changes; it’s about making the right changes that enhance the song’s emotional impact and clarity.

One key strategy is to approach the song with a fresh perspective. Sometimes, stepping away from the work for a period can provide the distance needed to view it objectively. When you return to it, you might find that certain lyrics or melodies that seemed perfect initially might need refinement or even complete reworking.

Another effective technique is to play the song for trusted peers or mentors. Getting feedback from fellow musicians, songwriters, or even non-musical audiences can provide invaluable insights. They might point out areas that need clarity, or parts of the song that resonate particularly well, guiding you on what to keep and what to revise.

Songwriters should also consider experimenting with different song elements during the revision process. This could involve altering the song’s structure, experimenting with different chord progressions, or rephrasing lyrics for greater impact. The key is to remain open to experimentation and not be bound by the initial composition.

Additionally, recording a rough version of the song and listening back can be a powerful tool. Often, hearing the song as a listener, rather than as the creator, can highlight areas that need improvement that might not be obvious during live play.

Knowing What to Edit

A crucial skill in the revision process is discerning which parts of a song require editing. This discernment is not just about identifying flaws, but about recognizing opportunities to elevate the song’s overall impact. 

Each component of a song – from lyrics to melody, harmony to rhythm – holds potential for refinement.

Lyrics: The soul of many songs lies in their lyrics. During revision, it’s important to ensure that the words not only convey the intended message and emotion but also do so with clarity and poetic finesse. 

Look for clichés, forced rhymes, or vague lines that might dilute the song’s impact. Consider whether the lyrics tell a coherent story or evoke the desired feelings in the listener.

Melody: The melody is what often catches the listener’s ear first. Revising the melody might involve tweaking a few notes to enhance the song’s catchiness or adjusting the melody to better complement the lyrics. Sometimes, a slight change in the melody can significantly alter the song’s emotional tone.

Harmony and Chord Progressions: Harmony adds depth and emotion to a song. During revision, experimenting with different chord progressions can bring a new feel to the song. It’s about finding the right balance between predictability and surprise in the harmonic structure.

Rhythm and Tempo: The rhythm and tempo of a song can dramatically affect its mood and energy. Revising these elements might mean changing the song’s pace to better match its emotional intent or altering rhythmic patterns for more variety and interest.

The Challenge of “Letting Go”

One of the most nuanced skills in songwriting is knowing when a song is complete. This stage, often referred to as “letting go,” is crucial in the revision process. It involves understanding that perfection is a moving target and recognizing the point at which further alterations may no longer enhance the song, but rather detract from its essence.

Recognizing Completion: The key to recognizing when a song is complete lies in striking a balance between refinement and over-editing. It’s about listening to the song and asking whether further changes would genuinely improve it or if they would simply make it different. This decision often requires a combination of intuition, experience, and sometimes, a bit of courage.

Avoiding Over-Editing: Over-editing can strip a song of its original charm and emotional resonance. It’s important for songwriters to be aware of this risk. The rawness and authenticity of the initial composition can be its greatest strength. Therefore, while revision is essential, preserving the song’s authenticity is equally important.

Embracing Imperfections: Sometimes, the imperfections in a song contribute to its character and appeal. Learning to embrace these imperfections can be a liberating aspect of songwriting. It’s about understanding that a song can be impactful and beautiful, even if it’s not flawless.

Anecdotes from Renowned Songwriters: Many famous songwriters have spoken about the challenge of “letting go” of their songs. Including quotes or anecdotes from such artists can provide valuable insights and reassurance to other songwriters facing similar struggles.

Revision as a Tool for Growth

The act of revising a song is not just about perfecting a single piece of work; it’s a vital part of a songwriter’s ongoing development. Each revision process offers a unique opportunity for learning and growth, contributing to the songwriter’s evolving skill set.

Improving Songwriting Skills: Regular engagement in the revision process hones a songwriter’s ability to critically analyse their work. It sharpens skills like lyrical composition, melody construction, and the effective use of harmony and rhythm. Each revision session is a learning experience, offering insights into what works and what doesn’t in songwriting.

Learning from Each Revision: Every time a songwriter revises a piece, they gain a deeper understanding of their own creative process and preferences. This self-awareness is invaluable. It helps in identifying personal strengths and areas for improvement, guiding future songwriting endeavours.

Encouraging a Mindset of Continuous Improvement: Embracing revision as a regular part of songwriting fosters a mindset of continuous improvement. It’s about seeing each song as a step in the journey, not just an end in itself. This perspective encourages songwriters to always strive for better, pushing their creative boundaries and refining their craft.

Balancing Creativity and Critique: The revision process teaches songwriters to balance their creative instincts with critical thinking. It’s about learning to trust one’s artistic intuition while also being open to change and improvement. This balance is crucial for creating songs that are not only personally fulfilling but also resonate with others.

Balancing Art and Critique

In the craft of songwriting, one of the most challenging yet rewarding aspects is striking the right balance between being an artist and a critic. This balance is especially crucial during the revision process, where the heart of creativity meets the mind of critique.

Embracing Dual Roles: As songwriters, we wear two hats – that of the creator and that of the evaluator. The creator in us brings forth the raw, unfiltered expressions of emotion and thought, while the evaluator refines and shapes these expressions into a coherent and resonant form. Learning to switch between these roles fluidly is key to a successful revision process.

Constructive Self-Criticism: One of the greatest challenges in songwriting is learning to critique your own work constructively. This involves assessing your song objectively, identifying areas for improvement without diminishing your creative spirit. It’s about nurturing your work with a keen eye, not stifling it with harsh judgement.

Techniques for Constructive Critique: Techniques such as peer review, self-reflection, and iterative editing can be invaluable. Peer review allows for external perspectives, while self-reflection encourages a deeper understanding of one’s artistic intentions. Iterative editing – making small, incremental changes – can help in fine-tuning the song without overwhelming the creative essence.

Maintaining Artistic Integrity: While critique is essential, it’s important to ensure that it doesn’t overpower the artistic integrity of the song. The essence of the song – its emotional core and unique voice – should always be preserved. Balancing critique with respect for the original artistic vision is crucial.

Learning from the Inner Critic: Finally, learning to view the inner critic as an ally rather than an adversary is vital. This internal voice, when harnessed correctly, can guide us towards making our songs more powerful and impactful. It’s about listening to this voice with discernment, understanding when it’s offering valuable insight and when it’s merely echoing unfounded doubts.

In Conclusion

As this exploration of the fourth pillar of the songwriting process – The Revision – is drawing to a close, it’s evident that this stage is far more than a final touch; it’s a vital heartbeat of the creative journey. 

The revision process is where a song, born from raw emotion and unfiltered creativity, is sculpted into a refined and resonant work of art. It’s a phase that challenges and nurtures a songwriter’s craft, blending the heart of an artist with the mind of a critic.

Through this journey, we’ve uncovered the delicate balance between creativity and critique, intuition and analysis. We’ve learned that revision is not just about altering a song but about elevating it, ensuring every element aligns with the songwriter’s vision and resonates with the listener’s heart.

Moreover, we’ve seen how embracing revision is essential for personal growth and artistic development. It’s a process that teaches us to embrace our inner critic, to learn from each iteration, and to find joy in the continuous pursuit of excellence in our craft.

As songwriters, let us approach revision not as a daunting task but as an opportunity to bring out the best in our music and ourselves. Let’s cherish each step of this journey, knowing that with every note we refine, we’re not just creating music – we’re honing our artistry and leaving our unique imprint on the world of songwriting.

How has revising your songs impacted your growth as an artist? What challenges have you faced, and what triumphs have you celebrated? Let me know and let’s continue this conversation by sharing insights, stories, and tips that can inspire and guide us all in our songwriting journeys.

Together, let’s embrace the art of revision, not just as a necessary step in songwriting but as a path to discovering our truest artistic selves.