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5 Common Misconceptions About Making Music

by | Master Your Craft, Songwriters

Being a musician is an exceptionally unique and rare life choice. The road to musical success is a windy and tumultuous one, and it’s often shrouded in the opinions of your peers and listeners alike. There are many misconceptions about what goes into the art and discipline of songwriting, scoring, or producing. In today’s article, we’re going to try and put a rest on some of these ideas. Here are five misconceptions about making music. 

You Have To Be A Natural To Succeed

This idea is probably one of the most frequently accepted notions about music-making, and it’s easy to understand why it exists. One of the most influential and intimidating factors about some of music’s biggest names is their ability to make their virtuosity seem effortless. Songwriters like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder have a ton of work under their belt that is unique, timeless, and frighteningly dense. 

However, it’s essential to consider that teams of equally hard-working musicians surrounded these artists. This means that these artists always had some form of creativity to pull from when composing. They also always made sure to be around musicians who were more advanced than they were. Talent can get you a healthy distance in the music world, but it seldom takes you to the top. It’s also highly unsustainable to try and be consistent on talent alone. Successful songwriting is about discipline, curiosity, and a willingness to collect new knowledge and perspectives to maintain growth.

Music Theory Is A Must

Another common misconception about successful music makers is that they all have extensive knowledge of music theory. This concept is also relatively easy to understand, as virtuosity and popularity go hand in hand. However, many practiced and well-studied musicians struggle to find a productive rhythm for making music. And while music theory might help load your creative pistol with bullets, it certainly won’t help you aim or even pull the trigger, for that matter.

Acclaimed producer Rick Rubin has been behind some of modern music’s biggest albums, effortlessly springing from genre to genre. Rubin is a firm believer in musical intuition and understands that music is about self-exploration and communication more than it is about competition and validation. Some of the most memorable songs are also the simplest and were written by people with a basic knowledge of chords and rhythm. Yes, music theory will better understand your possible musical choices, but your instinct and taste will ultimately determine your compositions.

Songwriting Has A Specific Formula

Often listeners and creatives alike believe that there is some secret routine or method that successful artists use to stay consistently creative. Old folklore suggests that some musicians even trade their souls to the Devil for their visionary legacies. However, the truth is that there are several ways to approach and complete a song or composition, and no method is perfect. 

The most consistent songwriters have a good understanding of the methods that work for them and the methods that hinder them. Consistent songwriters also know who and when to ask for assistance in areas they may lack ability or experience. Some composers struggle with lyrics; others may need help piecing together drum parts or mixing their audio. 

The more you know what environments and methods best aid your songwriting, the more consistent and motivated you’ll become to see your projects to their finish. 

It’s Important To Make Music That Other People Enjoy

There’s an element of truth in the heading listed above, but that depends entirely on your motivations for making music. If music is more of a hobby or an outlet from your everyday life and you don’t wish to make a career of it – then, by all means, make whatever noises you make happy. However, if you want to become a chart-topping artist with a massive following and a stadium-sized tour schedule, the argument becomes a bit more complex. 

If you’re planning to jump into the rat race of commercial music success, you will at some point have to compromise some element of your creativity to progress. However, this compromise doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative one. More often than not, the compromise will entail you finding a way to get your point across to more people without changing everything you have to say. Try to keep an open mind when it comes to your songwriting; the more doors you close on yourself, the fewer rooms you have to explore. 

Making Music Isn’t Work

This misconception is also likely to be among the most widely accepted, particularly amongst music consumers. Music is a form of release, escape, and entertainment for most of the general population. As such, most people don’t associate the idea that music entails any form of discipline or hard work because it is just that much fun. However, this idea could not be further from the truth.

Whether you wish to make a career or take it on as a serious pastime, making music requires dedication and hard work. The harder you work, the sweeter the rewards will be – most of the time. Many full-time songwriters wake up every day, work for 8-12 hours and come up with absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, these days are a necessary part of the creative process. Much like fishermen heading out into the vast ocean to find a catch, making music takes patience, time, and perseverance. After all, you can’t catch the fish if you don’t board the boat. 

Final Thoughts

It’s easy for creatives and consumers alike to build up all sorts of ideas of the daily lives of a music maker. The truth is that most successful songwriters lead a life that works exclusively on their timing and groove, and this requires sacrifice and diligence. However, those same musicians generally accept that they are writing music for the pure love of the art form and place other priorities afterward. Thanks for reading through our rundown on five misconceptions about music-making. 

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