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Do my songs have too much personality?


grace_slick

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Yikes!!! Take a breath... Relax. Here's my take on these things: Do you have too much personality? What kind of impression do you - as a person - leave when you meet a stranger? Like, at work or in a social situation?

 

Your music is you. You are what people are responding to when they hear a song - less so the song. The craft of songwriting and performing is just learning how to use what you have to leave a good impression in sound. But it has everything to do with you - the music isn't an extension of you. It is you. And people like you or they don't. Some people are just cooler and more attractive than others. That's how it goes. But everybody digs people that are comfortable with themselves.

 

It's a long way of saying just be who you are. Put your best foot forward. People can see through it when you're faking it - in your music and when talking to them face to face.

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I said it earlier- if I was looking into managing a lyricist/singer/songwriter I'd be knocking on your door. "real fast too", you got natural talent and most of all I feel and many of us here do too, that it is marketable (commercially)

 

hope your dreams come true for you

 

 

the creative energy that I see coming from you recently, you might want to keep writing as much as possible for that type of creative energy I believe comes once in a life time

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We all go at least a little bit on what other people think of us. And it's good to be rational about it, or to be non-naive enough to understand where you sit in other people's estimations.

 

But that's all pretty trifling. There's no point in doing it if you aren't honest with yourself. What's more, the more quirky you are an artist (and I really understand about quirkiness), the more weird you sound by trying to sound normal. It's like a bad comedy.

 

Forget it. Don't do what is supposed to sound good, don't do what impresses: The rub is, for us quirky people, we probably don't know how. Do what you have to do. Do what you are compelled to do. And I find it helps a great deal if I don't take myself too seriously.

 

Someone somewhere will enjoy your honesty.

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Only the unique will rise above the usual and boring.

 

 

Ido is right. BUT, most of what we hear does NOT rise above the din. It's a ridiculously long shot to make it in the music world. You certainly have to decide what's important to you. Most of us (all of us?) do something other than music to put bread on the table. Even those in music as a profession, do all sorts of other things (give lessons, instrument repair, recording engineer, bartender, waitress, etc) to make ends meet. Inevitably compromises arise. It's nice to keep a core sense of art for at least a portion of what you do and who you are. But true artistic success (financial) comes to very few.

 

I use architecture as a good model. How much of what you see built in the world qualifies as art? How about all those burger joints and gas stations. Yet, if you're in the construction business, you generally have to make a deal with the devil to get some bread on the table. It's the same in all the arts.

 

So, are your songs good enough to make it? . . . , I don't have a clue. Probably not in their present condition. But yes, you have talent(s), you have energy, and a great love for the art form. Your skill level is coming along nicely. You have dedication. I like your music a lot.

 

I'd say you need to team up with some other musicians. And start playing out somewhere. You (we all) need to get real feedback in the real world (not just the virtual world) to discover what works and what doesn't about our creative efforts.

 

But what do I know?

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I just listened to all my songs on headphones, and despite my concerns about them having too much personality, I now see they have absolutely NO personality or spark whatsoever in terms of the vocals!! LIMP! God, I SUCK.

On the contrary, you have a good foundation to build on.

 

A lot of us would love to trade our quirky, hard-to-control songwriter voices for a nice voice with many classic qualities that tend to go down well with many folks. The way I look at it, a nice basic voice never hurts. If you've got lame songs, then a nice voice might still carry you a ways. But if you also have great songs, then even the cynics and hipsters may cut you some slack, despite a nice voice. ;)

 

Anyhow, that said, sure, you've got some growing room as writer and vocalist -- but that just means that the hard-fought progress you make will tend to be more obvious when looking backwards a few years. (Few of us see progress from day to day, after all. You need the zoomed out perspective.) It's folks who are already 99.7% perfect who really have a problem. That last .3% is -- to lapse with your kind tolerance into the vernacular -- a bitch.

 

 

And, yeah, I might not put it as colorfully as others have, but I'm smack with the rest of these guys on the nom de guerre. It sounds like something a 12 year old boy who hasn't given up Mad magazine yet would come up with for his band name -- or his big sister.

 

There are other absurdist/da da names you could come up with that would boldly telegraph your cultural iconoclasm but not be quite so... well... you know... dumb.

 

:D

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All this just-be-yourself talk is great and important. But there's nothing wrong - in fact, there's everything right - with reading a situation and acting accordingly.

 

If you want to make money making music that involves understanding a particular market and serving up something that meets some kind of demand. A lot of artist types whine about making creative choices with an eye toward pleasing an audience. These people are called hobbyists.

 

If you really have commercial aspirations, I'd look around and see who has success making weird and off-beat music and take their cues when it comes to shaping your sound. Crafting work that appeals to others is called... well, making good art....

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If you're looking to make a living on your songs, then the issue isn't a matter of personality. It's that they're about things that people don't care about. You can convince yourself that your being enormously clever by inventing an improbable scenario in which outrageous things occur, but in general, the public is just as self-obsessed as you are, and aren't interested in how clever you are. They want you to talk about them.

 

In thinking about "high personality" songs that have had pop success, they all speak to the larger culture. "Space Oddity" is a weird song, but everyone knows what isolation feels like, and everyone was thinking about the implications of space travel at that time. "White Rabbit" is weird, and lacks a chorus, but it was a retelling of a beloved children's tale and encapsulated an entire generation's exploration of substance abuse.

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Wow...so they want me to talk about THEM, do they? Yeah, I guess they do...

 

Hmm...I don't know...I just want to do stuff that interests me...but then...I think I'm a weirdo...but what you (Chicken Monkey) say is true...even I want to listen to songs that speak to me. That I can relate to, that are in some way about my. Not in scenarios necessarily but in feelings. It's all about feelings.

 

Do any of my songs have feelings...I don't know...some do, I think. But are any big enough to make it? Who knows.

 

I must re-read all these comments again.

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I think all too often, songwriters hope that their songs will testify to how exceptional the writer is. This hope is directly at odds with the listener, who listens for exceedingly common songs, with common sentiments, tho often expressed in an uncommon way. Even songs about alienation are an in-crowd experience for the listener--"so I'm NOT the only one who feels this way!"

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If you want to make money making music that involves understanding a particular market and serving up something that meets some kind of demand. A lot of artist types whine about making creative choices with an eye toward pleasing an audience. These people are called hobbyists.

 

 

I strongly disagree. Don't get me wrong, your statement is worth careful consideration. But there are real problems with that point of view:

 

1) acquiring major financial success in music by "serving up something that meets some kind of demand" is just as difficult as anything else. I've been witness to this - I've seen groups try to do exactly this, using business plans and whatnot. It's for two reasons: a) massive financial success in music is often just about luck, and b) perceiving a demand and then strategically making music to meet that is just as hard as any other musical task. Indeed, that is precisely what musical snobs won't admit when they deride pop music. But, unfortunately, it means that consciously choosing to "sell out" may not get you any further, because selling out is also a skill requiring a great deal of insight, intuition and intelligence. Simply put, it just isn't something most of us are even capable of, for the better or worse.

 

2) There are a great many artists who have made it big in the pop world and received critical acclaim for their music, and have never overtly followed any strategy other than to make music the way they like it. Some are from independent labels but others are mainstream. I could write a long list. Given my point 1), then you're in just as good a position to pursue your own musical interests, even if you're hoping for some sort of financial return (provided you have a modicum of business acumen).

 

3) This "making it big" thing is silly. I've lost track of how many times I've made this argument: The bulk of our musical culture is thanks to artists who aren't, or are not going to be permanently financially supported for their work. Of course a lot of good and influential stuff comes from the topmost tier, but this is a relatively small portion. Moreover, most music people who we would call "successful" still do a bunch of other things to make ends meet. The point being: we should be careful with our definition of success. If we strictly mean financial, then in fact we rule out artists who have had a hand in creating the bulk of what is there. What's more, we'll be ignored, because it's simply the case that serious artists are going to persist with their creative path in spite of any lack of appropriate financial support - it's part of what defines them.

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Having said all that, I should add that I think it's important to be aware of what's going on around you, musically and culturally. Absolutely, listen to "financially successful" music and get an understanding of what makes it tick. But don't do that specifically to get richer, do it because it's part of an artist's job.

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This is turning into a real good thread. Points well taken.

 

It's a balance between art and commerce. In a capitalistic society, even ART is measured by it's economic value. Is the Mona Lisa really the best painting ever made? . . . , I think not.

 

In the realm of music, is it art when it's created by someone? Or does it become art only when it's appreciated by someone else? I'd like to say it's somewhere in the middle, myself. Art is expression and communication. No, it shouldn't just be dumbed-down to reach the broadest audience on a low level of appreciation (and still be called art). But it has to get something across to someone else in order to get the gold star.

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