People will sometimes ask – What’s the most important element in any band?
Musicians will usually always reply with the instrument that they play. This mindset may very well be the reason that you can look around you anywhere and see exceptional musicians everywhere. Unfortunately, you don’t see as many great songwriters. The great songwriter is indeed much harder to find than the virtuoso musician.
Yet, what is really the most important element in any band? It’s the song. Or the collection of songs. If you can’t write them yourself, you have to find someone to write them for you. Either way, without them your career will be a short one. Great songs more than anything else are what will give you longevity. Who doesn’t want that!?
Without a great song – exceptional musicianship doesn’t mean a whole lot. Don’t get me wrong – You have to have fantastic musicianship too. It MUST serve the song though, or it’s just mechanical ego masturbation.
Music isn’t about the musician, It’s about the listener who is moved by the music. It’s about the average person who can relate to what the song is saying and the emotion it’s conveying – Not how many notes you can fit in a bar, or how complicated it is to play. Musicians too often play for other musicians. Songwriters (great ones anyway) write for people.
If you haven’t guessed by now – In my world, everything lives and dies by the song. I’m not necessarily talking about a hit song either. Just because a song is a hit doesn’t always mean it’s good. At the same time there’s hundreds, if not thousands of songs that should’ve been hits that weren’t. A lot more than people think goes into making something a “hit”, but that’s a topic for another day.
My message to young musicians out there, or any musician is – Focus more on your songwriting. It’s the most important thing to do and it’s also the hardest thing to do well. Hit or no hit, your great songs coupled with your great musicianship is what will have people 30 or 40 years from now still listening to, or discovering you.
Think of this – Songs are also power and security in your career. It’s the songwriters that have the real control in a band. It’s the songwriters who really make the money in a band. It’s the songwriters who will continually succeed, long after the band. The first thing a major label will want to know if you ever get their attention is – Who writes the songs? They’re the ones really getting signed. Think I’m wrong? Well, have any measurable success in the business on the wrong end of it, then tell me again how wrong I am. History is littered with examples of this.
Look at the most successful bands throughout history and the ones that have stood the test of time. The common thread is exceptional songwriting.
As a Producer and as a musician/artist my biggest concern is always the song and how to serve it best.
As a songwriter it’s about a statement, emotion or topic that people can relate to their own lives that’s drawn from my own experiences, or observations of life. Again, it’s more about the listener than it is about my experience. My experience may be the inspiration and the story – But it’s about people and how it’s relatable that’s most important.
As a music fan and listener – I am most moved when everything I hear makes one cohesive statement. Where the songs topic, music and emotion gives me one on point message. Not the rogue musician screaming look at me!
The song lives and breathes. The song is all there is . . .