There’s more and more music being produced, but upon hearing any given song, it still sounds quite stale. Great ones are even more rare.
– Write outside yourself.
We’re up to our ears in personal songs, confessional songs, coming-of-age songs, and yet another song about relationships, breakups, how sad you were when grandpa died, how frazzled you were when your house burned down, how depressed or happy or pissed you were on this occasion or that, what it’s like to be someone like you in a situation like yours, (esp in hip-hop) how sexual, rich, famous, powerful, and/or cool you are.
A personal song is FINE, but do us a favour and look beyond, too.
Write about the Roaring 20’s, write a song as a homage to a cosmonaut, or a song about a serial killer, or a song about time-traveling voluptuous androids, or a withering critique of the drug war, or an ode to the North Korean underground railroad, or whatever. It’s a great big fascinating world out there.
– Grow as a writer and person.
Read, explore, go new places, take in new information. Read Racine. Read anthropology. Read legal philosophy. Watch some Fellini films. If you’ve always hated opera, listen to some opera. Give it a chance.
If you’ve never been physically active, take a martial arts class. Go to a museum exhibit that sounds super boring, and don’t let it be boring. Take a month off from social media and instead spend it learning everything you can about a random African country. Talk to smart people about their area of expertise, and ask lots of questions. Experiment with a new mind-altering substance or two. Shoplift a plum and see how it feels. If you’ve never shot a gun, shoot one.
All this sh** gives you more hooks to hang onto. Expand your mind and your songs will be more rich and compelling, even the ones about getting dumped and/or how boneable the girl who works at the coffee shop is.
– Musically, forge some new ground.
Like maybe… If you’re into “4 on the floor” electronic stuff, try working in the same idiom but without, in fact, ever putting 4 on the floor.
If you’re into folk/alt/rock, try for a year to never use the same strumming pattern twice. If you’re into rock, write some tunes without snare on 2 and 4.
Write a tune with no backbeat at all. Write a song in a 5/4 shuffle. Work in more altered chords. Try a strange chord progression. Try a completely new song structure. Etc.
AS YOU WERE!