Songwriting tips from experts—is “simple” really the way art should go?

What gives a song shelf life? What makes some songs so special they’re still relevant a century after being written?

Tips on songwriting can be found at various industry websites, but one tip posted at Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) raised my eyebrows and made me ask myself a question.

Is “simple” really the best advice for how art should proceed? Continue reading “Songwriting tips from experts—is “simple” really the way art should go?”

Boost your creativity with a journey to the stars

Have you ever been to a planetarium? If you haven’t, check one out. It just so happens that astronomy students from the University of North Florida are cooking up what amounts to an official journey to the stars launched right here in Jacksonville.

If you want a creativity boost, this might be the perfect opportunity. What does it cost?  Continue reading “Boost your creativity with a journey to the stars”

The book every songwriter (and poet) should read

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (Barnes and Noble)
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver (Barnes and Noble)

If you write songs, chances are you’ve confronted the same challenges poets confront.

How do you make time-honored themes like love and loss or anger and redemption new again? You have to do that if you’re writing a new song—you can’t rely on standard clichés and rewrite the same tropes, even altered, over and over again.

I often talk to musicians and songwriters in my personal life, and lately, I find myself recommending the one book I think every songwriter (or poet) should read. The latest person I recommended it to is a filmmaker (Hello, Jared Rush).  Continue reading “The book every songwriter (and poet) should read”

Improve Your Songwriting in Three Steps

Cream of Crop stage Thomasville GA
Photo of stage at Cream of the Crop/Thomasville, GA. (Indie Art South)
Jen Day Thompson
Jen Day Thompson

Independent musicians earning weekly paychecks playing in bars know their fair share of cover songs. More and more, indie artists are learning about the revenue opportunities for original music through streaming services like Spotify.

Original music can take a musician’s business and brand to the next level. It’s not always easy to translate the creative musings in our minds to lyrics and melody, but here are three ways to start improving your songwriting right now. Continue reading “Improve Your Songwriting in Three Steps”

Brain freeze? Here are five ways to get inspired

Rainbow photo; Indie Art South
Rainbow photo; Indie Art South
Jen Day Thompson
Jen Day Thompson

As an independent artist, new material is what breathes life into your business. Whether you’re a visual artist, musician or writer, keeping your audience engaged by creating content is possibly the most important rule of success.

Maybe it’s the chaos of day to day life that hampers your creativity, or maybe the pressure to make something beautiful is limiting your efforts. Writers’ block doesn’t just happen to writers, and most artists have encountered some form of it.

As an independent musician taking care of a family and home while trying to contribute to our brand and business, I sometimes find myself at a loss for words. When my mind is focused day in and day out on keeping a toddler on a schedule, keeping applesauce and markers off of walls and having dinner on the table by 7 PM, there is little space left for my thoughts to wander to creative places.

Here are five ways I get back on track and get inspired. I hope they help you find your spark!  Continue reading “Brain freeze? Here are five ways to get inspired”

Take heart, indie artists: As Irma approaches, ‘happy’ music may aid coping

rainbow before Irma
As Hurricane Irma churned towards Florida, a brief rain delivered another rainbow. (Photo IAS)

It’s almost impossible to think creatively right now because those of us who live in Florida are facing a very angry Irma rolling her way towards the south end of the Sunshine State. As I multi-tasked this morning in an attempt to get things squared away, I came across an interesting article related to my current quandary.  Continue reading “Take heart, indie artists: As Irma approaches, ‘happy’ music may aid coping”

Booked and ready to gig, but short on creative time?

rainbow
Rainbow after the storm; photo IAS.

If you do music fulltime, you already have an idea of the challenges. Unless you have a team of helpers, you’re where the buck stops.

You do the promoting. And the booking. And the contract bids. And equipment maintenance. Press inquiries. Booking agency contacts. Taxes. Practices, and whatever else demands attention.

Amid all that, where is the creative time?  Continue reading “Booked and ready to gig, but short on creative time?”

Eclipse 2017 didn’t quite go as planned here

eclipse NASA Danielson
NASA eclipse image by Arne Danielson

Yesterday, at 1:34 p.m. here in the southeastern sector of Jacksonville, I got to see something remarkable. The sun was directly overhead. As I viewed it through my special glasses, that big orange orb looked like a mouse had nibbled at the upper right quadrant. By 1:49, the bite got bigger. Then things went south.  Continue reading “Eclipse 2017 didn’t quite go as planned here”

Should there be an aesthetic standard for country music duos?

Johnny Cash with June Carter Cash 1969
Johnny Cash with June Carter Cash by Joel Baldwin, 1969. US Library of Congress; gift from Cowles Communications (Look Magazine)

I enjoy reading at the site Saving Country Music, and I came across an article today that set me thinking. The article is about a couple who make music together, and the writer opined:

“Somewhere, the spirit of the country music duo got lost. This isn’t just about the conjoining of two voices. It’s about the mixing of two perspectives on the same theme, telling a story from two angles, making the yearning in the heart that much more aching by adding two sob stories, or uplifting joy that is magnified that much more because it’s shared with someone else.”

This sounded reasonable to me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I questioned it. Continue reading “Should there be an aesthetic standard for country music duos?”