Thanks for keeping on reading my blog. I hope you’ve downloaded my Songwriting Bootcamp Book and are following some of the ideas in there. As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask away.
So……I saw Angus Stone and his band on Sunrise this week. I laughed out loud at his image and ‘vibe’ not because it’s funny but just from the sheer joy of seeing someone like him bravely creating his persona and living it out to the full.
If you didn’t see him on Monday morning I’m sure you’ll see him performing the song somewhere. He is #1 on the iTunes chart this week which means stacks of downloads and lots of sales of the CD of course as well. He is all about the 70’s, (as I remember it having been there the first time), with the scruffy, beardy, shabby, op shoppy, laid back look of California in the 70’s.
The drummer even put his wallet on the snare to dampen it down which is an old trick from the old days before moon gel and gaffer tape became the norm. Actually, he couldn’t have been a real musician because the wallet was much too thick.
The song was a simple kind of love song. I wasn’t really focusing on the lyrics which were mumbled through his beard but the metric patterning was highly repetitive and there was even a whistling hook in the same metric rhythm. My point in talking about Angus Stone and his success story here is that so many of the songwriter/performers I talk to are simply trying to manipulate the whole procedure to the point where the energy gets eroded in the slow drip of self doubt, me-tooism and rethinks.
Creating a persona that’s challenging, dressing accordingly, having the entire band look the same and creating engaging music that fits with that style and look is quite a trick and Angus Stone has done this supremely well. When we are creating an entity for our songs, more often that not we think about how the ‘Industry’ will react to our song and how will people perceive us.
- Are we ‘fitting in’ with the other success models we are looking at?
- Are we being brave or merely ticking boxes?
- Are we more worried about a few people’s perception of us or the much wider available audience?
I guess the Angus Stone lesson for us mere mortals is that he’s ‘out there’, he seems like he and his band couldn’t give a toss what the world at large thinks of his image, his song, his performance and the fact that he’s whistling during the song. I guess this kind of careless attitude is so opposite to the ‘try hard’ attitude of most artists that it presents as incredibly ‘cool’ of course and we all want a piece of that don’t we?
Everybody wants a piece of the ‘cool’ so how can we create that for ourselves? I sometimes feel very uncool, at least that’s what our kids say about us, but at other times I’m sure people think my band is ‘cool’ and it’s usually when we’re in flow at a gig and we are funny without meaning to be, performing as a unit and working together in a team. That’s when we have a great gig and sell lots of product because everyone wants a part of the ‘cool’ . It’s also when we are being outrageous (brave) and saying things that are stretching our audience’s tolerances and mindsets.
‘Bravery’ in songwriting and performance is a critical part of achieving the ‘cool’ that will create success for you. If we are continually electing the ‘safe’ and secure road instead of putting it out there that’s a perfect recipe for a bland, forgettable career.
So…..grow a beard, go get some clothes from the op shop, stick your wallet on your snare drum, mumble and whistle your way through a catchy tune and achieve the kind of stratospheric success we all dream about.
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TOP FIVE things to know about songwriting…
- Know who you are and where you want to be and write for an audience.
- It’s all about your audience.
- Get songwriting tuition.
- Use the ‘one minute rule’ get your audience engaged in the first minute of the song.
- Get your audience to ‘feel it’. What emotion do you want your audience to feel?