The Three Chairs Of Songwriting

Hi again. Thanks for logging onto Rog Blog #2.

Last week I wrote about the way we think about songwriting and getting our material out there.We’ve all heard songs from artists that we think are a bit ordinary or average but they still go on to become successful. Similarly we hear great songs that disappear without a trace.

It all comes down to the size, speed, weight and power of the vehicle that’s carrying your songs around.

I have a friend who writes many songs with really good artists. He’s absolutely committed to placing his songs with solid acts and he gets lots recorded. He’s a ‘relationship’ guy who is always on the phone and networking. He’s a good songwriter but there’s a lot of ‘good’ songwriters out there. The difference with him is that he has realised long ago that relying on his own vehicle isn’t going to be enough to push his ambitious songwriting career.

Producers, like myself, are often committed songwriters who get a lot of songs recorded because we co-write with, for and sometimes in spite of our recording clients. Mutt Lang, the famous ex husband of Shania Twain is a multi-millionaire from songwriting alone because he’s an amazing producer and writes with and for his high profile clients AC/DC, Michael Bolton, Shania Twain,The Corrs, Def Lepard and so on. It is said that there’s a song of his playing somewhere in the world at any time. Now that’s horizontal m

oney!

If you are an artist and are determined to be your own vehicle then try this little exercise out:

THE THREE CHAIRS

The Valley Studio | The Three Chairs of songwritingImagine there’s three chairs in a room.

  • Chair 1 is you, the person.
  • Chair 2 is you , the songwriter,
  • Chair 3 is you, the performer, (the vehicle)

 

 

Imagine for a minute that each of these were different people who all resemble you. So if you are in fact all three ‘personas’, you need to realise that they each have different ambitions, work habits, lifestyle choices and needs. Your person has a way of being that’s a unique combo of your experience and culture. You have a lifestyle that reflects your history, culture and personality.

Your songwriter has his/her own needs and feelings. Maybe your songwriter needs to be more lonesome, have more conversations about different things with a different group of friends, maybe he/she dresses differently, goes different places. Who does your songwriter need to hang out with to keep himself/herself inspired. Sometimes you might need to develop specific, creative relationships with people your person wouldn’t normally talk with.

Your Performer needs to have a different kind of life and personality. I work in a band where my lead singer is very dowdy and ‘normal’ around his home. Quiet, down to earth, grounded etc. BUT he’s an animal onstage! Loud, flashy, outspoken. Fantastic for a band but you wouldn’t want to be around ‘that’ persona all the time. What does your performer need to do? Dress differently? Practise your instrument? Develop a routine on the day you play? Mentally transform yourself into the perfect vehicle? Think about what your audience requires form you and make sure you’re delivering that?

Now I know there’s people out there who feel that they can be all three personas all the time. In fact I’ve occasionally tried this out in my life and I’ve come to realize that it’s not a great idea. My band was on the road permanently for a lot of years and my private life was a mess. My songwriter could only think about songs to do with being on the road, drunk, broke, disappointed, exhilarated and only occasionally thoughtful and alone enough to write songs. My performer was having exactly the right life but the others were neglected.

So all I’m suggesting here is that you at least think about what each of your personas really need to make them happy, effective and balanced against the other two.Your three personas need each other and develop a strong relationship. Your person needs to feed your songwriter with real, true, honest information and stories from your real life. Your person also needs to stay healthy, sane, relatively sober and grounded to allow your songwriter to work.

Your songwriter needs to be feeding your performer with the kind of material that will drive the vehicle further down the track. He/she needs time and inspiration to dream up ideas but also to be quite intelligent and pragmatic about what the audience wants from your performer.

If for example you’re a vibey, party act and your person has just broken up with a partner and is feeling sad and blue, does that mean your songwriter is going to write sad and blue songs for your performer? Hopefully not.

Maybe your life is going exceptionally well, you’re successful, money is rolling in and every thing is hunky dory BUT you’ve forged a music career so far based on angsty, tortured love songs then you need to somehow encourage your songwriter to go to that place when he/she is writing material for your serious minded performer.

You may think this is a little bit analytical and a bit controlled but I believe we need to make conscious what is usually unconscious. The more thought you put into your vehicle the better it will run.

Above all, great songwriters use Imagination and Observation to generate Inspiration.

Some call this the Music Industry but I say “it’s not called show biz for nothing. Show and business.”

Catch you next week and as always feel free to leave a comment and/or download my FREE songwriting workbook HERE

Next Week: Size, Speed, Weight and Power

Roger Corbett.

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