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Top Tips For Dreamers With Ambition - Collective Wisdom From The Songstuff Community

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I have started this thread as a place for the Songstuff Community to pour out their collective wisdom of valuable lessons learned and solid gold tips.

There is no sense in history repeating itself, with generation after generation making the same mistakes and treading the same worn path to obscurity. Indeed, that was a key driving force in creating Songstuff.

For members posting tips:

  • To avoid valuable tips being lost, buried in lengthy paragraphs, please try to keep it to one tip per post.
  • Where there is a strong link between tips, and it makes sense to have more than one tip in a post, please use bullet points to keep tips prominent and easy to locate.
  • Explain what the tip is for, the exact scenario if possible.
  • Explain why this tip is important, why it works etc.
  • Ideally give an anecdote that demonstrates the problem the tip addresses and the tip in action.
  • Try to keep paragraphs short and to the point.
  • If you are adding to an existing tip, please quote that tip within your post or link to the original tip directly.

Experienced members, I urge you to take this opportunity to build this thread. It'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Please note: Don't post comments or replies (unless you are adding to an existing tip). Instead, please like the posts you find useful.

Please share this topic on social media and spread the love!

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Trust your ears. No one will enjoy your music more than you do. So musically pleasing yourself should always remain the top priority. All other considerations should be secondary.

Others will inspire you. They can also help you directly with advice of course, but you are still the final judge as to what to take away.

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• If you're trying to be successful as a band or solo artist.
Be yourself. How many times have you heard anyone say "They sound just like "famous band name here" but BETTER?

• If you are trying to earn a living by producing songs for TV/Movie etc…
9 times out of 10 they want you to sound like someone already popular. Taxi is a good example of this.

Edited by Just1L
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For lyric writers, there are tools which will help expand your writing.  

* Use a rhyming dictionary.  There is one on this site here, http://forums.songstuff.com/member/tools/rhyming-dictionary/  This is so important, the number one tip, if you don't do anything else, do this.

* Use a thesaurus, and a dictionary.  A Roget's Thesaurus has a unique layout which can really help to develop ideas.

* Build yourself a list of adjectives and adverbs, there are online sources for these as well, but having your own list will help you keep track of ones you have used already so you can continue to bring fresh ideas into your work.

* A simple recording device will allow you to sing the lyric to a melody and hear how it sounds.  If it's on your phone, you'll be able to record that hook you just thought of and come back to it later

* Learn an instrument, well, maybe not learn but pick one up and mess around with it regularly.  Even if you only gain a rudimentary ability to play, it will help you to design a lyric.  

* Write, edit, rewrite, erase, and sing...and edit

* Desensitize yourself.  If you're still reading this, you must write lyrics.  If you write them and post for critique, your one of a kind, never been heard of, best lyric in the world is fair game for criticism.  Feelings are important to the lyric writing process, but may get hurt on occasion.  So come in knowing that in the scheme of things, it's only a lyric, not the end of the world.  

* Pick up a book (or five) on writing lyrics.  Learn, as John says, from others who have been there.

* Learn music terminology.  Do you know what a measure is?  Do know the difference between 4/4 and 3/4 time and how that applies to your melody, and how that applies to your lyric? 

* Solve world hunger if you can, if not, write a lyric to make the starving forget they are hungry.  It's a few minutes, not a whole lifetime, everyone can say something for a few minutes that matters to someone.  That someone is your audience, know who you are writing this for and what you want them to take away from it.  



Edited by McnaughtonPark
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Don't forget The Great Secret Of Art: 

"Hell, it isn't 'easy' ... it never was! We just prefer to make it look that way to the Great Unwashed (who buy our stuff)."

Therefore, let me let you in on a Great Trade-Secret:  

In the real world, songs don't arrive "like Venus in a clam-shell ... fully-formed, drop-dead gorgeous, and by-the-way totally B)."

Never did.  Never could.  (And if it could, none of us would have a job ...)

Creativity is mostly a process of selection.  There is no "right answer," and this is actually a good thing, because it means that "You really do(!) get to choose!"  Don't be alarmed if you find yourself with "half-a-dozen equally-good alternatives" that "could go 'here.'"  (Pick one, then save the other five for your next song(s).  "And so it goes.")

If "creativity" were not "a decision-making process with no deterministic answers," then no-one in the world would need us ... at all!

Fortunately, they instead expect us to wrestle with all of this "process" ... of which they know nothing and care less ... and to subsequently surprise them with:  "art."

(Shhhh... don't tell 'em!!  They want to gawk at Michelangelo's finished sculptures.  They do not want to see: "marble chips!")

Edited by MikeRobinson
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  • 4 months later...

Hey Rob,


Can you add it here:




This is accessible through the member hub and it is a feature I intend to make more of... indeed the member tips may move in there entirely.


Click into the singing category and click to add a new article. Fill in the fields.


I will then edit the article for basic format (mainly titles), for speed and easy reference. I really need to do an article about format for articles!


Once done we can post a link back here :)





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  • Editors

Biggest thing that I've learned over the years is to be very self critical. If you think that song of yours sounds too decent, then it probably is.  Do something to fix it. This applies at any level of experience.


I've always been my biggest critique. No remorse. It's not the same as putting myself down. I don't take it personally to discourage myself and maybe say "I sing horrible" instead I would say "I can improve on that vibrato. Unless I can pull it off, I shouldn't do it anyways in a live performance or recording"  It's seeing all the things I can improve on in an absolute way and being real with it. 


I don't expect everyone to think this way but for me, this is how I have become a better performer consistently. 

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After you get past the dream stage and move into the make it happen stage the next thing that happens is you make progress of some kind because in any dedicated effort there is eventual progress toward the goal. In my experience progress always comes in spurts. You might have a long period where you feel progress had dried up and then one day you will get over a major obstacle and feel yourself moving ahead.It is important to keep reminding yourself that progress will eventually come during these times. Read positive things stay around positive people. Progress may not always be measured in popularity, in fact some of the people making the most progress aren't trending on social networks . Don't be unrealistic in your progress expectations because this might cause you to be tempted to give up. If your goals were too unrealistic at the beginning you will fall short of them and become discouraged. You may need to re align your goals with reality in order to stay in the game.


How you measure progress is very important. You must always enter into any endeavour with plenty of self worth so that you don't define yourself by your exterior progress or by what someone thinks about you. No one likes to be around someone who has an ego brought on by adding too much worth to themselves or what they think they can do , this needs to be a healthy balance. Believe in yourself and what your inner compass is leading you to do. You are unique and have a special approach that no one else has. You have a purpose. Try to define your purpose, find inner happiness instead of attempting to find happiness from exterior circumstances. 


Realize your weaknesses and look for help from others when needed. No accomplishment is ever done totally solo. Musicians need recording knowledge and tips from experts. They need to practice their instruments and they might need lessons. Hard work and dedication are necessities. We were intended to work as teams at times, so don't be afraid to work on a team if it lines up with your directive.


In  a nutshell, look in the mirror, learn to be comfortable in your own skin, be true to yourself but be realistic. Most of all enjoy the ride. If a negative situation comes along that threatens your peace, remember that people can affect you but they only have the power to direct your feelings if you let them. If you created the situation then face it head on and deal with it taking responsibility when necessary. Progress is many faceted. None of use progress the same way either professionally or personally, so don't make comparisons.

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