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The K.I.S.S rule…aka, Keep It Simple…Songwriter

By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder Why do we overcomplicate the simple? It’s like adding ice cream to an otherwise perfect pizza. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Songwriting is no different. Your career is no different. Try to understand the X and Y on your career axis and the time that you are investing in your creative pursuits. X being time, Y being the outcome. What does that graph look like? Success compounds. Kind of like royalties. Over the years they mature until they’re almost self-driving. Here are five things that we do as creators every single day that overcomplicate and undermine our own trajectory.

Over Writing - Too many times songwriters overwrite their songs. What does it mean to overwrite a song? I’m a firm believer in writing an entire song and then returning to edit and clean it up later. Stunting the growth of the idea before you even get it out and documented can stop creativity in its tracks. Write, edit, finish. Avoid getting bogged down trying to find the perfect rhyme. Chorus isn’t coming? Write the verse. Jump to the bridge. Inspiration comes when it comes. You just have to be patient and know where to look, and how to catch it. Over Thinking - Paralysis by analysis. One of my favorite sayings. When in the moment, strictly think about creativity. Too many times we’re concerned by the outcome before we’ve even invested the time to create. Don’t worry about snare sounds before you even have chord changes. Follow the process down the line, and you’ll get to the end of the track. Over Producing - Overproducing can be interpreted in two ways. Overproducing can mean writing too much, but overproducing can also mean spending too much time on the actual production of the songs. Overproducing by creating too many songs, can limit your creativity. It’s cool to write 300 songs in a year, but it’s a lot cooler to write 100 amazing songs in a year. Consider this…1 song can change your life. So start with 1 amazing song. As far as overproducing…as soon as you think you’re done, strip away half of the elements before you finish the mix. It will satisfy the creative process having ideated all the parts, but ultimately clearing the space by discarding unnecessary parts will give the song room to breathe. Over Sensitive - Take all feedback with a grain of salt. Positive AND negative. Trust some voices. Don’t trust others. Do your best not to be over-sensitive to either praise or criticism. Both are dangerous. Stay even-keeled and manage your emotions. Win…keep it moving. Learn…keep it moving. There is NEVER not a reason to keep it moving. Over Compensating - Imagine if you’re a gambler. Lose a bet, overcompensate by betting more the next time. Overcompensating can be a dangerous and deep hole to extract ourselves from. Sometimes writing a song is a means to an end. Maybe it’s about bringing the mediocre idea out in order to make space for the next piece of magic. Try not to overcompensate or double down on bad ideas. If it's not happening, no amount of polish will make it shine. Adding reverb to crap, just makes it crap with reverb. The Coda: We all suffer from self-doubt. Every great artist does. I’ve never met a "successful songwriter" that doesn’t. But in almost every circumstance, blocking out the noise and simplifying the process will always get you the desired results. Plus it’s so much easier to concentrate when it’s quiet. See you next week, and keep writing them hits!


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