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A Songwriter's Summer "To Do" List

07/22/2014 5:45 PM | Anonymous

The summer months are the perfect time for the working songwriter to tackle the things that just don’t seem to get done during the “busier” parts of the year.  Much like New Year’s Eve, many of us start to make our “to do” lists when the warmer weather arrives fully expecting that this summer we will make the most of our slightly more relaxed work and family schedules.  Yet how often do those lists go largely untouched?  Did we end up repainting the family room, cleaning out the attic, or catching up on other household chores that we’ve put off for too long -- or did the summer just breeze us by yet again?  As songwriters, we all probably have “to do” lists related to our music.  If we don’t want this summer to pass us by without taking on some of our goals, we’ll have to make the most of our “lazy days” this summer.  


Here we are in mid-summer and now is the perfect time to re-examine our goals as songwriters.  Some goals might be small: to restring your guitar, for example.  Others, no doubt, will be much larger in scope: to finally start that song collaboration or record that album.  Once we are able to pinpoint what it is we really want to get out of our songwriting (getting more gigs, working on an album, submitting a song to a contest) we should start to be able to break down the seemingly unattainable goal into smaller tasks.  (I know, I know...we musicians don’t tend to be too organized...but a little planning will go a long way!)


By spending just 20 minutes every day on our chosen top priority (too many and they won’t get done!) we should be able to cross off that long-awaited goal in no time.  For example: want to submit to a contest?  Our Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest is open for submissions through September 15th, so you have plenty of time this summer to work on your song and get it ready for a rough recording before then.  How about starting by going through your repertoire and choosing what you consider to be your top 3 songs?  Then play them for your friends, family, coworkers, other songwriters, strangers, etc. (anyone willing to listen) and have them vote for their favorite.  It’s always a good idea to get outside perspective...we tend to be so close to our art that it’s impossible for us to be objective.  Once you’ve gotten feedback from others, make your final decision(s).  (MASC lets you enter multiple songs!)  If you don’t have a budget for studio time, record your song using Garage Band, Audacity or another program on your computer.  If you have access to a studio or a friend who has better quality recording equipment, see if you can exchange recording time for a favor that you can provide for them.  Then listen to your recording to make sure that it sounds clear and share it with your friends and family.  If others can understand your words and consider the quality as “passable”, then you’re ready to submit!  


So get out a pen and paper, songwriters!  Start listing all your dreams and goals and choose one to focus on between now and September.  You’ll be amazed at what you can get done by just focusing your time on something that excites you!


Written by Nicole Belanus

Songwriters' Association of Washington is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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