I hear from a lot of musicians that they feel they lack authenticity. In a world where we are exposed to artists at the touch of our fingertips with apps like Spotify, Instagram, Facebook, etc., it is easy to find ourselves comparing our art to others.
This is where we can make a change.
If we start to look inward to our own values, fears, doubts, or beliefs we can start to find our authentic selves. Taking daily inventory or recognition of any of these areas provides us with a foundation of authenticity.
Begin to notice the thoughts that compare yourself to others. Stop yourself from running away with the story and offer yourself an affirmation to keep you on track. I suggest something simple like, “I am”. It has no titles, pronouns, or agenda. Keep a list of affirmations handy for when your mind starts to compare. I like to post them up by my bedroom mirror.
How are you committing to your authentic self today? Growing up I didn’t know any other Natalie’s. I thought I was the only Natalie in the world other than Natalie Wood, whom I was named after. Throughout elementary school, there were no other girls named Natalie. I thought Katies just came in bunches. Harsh truth came to me as I grew older and met another Natalie in high school. My world turned upside down. How could this be? What does this mean about me? Am I not special? I had to re-think my entire identity.
Also in high school, I performed a talent show and a couple of days later a friend told me her friend (uh, like SO high school amirite?) said I ripped off Tori Amos. I was gutted! If you know me at all, you know I am a huge Tori fan so, of course, she influenced me. However, the idea of ripping off someone no matter how much you love them makes you feel worthless and unoriginal. We all want to be seen as original and authentic when we’re creating songs of our own but how do we draw that line between exact copying and drawing influence?
I see a lot of songwriters question their authenticity as an artist knowing there are others, even more famous, writing music along the same vein. So then, how do we find our authenticity and not have our world turned upside down?
Here are the problems that I see about authenticity in songwriting:
- It’s already been done before. I hear this from others and I have heard it from my false narratives. When we boil it down, music = patterns. Now, where the magic happens is in rearranging the patterns, adding emotion & feeling — that is when it becomes fresh. So to combat that, we dive deep and connect with our emotions so they can show through in our songs.
- You want to be famous. If that is your goal then you should stop reading this right now! I am all about realistic goals. Fame is rare and there are many ways to measure success in songwriting that don’t rely on fame. Goals should be flexible and achievable with no firm expectations. Songwriting is a journey, not a destination.
- You see similarities as a threat. Just as I saw as a child, these similarities can make us feel threatened and our world is upside down. I like to see these similarities as your universe bouncing back to you and giving you connection. Try to focus on your differences and abilities.
- You only do music. Art imitates life — go live it! Spend extra time with a loved one, revisit a childhood hobby, try yoga, do something other than songwriting every once in a while to feed your soul.
In the course, The Songwriter’s Process, we do a deep dive into your personal experiences and discover useful tools to organize these thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We look at the styles & artists you like to draw through-lines. We build a foundation by knowing what you say yes to and what you say ooooh nooooo to.
When it comes to authenticity and songwriting, shift your focus inward and remember this: no one in the world has the same experience, imagination, or knowledge. Your thoughts & experiences are valid and have a place in songs.