Feb 18, 2011, 10:43

There’s a great book by Julie Cameron called The Artists Way that teaches habits to unclog your creative process and get in touch with your “inner creative child”. You may be thinking, “That sounds great for a weekend getaway in the mountains, but my client is expecting a great pop song by Thursday. What do I do?”

One of the techniques taught in the book is called “morning pages” where you write stream-of-consciousness thoughts in a notebook WITHOUT allowing the pencil to stop.  I repeat: WITHOUT allowing the pencil to stop. I typically force myself to fill three notebook pages (single-spaced, one side only) before I even judge what’s happening.

That in itself can be really, really difficult at first until you review your pages and realize that at least one or two word phrases within your written rant is actually engaging and possesses its own innate rhythm.

For example, while scribbling along (possibly with a sense of anxiety) you may read back and find that you wrote: “Please make this song really, really strong.” Guess what? That phrase is actually kind of musical. And you just may have written a place-holder lyric for your chorus. At least you’ve got something to hang your hat on.

With commission projects it helps me to take a moment before writing and think of a memory in my life that makes me feel the emotion my client wants to evoke with the track. If it’s joy, I imagine my first child being born. If it’s hubris, I imagine the day I got my driver’s license.

This one creative technique has led me to places I never imagined, like being the lead singer in an alt rock band that cut an EP at a major Atlanta studio and being known around Atlanta as a “lyrics guy”. Which is hilarious because I still basically see myself as a piano player.

As a production music library we are seeing more and more requests for tracks with vocals. And as a consumer of popular culture I am seeing more and more tracks in movies and commercials that are vocal pop songs from independent artists who are, let’s be honest here, no more talented than you or me. I attribute musical career success more to a person’s ability to take risks than any inherent talent they possess. There’s a biblical parable in there somewhere about using the talents you’ve been given, but that’s another blog.

Start exercising those untapped creative muscles and maybe your stock music tracks will expand in a whole new directions!


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of http://www.musicrevolution.com, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable music from a online community of musicians.

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