Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriting Tip: Art vs. Entertainment

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 @03:21 PM

 Art vs. Entertainment: How do you see yourself in the world of music?

by Melissa Axel



Regina Spektor

How do you see your role in the music industry? You may say that you're an artist, creatively interpreting your experiences and the world around you to evoke an emotional response. Or perhaps you identify more as an entertainer, offering delight and diversion from the ups and downs of everyday life. The two are not mutually exclusive, but how you see yourself—in music and in life—determines everything from what you write about to what kind of performances you give (if any) to how you interact with everyone who hears your songs. What works for Regina Spektor (see picture insert) does not work for Lady Gaga, and vice versa … but why?

 

Regina's power lies in her purity: intelligent, honest lyrics and raw vocal delivery are the essence of her style as a performer and as a writer. Her work may not compel you if you're more interested in fantasy than reality, but her unique talent for highlighting the humor and poignancy of "real life" is unmistakable. And, she's incredibly engaging to watch even when seated in black on an empty stage, save for a baby grand.

 

Lady Gaga has said that she considers herself a songwriter first, yet so much of her energy goes into extravagant stage production and image design. Love her or hate her, if you've seen any of her live performances, it's hard to argue that she's not expressing herself and often sharing emotions that ring true with others, albeit surrounded by spectacle. Remember, even the most seemingly unnatural things on earth were created by us humans.

 

So who is the artist and who is the entertainer? These two examples show us not only what differences there can be among performing songwriters, but how each music creator has the ongoing opportunity to define him or herself through creativity, emotion, amusement or all of the above. Artists entertain, and entertainers create art. Both require talent, skill, endurance and vast amounts of hard work. Both roles can touch and inspire, heal and comfort, sometimes provoke and even alienate, but above all, connect. Whatever approach we bring to it, music brings us together and returns us to our core essence, in all its diversity.

 

A more important question may be "are you being true to yourself in all that you create?" In an industry full of manufactured imagery, mass-marketed talent and carefully crafted showcases, authenticity is a rare gift indeed. It is the bold singer who approaches the performance of a song with humility, choosing quiet notes over vocal affectation to highlight an important lyric, saving the big wails for contrasting emotional impact.  It is the brave writer who chooses to speak the truth, in his or her own words, even when there's no telling whether anyone else wants to hear it.

 

Let everyone else try to decide whether what you're doing is "art" or "entertainment" … they certainly won't all agree anyway. It's your choice how to express yourself through your work—and defining who you are to yourself will give you the best understanding of your role in the world of music.

 

Who are you, really? Who do you want to be? Are they one and the same?

 

 

 

MelissaAxel

Melissa Axel is an Artist Relations representative of USA Songwriting Competition. At just eight years of age, Melissa Axel was writing songs about the bittersweet journey of life, love, struggle, and inspiration. The piano-driven singer/songwriter studied at Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music and went on to earn her master's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University. Her new album “love. humanity. Metamorphosis” will be released September 20, 2011. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: Lady Gaga, Regina Spektor, Art vs. Entertainment: How do you see yourself in, performing songwriter, define art

Songwriter Opinion: Whose Career Would You Kill to Have

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Apr 05, 2011 @12:24 PM

Whose Career Would You Kill to Have(and what is stopping you from having it?) by Molly-Ann Leikin

 

Molly-Ann Leikin, Hit Songwriter


Yesterday, when no one was returning my calls and my lunch date bailed after I paid for valet parking in Beverly Hills, I tore into my secret stash of peanut M & M’s and made a list of everyone, in every field, whose career I’d like to have instead of mine.  

l. Mary Oliver – the poet’s poet.  Her first collection was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich when I was an intern there during my New York City Jingle Days.   

2.Whoopie Goldberg- the funniest woman in America, if not the world.  

3. Lois Capps – the member of Congress from Santa Barbara, CA.  Think of the changes me, my chutzpah and galloping Jewish guilt could make in the U.S. House of Representatives.    

4. Michelle Kwan – the epitome of grace and strength and miracles in a small blue dress.  She often skated to one of my songs, “An American Hymn”, and I’ve always wished we could change places.  (This comes from growing up in freezing Canada where little girls were sent out in storms to amuse themselves. ) 

5. Lady Gaga

The trouble with wanting to be any of the gifted people I listed above is we already have one of each.  We don’t need two.  What our world could really use is you and your unique contribution. By trying to imitate the success of somebody else, you will miss yourself completely.

Do you well, learn how to get your name in the papers, and maybe someday, you’ll be an even bigger star than Lady Gaga, who, y’never know, could be sitting on the edge of her egg, gobbling peanut M & M’s, shushing the cattle from which she derives her wardrobe, so she can hear your new song.


© 2011 Molly-Ann Leikin www.songmd.com
Molly-Ann Leikin is a Career Mastery Coach and Songwriting Consultant.  An Emmy nominee, Molly has 14 gold and platinum records, plus four ASCAP Country Music Awards.  She's the author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter" and has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Violet” that won an Oscar.   Molly has helped launch the careers of thousands of singers and songwriters, three of whom have Grammy nominations.  She can be reached at: www.songmd.com or 800-851-6588.

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, writing songs, Molly-Ann Leikin, writing lyrics, music career, musician, Mary Oliver, Whoopie Goldberg, Lois Capps, Michelle Kwan, Lady Gaga