One of the biggest mistakes people make in the music business is the act of always being on the “chase” of a hit song, or a hit album. I have always been a very strong proponent of “sticking to my guns” when it came to style, and when it came to changing in order to “chase” a hit sound. It’s really a very fine line we all must walk in this business; do we keep changing according to the times, or do we change the times!? I feel that if we have a strong belief in ourselves, and in our own music, we should always be true to our own path, and stick to our own goals when it comes to music, while at the same time, being “tuned in” to the changing times and tastes, and looking for good opportunities that may present themselves to us along the way. After all, no matter how “current” or how “retro” you may be, there will always be something out there that will be applicable to your playing, or to your writing and sound.
I am in the midst of doing a great new instrumental album with Michael Garvin, the Nashville songwriter, and we seem to generally agree that as long as we do what WE like on this record, we’ll be making sounds that others will like and be drawn to. It’s true that we feel the “time is right” for this kind of instrumental guitar album, but at the same time, we are not necessarily trying to “bend” the music to current tastes. I know that in my case, there are some pieces I’m bringing to this recording that I’ve had for decades, and they seem as valid now as they did way back then!
Another mistake is always chasing trends with your songwriting. Unless you are so “plugged in” to the business that you can write a song today, and have it recorded tomorrow, it’s more than likely that your songwriting will always be at least one step, or many more steps, behind what people are looking for. This is especially true if you’re a songwriter who is always trying to “tailor” your songs to particular artists, based on what that artist has done before. The truth is, that the artist has done that already, and is most likely ready to “move on” to other creative territory!
So, most of all, stay true to yourself. Keep aware of trends, but try to be a trend all your own. You’ll be amazed at what will start to come your way if you put yourself out there in the business, and if you continue to develop your own distinct style, with wide open eyes and ears! Best of luck to you all!