When songs are at their most powerful, they create a connection. It’s that point when the listener starts to really care about your song.
It’s no longer just a melody and a collection of words.
Now it really means something.
And because it really means something, we truly care about it, and it becomes a part of us.
This is the effect you want from an audience.
Think of it this way – which record is someone most likely to buy. The one that means something to them, or the one that is emotionally throwaway.
One of my own songs was recently recorded by an artist much bigger than me. The musicians playing on the track have worked with all sorts of household names – Robbie Williams included.
They told me that when they finished recording my song, they were all so moved by it that they simply sat down and wept together.
The producer said they needed time out before they felt able to record the rest of the album.
This is exactly the kind of reaction you want from your music.
So here’s 3 key steps to help make your music matter.
1. Tell the story behind your song
Songs are at their best when they are stories. Some songs are just for fun and that’s fine too, but most are telling some kind of tale.
Sometimes they are a fictional narrative. Sometimes a story from history. Or a dedication to someone you admire.
Even if it’s the story of the emotions you were going through, you need to share that. Or maybe it’s your standpoint on an issue. Share that too.
Take a song, and blog or podcast about it. Help people understand it.
Once we understand a song, we feel it differently. Things only matter when we connect it to something that has meaning.
Think of it like this. If I tell you a tree in my garden blew down in the storm, it’s just an event.
But when I tell you that my late grandfather planted that tree for me, and I’m broken hearted that it’s gone – the event now has meaning and you feel a connection to my suffering and the sufferings you have gone through yourself.
Your aim is to turn your music from a 3 minute event to a 3 minute connection. Telling the story behind it helps you do that.
2. Tell the story behind the recording
Another great way to generate stories, is to take people behind the scenes.
A friend of mine shared a story with me about John Lennon during the recording of The Beatles hit song Twist And Shout.
Whenever that song comes on the radio, I can’t help but see Lennon stripped to the waist in a sweltering studio, rasping out the vocals while dripping with sweat.
It’s not just a song anymore. It’s a story – and people are hard wired for story.
The benefit of sharing the “how it was made” kind of story is that it takes your fans to places they aren’t usually allowed to go.
Normally we only share the finished product. So to take people behind the scenes and let them know what was happening in the studio itself is riveting stuff.
Don’t hide this stuff. Your fans want to hear it – and once again, it creates a connection to the song, which is exactly what you want.
3. Keep An Eye Out For The Topical
Be alert to what is going on in the news. It may just link to one of your songs.
If it does, you need to talk about it, and share the song.
Your song has real value in those moments when it has something useful to say about an issue that people are already talking about.
People will already have thoughts and feelings about it, and your value as an artist is that you are capable of expressing what others feel in a way that is beautiful and evocative.
I’m sure you’ve experienced moments in your life when a song has really nailed how you feel about something. If you can do that for someone with your songs, you have a duty to share it. When you do, people will truly care about it.
So when something is in then news and your song has something to say, blog about it, share it on social media, and put your flag in the sand.
Making music that matters to people is what you are here to do.