Living life as an indie singer/songwriter is something that can go towards two polarities. With the gig schedules, band practices, and squeezing in whatever extra money you can for a recording session in the studio, it can either be tough or fun. But as with anything, you can choose to see the side that tells you that it's hard, or the side that makes you to see the positive side of it all.
Take me as an example. I thought that pursuing music was harder in Manila. I came in believing that I had to go through nothing to be able to get to the top. And maybe it was true for some people, because that was their story. But me, I never really had to go through much. The thing is, I realized that I didn't need to go through anything at all.
I found out that my desire was to become something big; it was an ego trip. It wasn’t about the music anymore; it became about being known because of the music. It took me a whole lot to see that, and it was hard for me to accept. The reason why I found it so hard to find my place in this industry was because of my ego. So I decided not to waste extra energy on it. I asked myself this question: What is Music for me? Once I found my answer to that, I began to see the whole music scene differently, and everything became easier.
Recording with the right people
A lot of people just love to record in the studio. I can totally relate with starting bands out there who can't wait to get their tracks down. The first time I heard my song in the studio, I felt renewed. But there was always the feeling that there were some changes I wanted to make, but I couldn't impose myself to my producer. I trusted the producer so much that I decided to mum my own musical voice, when I should've listened to it. That's why I feel that it is very important to record with people who understand what you want to create, and more important than anything else, do it with someone who listens to you and not for you.
But despite all these unfortunate events, working with these people is great because it teaches you one important lesson in music: your happiness comes first. Never go through something without being happy with the result. Never be mediocre. Push the envelope, but don't push too hard. Challenge yourself with new melodies, exciting chords, and breathless lyrics that would wow yourself. Because once you are pleased with your own work, everything else is easy to follow through.
The best marketing: make great music
The key to growth is self-confrontation. You really need to learn how to judge your own work fairly – that means not too loose yet not too harsh. Just judge it objectively, like you would some other person's art. The fact that it's yours, that you wrote it, developed the melody, thought of the hook, chorus, and even the outro, doesn't equate to “good.” A lot of songwriters make the mistake of myopia; they resist seeing how their music interacts with the world around them. Instead, they are just focused on themselves and how they see their music.
A lot of people will tell you that it's okay, and that you should fight for what you create – and that's true. Just don’t close yourself to feedback that will help you see the blind spots you have musically. The more blind spots you see, the better you’ll understand the whole picture that is you. And the better you understand the picture, the better you’ll be as a person and as a musician.