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Artists are always trying to find their sound and trying to write the perfect song. And there’s no debate; great songs are necessary. But it’s a mistake to think that writing one will automatically make you a great artist.

Great artists can make any song sound good, and can use any great song to create a truly magical experience. But just because you’ve written a great song, that doesn’t mean that you’re ready to deliver it as a great artist should. Ever been to a writers’ round? Nashville has some of the best. You’ll be sitting at the Bluebird when some average-looking dude in a trucker hat walks up to the mic. And just as you decide to write him off and start looking around for the next person in line, he’ll start playing that number one hit you were listening to on the radio on your way in the car. That’s assuming, of course, that you were listening to your radio on your way over in the car, which practically no one does. No one who actually enjoys music, anyway. And then he’ll start playing his second song- another hit. Then another. And you realize that this guy – this average-looking, trucker hat-wearing, nothing-special guy – is a genius.

And has no fans.

Why? Because he’s a writer, not an artist. He gets paid to write great songs and let other people sing them. You admire the song and the fact that he wrote it, but you wish a better singer was singing it. Someone who can really tell you a story with their voice and make you believe them. That’s what a great singer is: someone who is able to move you with their voice and their stories.

Without great songs, an artist can be entertaining, but will not become famous. Likewise, a songwriter who can’t sing will be admired, but never be loved as an artist.

To be a successful artist, you need both: a great sound AND great songs. And you need to understand that these two things are not always as closely related as you might think. Just because you have one, that doesn’t mean you automatically have the other. The most important thing in your artistic development is that you find your sound. You won’t find it by writing a great song, but by learning to sing the songs you’ve already written.

To book a lesson with Jeff Mathena, contact [email protected] or 615-866-1099.

Jeff Mathena

Author Jeff Mathena

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