Last week I stated that every artist’s dream is to make a living by his art. There might be some exceptions but overall everyone wants to do things he/she/it loves and not being forced to do something annoying all the time (but most of us have lame jobs…).
That’s why I asked myself: why are there so many tutorials and books about ‘The hit formula’ or ‘101 reasons your photos aren’t selling’ or ‘The secret of Blablabla and how to make money with it’. Of course there are some basics you got to learn first for almost every hobby. Playing an instrument, know your camera and some stuff about exposure and apertures or which needles to use for knitting. And of course there are some principles and patterns that you can find in the successful songs, photos, pictures, etc. Be it some harmonic movements, arrangements, mainstream-stylistic stuff (guitars, amps, focal lengths…) – you get the picture.
But you got to ask yourself: aren’t you sacrificing self-expression for some sort of “success” using formulas? Using a specific sequence of chords for the sake of a higher chance to become famous? Framing a motif to comply with a set of rules but ignoring that you’d like it to look differently? There is an obvious difference between creating something and analyzing the reasons for its success later and forcing yourself to use a given framework.
It kind of contradicts the ‘make your dreams come true’-theme that’s behind the dream. There is always work involved in producing something. For my songs I had to learn the instruments, some knowledge about theory, vastly improve my language skills, mixing, mastering…video editing (and as you keep learning it’s a continuing process). But most of the time you enjoy that part as you just improve your ability to express yourself. Knowing how to get a result you can hear or see in your head before you begin is the ideal. It will save you a lot of time if you reached the point of ‘knowing what you’re doing’ and you can focus on the creativity.
And basic knowledge of the non-technical aspects might also be helpful just like music theory, typical elements of your favorite genre of photography, typical spices for your favorite cuisine. Depending on you, on your very own mind it’s more or less difficult to ignore all the rules sometimes to create something truly amazing, truly representing you or just find a path out of a dead end. But what those books about the “ways to success” do is reinforcing the borders. It will become more difficult for you to break through the walls of your knowledge. Your subconscious kicking in in the worst of moments: using this and that could make this a hit! It’s still up to you to decide against this then but the more facts you read and know the thicker the walls will be.
My way of writing music is pretty much impossible to be spoiled by this as I randomly play stuff and then improvise fragments of lyrics and work on from there. But I bought such a book years ago and it definitely would kill my relationship to a song if I’d go ahead and said: let’s write a I-V-vi-IV song. It wouldn’t even work for me if I had complete lyrics, used said chord progression and tried to sing as I always have a melody ‘in my head’ when I write lyrics. For photography I couldn’t resist looking for the perfect color contrasts, using the golden ratio and ‘correct’ exposure – although I never cared for “success” as a photographer. But for music it’s a completely different story.
Basically using such theories as the foundation of your creativity is like playing puzzle games with some blank areas for you to fill in on your own. It does not mean that you and others won’t like it. It’s not just the same level of being creative like coming up with it yourself (to me). Creating stuff is a quite personal matter so if you’re happy with something like that keep going. But to me it’s the completely wrong way. And I would feel really bad not creating ‘by accident’ but instead just try to force a hit song that has no meaning to me.
The question ‘why are there such books/tutorial?’ is easy to answer but why people believe that using formulas instead of just living their passion will help them is beyond me.
That’s it, I’ll release a new song this week, so long