Most of you know that my main music project, Lowercase Noises, is one in which I pretty much do everything. I write all the songs, record them, and release them myself. Occasionally I’ll have a guest musician or two, but it’s still all completely under my control. I know a lot of you are doing something similar, but I also know that some of you readers are applying the things I talk about to your band that consists of more than just you. And that’s great!
Obviously there are pros and cons to both solo projects and more straightforward band situations, but after more than five years of running this little music project by myself, I thought I’d tell you what I think are the greatest parts of having your own little project. Because really. It’s great.
1. You get to have complete creative control. This can be both a pro and a con, just like having to collaborate in a band can be a pro and a con. But really, once you can figure out how to manage it, it’s really awesome. It gives you a great opportunity to really dive into yourself and just see what comes out. Honestly, when I sit down to write a new set of songs, it always comes out differently than I expect, and that’s a good thing. There’s a great satisfaction in creating something out of really deep self-exploration, and a great sense of accomplishment when it’s completed. I don’t think writing music in a band context can really achieve the same thing at quite the same level.
2. You can preserve yourself in other musical situations. What I mean here is that if you have a place that’s all your own, where you can make whatever music you want with no limits, it really frees you up for more compromises in other situations. If you’re also in another band, or play at your church or anything similar, you might find yourself struggling at times with the fact that you can’t use your full talent or steer it quite in the direction you’d like. If you’ve got a project all of your own, you’ve got a place where you let those desires out. It doesn’t stay pent up and cause problems with any other group you might be a part of. It will help you compromise. It will make it easier when things don’t go quite the way you envisioned.
3. You’re not at the mercy of other people’s lives. Maybe you’re in a band situation and you absolutely LOVE it. Maybe it’s fulfilling you in all the right ways, and you’re committed and ready for the long haul. That’s awesome, but the hard part is that not everyone else in the band might feel that way. Regardless of how you feel, things might happen in other people’s lives that bring everything to a grinding halt. I’ve seen this happen a lot. Maybe someone moves away. Or someone just isn’t happy with the direction the band is going. That can be all it takes to bring it all down and disperse the entire group. If you’ve got your own project, you can rest safe in the fact that this can’t really happen. It’s all on you, and you’re the only one you’re depending on for long term success. It can be a huge weight off.
4. You gain more well-rounded skills. In a band situation, it’s natural to delegate tasks. Maybe one guy is stoked about social media/marketing and takes that over. Maybe one guy handles booking. Maybe another guy is the main songwriter. This is necessary to get stuff done, but when it’s just you, you’ve got to handle all of it. And that might mean learning about things that you might not learn otherwise. If you’re like me, you’ll dive into social media, marketing, distribution, web tools, songwriting, engineering, mixing, mastering and a whole lot more. Obviously it takes quite a while to get a good handle on everything, but once you do, you’ve got a crazy awesome skillset that can be useful in a ton of other situations.
Just to give you an example, I think one of the reasons I was chosen to play guitar for a couple Future of Forestry tours last year is that I was able to do more than just play guitar. I was comfortable playing to a click track because of all the time I’d spent recording myself. I was comfortable using different music software, so I was put in charge of handling the click tracks and syncing everything on stage. I was involved in handling social media for the band, since I’d done a lot of that too. As you can see, these skills might make the difference in other situations you might come across in your career.
5. You get to keep more money. This one is pretty common sense. Handling all these different tasks yourself can be daunting and time consuming, but it does pay off financially in the end. There’s no splitting of profits going on. I make my living from Lowercase Noises, which is awesome, but if I had to split profits with anyone it would make things a lot more complicated. Having this be my main source of income (and most reliable) also gives me a little more flexibility to experiment with other things.
So there you go. As you can tell, I absolutely love having my little solo project. If you have one as well, hopefully this served to get you a little more excited about it. And if you don’t, I hope this helped open you up to the thought of starting one. I really think any musician can benefit from this type of project in multiple ways.
What do you think? Do you see any other advantages to having a solo project? If you don’t already have one, what’s stopping you?
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