Haulix Advice: The Power Of Bad Songs

Hello and welcome to another installment of the Haulix ‘Advice’ series. We have featured a lot of great content this week, and I think you’re really going to enjoy what we have in store for you today. If you have any suggestions for future installments of this column, or if you have a question you’d like us to tackle in the weeks ahead, please email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. You can also find us on Twitter.

We’ve all heard the expression that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master any craft, and in this post we’re going to examine why writing 10,000 bad songs will have the same effect on your songwriting.

If you read our previous post on writer’s block you’ll recall that one of the top tips for strengthening your mind is making a commitment to write each and every day regardless of your actual desire to create. Fighting through the resistance of not ‘feeling it’ or otherwise not being in the mood to make something out of nothing trains your brain over time to let the creative juices flow more freely, but anyone who actually creates for a living knows this is a task far easier said than done. Even if you can get to a point where you write every day, it can be incredibly hard for creative people to be okay with something they make being ‘ok,’ mediocre, or even flat-out terrible. Creative types believe they have great art waiting to get out of their mind, but bad songs can appear to speak to the opposite being the case. 

Here’s a hard truth: You need to write a lot of bad songs, or at the very least you need to write a lot of songs and see them through to completion regardless of whether or not they are bad because it’s the only way you can begin to understand the recipe for proficient songwriting. There are a few lucky souls who simply have a knack for crafting catchy songs, but the vast majority of artists only have an idea of what good music is, and they spend their entire career trying to fully grasp that concept without taking the time to explore the pros and cons of their theory. Writing constantly will allow you to better understand your own tendencies as a songwriter, and through examining the bad songs you can begin to sort out the elements of your style that you do not like. 

Bad songs are not actually bad, they’re simply stepping stones toward the next great song that must be overcome if you’re ever going to evolve as an artist. We’ve all known groups who found a sound that worked for them and stuck with it as long as there were people willing to support them. While there is certainly nothing wrong with this approach, it does not bode well for your career trajectory. Change keeps people interested in your music and it keeps you challenged as a musician, but if you want to change you’re going to encounter bad songs along the way. Realizing they exist to help strengthen your career and not harm it will only aide your development, so embrace the mediocrity and whatever you do – KEEP WRITING.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.