Signing contracts, getting a tattoo and jumping out of a plane with no parachute. All of these things have very permanent effects: you’re committed to a binding agreement, you now have a tattoo, and splat.
But unlike these, not every decision you or your band makes is forever, here are some things it’s very easy to change so don’t have to fret too much about.
1. Your name
This is one of those things that can take you hours of crying and arguing only to discover at the end of it you’ve settled on ‘Barbara Death and the Pig Hunters‘ even though your actual name is Simon and you are a solo folk artist. Don’t worry about it. Concentrate on writing great songs. Maybe you’ll name yourself after a lyric or song you write, maybe it will come when you know your sound better (here are some of our suggestions on how to come up with a really good name). Either way, the decision doesn’t have to be final till you get signed. Lots of bands have changed their name along the way – Beastie Boys were The Young Aborigines and Black Sabbath were actually called The Polka Tulk Blues Company. Really.
2. Your songs
The thing most likely to incur horrific bouts of writers’ block is thinking your songs have to be set in stone, that a song you write will exist forever in its original first form. False. It’s your song, you can do with it as you like. Put a trumpet on it, play it in 12/8 or swap all the lyrics for you just repeating the word ‘exploding’. Experimentation is the key to your freedom and artistic discovery. Don’t worry about everything being perfect first time out. Just focus on your artistic freedom and vision.
3. Your arrangements
In a similar way, just try stuff out. You never know what will be the final piece of the jigsaw, or what you’ll want to take out. When Radiohead were recording ‘Airbag’ from their third album ‘OK Computer’ bass player Colin Greenwood was ill. He missed the recording and the band put the whole track down except the bass. When Colin came in he went straight into the studio, got out his bass and they recorded what he played as he heard the track for the very first time. And that first experimental take is what you hear on the opening track on one of the great albums of all time. Don’t be afraid to fail, that’s where the greatest successes can come from.
4. Your internet presence
People can worry a lot about their Twitter handle, their Facebook strategy, which songs they put up on Soundcloud or even the photo on their website. Don’t. It can all be changed. There is no need to think that any of these decisions as final. The internet is a tool to promote yourself and sell your music. Experiment, try different things and see what works.
5. Your genre
Now we wouldn’t go as far to say that you stop playing the ukelele and instead get a drum machine and play a saxophone through a fuzz pedal . . . actually you should definitely do that, it sounds awesome. Anyway, if you are a folk artist and you write a country song, or a rock song, don’t be scared of it. You wrote it for a reason. If over time you move in another direction then so be it. Don’t be limited by the idea of a genre. Just be happy making music and that will shine out to everyone who hears you.