I've been thinking a lot about writing and performing, mostly because I haven't been able to do much of either the last month.
I am a firm believer that the only thing the artist owes the audience is to be completely honest. Write completely for yourself, in as honest a way as possible, and you will find an audience. As soon as you try to write for someone else. for someone else's standards, it will make you crazy.
I've been writing songs of some sort or another for almost 40 years. All the time I get people coming up to me saying "you should write a song about …". Once … once someone has actually come up with an idea that that was usable, and that was a comment a friend made to Lizzie. In almost 40 years.
I have had people to tell me that we need to alter this or that. If it's a technical issue, cool. Although I will say that having someone complain about the sound mix from a show months before annoys me. First of all, we have no control over the sound from the stage, we have no idea what it sounds like out front. Second, why didn't you tell the sound person THEN?
But if someone tells you that you need to change the way you write, that means that they want you to sound like their expectations, they want you to conform to their rules. Maybe what that means is that you are not the artist for them. They are not your audience.
I remember having a discussion about this with my son Jared when he was 9, when he was going to take is first instrument to school, his mandolin. He asked me what he should do if someone didn't like it. I said "then you aren't playing for them, look for the person who does like it, you're playing for that person". He got it, and continues to approach his craft with that attitude.
As soon as you try to please everyone, it becomes a mess. Please yourself first and foremost. Write with integrity and honestly, develop your voice, your style. If you are good at it, you will find an audience, or more to the point, they will find you.
This was originally posted on Dreamwidth, after which it wandered out to various other sites. Feel free to reply where ever you want. I should still see it.