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How to use past experiences to fuel musical creativity

Thursday July 22, 2021. 02:55 AM , from Music Think Tank
Some of the greatest songs ever written only exist because of what the artists went through. From classic breakup songs (or every Taylor Swift album) to nights of crazy parties to the feeling of falling in love, past experiences make up so much of the music industry.
Using past experiences to fuel creativity isn’t limited to music. Some of the greatest paintings of our time were inspired by real-life experiences. The same goes for poetry, books, and even movies.
If you’re a musician, how can you harness that? How can you dig into the confines of your memory and your past to fuel your musical creativity? Let’s look at a few ways your past can inspire meaningful art that you’re proud to let others hear. You never know when your own experiences could have a profound impact on someone else. 
Don’t Be Afraid to Dig
Thinking about the past isn’t always easy. But, music is all about emotion and experiences and finding ways to connect with your audience. Not everyone’s lives are perfect, and you need to be okay with letting your fans know yours isn’t either. So, don’t be afraid to get into hard topics. That might include things like: 

A rough childhood


Mental health issues

Physical health issues

It’s also okay to come clean about any tumultuous behaviors in your past. For example, if you have any kind of criminal background, it can serve your creativity. You may not have gone to prison, but maybe you were in a diversion program with conditions like drug testing or community service. Everyone has done things they aren’t proud of, but your listeners can learn and grow from your experiences. 
Think about Johnny Cash. Today, we all know him as the ‘Man in Black,’ and perhaps the most notable thing he ever did was to play a live concert at Folsom Prison. Cash had gotten into legal troubles of his own, but he used them to connect with generation after generation. 
Listen to Your Emotions
Emotions demand to be felt, no matter how much you try to push them down. Thankfully, whether you’re happy, sad, scared, or something in-between, you can channel your emotions into your work. It’s a great way to get out of a creative “slump,” and can make your music seem more authentic. 
Letting your emotions fuel your creativity can make it easy to create so many different styles and sounds. We joked around about Taylor Swift, but she’s consistently popular for a reason – people know what to expect from her. Her styles have changed exponentially over the years. She’s gone from a country singer to a pop star, and now is building roots in the folk community. But, one thing has remained consistent – the emotions in her songs. 
Along with many artists like her, Swift has built a brand identity by making music about her past experiences. A brand identity is what helps fans connect with her and feel inspired by what she has to say. 
By choosing to be authentic with your music and using past experiences as your fuel, you can build a similar brand identity. That will allow you to work and collaborate with like-minded people, and have a deeper understanding of your fanbase. 
Don’t Get Stuck in Stereotypes
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your past experiences need to be negative to be effective. Do powerful songs come from pain? Absolutely. But, fans can be just as moved by positive experiences. You never know when a positive emotion can reach someone in just the right way. It could motivate them to do better, or put them in a good mood when they were feeling depressed. 
You don’t have to be the “sad, serious” musician all of the time. If you had a great experience, write about it! Someone will relate. Focusing on positivity is also a great way to boost your creativity. It can also motivate you to find other ways of feeling creative. Keep these ideas in mind whenever you need a boost: 

Spend more time outside

Try something new

Find ways to de-stress

All of these creativity boosters can also boost your mood and increase your overall happiness. That’s something that will reflect on the music you create. Artistry is about inspiring others, and there’s a common misconception that songs have to be sad or depressing to do that. You can create a meaningful melody with positive, powerful lyrics without writing the next dance floor hit. 
Whatever your past experiences are, use them as fuel for your creativity. The more your fans can relate to what you’re saying, the more popular your songs will become. Whether your experiences allow you to build a brand or simply get your story out there, they’re worth sharing if they connect with people.

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