Keeping hold of the thrill - Guest post from Paul Ariss
When I returned to song-writing about 5 years ago my aim was simple. Try and play a chord properly. Which chord? Any chord. Well, any of the four that I knew. That’s as far as it got. I just loved the fact that after moving my acoustic guitar around my room for a couple of decades I had finally sat down and taught myself four basic chords that I could strum for 10, 15 or 20 minutes at a time. On and on and on, for months at a time.
Long story short, through trial and error I eventually wrapped a melody and lyric around these chords and wrote my first solo song. I tentatively approached a musician/ producer I knew and four years later I’ve recorded seven songs with him and am planning my next. After that first song I had no idea what to do with it other than put it on the magical mystery tour that is Soundcloud and very nervously, almost apologetically, post it on Facebook for my friends to hear.
When I had previously been a lyricist in a musical galaxy far in the past the promotion process was simple and always followed the same path.
First of all, me and my song-writing partner Bob would write some songs that were going to change the world. Again. Then we would record two or three of them and then go down to London to music publishers with my precious cassette tapes in hand to generate some interest. It went fairly well; we had three songs published, but life and a lack of money got in the way and by the mid-nineties sadly our ambitions had run to ground.
Fast forward to 2016 and over the four years since my first solo recording I’ve had to learn gradually about streaming, re-posts, boosting posts, Instagram for my songs, Facebook for my songs, avoiding bots, to WAV or not to WAV, defining my audience, making videos, posting on YouTube, and at some point I’ve obsessed about all of them. I’ve hung my head when streams and views dry up, or hardly happen at all, and have punched the air when they suddenly, and often inexplicably, pick up again.
Then I remind myself about wanting to learn that first chord; about strumming without any particular reason except for enjoying how it made me feel. I remember the emotional buzz from that first time in the studio, and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment it brought with it.
I think sometimes it is essential to remind ourselves what drove us to do this in the first place, long before endless and often tedious promotion gets in the way. Yes, it is nice when more people listen to our songs but the most important part of it all is keeping hold of that initial childlike thrill of putting it all together in the first place.
Because if we lose that, what really is the point of it all?