Tom Robinson Masterclass

Twitter has it’s uses you know – apart from getting cheap deals on Dell Outlet you occasionally get pointed in the direction of some interesting stuff. For example, today I spent a worthwhile hour watching a seminar by Tom Robinson about songwriting and performing.

I’m generally a little sceptical about people giving advice on songwriting as it’s such an individual experience, and of course what’s amazing to me may sound atrocious to you! However, this wasn’t that kind of thing, rather it focussed on how to get yourself into the frame of mind to write, how to get over writer’s block and why it’s a good idea to collaborate. You can watch it here and I’d fully recommend you do if you’re a musician / writer.

There are some really interesting tips on morning writing, setting aside creative time and cheating (liked that bit a lot!) but what resonated most for me was the idea of Songwriter’s lodges – basically a way of getting songwriters together to collaborate / share ideas and write better songs. I’d been thinking about how to set up something like this for a while, here in Leeds, but couldn’t think of a way of getting people interested, but the 20 song game sounds like it might just work!

Anyway, there were only a couple of things that I wasn’t fully in agreement with – firstly the idea that “The key to achievement is persistance” citing Jarvis Cocker’s slow rise to national treasure as an example. The problem with this idea is that I personally know about 10 fantastic songwriters who are still writing great material and there is virtually no chance of them ever succeeding in the way Jarvis has. For every writer that keeps going and going and eventually hits the jackpot are thousands who just keep going cos they love writing.

And this leads in to the second point I’d contest – It’s easier to be successful now than it was 20-40 years ago. I’d say it was just as difficult for different reasons. Sure, bands can record material more professionally than ever before on a tight budget (I know all about this!) and it’s true that some blogs can bring you international attention that previously would have needed a massive and coke fuelled PR team. But: this has just widened the field – now there are hundreds of quality bands with quality recordings doing it themselves and competing for a place on your phone / iPod / 6Music slot. It’s overwhelming for the consumer and the reviewer which means you still need to pay a PR person to get national press, (Q, Uncut, Mojo, The Times etc.) with the contacts to filter out your excellent new song from the 20 excellent new songs out that week.

However, overall this is both a measured and inspiring presentation and seeing as it’s free advice, you’d be a fool to yourself not to give it a look!

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