Lyrics from “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
I was shocked by the news of Avicii’s passing, just like many musicians and non-musicians worldwide. He was an amazing producer, hugely talented and died at only 28; even though EDM is not my favourite genre, I was definitely a fan of his work. Avicii created catchy, strong tracks which fused different genres and topped charts.
Here are five things every songwriter should learn from this great producer who left us way too early.
1) Lyrics Can Make or Break Your Song
Did you know that the lyric video for “Wake me up” is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube? Avicii understood the power of great lyrics but he stated in an interview that melodies were easy, but lyrics weren’t really his thing. He wrote draft lyrics and a general idea for the theme, but then let songwriters take over for the rest. Which brings us to…
2) Collaboration is Key
No one can do everything by themselves. Maybe you’re a great melodist, or you write fantastic lyrics. Maybe your ideal area is production, or perhaps your chord progressions are seriously awesome. Whatever the case, collaborating with other musicians and songwriters can create a new, fresh perspective and develop ideas which probably would not have been possible by yourself. The added benefit is that now there is more than one person interested in promoting your collaborative track!
3) Experimenting with Genres Makes a Big Difference!
It’s easy to back yourself into a corner by trying to make all your music fit precisely into a genre. But what happens if you mix EDM, rock, bluegrass and country? That’s pretty much what Avicii did ever since his first album, “Stories”, came out. The result? A great experimental album with some serious hits inside!
4) Mistakes Are Not the End of the World
When he was performing, Avicii experienced everything from power surges which left the crowd with no music to playing a demo instead of a finished track.
Mistakes or technical difficulties make performers nervous but they are usually easy to bounce back from if you’re focused on engaging the crowd or the audience. If you look like you’re not enjoying yourself or you’re not really feeling your performance, the audience will probably not respond the way you’re hoping.
In Avicii’s words , “the same way I feed off the energy of the crowd, they feed off my energy, any energy I give out”. He was talking about DJ sets and electronic music, but it’s the same for all singers/songwriters, regardless of genres. If you create a strong relationship with your audience right from the start, a mistake or a technical malfunction won’t kill the vibe!
4) Sometimes Plans Change and That’s Ok
Avicii was forced to cancel a number of shows due to acute pancreatitis back in 2014. His appendix and gall bladder were removed and following the surgery, he announced that he would no longer be performing live. He retired young and decided to spend more time in the studio producing his tracks and making music. Apparently, live shows weren’t making him happy anymore, whereas creating music was a real source of joy.
Lately, I’ve been thinking that I’d be content just writing songs for others and not performing. It makes me feel guilty though, like I’ve wasted all this time performing live and preparing for live shows, and now I’d just be giving up or admitting that it was never going to work out.
So a change of plans can be scary, but ultimately, you need to do what works for you and makes you happy. Announcing the change can be scary too; Avicii admitted that he was scared to seem ungrateful but in the end everyone was supportive and it was for the best. Maybe if Avicii had still been performing live these last years, he would have had less time in the studio. Thanks to the time he dedicated to producing and songwriting, he left us with some truly amazing tracks.