Category Archives: The Localist

September 20

The Localist: How to Write an Album, Part 6 – About-ness in Song and Album Writing

In Part 4, we looked at a more expansive conception of what a “hook” is, describing good songwriting as involving a multiplicity of hooks in each song. But a good song isn’t just a random series of layered hooks, no matter how densely packed. The hooks support one another in a determinate way that helps […]

July 13

The Localist: How To Write an Album, Part 5 – The Process of Overwriting

If you take the next ten songs that you write and make those ten songs an album, then you will have a mediocre album. If your feeling is that those ten songs are absolute bangers, then you have set your sights too low on what a banger is. On the other hand, if you acknowledge […]

June 29

The Localist: How to Write an Album, Part 4 – A Manifold of Hooks

In Parts 1 thru 3, we looked at some more abstract aspects of album writing. Essentially, when you decide to write an album intended for release to the public, you are intending that the public listen to your album. However, asking the public to listen to your album places non-insubstantial burdens on you to put […]

May 20

The Localist: How to Write an Album, Part 3 – Building a Toolkit for Self-Expression

In Part 2, we looked at the idea of trying to give strangers a reason to listen to your album, as opposed to the tens of thousands of albums released every year, and in particular the idea of writing something that is both new and substantial. But how do you do that? I discussed the […]

April 26

The Localist: How to Write an Album, Part 2 – The Standards of Novelty and Substantiality

In Part 1, we looked at the general posture of releasing an album, and specifically the idea of intending to present the album for public consumption, which involves presenting something that you have to say, to the public, with the intention that the public will listen to it, and get some kind of benefit from […]

April 22

The Localist: How to Write an Album, Part 1 – Writing for Public Consumption

As I’m in the process of putting together and thinking through a fourth record, I figured it might be good to put together some guidance on album-writing, while the thoughts are still fresh. I’m not going to pretend that what I’m drafting here is a definitive guide on how to write a good album. There […]

February 25

The Localist: The Basic Standard of Quality for Hitmaking

I was looking for a different article but ran into a study done on how music trends develop. A number of years ago, a Princeton professor ran randomized trials on 30,000 teenagers, exposing them to the music of 48 emerging artists, to learn about how musical trends develop. His conclusion from the study is essentially […]

February 20

The Localist: Developing Vision as a Writer

One way to get at the concept of vision is to think about how you would describe your music to someone if they asked you what kind of music you play. I know the question is a cliché. But suppose that the person asking you isn’t a co-worker asking the question to just be polite. […]

January 11

The Localist: Don’t Compete Locally, Compete Nationally

One of the fundamental mistakes of musicians trying to grow a music career is that they try to compete locally instead of competing nationally. Under the local competition mindset, gaining success on a larger level is a matter of winning at the local level, where winning at the local level helps you to “get to […]

January 08

The Localist: Setting Concrete Goals

The start of a new decade is a good time to start setting a concrete plan for yourself as a musician.  I think a lot of people have a general idea that they want to be “successful” as a musician, but from there things get a little bit hazy.  For many musicians, the plan oftentimes […]