3 Key Steps to Defining Originality

3 Key Steps to Defining Originality
Contributed by Hannah Wilson, Big Loud Shirt

Whether your goal is to get noticed by a publisher, find an artist to record your song or pursue an artist career yourself, there are many things to consider. One of the most important, however, is originality

There are many songwriters and artists that are constantly trying to chase something. Whether it’s a current trend or a cool sound, or what seems to be “working”, its been done before. I call these people bandwagon-ers. Some of these types have success, but most have no longevity and are easily forgotten simply because there is no sense of originality
Most creators begin their careers by emulating others, however, the key is to grow beyond those limitations. During this process you should discover who you are then use these discoveries to develop your strengths and abilities. Of course, this is much easier said than done. Here are a few steps to get you moving in the right direction:
Define your influences.
It’s very important to listen what’s current to stay relevant. However, this does not mean you should change your musical taste. Listen to your favorite artists, songwriters, musicians and even some outside of your wheelhouse and educate yourself. Find what you love (or don’t love) about their techniques and create your own. It is okay to give a nod of respect to your favorites, just don’t forget that you will not get noticed by sounding just like someone else. (Here’s an example of a creator who allowed his influences to set him apart.)
Find your inspiration. 
Do you have something to say? How does something make you think or does it stop you in your tracks? What moves you? There are many ways to seek inspiration. Whether you're traveling the world or to listening to talk radio, inspiration can strike when you least expect it. Don’t limit yourself out of fear of being too different or even too common. If you express yourself based on yourself, you just might unveil the hidden gem inside you. 
Remember we are all here because of one thing, PASSION. 
Everyone says, “This job picks you.” That’s got to be true because you have to be half crazy to do it. Ha! All joking aside, I think we can all agree that if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. All we can do is work hard, make sacrifices and prohibit anything from getting in the way of our dreams. No one can predict the future but we sure can do our best to create it. 
(Just when you lose sight of your dreams, watch this.)

A native of Charleston, MO, Hannah Showmaker Wilson moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University where she majored in music business with a minor in public relations. Upon graduation in 2012, she joined Parallel Entertainment working in both management and publishing. Four years later, she joined the Big Loud Shirt team as the Creative Director.


Thanks for the great article and links!

Thanks, Hannah! It's important for songwriters to find their own, original "voice." There are some songs on the radio right now that the minute we hear them, we know who the writers are. The song just sounds like them -- they have an undeniable style and way of saying things.

Thanks, Hannah, for a great article and links. I've always written just to write, and finally decided to take it seriously, get critiques, etc. It's intimidating, and your article was very helpful. I especially appreciated the link to the Tom Douglas acceptance speech video. I've watched it twice (so far) and have teared up both times, as it strikes so incredibly close to home. You're right, it's something to keep you going when you're losing hope! Thanks again, Shaney