My Songwriting Journey

My Songwriting Journey

As I lay in bed, I started to hear a melody form in my mind.

Having just returned from Japan, I couldn’t express myself as eloquently in English as I could in Japanese.

So, I hurriedly jotted down lyrical ideas – in Japanese.

I didn’t understand music either. But at 13, I had written my first song – melody and lyrics.

Filling Binders with Song Ideas

I was never one to pay much attention in school. I wasn’t a bad student (not a horrible one, anyway). I was just more interested in my own creative ideas.

My grades always reflected it. I had my share of Bs, Cs, and Ds – rarely As.

So, my jr. high and high school years were spent filling binders with ideas – song ideas, lyrics, doodles, drawings, graphic novels, Sci-Fi novels, mazes, video game concepts, satirical newsletters, and so on.

At 15, I performed in front an audience for the first time. And then and there, learned the thrill of live performance.

That’s about the time when most of my creative energies started being redirected to writing lyrical content – mostly rap songs, but some punk rock and hardcore songs too (the Beastie Boys were a big influence).

I still didn’t know how to play a musical instrument.

A Guitar from Across the Pond

One of my father’s coworkers lost her son. And she promised to give her deceased son’s guitar to me.

She was not able to deliver the guitar while we were still living in Japan. So, she came all the way to Canada, and dropped off the guitar at my grandparent’s home in Drumheller, AB.

It seems someone wanted to ensure that guitar made it into my hands.

The classical guitar sat in my closet for a year or two.

But then one summer, I was at youth camp and my friend started playing the popular tunes of the time on his guitar – Green Day, Blink-182, Matchbox Twenty, stuff like that.

Prior to that moment, I had no idea you could even learn popular songs on an instrument!

Immediately after summer camp, I started messing around on my guitar, and that’s when my mom started seeking guitar lessons for me.

Connecting the Musical Dots

Apparently, I had a knack for the guitar. My guitar teacher told me I surpassed him within a few lessons!

I showed him one of my rap songs, and he helped me write some funky guitar parts to it. That was a lot of fun.

Once I started connecting the musical dots, I began writing my own songs too. But they were quite disappointing at first.

I was excited about the guitar, so I kept on.

But oddly enough, I became somewhat disillusioned with it within 18 months, when I started to see that most songs and riffs were easy, and if they weren’t, there was usually a way to simplify them to make them more playable.

An odd thing to be disillusioned about, I know. Fortunately, it didn’t last, and I would go onto jam with my drummer friend and play in bands.

At the time, all the band’s songs were either written by me, my drummer, or by the both of us.

I slowly started moving beyond power-chord pounding and open chord strumming. I started to play riffs, mimic melodies, and bust out solos, even if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing.

By that time, though, my drummer friend and I were much tighter than anyone else we brought in to play in the band. So, we needed to go about the process of finding band members differently.

I only went to college for a year, but it had some perks because I ended up building some connections. And it just so happened that one of my friend’s roommate was a bass player. So, we started jamming with him, and the chemistry was obvious from day one.

We formed a band, and as our first order of business, started working on a couple of songs for a Daniel Amos tribute compilation.

Lightly Toasted Touché

The trio would come to be known as Lightly Toasted Touché. We were a jam band. We wrote some original music, and learned some covers, but wherever we went, we also improvised instrumental music in a variety of genres (metal, reggae, blues, etc.).

How did the name come about? Well, one day, while taking a break from rehearsals for a bite (as we always did), we were making sandwiches. And the drummer asked the bassist how toasted he wanted his bread. “Lightly toasted,” he said.

Our bassist was also in the habit of saying “touché” all the time (as his roommates were also prone to doing). And so, Lightly Toasted Touché was born.

The name was probably reflective of the transient and improvised nature of the band more than anything. We certainly weren’t stoners, and I’m not sure any of us were fully convinced of the name. But we also couldn’t come up anything better.

One day, we recorded several improvised demos and posted them online. Keep in mind, this was in 2003 (Radiohead didn’t even do their pay-what-you-want release until 2007). We broke the internet, the servers crashed, and because we had so many downloads, we ended up having to move hosts.

In our relatively short history as a band, we gained a small cult following, and even got “scrobbled” quite a bit on Last.fm.

Our last order of business was to record and release an EP, A Tale of the Coming Together and Murder of My Heart in the Golden State.

This EP captures a little bit of what it was like to come to a Touché show, with an eclectic mix of originals and improvised instrumentals.

 

I co-wrote “Today’s Creed,” “End of the Day,” and “Foundation.” The title track was written by the bassist, and everything else was improvised.

The band imploded shortly after. We attempted to bring a talented singer into the fold, but him and the drummer did not get along, and that was that.

Going Solo

Any band I had been a part of to that point etched out a short-lived existence, with Touché being only  modestly successful. So, I thought to myself, maybe it’s time to go about this music career thing a little differently. If I can’t depend on others, maybe I can depend on myself.

Around that time, I ended up renting an acoustic guitar and wrote a couple of songs. The songs were reflective of the raw emotions I felt after my band broke up.

The acoustic guitar felt right somehow. So, I kept writing and came up with eight songs. My drummer, who was still collaborating with me at the time, encouraged me to make it an album rather than an EP. So, I wrote 11 songs altogether, though one of them never quite worked and was dropped.

During this time, I would come to learn just how undependable I was. Because sometimes weeks would go by without any progress on the album, and my friend told me it was because I failed to take initiative. I took that rather personally, as I was prone to doing at the time.

The album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments, ended up taking about a year to complete.

Being my first solo album, it was not perfect, though it certainly had its moments.

Looking back, it was written in response to the boring and formulaic music of the time. A reviewer called it “an experimental approach to conventional rock,” and he could not have been more on the nose with that observation.

Back on Shaky Ground

Those early years playing in bands and going solo felt tumultuous to me (is it any wonder my first album was called Shipwrecked?). I was overcome with a sense of loss. One, because of the band and friendships that had been impacted as result, and two, because my cousin took his life while I was recording.

It was time to begin work on my next project. But I wasn’t ready. Material wasn’t forthcoming. Having spent 2006 working on my album and writing 365 songs in 2007 (one song per day), I was spent creatively.

It turns out I just needed to live.

In 2008, I ended up burning myself out and experienced a panic attack. I spent the next five months or so recovering. In some ways, though, I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered from that.

I also fell in love only two months later. And three months later, I was given the silent treatment.

Heartbreak is unpleasant, but one thing you can count on is that it will give you something to write about. That summer, I wrote my next album, and so, the concept of Back on Solid Ground was born.

Back on Solid Ground was written as a stripped-down, simple, heartfelt acoustic album.

But I ended up getting caught in the tides of chaos before the project could ever be completed.

Breaking the Silence

I had begun work on Back on Solid Ground with a new producer. But after a few months of working on it, he pulled the plug and said he couldn’t spend any more time on it. We’d captured some amazing drum and cello performances from local musicians, so this could not have been more heartrending.

To be fair, there were no contracts, and nothing was in writing. I learned a lesson there.

In due course, I did recover the tracks. Only, many weren’t properly labeled. So, I didn’t know which track belonged to which song, never mind the fact that I would have had to manually align all of them.

Amid all this, the members of Touché were reuniting. And this time, we had a young singer interested in fronting the band. Angels Breaking Silence was born.

Touché always had a bit of a punk vibe to it, and with Angels Breaking Silence, we started embracing the emo and post-hardcore flavors of the time.

Unlike most bands, though, we didn’t write songs around breakdowns. To be honest, we only had one song that had a breakdown.

The band got booked all over – skateparks, summer festivals, camps, churches, pubs, and more.

We were so busy performing and touring that the only merch we had were posters, buttons, and my first album. ABS only ever recorded a few demos for MySpace and a compilation.

You’d be hard pressed to find our music anywhere online.

As with the previous incarnation of Touché, this one didn’t last longer than 18 months. Personal tensions flared, and two members were in serious relationships that likely would have prevented them from serious, committed participation.

Taking Creativity in New Directions

For the rest of 2009, I started getting into new media in a big way – blogging, social media, podcasting, making YouTube videos, composing for video games, and more. So, I did quite a bit of composing for my own videos too.

There are multiple compositions like this one on my YouTube channel (“Power Propeller” is probably one of my favorites):

I didn’t have much of an income coming in, though, so I knew in the back of my mind that I would probably need to become more pragmatic at some point (I only started learning how to be more pragmatic in 2014, by the way).

Maybe tired from all that had transpired, 2010 sort of ended up being a ”nothing” year for me. The most memorable part was travelling down through Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California with my mom and stepdad. Although I seem to recall making some important connections that year too.

I also recorded a handful of demos through the year, which I first released in January 2011 as Demos 2010 and later as Fire Your God.

To this day, fans still enjoy the rawness of this music. Go figure.

Once again, I found myself going at it alone, trying to learn the ins and outs of music production. That said, I’m glad I got into it, because I found I was better able to make my musical visions a reality. I struggled with previous producers, especially when it came to getting guitar tones I liked.

Economic Collapse, Roid Rage & New Frontiers

As 2011 rolled around, things became more desperate financially. And timing could not have been worse since the world was very much in “recovery mode” after the financial collapse of 2007 – 2008. I started pulling 50-hour weeks at multiple part-time jobs (and spent untold hours driving between them) that paid peanuts.

The first six months of the year were terrible, not just because of the mounting financial pressure, but also because of an unruly, emotionally unstable roommate, who was prone to roid rage.

My friends didn’t exactly support my decision to get into network marketing. But honestly, it was something I needed to go through at the time. My life started changing rapidly for the better, as I started engaging in business training materials.

I still don’t know how I managed to pull all of this off, but that summer, I performed at the Calgary Fringe Festival daily. I also went on a mini tour with new collaborator Jonathan Ferguson and a vacation shortly after.

I don’t want to say that the next four years, from 2011 to 2015, were irrelevant to my musical journey. They weren’t. I kept writing and podcasting about the music business. I invested in a music industry startup. I kept writing songs. And I even wrote a book.

But my life was mostly swallowed up in the world of entrepreneurship. And I would go onto learn some crucial lessons there, too.

The startup I invested in tanked, and I reached a point where I could no longer financially sustain my network marketing business.

Recent History

I was busy in 2016. But I made it my goal to record and release monthly singles.

I didn’t quite reach my goal, but I did write and release some great music. It felt great.

I released a couple of singles in 2017 (including this one)…

And a couple of EPs in 2019.

As result, I wound up contributing to another compilation project in 2020 (created by one of my mentors).

It seems strange to say, but I have many, many more songs I have yet to record and share with the world. God willing, they will see the light of the day.

261 – Finally Revealed… Our Plans for Music Entrepreneur HQ in 2022

261 – Finally Revealed… Our Plans for Music Entrepreneur HQ in 2022

So, what exactly is going on with Music Entrepreneur HQ and The New Music Industry Podcast in 2022? Will it be business as usual, or are there changes to come?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode The New Music Industry Podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:32 – David addresses what’s been going on in his world
  • 02:40 – Improvements that need to be made to Music Entrepreneur HQ
  • 03:40 – Career opportunities at Music Entrepreneur HQ
  • 04:22 – These are tough times
  • 05:24 – But these are still amazing times to be an artist
  • 05:44 – Our plan moving forward
  • 07:54 – Opportunity for innovation

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Transcription:

Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.

You may have noticed that we’ve been a little slow to update Music Entrepreneur HQ as of late. So, I wanted to address this.

A lot of this will become clearer as we go, but in general, this has a lot to do with the renewed efforts I’m putting into my music career, as well as my new guitar course, the Chord King Course program at ChordKingCourse.com.

In terms of music, I’m working on my album, Back on Solid Ground. This has been the big, unfinished, “Duke Nukem Forever” project in my life that dates to 2008 / 2009 that I have yet to complete.

I realized there’s not going to be a perfect time or space to complete it in. It’s now or never. That’s why I’ve been working on it this quarter, and I will continue to work on it next quarter, as I’ve realized it’s a little ambitious to try to get it all done in three months.

My yearlong leadership program is part of what has me engaging in these projects to begin with, but the leadership program in and of itself, as I’ve said before, is also expansive in its scope, velocity, and intensity.

So, while I am using it as a vehicle to finish the things, I’ve chosen for myself, it’s true that there are certain requirements and demands in terms of training, meetings, calls, and tasks. Either way, I’m going to continue to share what I’ve been discovering in the program so you can benefit from it.

But it’s come to the point where picking up more clients, working on music, and everything else I’m up to right now isn’t entirely sustainable. I get it done, but at the expense of life – and to an extent, health, because I’m exhausted.

It has come to my attention too, that while Music Entrepreneur HQ’s SEO needs to be improved, constantly publishing new content doesn’t give us a lot of space to do the overhauls we need to do.

As it stands, there’s still a good amount of traffic coming to the site, but a lot of it is deadweight, and people who bounce off. Maybe this is just the curse of having a site that’s so big with content that needs to be updated, but we’re noticing that this doesn’t drive results.

I’m acknowledging that, while I could be the point person for SEO, it would be a very slow-going process because of what I’ve already taken on.

And, to that end, we’re looking for solutions. There is a new Careers page on the website, and we’re currently looking for an interim Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – this is not a full-time position, but rather a medium-term revenue share opportunity where the CMO will be paid a percentage of the business based on performance.

It would be their responsibility to improve the site’s SEO and copy, so if you happen to know anyone that’s skilled in those areas that’s looking for five- to 10-hour per week type commitment and would like to work with me over the course of the next two to three years, do let me know.

But I’ve also heard from some of you that this is just a tough time and you’re trying to figure out your finances, and you may not have discretionary income to spend on courses and other programs right now.

And I can appreciate that, but there is an impact. Look, in the last few months, I’ve had to tighten the belt a bit, cut some expenses, look for additional writing work I could take on, and generally begin to seek out opportunities that are a little less reliant on client purchases, and are more predicated on engagement, views, time invested, and so forth.

But whether it’s Medium, YouTube, BitClout, Odysee, or otherwise, it takes time and effort. Short-term, there isn’t much in it.

And while I still think this is an excellent time to be an artist, and there are more opportunities than ever, it’s basically brought me to this point of having to switch things up a bit.

And the decision isn’t to stop everything, give up, or otherwise walk away from what we’ve built up with The New Music Industry Podcast or Music Entrepreneur HQ… Like I said, we’re looking for solutions.

The plan is to slow things down a bit, to get our messaging right, optimize our website, and to fine-tune what’s clearly not working for us right now.

So, I wanted to give you a sense of what to expect moving forward:

With the podcast, I will be moving to a monthly format for a while, probably for the rest of the year, but it all depends on participation, engagement, shares, and monetization.

And there are some surprises coming with the new format. I have a new co-host that’ll be joining me for each episode, so in that sense, I expect it to be a lot more interactive and fun, and an easy space for everyone to get into the conversation.

The blog is going to be a little sporadic in the immediate future, but I do have multiple pieces to share with you, so I’m looking to set up at least one new post every two weeks.

As for the YouTube channel, I think you can still expect weekly updates.

Overall, I believe these will all be positive changes, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of them and know where to follow us.

Stick with the podcast. Don’t unsubscribe. Wait on bated breath for every episode. Consume it the moment it’s published. Soak in the content and listen to every word. That’s how you’re going to get the most value out of it.

One of our goals is to make Music Entrepreneur HQ easier to follow. Personally, I’ll still be experimenting a lot and posting everywhere, but with Music Entrepreneur HQ, we want to make sure you aren’t confused, and you can easily find what you’re looking for in the format you want it.

So, keep an eye on the blog, on the podcast, and our YouTube channel. You can also check out our social media destinations for updates.

And I want to leave you with this. This is the best time to innovate. Historically, the best time for businesses, entrepreneurs, and even artists, is when things are tough. This is the best time to innovate and create something new.

Closing Segment

The Unstarving Musician podcast, hosted by Robonzo, features interviews with independent music artists who share their experience and expertise on recording, touring, getting gigs, the creative process, marketing, and more. It’s a podcast intended to help independent music artists better understand the marketing, business and creative processes that empower us to do more of what we love – make music. Find it at UnstarvingMusician.com and wherever you get your favorite audio.

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.

What I’m Working on in 2021

What I’m Working on in 2021

Hey, it’s David Andrew Wiebe.

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you already know who I am. Otherwise, this is our first “e-meeting.” Either way, thanks for your interest.

Here I’d like to share a little bit about what I’ll be working on in 2021 and what I’m looking to accomplish.

Content Marketing Musician

Content Marketing Musician is a new website/course platform/business unit I’m adding to my portfolio.

Although I’ve talked about it briefly in another post, you may not be aware that I’ve been building it silently in the background.

I’ve also shared about the Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass, which is the first course I plan to launch.

Likewise, I’ve been working on a multi-step funnel for The Music Entrepreneur Code, my latest best-selling book. And my plan is to add this to Content Marketing Musician as well.

Will more courses and content be added to Content Marketing Musician in 2021? That is the plan, but I tend to get a little overambitious sometimes, and I’m trying to be practical while thinking big. I’m happy to report that I’m ready to go live with Entrepreneurial Essentials for Musicians Masterclass any day, though, and the Digital Marketing Essentials for Musicians course also isn’t too far off from the finish line.

I am certainly excited about what’s to come, and I hope you are too.

If you have any thoughts on courses I should make, be sure to let me know. I’m always open to suggestions.

Books

Right now, I have at least three books at various stages of completion. Which means it’s entirely possible I’ll have multiple books to share with you in 2021.

But truthfully, there is only one book I’d like to ensure the completion of. I originally started working on it four years ago. And it haunts me to this day that it hasn’t been completed.

What book am I talking about? If you’ve been following me for any length of time, then you will know that I’m referring to Flashes of Elation: Navigating the World as a Sensitive, Creative Soul.

From all the positive feedback and pre-sales received, I do not underestimate the importance of this book, which is in the final stages of editing.

As with any undertaking of this scale, I have had an on again off again relationship with this work, but I would absolutely regret not finishing it.

And every breath we take is a gift, which is something I don’t want to take for granted.

So, god willing, 2021 will be the year – the year of Flashes of Elation.

Music

I have three music projects planned for 2021, and that’s still fewer than I’d like to take on. Like I said, I have a tendency to get a little overambitious!

Anyway, here’s what’s on the docket:

  • Myrtle. My grandma passed at the top of the year, and I wrote a song in her honor. I kind of thought of it as an electric “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” But then I thought to myself, “why don’t I record a version of ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ as well?” Seems appropriate based on my grandmother’s faith. So, the plan now is to make this a two-song release.
  • Back on Solid Ground. As with Flashes of Elation, the incompletion of Back on Solid Ground has haunted me for years. The music is all written, so it’s mostly a matter of tracking the thing. The temptation will be to let perfectionism get in the way, but my listeners seem to appreciate lo-fi basement demos versus slick production anyway, so that might be the direction this takes.
  • Comedic tribute to the 80s. I have yet to reference this project by name, but I have mentioned it more than a few times on my podcast. I may reveal more closer to the end of the year.

Is That it?

Well, sort of.

You will see me publishing daily on my website and on Medium. I’m also creating content for Music Entrepreneur HQ and News Break. I’m still a staff writer with Music Industry How To as well.

I have a plan for how I intend to fulfill on these content responsibilities while developing products, but I’m trying to be as pragmatic as possible too.

I’m Staying Open to Possibilities

While many people have shown interest in the projects mentioned above (and some have even voted with their wallets), there’s always the possibility that there are others worthy of my attention.

I’d like to practice flexibility where it makes sense, and rigidity where it should be applied.

But either way, there will be great fulfillment in completing the above, especially since some of the projects have been in the works for a long time.

Final Thoughts

Feel free to follow up with me and see how I’m doing with these projects this year. I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter, and always like hearing from readers just like you.

I’m not asking for accountability, as I believe in holding myself accountable to my goals. I also have a mastermind group for that. But a little nudge never hurt.

What projects are you working on in 2021? What are you looking to accomplish?

Let me know in the comments.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

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