Grammy winner Mike Farris

One of the benefits of being a longtime member of The Recording Academy, (you know, the Grammys) is the organization does a great job of keeping members informed about lots of things and spotlighting their members.

Recently, they featured advice from Mike Farris, a  Grammy winner and tremendous Americana artist with an amazing voice, powerful songs and an interesting story.  He has seen it all, done it all and is still plugging away at a very healthy career.

We thought his 10 tips (also shared in the UK’s Songwriting Mag) could help you. MR411 has explained each one:

1. “Antennae Up!” 

You need to aware of what is happening in the music world, who’s making great music, what the trends are, etc. to stay fresh and current.  This includes the news too.

2. Learn from Others

Duh. Probably one of the most important pieces of your success puzzle.  Read about songwriters, musicians, industry peeps. Talk to fellow musicians and writers, google topics of interest and that are applicable to you and your career.

3.”Don’t Take Yourself So Damn Seriously”

Yeah you’re making art, but so are a thousand other people.  If you want other people to take you seriously, prove you are worth it through the quality  of your music, not your ego.

Everybody struggles and wants to be noticed.  Get over yourself.

4. “Simple is Good”

Yes there are some incredible, really deep writers. Always have been, always will be.

But remember, the biggest thing you have with your music is connection, writing songs that people relate to and can remember.  Think:  ‘The Thrill is Gone”, “Stand by Me” etc.

5. “Be an Archaeologist”

Find and discover music from the past.  Look up the hits of past decades and figure out why they were popular.  Was it the idea?  Was it the way it was said or framed?  Was it the music?  The hook?  It will start to be obvious once you get going.

6. What Works Live?

It’s one thing to write and produce a song with incredible production, and another to replicate it live onstage.  Especially if you’re a solo performer or small band.  Your songs have to hold up for live performance.

Remember your audience may not’ve heard your record, they might be hearing your music for the first time.  Think about what it sounds like stripped down, and how to make a compelling performance of the song without all the bells and whistles of the studio.


Music is therapy. To you, and to others.  Listen to ALOT of it, all types. It helps keep your sanity when you need some. However if you need ‘talk’ therapy (counseling), by all means 

GET IT! You need to stay healthy to be your BEST self.

8. “Never Give Up!”

You can’t. It is a daunting path to be a creative, but you can realize your dreams and goals. You just need to be realistic and have a plan. Many people who succeed, especially in music, are not always the most talented.  They are hard workers who are persistent and keep going.

9. “Trust Others”

We know this is a hard one.  But you DO have to have some folks you know you can trust. And not only trust, but you trust to tell you the truth (even if it’s not pretty), and to support you.  If you believe in you, others will too. It might take some time to develop your inner circle, but you can.


See # 8.  You are developing your writing muscle, you are training. Even if it’s shitty, write everyday. It gets easier the more you do it, and you’ll start to notice improvement if you keep at it.  Great songwriters are masters of the re-write, and usually write everyday.

Want a deeper dive? Check out our resources that give you a blueprint and the necessary tools to succeed whether you want to write better songs, make your band better or get better gigs. 

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