Alex G was never going to be satisfied with YouTube domination, instead she devised a cunning plan to flex her songwriting muscles in a meaningful way.
Alex G’s YouTube channel has exceeded a massive 200 million views and her original music has charted in the iTunes Top 100.
She explains how she came up with her unique songwriting service and how it continues to challenge her personally and creatively.
When did you get the idea to offer personalised songwriting?
I got the idea about 5 months ago. I put out an EP called “Share Your Story” about a year ago, where I wrote songs about my fans’ stories. That was life changing and definitely the project I am the most proud of. That gave me the confidence that I can actually write other people’s stories well. The idea to have a business where people could buy custom songs came out of needing to make more money. It’s been a rough financial year and I just want to make a living doing what I love and what I’m good at. So I decided I was just going to make it happen.
Getting my music to the people
What response have you had so far?
The first batch of songs that I made available were sold out within 24 hours. I think the best part about this is receiving feedback from the people who hear their song for the first time. I have to put myself in their shoes and imagine if I was getting a song written specifically about my story, by an artist I love. I love making people happy.
How do you market this idea and get it out to people?
Social media is key for this. It’s actually been great for my YouTube channel. When people buy a song, they also buy a music video to go on my YouTube channel. It works perfectly so that I can release more original content on YouTube while promoting my business. I release a live performance of my song to my channel once a month so people are constantly hearing about the business and seeing the product.
Have there been any songs so far that you have wanted to keep for yourself?
I own the rights to the songs, so I can professionally produce them one day and put them on an album or EP if I want to. I really love “Find You There”. That one was really personal.
Life influences my songwriting
How much blood, sweat and tears have you invested in honing your songwriting skills?
I have been writing probably every few days for the last couple years. I have so much room to grow and I hope every year I get better and better. Honestly the more I am open to fully experiencing life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – the better my songwriting is. I think the more blood sweat and tears I put into becoming a wholehearted human being, the more I’m investing in my art!
Tell us more about how ‘fully experiencing life’ makes you a better songwriter:
This past year has been horrible and beautiful all in one, it’s been messy. Some of my favorite songs have been written as these insane life things have happened. Relationships are huge for me, and it’s probably because they are the most vulnerable parts of life. I end up writing about all sorts of relationships: romantic relationships, family, friendships, and my confusing relationship with God.
I’m always honing my craft
Do you find that your vocal capabilities help or hinder your songwriting ideas?
I go back and forth on this! There are things I can do and things that I absolutely 100% shouldn’t even try! Over time I have honed in my sound and focused on writing and singing things that fit with the kind of voice that I have. But I also wish I had more abilities with my voice so that I can write things that feel new. It’s like my relationship with playing guitar; I wish I was incredible at guitar so I could be inspired and knowledgeable enough to use different chords or play a new rhythm.
Do you have a particular process when sitting down to write a song?
It’s always a little different; I am creatively impulsive. If I’m feeling it I will drop everything and write all of my feelings down on my phone, or grab a guitar and knock something out. I don’t like to work on one song for too long, I get pretty bored and impatient. I will usually mess around with chords to see what feels inspiring and sing random things until something makes sense and sounds good.
How to you critique your work?
I am fortunate enough to have a sounding board in my best friend/roommate. She’ll tell me if I sound ridiculous. I’ll get mad, roll my eyes, and then write something better – every time.
Any tips for songwriters who get stuck?
It’s okay to sit on a song for a few days, a few weeks, however long you need. Every time I get stuck on a part of a song, I feel so discouraged. But when I come back to the song later I almost always think of something that I love. Time does a lot.
Singer-songwriter Alex G’s YouTube channel has over 200 million views and nearly 1.5 million subscribers, with an additional 590K followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Alex released two successful EPs, Found and It’s You That I’ll Miss This Christmas, then released her debut album, Growing Up, in 2014 which broke into the iTunes Top 100 chart reaching #24. Her new concept EP, Share Your Story bases each song on a fan’s personal story. Her latest single Showing Up was released in March 2016, and been played on radio stations nationwide.