Over the course of 2020, singer-songwriter Spencer Crandall released four EPs: North, East, West, and South, which he then gathered into one place on his Wilderness release in November. Wilderness debuted at #1 on the iTunes country charts and #4 all genre. It has earned more than seventeen million streams on Spotify and almost six million streams on Apple. Now that he’s making his mark in Nashville, Crandall is happy to give advice that may help others have a smoother path to success than he had.
“I was told early on, ‘Figure out why your songs sound like nobody else’s.’ I didn’t actually learn that or take that advice as well as I should have, and I tried to write like everybody else,” Crandall says. “Then you just get categorized with everything else: ‘Oh, those songs aren’t special.’”
To set your work apart, Crandall says, “Figure out why your story and your method and your phrasing and your lyrics and your melody are different and lean into it. Then you can always take something new and fresh and figure out a way to put it in the market that’s commercial.”
Also, Crandall says, it’s important to make songwriting your top priority. “Really treat it like a job. Put it on your schedule.” He says it helps to stay motivated in this regard if you get “some accountability, like getting a manager a publisher. Or getting a friend involved —saying, ‘I’m going to show you songs and just rip them apart and tell me if I’m getting better or worse.’ Show a lot of people. Put it out into the marketplace. See what people say. See what people think.”
But, Crandall says, don’t let yourself get discouraged if the feedback you get isn’t always positive. “There really aren’t such things as failures. It is just part of growing and learning,” he says.
In the end, though, Crandall says songwriting just comes down to “Trial and error. I think a lot of people want this answer that is like, ‘Go to songwriting.com’—but there isn’t really a book on this stuff. You really have to sit down and try and fail and try and fail. I do think there is just this innate sense of if you really, really love it and want it, it will work out for you. Just stick with it.”