5 TED Talks for Songwriters

If you’re anything like me, you constantly have TED talks and podcasts and YouTube lectures running in your earbuds while you’re doing anything. Sometimes, I can’t get any work done unless I have some background noise that isn’t music, and isn’t garbage television – something with substance! I need to know that I’m learning and expanding my skill set, as a songwriter or as a person.

Below are a handful of some of my favorite TED talks ever. They range songwriting, to personal development, to creativity and psychology. I highly recommend listening through all of them the next time you’ve got your headphones in!

“Some Things I’ve Learned about Songwriting in 25 Years”

Cliff Goldmacher

Cliff is one of my favorite humans and favorite songwriters, as well as an incredibly generous personal mentor and friend. This Memphis TEDx presentation will have you laughing till your sides hurt, and energize your songwriting spirit. From the description of the video, “Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, session musician, producer, engineer and author. In his talk, he covers a few things he’s learned about songwriting in the twenty-five years he’s been doing it and plays snippets of a few of his songs to illustrate his points.” He runs a wonderfully informative blog and demo studio.

“How I Started Writing Songs Again”


An amazing lecture from this master storyteller. Get ready to be taken back to school! From the TED website, “Sting’s early life was dominated by a shipyard—and he dreamed of nothing more than escaping the industrial drudgery. But after a nasty bout of writer’s block that stretched on for years, Sting found himself channeling the stories of the shipyard workers he knew in his youth for song material. In a lyrical, confessional talk, Sting treats us to songs from his upcoming musical, and to an encore of ‘Message in a Bottle.'”

“The Power of Introverts”

Susan Cain

A must watch for the introverted, shy, or otherwise reserved songwriters out there. “In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”, from the TED website.

“The Art of Asking”

Amanda Palmer

Celebrated indie musician Amanda Palmer talks about the power of connecting genuinely with the people who love your music. “Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.” from the TED website.

“Beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions”

John Koenig

Calling all word fanatics! Talk about expanding your vocabulary. From the TED website, “John Koenig loves finding words that express our unarticulated feelings — like “lachesism,” the hunger for disaster, and “sonder,” the realization that everyone else’s lives are as complex and unknowable as our own. Here, he meditates on the meaning we assign to words and how these meanings latch onto us.”

What are your favorite talks? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Michael Sperber

    really inpiring. thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.gypsyuniverse.com Alexa J

    These are awesome thanks so much ! Sting is so inspiring!!!