5 TED Talks for Songwriters


Sarah Spencer

Get inspired with my favorite songwriter TED talks for songwriters! | SongFancy.com

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.

Some of my favorite TED talks for songwriters:

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”

Presenter: 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”

Presenter: Sting

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.'”

I’ve been listening to Sting nearly all my life. I remember my mom playing his CD’s in her car when she dropped me off and picked me up from school. I found myself completely transporter with his stories and settings in songs like Desert Rose. In college, I started listening pretty obsessively to The Police.

It’s fair to say that he’s had a big impact on the way I approach my own songs, probably in ways I don’t even consciously realize.

Sting has written a very non-traditional autobiography. If you want to check it out, you can snag a copy on Amazon:

“The Power of Introverts”

Presenter: 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.

Susan’s book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” is absolutely required reading for anyone who identifies as an introvert. It’s pretty much all the life lessons about introversion you never got from your parents or teachers.

You have so much more power than you realize!

Here’s where you can order her book on Amazon:

“The Art of Asking”

Presenter: 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.

Amanda has a lot more to say on this subject. In fact, she’s put all her hard earned knowledge into a book for any performing songwriter or artist to pick up and start reading.

You can order a copy of “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” on Amazon:

“Beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions”

Presenter: 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!

Bonus! “How I Found Myself Through Music”

Presenter: Anika Paulson

Anika tells us the most relatable story ever. It’s all about her relationship with music throughout her life – and how life reflects the music inside all of it. It’s SO enjoyable. Give it a watch, it’ll hit you right in your feels.

From the TED website, “‘Music is everywhere, and it is in everything,’ says musician, student and TED-Ed Clubs star Anika Paulson. Guitar in hand, she plays through the beats of her life in an exploration of how music connects us and makes us what we are.”

Want to get even more musical inspiration with songwriting prompts? Join the 5 in 5 Song Challenge!

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Grab your spot now – we do these challenged throughout the year, so if you can’t make this month’s, you’ll be notified of the next one. Hope to see you inside!

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Sarah Spencer

Sarah Spencer is an award winning singer/songwriter based in Nashville, TN.

Born in the Sunshine State, Sarah Spencer writes vibrant, shining americana/pop music. She works in Nashville TN as a singer/songwriter, as well as a UX designer for a marketing firm.

Follow Sarah on Spotify to get her latest releases.

You can jump on her email list at SarahSpencer.com or purchase her debut EP, "Freshman Year" on iTunes.