Creator Spotlight with Singer/Songwriter Michelle Rescigno
This week we would like to introduce you to singer/songwriter Michelle Rescigno.
What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
For me, being a creator is as natural as breathing. I remember being six years old and thinking to myself that I’d like to be a songwriter. Song structure and lyrics were always something I noticed when listening to music, and something about it just made sense to me. I also grew up in a musical household with a father who was a songwriter, so it helped to have that as a model.
As I entered adolescence, songwriting became my main outlet of expression. Being able to articulate my feelings through song helped to transfer the weight of heavy emotions from within me to within the music. It was a way I could process life’s struggles and triumphs constructively, and it allowed me to find my own voice and gain a deeper understanding of who I was and how I saw the world. Besides being a kind of therapy, I also fell in love with the craft of songwriting. Rhyme schemes, double entendre, and the relationship between lyrics, melody and rhythm always fascinated me. I was excited by the challenge of making a well-crafted song, and I dedicated myself to that practice early on.
My goal is always to create a song that’s authentic and originates from a personal place while also being relatable. I love the idea that I can take my unique experience of life, write a song out of it, and someone else can connect to that song through their own unique perspective. The songs we relate to help us feel connected by shared feelings and common human experiences. Sometimes they can even help put words to feelings we have that we can’t quite place on our own. Songs can be fun or they can be cathartic, but they’re always a wonderful vehicle for processing emotion. The best part of being a creative is the sense of fulfillment and connection I feel when someone tells me one of my songs spoke to them on a personal level.
Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
The stroke of inspiration when a new song concept starts forming in my head is always exciting. Sometimes that happens without trying, but I’ve found that I can invite that inspiration by creating space in my schedule to be in silence and allow new ideas to form. When I’m working on something new, I like to let my writing flow without judging it. Because I allow the words to come out freely, it might only take about ten or twenty minutes to complete a first draft. Then, once I have something down on paper, I get to dive into the craft of songwriting. That’s when I start to critique my work and make changes. The rhymes are adjusted and honed, and I make sure every word I’ve chosen is the best one to convey the feeling I’m trying to express. Songs have a fairly limited number of words, so songwriters have to choose each one very intentionally. The entire writing process usually takes a day or two when my efforts are focused.
The songs I write for my own catalog don’t make any money, but I’ll always do it because it’s my favorite way to express myself. I also do a lot of songwriting for hire which does generate income. It’s a slightly different experience, but I still get a great sense of fulfillment from it. I enjoy the collaborative process of working with producers, artists or other writers and coming together to create something more than we could have by ourselves.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
I think the biggest misconception about songwriting is that it’s not a viable career choice. Songwriting is a valuable skill that can be monetized if you’re willing to put in the work to hone your craft. People will always love listening to music, and there will always be a need for new songs and the unique perspectives of different writers. These days, the internet has created so many new avenues to monetizing songwriting, so it’s a more accessible dream than ever before. There is no one, surefire way to do it, but it is entirely possible and is a valid path if you’re driven to travel it.
When did you first become aware of copyright, and why?
The idea of copyright first entered my awareness as a senior in high school. I had been invited to perform a song at our commencement ceremony, so I decided to write something. I recorded a version of the song, and around the time of the graduation, my family sent the song in to our local radio station to see if they’d play it. It was on rotation for a little while and received a nice reaction, and my father thought it would be a good idea to get the song copyrighted. I still remember getting the paperwork in the mail and feeling like such a legitimate songwriter!
What is the best piece of advice that you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
If you’re even considering getting a song copyrighted, just do it. It’s worth it to have your work protected. Also, if you’re not sure what the copyright process is or you’ve never thought about it before, I suggest looking into it and learning more about it from the U.S. Copyright Office website or from the Copyright Alliance site. That way, you know you’re making an informed choice. Many songwriters I’ve spoken to don’t ever think about copyrighting or have any idea that it’s something they should be doing. I think creatives are often very resistant to dealing with things like copyrights until they run into infringement issues. Even if you think you’re not well known enough to have to worry about someone stealing your work, it’s something that should be considered when you’re releasing music out there into the world. Better to avoid the issue completely by making sure your work is protected.
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