My Top-Secret Musician Life EXPLAINED (How I Write And Record And Produce Music For The World)


I thought long and hard about what this week’s post was going to be. After lots of consideration, I decided on a topic that we can all agree is fabulous: ME. In case you had no idea: I’m a musician as well as a writer and blogger and professional waffle-eater. And I know some of you are musicians as well – possibly with a dream to one day publish your music! So whether you are interested in my top-secret musician life or you just want to learn more about the production process, YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

I’ve been fascinated by music for as long as I can remember. Literally, my mom has an old photo of me when I was like three years old, sitting at our console piano, banging out some horrid noise with a pair of shorts on my head (yes, you read that right.) I’m mostly a self-taught musician. I love figuring things out on my own and could never stick with lessons for very long. I’M A REBEL, YO. EVEN WHEN I WAS THREE YEARS OLD. (Like seriously what could be more rebellious than wearing shorts on your head? You tell me.)

It wasn’t until 2015 that I actually published music online – my debut single, Mirror Girl, will forever hold a special place in my heart. Since then I’ve published three other singles: two original songs (You Only Die Once and Back To Normal) and one cover (I Found by Amber Run.) I’m still working on publishing two other cover mashups I released on YouTube: Hello / Alive and Riptide / We Don’t Believe What’s On TV. (Also I did a cover of the Christmas version of Hallelujah, which I can’t even post on YouTube due to copyright stuff.) < SHAMELESS PLUG RIGHT THERE, but I wanted to get you up to speed. I LOVE MUSIC. I sing and I write and I record and I publish…but how exactly do I do it all?? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. 


This is honestly the hardest part to talk about. BECAUSE I ALMOST DON’T KNOW HOW I WRITE MUSIC??? It’s strange. See, music is the one art form I do where I honestly feel like I have a muse – some unseen force dictates whether or not I am able to write music on any given day. Sometimes I just feel like dropping everything, running over to the piano, and composing a song. And if I don’t listen to that urge at the moment, it just doesn’t happen for me later. SO YES IT’S A VERY UNDEPENDABLE PROCESS 10/10 WOULD NOT RECOMMEND. *distant nervous laughter*



Once I’ve figured out the musical elements of the song, I’ll start writing the lyrics. Usually, I show up with an emotion or story I want to convey in a song, then I just start singing nonsense while playing until it begins to make sense. I have a general concept of what I want to say, then I edit it in my head while playing the instrumental. That process looks kind of like this:

*me sitting at the piano, playing the instrumental*
“And I…am so guilty of…”
“And you…have every right to hate me…”
“And I’ve…done so many things…you’d have the right to hate me for…”

(lyrics from YODO – the last line that is lol)

IT ALL WORKS, BUT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW?? Another way I sometimes write lyrics for a song is by writing a slam poem version, first. This is helpful because I can just BRAIN DUMP everything I want to say and then worry about making it musical later. I did this recently with a new song (yet to be released! eeep!) and I really loved the results.

After I have the piano part and lyrics, I’ll brainstorm what other sounds I want the song to have. I’d describe my genre as a combination of Adele + Florence And The Machine + Ruelle, so I’m usually drawn to a big, orchestral, epic-trailer vibe. Cellos, drums, and violent piano are my favorite combination. But sometimes I’ll try fun new things like ukulele! Or I’ll go around my house and record samples of random sounds like light switches, doors closing, drawers sliding, myself sighing, etc.* Building the instrumentals is one of my favorite parts of the songwriting process.

*in case you had NO IDEA what those sounds were in Back To Normal (light switch click track at the beginning), Hello/Alive (sighing), and Riptide/We Don’t Believe What’s On TV (a bag of coins dropping and a drawer sliding shut.)

This is where the magic happens: AT THE STUDIO. My fabulous sound engineer Ryan mixes and masters all of my tracks and makes them sound awesome. If you’re a budding musician and you really want to record your song(s), I HIGHLY RECOMMEND GOING TO A RECORDING STUDIO. 

Yes, I am currently learning the mixing process myself, but I would have been sooo daunted by it even a year ago. You don’t need to fully commit to the musician life by purchasing an expensive suite of equipment – just go to a studio and RECORD YOUR SONG. You’ll get a glimpse of what the mixing process is like and see if you would be interested in doing it yourself one day.

But I won’t ramble on about what happens at the studio because YO I HAVE A VIDEO FOR THAT!




HERE COMES THE COMPLICATED PART: actually publishing your music in online stores so that people can buy it and you can top the charts.* As an indie musician, there are several ways to do this.** Essentially, you need a distributor to publish your music in stores like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, not to mention streaming services like Spotify. You can’t just show up with your song and be like “WHERE’S THE ‘UPLOAD SONG’ BUTTON?” It doesn’t work like that. Distributors do the dirty work for you – and the two major ones that most indie artists use are CD Baby and TuneCore. The biggest difference between them is: CD Baby takes a cut of your sales, whereas TuneCore charges a one-time distribution fee. I’m with TuneCore just because I don’t like people STICKING THEIR DIRTY LITTLE HANDS IN MY PIE. But it’s totally personal preference.



The actual process of uploading your song to TuneCore is super easy. You fill out basic fields like artist name, genre, and album art, then you pay $10 for the first year of distribution. (I usually go for the 3-year price which I can’t remember but YOU GET THE IDEA.) It usually takes two days for most music stores to accept the distribution and list your music for sale (iTunes can be a bit picky.) TuneCore sends my music to 36+ different stores – most of which I’ve never even heard of before. The process is fabulously painless and I would recommend it to every musician ever.

*Still working on the second one…with $20 in my bank account.
**Obviously if you’re looking to sign with a record label, that’s whole other story and method of doing things. I’m speaking strictly from an indie artist perspective, here. ;)

Technically, at this point, I’m done. My music is available in stores and on Spotify. I can kick back in a lawn chair with a glass of kombucha and a waffle and chill. BUT DO I EVER CHILL?? HAHA. NO. So this is the part where I get to work on making a music video.

I recommend music videos SO SO SO SO SO MUCH to every musician out there. Even if you think you can’t make a music video! It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to BE A VIDEO. Because artists with YouTube channels are 10000% more saleable than artists without YouTube channels. < just a fact of life, but if you want some actually theoretical convincing, read this article. Also, you might fall in love with making videos. I know I did. 


To be honest, I can’t imagine a life without music. I'LL PROBABLY BE DOING THIS FOREVER and I ain’t even mad. Nothing makes me feel quite as alive as music does – composing, recording, singing, all of it. Which is why I recently decided to bite the bullet and get myself a home studio. YOU MIGHT HAVE ALREADY HEARD ABOUT THIS BUT I! AM! SO! EXCITED! Everything is ready to rock and roll (no pun intended) and next Friday I'm totally going to post a video tour of my new musical lair. *distant evil laughter* So go subscribe to my YouTube channel if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the party!!

Are you a musician? Do you want to record/publish your music? Or have you published your music already?? DO SHARE LINKS IF SO!! What is your favorite part of being a musician? Or, if you’re not a musician, what’s your favorite genre of music to listen to?? OH AND ALSO: how would you describe MY genre?

rock on,
abbiee

49 comments

  1. I am a songwriter so this is super handy! Someday when I get the money to get all the equipment ( #brokeprobs ) then I will definitely record.
    And this was SO MUCH FUN to read, I love how you record the whole process in your videos, those were super helpful to me btw! And your music vids *cries* Btw what camera do you use? just curious for future references...

    AND GAH I CAN"T WAIT TO SEE THAT HOME STUDIO, CAN"T WAIT. <333

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    1. EEEEEP ANNA I'M SO HAPPY YOU ENJOYED THIS POST!! <3 I definitely recommend getting all the necessary gear if you're serious about recording! I'm currently broke too (and in debt *nervous laughter*) but IT'S SO WORTH IT!! The camera I use is a Canon Rebel T3i with a 50mm lens for most of my music videos. (Except for the ukulele video I used a 24mm pancake lens.) I'll be talking a lot more about the specific gear I purchased too in the studio tour video!! :D THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING <3

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  2. This is so cool! I like to sing, but strictly in a "with my sister at the piano for fun" kinda way, not the "become an indie music publisher" kind of way, so reading this post was so INTERESTING!! I know a little bit about book publishing (because that's way more my niche) and getting a sneak peek inside what your musical publishing life looks like was super cool. :)

    (I'm so sorry for all of the incorrect terminology in this comment eep)

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    1. OLIVIA WELCOME BACK I'VE MISSED YOU!!! *hugs and waffles* EEEP I'm so happy you liked this post!! Singing is wonderful, isn't it? Even just for fun -- it's fabulous. ;) It was fun to be able to rant about my music life! Thank you for reading, dear!!

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  3. YOU HAVE MUSIC VIDEOS?!?!?! *runs off to watch them all* XD

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    1. OKAY, I'M OFFICALLY IN DISBELIEF THAT I DID NOT KNOW THIS.
      Your voice is so pretty, omw. :D

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    2. AAAAAAAAH YOU ARE TOO KIND THANK YOU GRAY MARIE <33333333333 *LOTS OF HUGS*

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  4. DUDE YOUR MUSIC IS AMAZING. And your music taste, too! I think I read a post a bit back about Fleurie and Ruelle and I got hooked?!

    And it's so cool you actually record music in a legit studio! I'm not a musician but the most I think I'd ever be would be recording a song with the mic attached to my earphones in a noisy room, haha!

    Thank you so much for this post! I'd been interested in your process for a while now and I'm glad to know more about it :)

    - andrea at a surge of thunder

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    1. ANDREA THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! <3 *HUGS* YOU ARE SO KIND :''') I'm so glad you like my music! And this post! It was fun to be able to rant about my musical life a bit. :D It was definitely nerve-wracking when I first started recording at a studio. But now it's like old hat tbh xD AND OF COURSE IT'S SO MUCH FUN. Thank you for reading!!

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  5. YOU ARE JUST THE COOLEST HUMAN

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    1. UM I THOUGHT THAT WAS YOU <33333333

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  6. EEK I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE STUDIO TOUR. You are so lucky, having a home studio sounds like the COOLEST THING EVER. And yes, "Sometimes I just feel like dropping everything, running over to the piano, and composing a song. And if I don’t listen to that urge at the moment, it just doesn’t happen for me later." SO TRUE. I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. (And please tell me I'm not the only one who gets insanely excited and is automatically happy for the rest of the day when I come up with something good?) :-)
    Love this post, Abbiee, your blog is one of the bestest ever! :-)

    ~ Skylar

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    1. EEEEP I'M SUPER EXCITED FOR IT TOO!! It seriously is the coolest thing ever I am amazed by it every day. :''') I'M NOT ALONE! AND YOU'RE NOT ALONE, EITHER, I TOTALLY GET WHAT YOU MEAN! I'm just like sklfjlajdlskaj new song new song it's so good omg <3333 LOVE IT. *HUGS YOU SO MUCH* THANK YOU!!! YOU ARE SO KIND!!

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  7. Whoo Abbiee! That's awesome. It was so interesting to hear all this. Sounds like your song writing process = my poetry writing process. Cause I can't just sit down and do. It has to strike. With a kind of lightbulb moment or a super emotional moment or when some song is playing over and over in my head. Then it just comes so fast and mixed up I can't keep up and usually I am composing the poem in a kind of singsong. XD this was really fascinating and enlightening and I'm kinda proud of you for this (ie doing it now. Doing it indie) you know *claps*

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH LISA <33333 I'm so happy you enjoyed this post!! OMG I TOTALLY KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. That's exactly what it feels like! I don't write poetry much, but when I do it always comes out jumbled and rushed and I'm like "WHERE CAN I WRITE THIS DOWN I HAVE TO WRITE THIS DOWN STAT" xD aw, thank you SO MUCH! *hugs* I'm excited to see what the future holds. :)

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    2. Well songs are like poetry ... or poetry is like song, I don't really know which way xD So in my opinion, you songs ARE poetry <3 *hugs back*

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    3. Also note - I don't actually sing, but I do play saxophone - or at least am learning, so it's encouraging to see what you're doing and then aspire to compose someday too :D

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    4. VERY TRUE!! And aw omg thank you so much!! <3333 that's so cool, good luck with the saxophone! *high fives*

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    5. thanks *high fives back*

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  8. I think the "shorts on the head" look will be the hot trend in 2018.

    Hearing your music writing process kind of reminds me of writing novels (except I think the actual music part is harder because wHAT ARE NOTES?? And the melody? What's that?). There's that process of saying/writing a bunch of random stuff until you find what falls into place.

    I adore your "I Found" cover. IT'S SO GOOD!!!

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    1. I HOPE SO. I'm usually ahead of the fad... *examines fingernails conceitedly* MUAHAHAHA JK xD yes!! I can totally see the similarities between songwriting and fiction-writing!! There's definitely a lot of playing with words and editing to be done with both music and novels. *nod nod* AW YOU ARE TOO KIND THANK YOU!! <333

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  9. Wow thanks for sharing this so much!! <3 I write songs as well and all these tips were super duper helpful.
    Can't wait for new music!!!

    Sophy of SophysLighthouse.blogspot.com

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    1. THAT'S SO COOL!! *high fives* SONGWRITERS UNITE. ;) I'm so happy this post was helpful to you, Sophy!! I'M EXCITED FOR SOME NEW MUSIC TOO. <3 Thank you for reading!!

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  10. Girl, you have such a gorgeous voice! Seriously, it's amazing. I loved be to sing, but I'm slightly self conscious about my voice. I mostly sing at home. This summer I was in a musical, so I was forced to sing, which means I did get more comfortable with it. It was a great experience. I don't think I would ever have the nerve to record my own music and put it out the for the world. You never know, though.

    Thanks for sharing! This was so interesting to read about your process!

    ~ Pip

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    1. SDAKJFLKASJL YOU ARE SO KIND THANK YOU!!! :'''') That's so cool that you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and sang for an audience!! I STILL HAVEN'T EVEN DONE THAT YET but maybe someday. :) But singing at home is the best! I've never been one for doing things "properly" ie: taking vocal lessons and stuff...I really just got better at singing because I sing A LOT. So yes! Do it because you love it, girl!! <3 I'M SO HAPPY YOU LIKE THIS POST THANK YOU FOR READING!

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  11. DAAAAANG So happy to have this inside look x) I've always been curious about how artists do it. I love music but am SUPER SUCKY AT WRITING IT so Imma stick to listening to your songs on repeat xD
    (plus singing in front of people = most terrifying thing ever, I'm singing at a music festival this weekend and ASDFGHJKLQWERTYUIOP)

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    1. OMG!! GOOD LUCK AT THE MUSIC FESTIVAL! I'M SURE YOU'LL ROCK. ;) And eeeep I'm so happy you liked this post!! It was fun to ramble about my songwriting process. <3

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  12. greeted back to blogger after like 4 months to THIS I'm so happy because I've been wanting some info on how you actually....do.... music lol. The video was super cool and can I please just go to a studio asap?!
    blah now I need to just get my buns in motion and make some music myself
    xx nina

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    1. WELCOME BACK, NINA! <3 Thank you so much! I'm so happy you liked this post. :) SONGWRITING IS THE BEST omg I can't imagine life without it honestly... <33333

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  13. I enjoyed this post!! I LOVE singing and writing music, though I don't write words, just the instrumental parts!! :)
    LOVED THE VIDEO!

    - Maddy | littlebitofsunshineweb.blogspot.com

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    1. INSTRUMENTALS ARE SOME OF MY FAVORITE THINGS UNDER THE SUN <33333 That's so cool that you're a musician too, Maddy! *high fives* EEEP THANK YOU FOR READING :')

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  14. I'm not a musician, but I have seen your videos and you are AMAZING!!!
    Your voice is so beautiful. And even thought I'm not into music that way, this post was still funny for me. I love how you talked about being rebellious. (Shorts on you head? That is funny.)

    I did want to learn guitar, but it never happened. I've thought maybe one day it will. I kind of like the idea of playing guitar. The only problem I have is I don't want anyone to hear me.

    Amazing post, as usual. <3 <3

    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. SJDLKASJDLKJAJLJ YOU ARE TOO KIND I CAN'T HANDLE IT :'''') *MANY HUGS* I'm so happy you liked this post!! (haha and that little anecdote about my shorts on my head) Guitar is awesome!! I'm still a novice, but hey everyone starts somewhere, right? ;) You should totally give it a try! (OR UKULELE. It's a different sound of course but SO MUCH EASIER and also nicer on the fingers *nervous laughter*) THANK YOU FOR READING, IVIE! <3

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  15. I watched your riptide mashup cover - both you and your voice are GORGEOUS.

    LOVED IT <33

    Lauren | Sincerely, Lauren Emily

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    1. SDHKLSAJDKLAJ YOU ARE SO KIND WHAT THE HECK THANK YOU <33333333

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  16. WOW YOU'RE SUCH A COOL HUMAN!!! i aspire to be you!

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    1. AHHHHHHHHHHHH NO WORDS YOU ARE THE BEST :''''') SAKFHSLAKJDKLASJL

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  17. I love like all of your songs. YOUR VOICE IS AMAZING OK. It is so cool how you like have music out there in the world and you go to a recording studio and like what. I love singing but I wouldn't necessarily call myself a musician as all of my songs are questionable in quality and I can't really play any other instruments mostly because I'm lazy. Awesome post!

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl

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    1. OMG YOU ARE SO KIND AKLJKLSAJDKLS *HUGS YOU FOREVER* THANK YOU NABILA!! It's so much fun honestly I can't imagine not doing this. :') I'm sure your music is awesome! DO IT BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU HAPPY <3333 Thank you for reading!! :D

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  18. Ahhhh I love music too, but I totally suck at writing it? The lyrics are just an awkward mess and I can never figure out anything but a very basic melody. But I've been playing music for 12+ years and I love doing covers and such! I'd love to a cover channel but I don't think my voice is good enough. :(

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    1. YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO A COVER CHANNEL!! My philosophy about singing is that everybody's voice is different! I've never taken vocal lessons or anything and I have been critiqued by people who "know more" about singing....but I always just shrug and be like "this is how sing and idc if I'm good or not according to you" because really everyone has their own opinion of what "good" is??? < LOL ALL THAT TO SAY I'M SURE YOUR VOICE IS BEAUTIFUL AND YOU SHOULD DO WHAT YOU LOVE BRO <3333 thank you for reading!!!

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  19. I didn't know you added non-musical sounds to your songs! That's rad. I love listening back to songs and catching little details like that that I never caught before! And the home studio sounds AMAZING - that will make the creative process so much easier. :)

    PS I totally get your songwriting process; when my sister and I sit down to write music we just babble random lyrics until the song forms, it's kind of a disembodied process to explain, but it's wonderful. Happy songwriting! :-)

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    1. AAAAH YES I LOVE IT WHEN MUSICIANS DO THAT. :') It's so cool. The studio is amazing I'm so happy with how it turned out!! <3 And yes!!! you described the songwriting process PERFECTLY. "Disembodied" is definitely the word. xD THANK YOU SO MUCH ERIN !!

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  20. I loved reading this. I doubt I'll ever record music because my voice is like nasaly gravel, but I have toyed with writing songs. Mostly on guitar. Lyrics and chords, hand in hand. Pretty simple.
    What frustrates me is how many cool tunes I come up with just wandering around that I never get written down!

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    1. UGH I KNOW RIGHT??? SAME. I lament all those tunes I never wrote down. 🙃🙃🙃 IT'S AWFUL TO FORGET. Whenever I come up with something new I'm still too lazy to write it down so I usually make a little sound recording on my iPad and say whatever notes they are then play the tune so I know what it sounds like 😂 EEEEP THANK YOU FOR READING!!

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  21. I've been playing music for over ten years (makes me feel so old, ha), and I'm wanting to do more with it - not keep it to myself. If it can bring enjoyment or bring people closer to God, I want to share it! So, this is super helpful (let me just echo the other fabulous commenters - they are right!). And I'm totally looking forward to hearing more about your studio! xx

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    1. Wow that's awesome, Jessica!! 😊 You should totally share it! Music is a beautiful gift. <3 I'm so happy this post was helpful to you. THANK YOU FOR READING!

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  22. Oh this is like EXTREMELY AWESOME AND INTERESTING. I'm not a songwriter and will probably never ever do this.😂 But like I'm so interested to know how it happens?! So I love this post and thank yoooou for doing it. Also I so admire your ability to write music and lyrics. #in #awe (And your VOICE IS SO FAB.)

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    1. AAAH THANK YOU CAIT!! *hugs* FSJHSALDJSAKLJDLKSAJ WHAT THE HECK YOU ARE TOO KIND OMG 😊😊😊 I'm so happy you liked this post!! Thank you for reading!

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kind words are like raindrops on the desert. they make me bloom with happiness, as absolutely cliche and cheesy as that sounds. even if it's just a simple alt+3 i will heart you for it. so, go ahead! MAKE MY DAY. literally.