Maggie Rogers’ Best Advice on Songwriting, Collaboration, and Music Ownership

Ron Hart / February 22, 2023

We’re rolling out new episodes of the Best Advice podcast every Thursday, featuring insights for artists at every stage of their careers. Listen to Maggie Rogers’ new episode now, then follow the podcast on Spotify to get advice from Meghan Trainor, Lykke Li, Nile Rodgers, and more in the coming weeks.

Indie pop. Dance rock. Sunshine folk. No matter what label is applied to Maggie Rogers’ music, chances are she will soundly crush any box she’s put in. Her latest album, 2022's Surrender, showcases her tremendous growth as both an artist and a songwriter, evidenced in the advanced catchiness of songs like "That's Where I Am," "Be Cool" and "I've Got A Friend."

Maggie has jammed with Dead & Company, cites Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth as a key influence, and has covered Taylor Swift. And as she looks ahead to the rest of the year, with her Feral Joy tour already underway, her future looks as open as her musical taste.

Rogers joined host Kim Taylor Bennett on a new episode of our Best Advice podcast to talk about the most intriguing advice she's received during her time in the music business. Read on for a few samples of her advice, then listen to the full episode for more:

Get to the Heart of the Matter

"I think the key, the heart of songwriting is just remembering that if you felt something and you can get to the absolute heart of that emotion and express it in the simplest terms possible, that somebody else has felt it too.”

"The more specific you can get, the more universal it gets, and the more you can nail that experience and really spend time with the way that you feel about it, the easier you'll be able to connect to anyone else. And I think just remembering that connective tissue turns the very, very personal into the universal really quickly in a way that sort of diffuses any of that self- grandiosity. Also, don't be a narcissist. Check your ego at the door."

Don't Try to Do Everything Yourself

"My advice around collaboration would be that you don't need to play to your strengths. You don't need to do everything yourself. And no one's gonna reward you for doing it all yourself, by the way. Because it is only a very tiny group of inside baseball that even looks at who wrote the lyrics or who produced it or whatever. But the other thing is, there's always people who can do certain things better than you can. And there are certain things that you can do really well. Like I am really good at singing harmony. My ear and vocally – that is my superpower."

On Owning Your Own Masters

"You should protect your work. I own my masters. I would like to own the work that I make the idea of – I mean music. This is where things get so strange, because the thing that we're really commodifying is like my human emotions. And my ability to package them, which soon as you put money or business into that just gets complicated.”

“And I think the greatest thing that I have thought about in all of this is how to protect that process. How to protect myself in this space where I'm also making my human experience the thing that I'm selling. Which is just like, it's just bizarre. And of course it leads to spaces where I feel dehumanized and it also leads to spaces where I feel really empowered.

“So owning your masters is like, to me, has been an important part of that. Staying humanized. Part of just knowing that like, I'm gonna be the one that has the final say of what happens to those files. And they might be on loan to a company for a couple years, but those books belong in my library."

You're a Songwriter, So Be a Songwriter

"There's so many people who wanna tell you that you can't do it or you don't need to prove yourself. Like if you say you're a songwriter, you're a songwriter. If you say you're a musician, you're a musician. And anyone who's making you prove yourself is holding your power from you. You have everything you need already. Just go do it."

Learn more on Maggie Rogers’ episode of the Best Advice podcast.

And listen to the full Season 2 trailer below:

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