Songwriting Contender or Pretender?

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

Are You A Songwriting Contender...or Pretender?

In my coaching, this is one of the first things I try to figure out before taking on a songwriting client.

Before anyone can take offense let me say that not everyone writes to win. Some writers write for the pure love of it! They want to get better at it by acquiring more tools. I love working with that kind of writer just as much as the kind who want the awards. They aren’t pretending.

Where it can get a bit sticky is if the writer is fooling themselves. Maybe they want the perception of being a songwriter; or adulation, or money…whatever the notion, they’re focused more on the 10,000 dollars then the 10,000 hours. This is what I mean here by pretending.

Be Honest

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing songwriting, be honest with yourself. Do you want to make it a career with everything it takes to commit? These days you are contending for an ever-shrinking piece of the pie, and for every ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC award winner there are thousands who will never get close. But…if you’re in it 1,000%, committed to finding every way to improve, to be heard above the noise? Sooner or later you might not only be in the game but you actually might win a few.

Back to the point about being honest with yourself. Might be in the beginning or somewhere along your road, but look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re pretending or contending? Based on your answer,  you can decide how to move forward.

The Contender

I always think of the Tony Arata story about coming to Nashville with high hopes, parking his car in the drive and not even unpacking the U-Haul before heading to the Bluebird Cafe late show. After hearing some of the best he decided he was a pretender and would head back the next day. Overnight he changed his mind and, over time, dug in. He wrote The Dance and many more hits.

If you think you’re a contender, go for it. If you’re pretending…just don't!. " Fake it 'til you make it" doesn't apply.

P.S. Check out this video of Tony Arata, years later back at the Bluebird :-)

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

iDoCoach.com

iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

What Are The Best Things About Being A Songwriter?

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

I coach songwriters all over the world and one of the ways I like to see what they’re talking about is through joining songwriting groups on Facebook. If you haven’t already, I would recommend doing a search through Facebook and joining them all. Some good insights, lively conversations and you may even connect with a co-writer.

You’ll run into some of the same problems you find on any social media, occasional  negativity and a term I just heard on Nashville sports radio this week…”keyboard courage”. All in all, still worth checking out.

Some of these conversations have given me good food for thought and there was a post this last week asking “what are the advantages of being a songwriter”? I decided to change it slightly to “what are the best things about being a songwriter”? So, here goes.

My Background

A little bit of background first. I didn’t choose to be a songwriter, it chose me! Started out in garage bands  in upstate new York, finally record deals and touring and once other people started recording my songs there was no turning back. I’ve had hits, misses (lots of misses!) great times, hard times, got to travel the world and work with lots of my idols along the way. I’ve raised a family, lived in Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, London and for the past 22 years, Nashville, Tennessee. Songwriting was behind all of these moves.

So, my top 5 favorite things about being a songwriter:

  1. Freedom. Freedom to express yourself, write what you sometimes can’t say, freedom to travel, freedom from 9-5. This is one you have to earn through hard work and determination but you know that already. No one pays you in the beginning! 
  2. Relationships. Most every great friendship in my life has been a direct or indirect result of my pursuit of a songwriting career. 
  3. Travel. I’ve mentioned it a few times already but worth saying again. Music can open you up to the world. Co-writing with artists and other writers has taken me to places I never could have imagined growing up in Syracuse. I’ve written in castles in France, hotels in New York, studios in Los Angeles, music row in Nashville, Stockholm, and more far off places than I can remember.
  4. The buzz. I hope you’ve felt this from your own writing but for me, it never gets better than that moment you feel like you’re doing exactly what God put you on the earth to do. You don’t know how you got from that bit of inspiration to hearing something you’re a part of and if it gets out into the world from there and maybe inspires someone else …that’s perfection. 
  5. Character. I struggled to find a way to explain this but here are a few thoughts. Facing a blank page, trying to conjure  up some magic, dealing with an enormous rejection, trying to stay afloat, stay current and relevant, keep friendships, marriages and a roof over your head while you try to focus and even keep your head on straight after some success and do it again and again, you better believe this will build some character over time.

 

Some Final Thoughts

 

If you’re focused on security, money or stardom you’re in for a rough ride. There will be more people telling you you're crazy, self centered and maybe irresponsible in the beginning. People can be cruel and sometimes jealous along the way. Truth is you don’t need those people. There are plenty of like minded souls to help you on your path, seek them out at every turn. 

Lastly, songwriting doesn’t have to be life and death, doesn’t even have to be a career choice. If it makes you feel good, do it. If you want it to be your life then treat it with respect and work at it every day. It will will reward you beyond measure.

 

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Oct 26, 2017

 

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

 

MARK CAWLEY IDOCOACH

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

Songwriting for Broadway, Movies and Superstars, Meet Eliot Kennedy!

Eliot kennedy l, with Bryan Adams

Eliot kennedy l, with Bryan Adams

Eliot is one of my best friends in this business  as well as one of my favorite co-writers. We've written some great songs together including the #1 hit "Day And Night" for Billie Piper. Eliot is an award winner, Uk based, writer and producer with credits ranging from writing the songs for "Finding Neverland" on Broadway, Grammy and Ivor Novello winner and more. Check out this link to his full bio, pretty impressive!

Awhile back I was getting ready to do some workshops in the US and UK ( including Sweetwater Music's Gearfest) and asked some of my favorite songwriting  friends if they would answer a couple of questions for the attendees. Wanted to share them with you here so...meet Eliot Kennedy.

Eliot Kenney Interview for iDoCoach

Check out Eliots full bio here

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

Update Oct 17, 2017 The best Offer I've ever made. Sign up for my 4 session option before Nov 1st, 2017 and save $100. New clients only and can be used as a gift. Here's the sign up link!

http://idocoach.com/four-session-package-new-client-offer

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

Are You Fluent In Song Speak?

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

 

How important is it for you as a songwriter to be able to speak a few different languages? I’m not talking about the need to speak French although it would have come in handy for me trying to ask directions in the Paris Metro a time or two. I’m talking about learning at least conversational “melody speak” if you’re a lyricist or enough color and detail terms to tell your co-writer what their story needs if you’re the one coming up with the killer chord changes.

Be in the conversation

In the age we live in it’s easy to Google anything we’re interested in to be able to  get a few of the basics. Helps to know a few terms before taking your car in for repair, a bit about the stock market if you hope to hang onto those future royalties or even to know what your colon does before you go in for that… oscopy thing. Knowledge is power, even a little bit can help you be heard and be in the conversation .

For instance. If you’re a songwriter and you’re headed into the studio to work with a producer or engineer you stand a better chance of being happy with the outcome if you can talk at least a bit of tech talk. If you’re strictly a lyricist and you’re writing with a melody person it’s great if you can talk in their terms about what you like or don’t like. Maybe as simple as 7th chords, major vs minor changes, inversions, lifts. It may not be your thing but it’s theirs and helping them help you helps the song in the end.

I can't tell you why

If you write on guitar and don’t have a talent for writing lyrics you can still help steer the direction by being able to use some terminology familiar to the lyricist in the room. Sometimes just being able to point out what’s not working for you, rhyme scheme, not enough detail, anything is better than saying “I don’t like it but I can’t begin to tell you why”!

I’ve directed some of my songwriting clients to things like “piano for songwriters” or “guitar for songwriters” even vocal lessons for a lyric writer.  The point is just to be able to contribute to the creation even if it’s not your main strength as a writer.

I’ve worked with a lot of artists over the years and many times they would start by telling you they weren’t really songwriters but…they could tell you about the songs that move them and why. Maybe not in the most technical terms but by talking about another artist's song and why the chorus was so great, or the groove worked for them . The more they could explain, the bigger their role would be in creating the song.

Last note on the subject. Years ago I was asked to be a part of the first Castle Songwriting retreat run by Miles Copeland in the south of France. I had the bright idea that I would at least learn a little French. On a break Miles drove me around after lunch pointing out the sights and we stopped at a small grocery. Here was my chance. I used what little bit of French I could summon to say something to the owner. No idea how I did because as soon as it was out of my mouth he answered me… in French. A bunch of French! A bunch of fast French. Not a word of which I understood. Miles witnessed this exchange and when I got back in the car he said “That’s the trouble with knowing just a bit of French, you use it and then they actually talk back”!

Quelle direction dois-je prendre pour aller à…?

Again, you don’t have to be fluent in these other songwriting languages, just be able to contribute. Or maybe just enough to keep from getting lost in the Metro.

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Mark Cawley Of iDoCoach

Mark Cawley Of iDoCoach

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

Good Is The Enemy Of Great

shutterstock_629681300.jpg

iDoCoach Blog

I watched a movie this morning called “Hired Gun”. It’s the story of some of the best session players (and live performers) whose names you might not know. Among them, an old friend Kenny Aronoff. Highly recommend the movie but it’s not the focus of my blog today.

The Quote

There was a quote from David Foster, originally a session guy, turned producer and one of the most successful from the 80’s on. He was talking about the fact that these players are the best of the best and that there are a million good ones out there but only a handful tick all the boxes. His quote was “good is the enemy of great”.

I’m coaching writers all over the world and this is one of the hardest things I have to share with most somewhere along the line.  There are writers whose only goal is to be the best writer they can be and I love coaching them but by and large, most writers I work with are looking to be compared with the best of the best. Most are willing to put in the work to strive for this but there are the ones who have been told their songs are “nice” or “good” and don’t understand why they aren’t successful . . . right now. 

A Kiss On The Cheek

In years of writing songs and playing them for artists, producers and publishers it was a hard pill to swallow to hear one of those words as my song faded out. “Nice”. Nice may be the worst. Nice was a kiss on the cheek, A for effort, well done, nice try. Same for “good”. Good was good enough starting out. It was a measure of progress but it soon became only that. Good never seemed to cut it. Pretty soon it joined nice as one of the words I never wanted to hear.

What I think David Foster meant was that if you settle for good you’ll never be great. You hear good often enough and you may never hear that word you really need to hear.

Great. 

Again, it all depends on your expectation. If you’re the writer simply trying to write better than you do at this point in time, good ain’t bad!  If you want this as a career you won’t settle for good, you want… great.  If you’re writing great songs you will get noticed and wouldn't that be nice?

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

About Mark Cawley

mark Cawley iDoCoach

mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

4 Questions For Hit Songwriter And Author Shelly Peiken

Shelly Peiken  iDoCoach guest Blog

Shelly Peiken  iDoCoach guest Blog

Awhile back I asked 4 of my favorite music friends and co-writers to answer 4 specific questions for me. I used these for a few workshops in the US and UK and attendees loved hearing from these amazing folk!

I've known Shelly Peiken for more than 25 years , written some great songs with her and been a fan as she had some enormous success with Christina Aquilera, Maredith Brooks, Disney projects and tons of cuts including my favorite, "Human" for Chrissie Hynde of The Prentenders, and now...an author. Follow the link to read more about her as well as how to pick up her book " Confessions Of A Serial Songwriter".

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

5 Outside The Box Ways To Get Your Song Heard

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

I wrote this article for  Songwriter Magazine issue #7 May 2016. Reprinted with their kind permission

Songwritin g artcile (1).jpg

LInk to Songwriting Magazine UK

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

iDoCoach Guest Video Blog, Kevin Savigar

Kevin Savigar Guest Video Blog

Kevin Savigar Guest Video Blog

I've known Kevin since one of the very first Miles Copeland Castle retreats in the south of France around 2002. I'm a big Rod Stewart fan and Kevin has not only produced the past few of Rod records but co-wrote some of the classic Rod songs. He's also worked, produced and written for a who's who of pop artists. We have written a couple of songs that I love including "Don't Get Any Better Than This" which was a smooth jazz hit for Tom Scott featruing Maysa Leak. Check out his full bio here. When it came time to do a few of my own workshops last year in the US and UK, I asked a few of my favoroite writers if they would answer 4 questions for attendess. Kevin was brilliant. Thought it was high time to share this . Meet Kevin!

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

mark Cawley iDoCoach

mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

Think Your Song Is Done? Think Again!

This is reprinted from my article in UK Songwriter Magazine, Spring 2017. Here's a link to the publication, check it out for some great info on songwriting!

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

Just How Many Songs Will I Have To Write?

Fertilizer

There’s a great, very Nashville saying that sh** makes great fertilizer and ya gotta write a lot of sh** before you grow some good songs. There’s wisdom in that for sure but just how much sh** do you need to write?

I coach writers all over the world every week and one of the things that will pop up from time to time is the amount of songs they write. Some use it as a source of pride; “ I wrote 100 songs last year”. Others are freakin’ out because their output is more like 10. Others will talk about how fast they wrote the song I’m about to hear. “15 minutes … all it took”. Still, others sigh and say “I’ve been working on this song for 6 months.”

Nobody cares. I’ll say it again. Nobody cares.

No one who hears your song knows how long it took you to write it or how many other songs you wrote in a year. They care about the one they’re hearing today. We’re all writing for the listener and we’re writing to connect. There’s no time clock in songwriting. If you study great songs and great songwriters you’ll come across stories ranging from “I woke up with it fully formed” to “the idea was in my head for years” and even co-writers who talk about getting back together to finish a song they started long ago. In the end, it’s all about the song.

There are cases for both sides of the quantity vs quality argument. I know writers who write or co-write a song a day. Writers on music row might write 2 or 3 in a day. If it works for you then it’s a great way to write. The odds go up of getting a cut if you have a ton of quality songs out there. Goes up even more if you have a couple of co-writers with publishers working all of these songs. 

Will It Grow?

In truth, those writers are going to tell you not all of those songs are great. Some are fertilizer or maybe their publisher decides which have the best chance of growth. They are going to demo and pitch the great ones - that’s a given. I won’t even go into the current trend of producer-writers, writing by committee or with a team. You see 8 writers on some current hits. Enough said.

On the other side you have the writers who are the constant gardeners. They may write a bunch but they’re only gonna show their best. They may work them over, or dismiss them quick and not count them as songs until they feel they have a killer one. 

If you reach the point of having to come up with less fertilizer and more roses you could fall in the area of having to contractually come up with say, 20 a year. Keep in mind publishers know their math. If you are one of 3 writers on a song, that’s a third of a song. Three of those co-writes makes one toward your quota. 

I will say that at the beginning of your songwriting career it’s huge to make lots fertilizer. The more tools you develop the less of this you may do. 

I would just hope to encourage you by saying at the end of the day, however you got there, whoever you got there with, your song has to connect with the listener and the listener has no clue how it was created. How many came before? How long did it take? Nobody cares!

Mark Cawley

May 19, 2017

Nashville, Tennessee

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

Image: Shutterstock

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.