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

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.

5 Questions For The Stuck Songwriter

iDoCoach.com

iDoCoach.com

Where Am I ?

Sooner or later or sometime in between; as an artist or songwriter, you’re gonna hit that wall of self-doubt. Doubt about your talent, doubt about your path, doubt about the business, and worst of all: doubt about your own heart and desire. After a short career as an artist, a long one as a songwriter and now as a coach to songwriters and artists all over the world, I’m even more aware of how dark a place this can be. I've been 'stuck" in more than one season.

It’s like the critic when you’re writing but on steroids. It can literally bring you to your knees. You put your heart into creating but this is the kind of art that can be hard to measure, at least by the world’s standards. Easy to say, “Well if you have a deal, got a cut, had a hit, and made some money…then what’s not to love?” I’ve been all those places, and believe me, doubt will creep in when you least expect it. Much of it revolves around “Can I do it again?”

Your 5

So no matter if you’re just getting started or have been at this for awhile ask yourself these 5 questions.

  1. What do I want?
  2. Why do I want it?
  3. How will I get there?
  4. What tools will I need?
  5. Where am I now?

It would have been great if I had done this at the start of my dream but I didn’t and you probably didn’t either.  We just followed the beat. 

So try answering these now, wherever you are on your road. Be honest, and be objective…with yourself. The answers might reveal a lot about you as a songwriter and/or artist and hopefully put you in better touch with your heart, your will, and your dream again.

My Own 5

On a personal note: years ago I was with a band called Faith with one hit, a few albums out and at a time where we were headlining small theaters and opening for major acts. One night Frampton, next couple nights Hall and Oates, The Doobie Brothers, REO, Fleetwood Mac.  I had been following one single-minded path since seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. To be a pop star! Something funny happened along the way during that time. I didn’t exactly know it then but I think I did my own version of the five questions above and the answers began to change my path. I realized the amazing dedication it took to get where those artists were and to stay there, the sacrifices and the whole lifestyle thing. Somewhere in there I found that writing songs had replaced the original goal and the answers to the five questions were pretty different .

 I’ve had other times in my life when these questions came up and the answers helped clarify things. Pretty sure I’ll ask ‘em again before I'm done. Hope they help you!

Mark Cawley

Nashville , Tennessee

April 12, 2017

 

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 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.

 

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

The Best And Worst Advice For Songwriters

The Best AND Worst Advice For Successful Songwriting

by Mark Cawley

( This is reprinted with permission from the USA Songwriting Competition, originally posted on their site on March 1st, 2017. Here's a link to the article as it appears on their website.)

This is delicate stuff for me. I coach writers all over the world; some with wildly different goals, talents, and dreams. For me it’s not as much nuts and bolts as trying hard to find real life examples of a successful path--and an equal amount of cautionary tales.

As with any advice, I would start with considering the source. Is the person qualified to give direction? For me, I always wanted to hear from someone who was in the trenches. Someone who had actually been where I wanted to go. I like to flip to the back of the book and read the credits before I start “how to”-ing.

Just by virtue of doing what I do, as long as I’ve done it, I’ve built up quite a stash of hard-earned wisdom (with plenty of mistakes mixed in).

 

Let’s start with the best advice:

1. Jump! When you’re stuck, complacent, or just bored creatively; shake things up! For me this has meant actually picking up and moving to L.A., London, and Nashville over the years. Sometimes with no plan and certainly no plan B! It can be scary, but you’re an artist and that’s what artists do sometimes. They jump into the unknown. Every jump I’ve ever made has made me a better, and more aware songwriter. It’s as important to live and experience things as it is to study and practice your craft.

2. Study the Great Ones. Like most writers I know, I learned by deconstructing songs. How are they put together? Why do some relate to so many people and become hits? Just the process of breaking down songs and putting them back together gets in your DNA as a writer and is bound to make you better.

3. Network. This can be a hard one for us introverts but I promise, those connections you make will come back time and time again to be invaluable. I still connect with writers I wrote with 20 years ago. They’re great co-writers but more importantly, great friends and you need friends to survive in this business.

4. Be Fearless. Maybe the best advice I ever got. The best cuts I’ve ever had came from songs that were written without a “net”. If I surprised myself and loved the result, chances are someone else will.

5. Be a good hang. You’re in it for the long run and believe it or not, the writing community is smaller than you think! Being prepared, considerate, and a good listener makes you someone people want to work with again. Word spreads!

 

Now the worst advise:

1) Have a plan B. To do this job you have to not be able to not write. See #1 above.

2) Only write what you know. You can argue this, as I have with several of my coaching clients. “The only true songs are the songs written from my own personal experience”. That’s the argument . I would argue that unless your life is unbelievably interesting and eventful, the well will run dry quick. Great to write from real life but it’s also pretty cool to make something up sometimes!

3) Focus on being creative, someone else will do that messy “business” part. I tried that, doesn’t work. Be a student of the business, it’s your career and no one is going to care about your career like you do.

4) Follow the songwriting rules. Obviously, learn ‘em. So you can break ‘em! Like any craft, you want to learn the ABC’s...but then you want to invent some of your own.

5) Great art requires suffering. I’ve written some of my best sad songs when I was insanely happy and some of the most upbeat ones when I was down. If you just write every day, you’ll experience it all. Promise.

 

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

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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!

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

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.