Most of us songwriters are introverts. Let’s face it. If you’re working in solitude, collecting your thoughts, and trying to channel that perfect melody, you’re not doing it in an office surrounded by people. OK…if you’re on Music Row in Nashville maybe. The same but different. I don’t think of writing as a group effort, but I do think of the music business as a team sport.
This is where being an introvert, the stuff that allows you to dig deep, goes from being an asset to a detriment. We write in a vacuum, but the aim is to show your baby to the whole wide world. We need someone to sing our praises. Hell, we need someone to sing our songs! How are they gonna hear 'em?
Here’s the problem: it’s getting harder and harder to be an introvert. There was a time when a songwriter worked his or her magic, passed the song over to a publisher, the publisher played it for a label, producer, or artist, they record it. The songwriter only has to get dressed to go to the mailbox to pick up the P.R.S. check or to an award ceremony to get the whatever you call the thing you take home.
Revel and repeat.
Perfect job for the Howard Hughes in us. Just don’t think the model exists anymore!
Us introverts tend to close our eyes and click our heels 3 times when we hear the term “network”. Take me anywhere but there! My stuff is personal, they won’t get it…don’t want to hear a critique, don’t want to hear words like ‘nice’…I just want a YES. Preferably via text!
But it takes a village to raise a single. A good publisher gives you the space you need to do what you do and not have to do the things you don’t. Unfortunately these publishers are few and far between. Really far between! These days (and rightly so) they want to see a writer who can bring more. Can they play live? Can they self-promote? Can they make contacts on their own? Can they work social media? Can they discover other writers to write with? Can they forge a friendship with a producer/artist/manager? Can they bring their own funding? What can the introvert bring to the table?
Network…or no work.
The good news? I think you can still be introverted and succeed. The Internet is the first step. You can create a platform, presence, fanpage, and fanbase all the time wearing the same old shorts and ball cap you wore when you wrote the song. You can reach out and not leave home. You can network that way. But...
From personal experience (and it’s a bunch ‘cause I’m old!) There's just no substitute for ‘old school’ networking. Going out to hear live music, connecting with other songwriters and artists. Touching base with everyone you know in the business, keeping your name in front of someone even when it seems sort of creepy by an introvert’s standards. Self-promotion is hard for most. In my career I’ve always had sort of a grudging respect for the networking writers. Some were more networker than songwriter, some a hybrid; those are the ones that seemed to get incredibly successful in the music business.
I will share with you that I fell somewhere in between over a long career. I networked as much as I was comfortable with, but probably was too precious with my gift. Didn’t like to attend dinners, parties, or events…unless I was getting one of those things I mentioned earlier. In the end, I missed out on lots of opportunities by not ‘putting myself out there’, but at the same time I felt I could only do what I do well on my own terms. I was lucky to find a good team before the era of free agency!
In the end I think us introverts need to work social media while also valuing the friendships made in the course of a career. They can still pay off!
If you're still with me on this check out this video about introverts, funny stuff.
Photos: Goggle Images
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Mark Cawley's songs have appeared on more than 15 million records. Over a career based in LA, London, and Nashville his songs have been recorded by an incredibly diverse range of artists. From Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan to The Spice Girls, Tom Scott, Kathy Mattea, Paul Carrack, Will Downing and Pop Idol winners in the UK. He has had #1 records in the UK and throughout Europe as well as cuts in Country, Jazz & R & B. His groundbreaking website Song Journey created with Hall of Fame writer Kye Fleming was the first to mentor writers from around the world one-on-one online. He is currently writing and publishing as well as helping writers and artists worldwide with a one-on-one co-active coaching service, iDoCoach.