Who Wants To Work?
It’s amazing to me how many writers I bump into have not made the connection that success in the music business is, in many ways, similar to the formula for success in any business: have a knack for it and work TWICE as hard as your competitors. Forget the notion that someone is going to give you some little key that will unlock the treasure troves of global success with your music!
Three components to having success are:
1) Talent- God given
2) Luck- also God given
3) Work- the only thing you can really control
How should you approach writing as a job?
1) Form a mission statement- this should be a short and concise sentence of no more than 30 words that capsulates what you want to accomplish with writing. E.g. “I want to learn to better express myself by using my unique musical gifts”, “I want to make my living writing songs for the country market”. Make sure that it is within your power to control the possibility of achieving the mission. Also, try not to make it too general like “I want to be a better writer”. It should NOT be “I want to write a hit song” or “I want to be ASCAP’s writer of the year”. These missions lean heavily upon all three components of success and are not controllable by you or anyone. All your decisions that you are faced with about your writing will use this statement as a yardstick..
I want to write as many songs as possible that are within commercially accepted parameters for country radio yet that embody the uniqueness of my outlook on life and music.
2) Time allocation- You will need to plan your weeks ahead of time rather than just waiting for the muse to visit. This is because you must be writer and publisher as you get going.
a) Spend 60% of your time available for the week writing. This is sitting down and slugging it out time.
b) Spend 20% rewriting, editing and collecting ideas and thoughts for your next week. You may find going to a library and reading trade magazines and other articles gives you a thought. Remember- great songs are usually not only written but also rewritten. Make sure after you’ve had a few days to back away from your work that it makes sense and that you have said what you thought you were saying.
c) The other 20% should be used promoting your songs. This may be done by mailings and writers nights but is most effective with meetings. Meetings also give you a chance to hear what other people say is going on or what their upcoming needs are. You also will get better feedback on songs. Everybody loves everything you play at a writer’s night.
For you math whizzes, this breaks down to 3 days of writing, one day of rewriting and one of meetings, given a 5 day work week. It may be that you divide your time in a less rigid way, though.
3) The rule of four- Write 4 songs. Write 4 more. Then 4 more. Then 4 more. At this
point select your favorite 4 of the 16 and demo them to the best of your ability.
These are what will make up your pitch package. While you are promoting these
songs you should start the process again. Learn to walk away from the other ones.
If they are not interesting enough to set themselves apart in YOUR judgment they
won’t be anyone else’s picks either.
I would never advise writers to hurry through the process. However, my experience tells me that most of you are too entangled in songs you have already written. Sometimes this impedes your getting on to that song that is going to be a standout. All writers have songs that have not been noticed as much as we feel they should be. Welcome to the experience of being an artist!
Always remember that you write a hit the same way you write a flop. You must go through the process over and over. Show up and give yourself a chance for today to be the day. Get on to the next one! Publishers are looking for writers- not songs….