When And Why Should I Join A PRO?

Why should you be a member of a PRO and when should you join? Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills answer this frequently asked question and explain the role of a PRO and how they can help you as a songwriter. SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on… Read more »

Raising Kids and Writing Songs

The more I write, the more I see parallels between raising kids and writing songs… When my first child, Matthew was born, I knew that I knew NOTHING about parenting. I had read a lot of books about it, but I had never really done it. In fact, I had never changed a diaper until he came along…. Read more »

Songwriting: The Art Of Choosing

Where should I take the second verse? Should I switch to first person? What is the chorus missing? Is my set-up line better using the opposite technique? Songwriting choices. Many are conscious, and many are made so fast we don’t realize we’ve made them. But, no song can be written without making choices. Many writers… Read more »

Writing A Song For An Audience of One

It’s fun writing for others… Much of my time is spent writing songs with mass appeal. I enjoy that. It’s fun to have people record your songs, to hear them on the radio, and to watch audiences singing along. But, at times, the pursuit of commercial success can take away some of the pure joy… Read more »

6 Keys To Writing Compelling Songs

Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than playing a song for an audience, a publisher, or a friend and having it move them. Excite them. Make them dance. Or leave them tearing up. As writers, we want to reach out and touch people with our songs. As a professional songwriter, I have written many, MANY… Read more »

6 Keys To Writing Compelling Songs

Let’s face it, there’s nothing better than playing a song for an audience, a publisher, or a friend and having it move them. Excite them. Make them dance. Or leave them tearing up. As writers, we want to reach out and touch people with our songs. As a professional songwriter, I have written many, MANY… Read more »

STOP Doing These Things!!

STOP doing these things that can hurt you as a songwriter. Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson talk about some common mistakes budding songwriters make and how to fix them. SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on the planet! Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video… Read more »

Feed Me – Great Songwriting Needs Constant Inspiration

Do you feel like your melodies sound dated when you’re writing a new song? Are you in a songwriting rut? It happens to us all. We start rolling and write a bunch of songs we really love, and then one day we wake up and everything starts sounding the same. Every new idea we create seems familiar. And… Read more »

If I Had To Do It Over: Reflections of a Pro Songwriter

I’ve spent a lot of time this morning reflecting on the past, looking at my career as a songwriter, and thinking about where I’d like to go moving forward. Call this the reflections of a pro songwriter. Marty and my top goal since starting SongTown has been to help as many songwriters as we could…. Read more »

Don’t Write Generic Songs!

Don’t fall into the trap of writing generic songs! Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills talk about why generic songs won’t get you noticed in the music industry and why you should be thinking outside the box when writing songs! SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on the… Read more »

Commercial Vs. Creative Music: The Debate Goes On

One of the big questions we get over and over is whether writing commercial music requires you to sell your soul, abandon creativity, and forsake all that is good in this world. As if there are two sides at war with each other …  Commercial Vs. Creative Music Any time this debate arises, there are… Read more »

The Songwriter’s Achilles Heel

When I first started trying to write as a profession, I talked to my wife (now my ex-wife) and asked for 2 years to chase my dream of becoming a songwriter. She agreed to work part time and I would work part time writing and we would tag-team with the kids. When she worked, I… Read more »

Songwriters: Find Your Song Circle

When I was 19 and moved to New York to pursue my dream of being a songwriter. I was fortunate enough to meet someone who invited me into a song circle. I had no clue what a song circle was or what it would one day mean to me, but I convinced myself to get… Read more »

How To Make Publishers Fall In Love With You

What do publishers look for in songwriters? Hit Songwriter/Publisher Marty Dodson shares a list of traits that he and fellow publishers look for in songwriters. If you want to increase your chances of catching a publisher’s ear, this episode is for you! SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on… Read more »

How We Raise The Tide As Songwriters

In SongTown, we try to remind everyone often that we rise by lifting each other up. As some of us improve, the bar gets raised and others improve trying to reach for that bar. In some ways, the music business is a cut-throat competition, with some similarities to the hunger games. Some people look at it… Read more »

Songwriters: Job One Is To “Be That Guy”

The Horse & Writer Retreat A few years back I got an invite from one of my favorite country songwriters, Skip Ewing, to go out to Wyoming and share my knowledge of songwriting at a camp for a week. The event was called Horse & Writer. We rode horses during the morning and worked on the craft of songwriting… Read more »

Don’t Lose Your Songwriting Innocence

Your innocence is a major asset… One of the things I love about working with young writers and artists is just the innocence they bring to the writing process. They aren’t bitter or jaded. They aren’t worried about what radio will think (this can be good or bad). They just want to write a great… Read more »

How To Write A New Song Every Day

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked “How in the world do you come up with a song-a-day – every day?”  Learning how to write a new song every day can seem like a daunting task. Here’s how I pull that off… Coming In With Ideas I have a database that includes… Read more »

5 Simple Ways To Unleash Your Own Creative Songwriting Power

As a professional songwriter, I am asked often how I walk into a co-write with superstars like Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, or Lady A and create songs “on-demand?” Well, I didn’t start out doing this, but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that’ve allow me to train my creativity and tap into… Read more »

5 Simple Ways To Unleash Your Own Creative Songwriting Power

As a professional songwriter, I am asked often how I walk into a co-write with superstars like Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, or Lady A and create songs “on-demand?” Well, I didn’t start out doing this, but I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that’ve allow me to train my creativity and tap into… Read more »

What If Publishers Just Don’t Get My Music?

Did you know it’s not the publisher’s job to “get” your music? Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills share from their own experience how to succeed as songwriters by learning how to work with publishers, create business relationships and write songs so good that people can’t pass on them. SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered… Read more »

Songwriters: 5 Tips To Keep Your Songs On Track

Here are 5 simple tips that I use to make my songs better every day. Get in the habit of doing these things and your songs will be better than they have been before. 1) Map your song out before you write. Write a simple, one sentence summary of what you want to say in… Read more »

Real Songwriting Is Not Fast And Easy!

 Let’s talk… This morning several ads popped up on my Facebook feed for things like… Learning To Write Great Songs In Just 3 Days, Writing Songs Really Fast, or Earn A Hundred Thousands Dollars In First Year For Writing Movie Songs…oh my… I must be the slowest songwriter on earth…I’ve been a professional writer for 25+ years and still learning everyday to play guitar, write better songs—and… Read more »

I Own This Town: The Overconfident Songwriter

I read a post on social media recently about a guy who said that he walked into a certain PRO (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC) “like he owned the place” because he knew that his songs were better than anything they had. When he demanded a meeting on the spot, they escorted him out of the… Read more »

Songwriters: 5 Ways You Can Inspire Your Co-Writers

I’m a firm believer that inspiration can fall down upon us like a gift from heaven. But I’m also a big believer in the ideas that hard work and preparation can create inspiration. The best songs I’ve ever written were born from some combination of those 3 factors. I can’t control inspiration that comes down… Read more »

The Creative River Series: What’s Stopping You?

I remember sitting in a Mexican restaurant a few years ago with the late songwriter Tim Johnson. We were preparing to play a benefit that evening for a local high school. “What’s stopping you?” Tim asked. You see, I’d just told him that I’d always dreamed of playing the stage at the legendary Ryman Auditorium…. Read more »

The Creative River Series: What’s Stopping You?

I remember sitting in a Mexican restaurant a few years ago with the late songwriter Tim Johnson. We were preparing to play a benefit that evening for a local high school. “What’s stopping you?” Tim asked. You see, I’d just told him that I’d always dreamed of playing the stage at the legendary Ryman Auditorium…. Read more »

Staying Ahead Of The Curve With Your Writing

How do you stay ahead of the songwriting curve and determine what trends are going to be popular in the coming months or year to come? Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson share tips and tricks to look for when listening to popular music as well as how you can apply these new tips… Read more »

The 10,000 Hour Theory And Songwriting

The 10,000 hour theory… I was reading a magazine on an airplane the other day and ran across an article about Dan McLaughlin, an Oregon man who quit his job and decided to try to become a golf pro by testing out the 10,000 hour theory made popular by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers”… Read more »

Songwriters: Don’t Blow Your Set-up Line!

The set-up line is the line just before the title or hook of your song. It is probably the most under-valued yet crucial lyrical line of most songs. Yet, I am constantly reminded in my mentoring sessions of how few writers are aware of this element of a song. Here’s an example of a verse from “The Song… Read more »

How Valuable Is “Exposure” for Songwriters?

If I had a dollar for every time someone offered to let me entertain them for free in exchange for some songwriter exposure, I could buy a new car. I’ve had offers from TV shows, wanting me to grant them a license for my song for free so that I could “pad my resume’” and… Read more »

Songwriters: You Must Bring Something New To The Party

I’ve played this song for several publishers and they all said it sounds like the radio, but not one took my song…‰ Recently, while doing a mentoring session, a talented SongTownian prefaced her song she was about to play with these words, “I’ve played this song for several publishers and they all said it sounds… Read more »

10 Characteristics Of Highly Creative People

A different breed… Over the last 20 years of writing and working with artists, producers, and co-writers; I’ve noticed certain traits in myself and others in the creative community. We are wired differently than the other 95% of the population. We are the creative types. Is this you? 1. When inspiration strikes, they forget everything… Read more »

Don’t Live With Songwriting Regret

I spent the first 2/3 of my life to date living in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of risk. Fear of conflict. Fear of performing or speaking in public. Fear of God striking me down if I misbehaved. The list goes on an on. And, around that 2/3 mark, I noticed that those fears began… Read more »

Lyrics or Melody – Which Is Most Important?

What is the most important element in songwriting… lyrics or melody?! Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills hash it out and debate this controversial topic! SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on the planet! Join our upcoming Creative Xperience Workshop LIVE in Nashville, TN! Learn pro songwriting tips… Read more »

Songwriting Takes a Lot of Balls!

Today, being a successful songwriter is not just about sitting down with your instrument and pouring out your heart and soul. Now it resembles more a juggler in a circus act. It takes songwriting balls! Once a song is completed, you can pat yourself on the back. But then you must throw the next balls… Read more »

Someone Is Singing Along

I have had a number of amazing experiences because of songwriting. I’ve been able to travel the world and see places like Barcelona, Malmo, Nassau, Vancouver, and Toronto simply because I wrote songs that became hits. I’ve met and worked with people from all over the globe. Those experiences have shaped who I am and… Read more »

5 Steps For Eliminating Roadblocks To Your Songwriting Success

Songwriters, does this sound familiar? You start out with good intentions to write a new song today and then the phone rings, or you remember an errand you forgot to do, and there’s that email you need to reply to. Before you know it you have spent the whole day doing anything and everything else… Read more »

I Dare You: A Songwriter’s Challenge

One of the first things I did when I decided to seriously pursue writing as a career was to attend an NSAI Song Camp. I submitted my application and nervously awaited a response to let me know if I was accepted or not. Finally, the day came. There in the stack of mail was a… Read more »

Sync Briefs: Your Key To Music Placements In Ads, TV & Film

Randall Foster is Vice President of Business Development and GM of the Nashville office of a digital distribution company called Symphonic Distribution. Prior to his current role, Randall was the leader of the Creative Sync & Licensing for ole music publishing where he oversaw a vast catalog of music copyrights and intellectual property and managed… Read more »

Finding Your Place In The Music Business

When I first started to pursue a career in music, I set out on a path to try to become the best at everything. I saw people making their own demos, so I went out and bought a ton of gear. I saw people coming up with really cool guitar licks, so I started working… Read more »

Will You Be Ready When Your Songwriter Door Opens?

“He got lucky. That will never happen again.” After celebrating my first number one song, “Beautiful Mess,” a friend of mine told me that a big successful songwriter spoke these words about me. I can’t blame him, he had been writing big songs for years and he’d seen a lot of young writers come and… Read more »

5 Things I’d Tell My Young Songwriting Self

Does songwriting sometimes cause you anxiety and stress? Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson has been in your shoes! Marty shares 5 things he wishes he could have told his younger self to help elevate these struggles. Learn from Marty’s mistakes and be encouraged to take the next steps towards your songwriting goals! SongTown on Songwriting Podcast… Read more »

Songwriters: Learning To See The Big Songwriting Picture

Often, I see songwriters who are caught up in the trees that they can’t see the forest. They spend their time looking at the minutiae (I’ve always wanted to say that word) that they lose sight of the big picture. For instance, in my SongTown Lyric MasterClass, I spend six weeks teaching students a framework… Read more »

Is it Crazy To Chase Your Music Career Dreams?

I remember announcing to all my friends one day that I was moving to Nashville, TN to follow my music career dream. It never occurred to me that it might sound crazy to all of them. In fact it sounded so crazy that they staged a small intervention laying out very rational points. 1. I… Read more »

5 Ways To Stay Motivated As A SongWriter

Sometimes, it can be hard to stay motivated as a songwriter… Whether you write books, songs, poetry, plays or any other kind of “word” work. When the progress seems slow (or non-existent) and the rewards seem small, here are things I try to do to keep my head in the game. Write what I like…. Read more »

My Tribe: A Songwriter’s Sanctuary

As a songwriter, I have always felt like I was a little bit “different”. I have never seen things the way other people see them. I related to the story of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” because I think I’m that guy. When everyone else is saying things are clearly “white”, I’m seeing “black”. When things are logically… Read more »

The First Rule Of Improv and Co-Writing Songs: Say Yes-and!

Stage Acting, Improv, and Songwriting… Recently I went to see my friend and talented actress Becky Wahlstrom doing improv night at Bongo Java’s in Nashville. The group she performed with, the Nashville Improv Company, were amazingly witty, intelligent, and lightning quick in making stuff up. I was struck at the similarities between actors, improv, and… Read more »

6 Questions To Help You Critique Your Own Songs

Do you ever finish a song and wonder if it’s good enough to pitch to an artist or publisher? Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson shares 6 questions to ask yourself to help you critique your own songs and make them stronger and more pitch-able! SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear… Read more »

Songwriters: Where Is The Bar?

How High Is The Bar For Songwriters? When you mention the word “bar” to songwriters, most of them start craving a beer.  But that’s not the bar I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about the “How good does my song have to be to get it recorded by an artist?” bar.  Not every songwriter wants… Read more »

5 Ways To Know If A Song Idea Is Worth Pursuing

A lot of folks email Marty and me asking if we can tell them whether a song idea is worth pursuing. Though I’d love to give an answer, I generally believe it’s better to teach a man to fish, than hand him a fish. This is what my mentors did for me and I’m lucky they didn’t… Read more »

No Songwriter Excuses!

If there is one thing that I have learned in my journey through the music business it’s that songwriter excuses never made anyone a success in the music business. We’ve all heard them… “It’s harder than ever to get a cut” “You have to write with the artist to get a cut” “I write songs… Read more »

You Are What You Eat: What’s Your Musical Diet?

It’s been said that we are what we eat. And if we eat healthier food, we will have healthier bodies! But what about your musical diet? Many songwriters write emails to Marty Dodson and I each week asking what they can do to become better writers and have artists to record their songs. When examining… Read more »

You’re the Hero, SongTown Is Your Songwriting Sidekick

“In SongTown you are the hero and we are your songwriting sidekick.” ~Marty Dodson So many songwriting sites advertise the amazing things they can do for you. They will “turn you pro”, introduce you to someone who will magically “get” you and get all of your songs cut, or take you up to breathe the… Read more »

Are Your Songs Believable? 3 Keys To Ensure You Won’t Miss The Mark

If I had to choose one thing as the most important thing in songwriting, it would be “making your song believable.” Throughout the entire writing process I am asking myself, does this feel real? When someone hears your song for the first time, that’s what hits them first. Nothing loses the listener faster than a line or song that’s… Read more »

How To Weather The Ups and Downs of The Music Business

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”  ~Hunter S. Thompson There is no doubt that the music business is tough. But so is the “Medical” business, the “law” business, the “teaching business”,… Read more »

Multi-Platinum Songwriter/Producer Aaron Scherz

Hit Songwriter/Producer Aaron Scherz always knew he was going to do something “different”, but he couldn’t have imagined that “different” would involve a multi-platinum Songwriting career! Aaron shares his musical journey, songwriting process and the magic of chasing a hit song. SongTown on Songwriting Podcast Powered by Sweetwater.com – The best place for musical gear on the… Read more »

5 Free Songwriter Tools To Keep You Organized

These days, most songwriters I know are busier than ever managing lives, families, jobs, social media, writing, performing – the list goes on and on. Our time is precious and valuable! Here’s a list of 5 free songwriter tools I use to streamline and organize my writing process so that I have more time to… Read more »

Feeling Uninspired? How To Get Your Songwriting Groove Back

Do you feel like your melodies are dated? Are you in a creative rut? It happens to us all. One day we wake up and everything starts sounding the same. Every new idea we create seems familiar. And worse, those ideas may sound like melodies we heard years before! So, how do we stop banging… Read more »

Songwriters: How To Increase Your Chances If You Live Outside A Music Center

As a mentor and coach, I am often helping many songwriters that don’t live in a music town. Here are my ideas for increasing your chances of success as a songwriter if you live outside a music center: 1) Visit as often as you can. Even if it’s just once a year. Some wisely planned… Read more »

4 Common Songwriting Mistakes – And 4 Fast Fixes

Are your songs not getting results? Is that latest greatest song you’ve written not having the impact on your audience that you were so sure it would? Often the difference in a good song and one that moves the listener is a simple quick fix. Here are 4 fast fixes for 4 common songwriting mistakes…. Read more »

Songwriters: Learn To Speak Music Business

Lots of songwriters in SongTown just want to become better writers for their own pleasure – and that’s awesome!  We love helping people get more out of their writing just because it makes them feel good.  Another significant group in “Town” is trying to write commercially and break into the music business.  If that’s your… Read more »

The Poor Man’s Copyright For Songwriters: Separating Truth From Fiction

For years I have heard the phrase “Poor Man’s Copyright” thrown around in songwriting circles. The term is often brought up as a cheap alternative to an official $55 copyright from the US Copyright Office. Mailing a song to yourself… Statements are thrown out like: “Don’t bother to pay the money for the real deal. All… Read more »

The Perils Of Writing Up

How do you break through in songwriting and how do you “write up”?! Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson discuss how writing up may not always be the best thing to do and how you can break through in your songwriting career in the best, most organic way possible. YOU ARE INVITED SongTown’s 8th… Read more »

Songwriters: Are You Still Writing Mostly Ballads?

  One of the biggest “ailments” I see when I mentor songwriters is that they are writing WAY too many ballads. It seems like many of us default to slow songs. While a well written ballad can be very successful and meaningful, there are also many reasons it is NOT a great idea to write… Read more »

4 Keys to Co-Writing Songs With A Band

Someone asked me the other day, “What is your secret to co-writing with a band?” Over the years I’ve been blessed to co-write songs with great bands like Lady A and Little Big Town. As a songwriter, it can be tricky to sit down with three or four other people in one room and make… Read more »

Have You Asked Yourself, “Am I A REAL Songwriter”

Are you a REAL songwriter? I can’t count the number of times someone has said to me “I’m a songwriter – well not a really, because I haven’t had any cuts.” Believe me; I felt the same way early in my career. Have you felt like you needed to somehow qualify or justify yourself in… Read more »

Bad Music And Songwriting

“I want more than anything to get one of my songs recorded by a major artist on the radio.” “Today’s music sucks. The stuff artist are putting out is bad music and it all sounds the same!!” (Two sentences spoken by an aspiring songwriter during a coffee conversation.) The other day at Bongo Java Coffee… Read more »

9 Universal Songwriting Emotions To Write Songs About

Over the course of my career as a pro songwriter, I’ve learned that most songs boil down to 9 universal songwriting emotions that work in songs. Love No surprise here! Songs like “Eight Days A Week”, “I Honestly Love You” and “Endless Love” are still standards. Unrequited Love “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and… Read more »

Job #1 As A Songwriter… Do Your Job!

Last week in a mentoring session I was offering tips to help a young writer understand a songwriter’s #1 job. One of the demos had an extremely long guitar solo after the first chorus. I suggested that: #1- Guitar solos typically are after the 2nd chorus and not the first. #2- The solo was so… Read more »

4 Songwriting Tips From Seasoned Pro

I’ve been a professional songwriter for more than 20 years.  In that time, I’ve learned a lot by making lots of mistakes.  Here are some tips that can help you learn to write better songs WITHOUT making the same mistakes I made. Write From Your Heart – Edit With Your Head If you try to… Read more »

Is Writer’s Block A Thing?

Is writer’s block a real thing?! Tune in and listen as Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson discuss this popular subject! Clay and Marty also share tips and tricks to help you get and stay inspired when writing songs. YOU ARE INVITED SongTown’s 8th Annual Creative Xperience Workshop & Birthday Bash, LIVE In-Person in… Read more »

Exercising The Songwriting Muscle

My very first publisher used to read me this quote. Over the years it has always served as a constant reminder to keep my songwriting muscle in shape…. “Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers,… Read more »

5 Ways To Complicate Your Songs and Confuse Your Listeners

There’s a number of common songwriting errors that complicate the lyric and confuse the listener. If you want to leave your audience scratching their heads (not recommenced), try these techniques for songwriting confusion. Switch your pronouns around. Include several female characters in your song and then use the pronouns “she” or “her”. This gets them… Read more »

SongTown: We Deal In Real “Truth”

At SongTown we deal in real… People often ask Clay and me why two writers who have had multiple #1 songs and are still getting cuts would spend time doing something like SongTown? SongTown is the community we wish we had in the early stages of our careers. It’s a true labor of love. We… Read more »

Songwriters! Wake Up Your Dreams

Following your dreams… When I was 19 years old, I decided to leave my small Alabama hometown and strike out on a journey to the Big Apple: New York City. It took a combination of naivety and hard-headedness, I suppose. After all, I didn’t know anyone in New York City, and only had a grand… Read more »

Songwriters: Do You really need that expensive song demo?

This is one of the most common questions Marty and I get in the SongTown Mailbox. It seems a common myth exists that says in order to have a record company or artist pick up your songs, you have to produce a song demo that sounds like a finished record. Fortunately for our wallets, this is… Read more »

Bobby Pinson “The Shave” Inspirational Story

After taking a hiatus from his artistry, Grammy nominated, #1 hit songwriter Bobby Pinson shares his inspirational journey back to writing his own songs and releasing his newest single, “The Shave” which was inspired by his late father. Bobby also gives some great advice for aspiring songwriters! YOU ARE INVITED SongTown’s 8th Annual Creative Xperience… Read more »

Helping You Write Your Best Song

The heart of SongTown is helping you write YOUR best song. At the end of the day, that’s all any mentor or guide can do for you. I can connect you with many of the top people in the business, but if you don’t have a GREAT song, it’s not going to help you. If… Read more »

How Do Publishers And Songwriters Split Royalties?

We get lots of music business questions in SongTown and how publishers and songwriters split royalties is a common one. So, I thought I’d answer it in today’s post. The business side of music is not as complicated as it seems.  Here are the basics of writer/publisher deals and how money is split. There are… Read more »

Inspirational Songwriter Matt Warren

For most people having “overnight success” in the music business is far from the truth. Having success takes time and patience. Hit Songwriter, 2x ASCAP Award Winner, ACM Song Of The Year Nominee Matt Warren shares his inspirational journey of songwriting and how you should never stop learning or taking opportunities when it comes to… Read more »

“Do I Have What It Takes?” The Songwriter’s Million Dollar Question

The biggest songwriting question that every songwriter I know struggles with is “Do I have what it takes?”  I’ve asked myself that one hundreds of times.  So have Clay and every other pro songwriter I know. So, if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and asked that hopeful songwriter staring back at you that question,… Read more »

Business Mistakes Touring Artists Make – Dean Sams/Lonestar

Touring with a band can be challenging. With 30+ years of touring experience with the band Lonestar, Hit Songwriter/Artist Dean Sams shares advice on how to avoid early mistakes in touring as well as important business details that can help you and your band avoid business conflicts. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day… Read more »

5 Ways Songwriters Shoot Themselves In The Foot And Sabotage Songs

In a 20+ year music career as a songwriter, I’ve shot myself in the foot so many times that it’s amazing I can walk.  I thought I’d share some of them to help YOU avoid doing the same thing.  Here are some of the worst “shots” I’ve taken in the foot. Getting too excited over… Read more »

Dealing With Songwriting Frustrations

Are you frustrated with the ups and downs of songwriting? With a combined 50+ years in the songwriting business, Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills know just how you feel! Listen in as Marty and Clay talk about common songwriting frustrations and how you can overcome them! Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s… Read more »

Great Songwriting Works In All Genres

As co-founders of SongTown, Clay Mills and I have had a lot of success as writers in the country genre. We pride ourselves on using techniques that work in songwriting in all styles. Many people assume that we are “country songwriters” and that what we teach only applies to country music.  This is a false assumption.  (Watch… Read more »

The Songwriter’s Pitch To Publisher Checklist

  There’s an art to a songwriter’s pitch to publisher opportunities. You can avoid many of the mistakes I made early on if you do these things when you get a chance to pitch to a publisher. 1. Before you even agree to the meeting, ask yourself “Are my songs REALLY radio/recording artist ready? Are… Read more »

Fight The Hype! Don’t Compare Yourself To Someone’s Highlight Reel

In today’s world it is so hard NOT to compare yourself to others… Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson talk about how feeding the hype can sabotage and take away your creativity. Listen in and find the motivation to unplug from the constant highlight reels and take back your creative power! Write better songs… Read more »

Turning No Idea Into A Hit Idea – The Story Behind Darius Rucker’s Single “I Got Nothing”

“I’ve got nothing to write a song about today.” I remember standing outside Darius Rucker’s tour bus saying these words over the phone to a friend. She had just asked me what I was going to write with Darius that day. Here I was outside Chicago, having flown there to meet up with the tour,… Read more »

6 Crucial Pieces of Co-writer Information You Need To Get When Collaborating

Most of us songwriters are happy-go-lucky types… We waltz into a co-write with lofty dreams and aspirations and then we boogie our way home with smiles on our faces because we just wrote another “hit” that could change our lives. That’s a fun way to approach life for sure. But, we often forget some CRUCIAL… Read more »

What Is A Staff Songwriter?

There are many misconceptions about what it means to be a “staff songwriter.” So, I thought I’d make an attempt at clearing that up.  In layman’s terms, a staff songwriter has signed an exclusive agreement giving a publisher some portion of every song they write. (During the term of the agreement.) So, if a songwriter… Read more »

5 Stinking Thinking Songwriter Thoughts

Negative songwriting thoughts keep a heavy cloud over you and your writing AND they actually decrease your chances of success. If these thoughts creep into your head, kick them to the curb before they derail your creativity and your forward progress. 1) “My songs are better than….” It doesn’t matter at the end of the… Read more »

Setting Yourself Up To Fail As A Songwriter

Putting a specific time limit on your songwriting success just might set you up for failure. Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson talk real about the music business and the different factors that come into play to “make it” in the music business. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series will… Read more »

Sometimes All A Songwriter Needs Is Someone To Believe In Them: When All Else Fails

Yesterday during a mentoring session I was asked the question, “When did you decide to be a songwriter/musician?” I thought about it a couple of moments and realized it was never a conscious decision. It was more like music made me. Music made me a musician by always being there. When everything else failed, I… Read more »

5 Co-Writing Errors To Avoid While Songwriting – Or Dating!

Co-Writing songs is a lot like dating. It takes work to find and develop good co-writing relationships. And, not every date is going to work out. So, you keep kissing frogs until you find a prince, metaphorically speaking. If you treat songwriting relationships like REAL relationships, you can avoid some of these mistakes that I’ve… Read more »

5 Songwriting Lessons From Master Yoda

Want to become a Master “Songwriting” Yoda? Here are my top 5 tips! 1.Believe As creative people, we tend to be self-doubters. It’s what drives us to look inward, to constantly question life around us, and, if channeled properly, will drive us to write great songs. It’s perfectly natural to struggle with believing in ourselves… Read more »

Hall of Fame Songwriter Kent Blazy

Hall of Fame Songwriter Kent Blazy joins hit songwriter Marty Dodson on the SongTown on Songwriting Podcast to talk about his journey in songwriting, his newest Album and gives advice to all who are pursuing songwriting as a career. Blazy has a total of seven number one hits which include several singles for Garth Brooks… Read more »

Morning Stretch

I believe that our writing “muscles” are just like any other muscle group. If we want to be as flexible as possible, we have to stretch those muscles from time to time. So, this morning, I wanted to give your brain and maybe your writing muscles a little “Morning Stretch”. It makes me cringe every… Read more »

Songwriting Success Was Just Around The Corner: How Could We Have Known?

I remember sitting in my small, cramped writing studio in Nashville 10+ years ago chasing this crazy dream of songwriting… One day I was co-writing with my two best friends and co-writers, Sonny LeMaire and Shane Minor. We’d been writing together for two years, mostly because we loved hanging out with each other and creating… Read more »

Songwriting And Life: Lessons That Apply To Both

Someone pointed out this weekend that my posts often have as much to do with life as they do with songwriting. That made me think, and I realized that it’s probably because songwriting is just a reflection of life. So many of the principles we talk about in our posts and the answers we give are really just… Read more »

The Out-Of-Town Songwriter: Getting A Major Artist Cut If You Don’t Live In Nashville, NYC, or LA

The number one question that fills our email inbox is “How do I get a song cut by a major artist if I’m an out-of-town songwriter?” “I don’t live in a big music city” is the challenge. This strikes at the very core of why Marty Dodson and I created this virtual SongTown of kindred… Read more »

Write A Song That Excites You – Always Write Inspired

Learning to write inspired… One ordinary Tuesday, I drove to a co-write with really low expectations. My co-writer, Jason Matthews, and I were going to try to finish a song that I wasn’t really in love with. We weren’t writing inspired, but we had decided we would finish it, so I drove to his house…. Read more »

Mind Your Own Business

If you are a songwriter you must know and understand the business side of songwriting if you want to be successful. Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson talk about mechanical licenses, record keeping, negotiating deals with artists and your co-writers, and how to take charge of your own songwriting business in this do-it-yourself world…. Read more »

5 Things To Do Before You Pitch Your Song

Pitching songs that are not ready or that are not in the ballpark for the artist you are pitching to is one of the fastest ways to burn bridges.  In fact, doing either of those things is effectively pouring gasoline on the bridge.  Way too many people pitch songs prematurely and significantly hurt their chances… Read more »

What Do You Do If You Catch a Publisher?

Are you a songwriter dying to get a publishing deal? It might not be as magical as you think! Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson talk about working with a publisher, their first publishing deals as well as the pros and cons of publishing deals and what to look for when negotiating deals. Write… Read more »

The 10 Co-Writing Commandments For Songwriters (Revised for 2022)

Co-writing: The art of sharing your heartfelt ideas with another person and trusting the two of you will create songwriting magic. This can be tremendously rewarding and often frustrating. But there are some guidelines to make this experience more often than not a great one. If Moses came down from the mountain with a tablet for his… Read more »

Turning Time On Your Hands Into Better Songs

Years ago, I had a big write scheduled and it got cancelled the morning of the write. One of the biggest writers I had ever written with traded me for a co-write with Cher. I couldn’t blame him, but I was very let down. My publisher said “Turn time on your hands into better songs.”… Read more »

How Songwriters Get Paid: The 5 Minute Overview Of Songwriting Income Streams

Several people have asked about the different ways songwriters get paid. So, here’s the 5 minute overview: Publishing Draws for Songwriters. This is a monthly amount a publisher pays to a writer that is on a staff publishing deal. These are really advances on royalties that have to be repaid out of incoming royalties. Once your catalog… Read more »

Split Sheets Vs Sh*t Sheets

What do you do when songwriter split sheets turn into sh*t sheets?! Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson give practical advice on how to handle co-writer splits as well as what an actual split sheet is used for. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series will help you level-up your songs… Read more »

The Song Is King

If you’ve been hanging around SongTown for a while, you’ve heard Clay and I talk about the idea that “The Song Is King”. When we say that, we mean that, when we write, we are there to serve the song, NOT to serve our own interests. I believe that music and songs have a “life”… Read more »

10-Time Grammy Winning Producer/Engineer- Gary Paczosa

Gary Paczosa is known for some of the best “ears” in music production. In this episode of “On Songwriting”, Gary talks everything from his production style & approach, to his mic-ing techniques while working in Americana, Country, Jazz, and Bluegrass genres. Gary has worked with legendary artists Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss, Sarah Jarosz, Harry Connick Jr., John Prine, and Dolly… Read more »

“Stay The Course” With Curb Recording Artist Hannah Ellis

Curb Records recording artist and country music singer/songwriter Hannah Ellis joins Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson on the SongTown on Songwriting Podcast. Hannah talks about her journey in the music business, from networking and internships to publishing deals and eventually signing a deal as an artist. She shares useful tips to help you get an idea… Read more »

Free The Angel: Supporting Your Song’s Big Idea

There is a famous quote by Michelangelo that says “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” That is a beautiful description of what songwriters must learn to do. We get a song’s big idea and we see the “angel” inside it. So we carve and carve until the… Read more »

The Magic Behind One-Chord Songs

I’m obsessed with looking under the hood of great songs to figure out what makes them hum. If we listen closely, some feature cool rhythm patterns in the melody, others defy the norms of form, while other songs showcase unique chord progressions. But, what kind of voodoo pulses through the veins of one-chord songs? Let… Read more »

Don’t Be This Co-Writer: Mistakes Every Songwriter Should Avoid When Co-writing

Early on in my songwriting career I had enough bad/weird co-writing experiences that I acquired vast database of material to draw from for co-writing no-nos. So here is my list of things NOT TO DO in a co-write… 1. Write down ideas that your co-writers throw out so you can use them later. When you throw out… Read more »

4 Ways To Keep Your Songs Fresh

The longer I write songs, the more I realize the importance of keeping your songs fresh and mixing things up from time to time. Here are some ways that I do that: 1. Booking 2-way co-writes with my regular co-writers. Then, I always look for new 3rds to add to the mix. That way, I… Read more »

Heart vs. Head: How To Write Your Best Songs

Songwriting is beautifully complex and yet simple… I am often reminded when teaching aspiring songwriters how simple, and yet complex, writing songs can be. It’s a beautiful mix of emotions, wit, determination, and being in the moment. A very common obstacle I see to great writing is what I call “Heart vs. Head Songwriting.”  Too much emotional… Read more »

Sharks In The Water

There are sharks in the music waters and Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson want to help protect you from them! Listen in as Clay and Marty talk real about the music business and share advice on how to avoid bad deals and scammers. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series… Read more »

How Is SongTown Different From Other Songwriting Communities?

There are a lot of songwriting sites out there. We appreciate you stopping by our “town”. If you are new to us, we want to let you know a little bit about who we are and the SongTown difference. The SongTown Difference begins with walking the walk… SongTown was founded by and is curated by… Read more »

Verses Need Hooks Too! #Songwriting Hacks

Video Summary: Today more than ever, it’s not enough that your song has a great catchy chorus. In the modern world you must pull the listener into your song and keep them listening. To do that you need to remember verses need hooks too! We’ve put together a video lesson that covers these and much… Read more »

Do Songwriters & Artists Need A Publisher?

Do songwriters need a publisher? This is a question that I get all the time. Like most things in life, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the question. In general, I explain it to people this way.  It’s very similar to the way I would answer the question “Do I really need a mechanic to… Read more »

The 9-Minute Songwriter Workout

The 9-Minute Songwriter Workout consists of three songwriting exercises designed to get you into the flow of writing without overthinking it. Your best ideas come from the subconscious, and you can tap into this with regular practice. Remember to do these exercises quickly, spending three minutes on each in rapid-fire succession. I like to set… Read more »

6 Ways To Find And Attract Co-Writers

The more accurate you are in regard to that self-assessment, the better success you will have attracting co-writers who fill in the blanks for you. 1) Be the kind of co-writer you hope to find. If you are organized and professional, then you will be more likely to attract that kind of person. If you… Read more »

How And When To Go “Beth Dutton” On The Music Business

Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson talks about when you should go “Beth Dutton” and stand up for yourself when dealing in the music business. Songwriters often don’t feel like they have a say in what happens to their songs, but they do. Marty shares stories and examples from his own experience that will help you in… Read more »

Why You Should Be Writing More Conversational Lyrics

One of the questions I get most often when I mentor songwriters is “Why does everyone tell me I need to write more conversational lyrics?” While there is no “one size fits all” answer to how your lyrics “should” be written, there is a reason that people give you that advice. When I’m having that… Read more »

7 Books Every Songwriter Should Read (Revised 2022)

Writing and reading lessens our isolation and prods our imagination. Music makes our souls dance, and great art leaves an impression that lasts for centuries. Over my 25 years as a professional songwriter, I’ve read just about every book on creativity I could get my hands on. Still, I’m convinced I will never fully understand… Read more »

“Why Are Split Sheets For Songs Important?”

Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson talks about split sheets for songs and why they are so important. Chapters Chapter 1: What is on a songwriter split sheet? Chapter 2: How are the percentages split? Chapter 3: Why are split sheets important? Chapter 4: Is publishing important to list? Chapter 5: What if I have a pseudonym… Read more »

Multi Genre Hit Songwriter Michael Whitworth

Hit Songwriter Michael Whitworth joins Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson in the SongTown Zoom Room to talk about his journey in songwriting. Michael shares about his experience writing with Mega Rap Artist Jelly Roll and gives tips and advice on how to prepare when you are writing with an artist. Write better songs faster! Clay &… Read more »

5 Fun Songwriting Exercises: Improve Your Writing AND Have A Good Time

Here are some writing exercises I do when I want to sharpen my songwriting skills and just have a good time with it, putting no pressure on myself.  Ready for some songwriting fun?!? Thumb through a magazine looking for song ideas. Sometimes when I’m on an airplane, I pick up the inflight magazine and challenge… Read more »

Songwriting Hack – “Lyrical Opposites”

In this episode, Hit Songwriter Clay Mills talks about lyrical opposites and how you can use them in your songwriting to create hookier and more powerful songs. Chapters: Chapter 1: Titles Chapter 2: Implied Opposites Chapter 3: Setup Lines 1. Titles Check out these titles: “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, “Beautiful Mess”, “Nobody In… Read more »

Do You HAVE To Write With Artists To Get Songs Recorded?

Do you HAVE to write with artists to get songs recorded? Listen in as Hit Songwriters Marty Dodson and Clay Mills discuss two different viewpoints on this topic! Marty and Clay also offer tips and advice on how to write with artists and how you can get one step closer to getting your songs cut!… Read more »

Songwriters And Artists: Writing Real Vs. Really Clever Songs

Perhaps the most common songwriting mistake that I’ve seen kill a song… If I had to choose one songwriting mistake I’ve seen over and over in mentoring sessions through the years, it would be “writing clever instead of writing real.” Throughout the entire writing process I am asking myself, does this feel real? Could this have really happened?… Read more »

Songwriter Write-Up-Itis: Do You Suffer From This Common Illness?

Clay and I continually run into people throughout SongTown territories that have songwriter “write-up-itis”. We can spot the affliction immediately because we have both battled this dreadful and potentially fatal disease in the past. The symptoms generally start after you write the first song that you think is really commercially viable. A slight fever starts… Read more »

The Music Lab: Verses Are The New Chorus

One of the most noticeable style shifts in songwriting over the last few years is the emergence of chorus-like hooks in verses. For the longest time, if you had a memorable and “hit” sing-a-long chorus you were golden. Your chances of finding an audience for your songs were pretty good. Even if you were the… Read more »

Songwriters: Are You Pitching Your Songs With A Shotgun Or A Rifle?

One of the most popular questions we get at SongTown is “how many songs should I send to a producer or publisher?”  The prevailing myth for aspiring songwriters is that “more shots equals a better chance of something great happening”. I want to dispel that myth and to explain why pitching your songs with a… Read more »

SongTown: A No Guru Zone- Why We Created Something Real For Songwriters

SongTown – A no “Guru” zone for songwriters… At SongTown, we’ve been pretty protective of our songwriting community. It’s a private community of some of the best up and coming songwriters around. Marty Dodson and I started it 8 years ago to help grow aspiring writers into world-class writers. A lot of folks in the… Read more »

The Songwriter’s Code

The Songwriter’s Code From the Brill Building in New York, to Music Row in Nashville, songwriters have been operating under this “code” for many years. If you hope to join the professional ranks, you MUST learn the code and go by it. If you are just wanting to co-write in general, it’s good to know… Read more »

Cut The Cheese!

Cut the cheese! (And we are not talking about the smelly kind!!) Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson share the things that can keep you from getting your song cut… sounding cheesy! They share from their experience what makes a song cheesy and how you can fix it to have a greater chance of… Read more »

Songwriting Hack! “Short-Short-Long Verse”

Recognizing Patterns Today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook, a song by Bruce Springsteen. It’s an old song called “My Hometown”, and it kind of struck me. I often encourage people, when they listen to melodies, to try to recognize patterns. I hadn’t heard this song in a long time, and the first thing… Read more »

The Songwriter Business Plan: 5 Steps To Success

One of the things I discovered when I started mentoring writers is that very few of us have a songwriter business plan. That may be the curse of the creative mind – we get so lost in making stuff up that we lose sight of the business side of things that must be tended to… Read more »

What Do Publishers Look For In Songs?

For many songwriters and artists, trying to figure out what publishers look for in songs can often feel like stumbling through an endless maze. Often this search for what someone else is looking for leaves an artists or writer losing touch with their own talent and uniqueness. Throughout my career I’ve managed to navigate this… Read more »

Did I Wait Too Long To Start Writing Songs?

Many of our SongTown members put songwriting aside for years while they raised a family.  The dreams from their 20’s only really started to get a chance in their 40’s or 50’s or beyond because life got in the way. So, they come to us and ask “Did I wait too long to start writing… Read more »

Why You Gotta Know How To Write To Tracks

Why is it so important to know how to write to music tracks?! Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson discuss the way that songwriting rooms have changed dramatically over the last few years and what you need to know to create great songs in today’s market. Want to dive even deeper into writing to… Read more »

Songwriters: Don’t Focus On The Songwriting Summit!

Songwriting can be a wonderfully, beautifully frustrating pursuit.  But it can be especially maddening if your singular goal is something outside of your control like focus on the songwriting summit. So, let’s say your obsession and songwriting summit is a Bruno Mars cut… There are several reasons that you are going to likely spend the… Read more »

Other People’s Opinions On Your Songs – Is It Good Or Bad For Your Songwriting?

One of the hardest things to come to grips with as a songwriter is other peoples opinions on your songs. Here is a story that can help you navigate those waters. I wrote with a writer last week who is actively looking for a publishing deal. He is a super talented writer and was expressing… Read more »

The Writing Better Songs Checklist

Here are some ways to judge whether you are writing “better” commercial songs. No one of these measures alone determines “writing better,” but putting all of them together gives you a pretty good sense of your progress: Are you writing more unique ideas? Look at the songs you wrote a year ago compared to the… Read more »

Separating The Song From Its Production

As a songwriter I have been blessed with both a career I never dreamed possible and a chance to help thousands of talented writers at SongTown level-up up their songwriting. I especially love delving into vocal melodies and different production techniques that will make a song stand the test of time. Every January I give… Read more »

Melody Hacks For Lyricist Songwriters

I have been primarily a lyricist for almost 25 years. To survive that long in the music business, I have had to stretch my boundaries to come up with ways to evolve my lyric writing along with changing music landscapes. Over those years, I’ve developed what I like to think of as melody hacks for… Read more »

#1 Hit Songwriter Shane Stevens – “Fancy Like”

#1 Hit Songwriter Shane Stevens joins Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson in the SongTown Studios to talk about his viral, #1 Hit Song with Walker Hayes “Fancy Like”. Shane also talks about his vast success in both the pop and country market and gives practical advice to inspire anyone who is aspiring to become a songwriter…. Read more »

Overcoming Writer’s Block: 5 Pro Techniques To Get You Writing Again

At least twice a week I get an email seeking advice on how to overcome writer’s block. For many songwriters the worst part of the whole writing experience is just getting started. Those times when we sit down to write and nothing comes out. We feel like we have nothing to say. Well here are… Read more »

It’s Impossible: More Songwriting Myth Busting

I don’t know how many times each week I hear the words “It’s impossible”. The ridiculous part of it all is that the things they are saying are “impossible” are not impossible at all. Well, let’s just do a little songwriting myth busting! “It’s impossible to get a song cut if you don’t live in… Read more »

Starting Your Song On The 5 Chord

Hey Song Meisters! Are you stuck in a chord rut? Well, I’m going to give you a trick I’ve used when writing hits like Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It by Darius Rucker. It’s all about placing the 5 chord in  an unexpected place. This is a short video but will go a long… Read more »

How To Master The Art of Rewriting Lyrics

One of the biggest things most people could do to improve their writing is to really master the art of rewriting lyrics. For my whole career, I’ve heard the saying… “Good songs are written but great songs are rewritten.” I have found that to be true in most cases. Sometimes, a song just falls out… Read more »

Melody and The Power of Three

In storytelling, there is a principle called “The Rule of Three.” This principle points to the tendency for plays, movies, and stories to have three repeating or related elements. Stories and plays usually have three acts. In fairy tales, the hero is often granted three wishes. In the story, “The Three Little Pigs,” the big… Read more »

Songwriters: Relax and Create Better Songs

Last month was a busy month of mentoring. I believe I mentored 6 people in just one week. One theme that kept coming up is that people are really stressed out over getting their songs to “the right people“. So my message today is to relax and create. To begin with, I’m still not sure… Read more »

Create Hookier Songs With Conversational Verse Melodies

Want the best set up for your big hooky chorus? Work on your conversation skills — your conversational verse melody skills, that is. Publishers, artists and producers will tell you they are either looking for or trying to create that next hit chorus — or, at the very least, a chorus that resonates with their… Read more »

Darden Smith : Write Songs. Tell Stories. Move People.

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Darden Smith joins Hit Songwriter Marty Dodson in the SongTown Studios to talk about his wildly creative new multi-media project, Western Skies. Darden also gives insight into how he has been able to sustain a 30+ year career in music by releasing 15 critically lauded studio albums, landing singles on both the country… Read more »

How Many Nouns and Adjectives Your Song Needs

One of the most common questions I get is “How much furniture does my song need?” What the writer means, is “How many nouns and adjectives should my song have?” For instance, if I talk about my rusty blue Ford truck, I have painted you a picture. If I just mention my truck with no… Read more »

Check Out Producer Andrew Petroff’s Home Studio!

Andrew Petroff is a multi-genre producer, songwriter, and musician. Recent work includes songs with Sheryl Crow, Phillip Larue, Devon Gilfillian, David Nail, Sierra Hull, Savannah Conley, and Charli Adams. Andrew’s work can also be heard on placements from Apple, HBO, Grey’s Anatomy, The Black List, How to Get Away With Murder, Fox Sports, Nashville, MTV,… Read more »

What To Do If You Don’t Know Anyone In The Music Business

Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson share their stories of how they made it in the music business as songwriters. They also share encouragement and strategies that you can use to navigate the music business even if you don’t know anyone in the business. Hit Songwriter Clay Mills has six #1 Hit Singles, 2… Read more »

Writing for Sync : Pitching Etiquette and Negotiations

In this episode Randall Foster talks about how vital it is to have proper pitching etiquette if you want to make a good impression when meeting with any music professional. He also talks about how to negotiate song contracts if you are offered a deal. Randall Foster is Vice President of Business Development and GM… Read more »

Add New Skills To Your Songwriter’s Toolbox Like A Pro

Songwriters, like any craftsmen, rely on skill. But skill is largely based on your ability to consistently add tools to your songwriter’s toolbox. Here are 4 steps to get you on the path to adding new tools, break out of old ruts, and level-up your writing. Practice Active Listening. When we’re listening to music, it’s… Read more »

Raw and Real Singer-Songwriter Kalie Shorr

Artist/Songwriter Kalie Shorr joins hit writer Marty Dodson in the SongTown Studio to talk about her journey in the Country Music Market. Kalie has been on multiple tours opening for major artists, has her own Podcast supported by Bobby Bones and has been an integral part in Nashville’s Song Suffragettes. Write better songs faster! Clay… Read more »

Songwriting Hack #2 – “Lay It Down, Repeat It, And Move On”

If you’re like me, you’ve probably noticed over the last year that there have been quite a few songs popular in both pop and country music that have the same chords in the verse and the chorus. Yet, they still manage to keep the songs interesting. So today I wanted to talk about a technique… Read more »

Songwriting Perspective: A Powerful Tool For Songwriters.

  I believe that “perspective” may be one of the most powerful concepts in our lives. Your perspective can totally change your experience of an event. Siblings can have dramatically different takes on a traumatic home situation because they take different perspectives on what occurred. When I was in high school, Nelson Eddy was my… Read more »

Hit Producer Daniel Ross Shares His Track Building Philosophy

Daniel Ross is a Songwriter and Producer at Big Machine Music Publishing. His songs have been recorded by Morgan Wallen, Jake Owen, Chase Rice, Eli Young Band, Granger Smith, RaeLynn, Seaforth, Robert Counts, Troy Cartwright and more. Production credits for Joey Hendricks, Lauren Weintraub, Austin Burke and more. In this video Daniel shares his proven… Read more »

Songwriting Is Not An Overnight Success Business

“I worked 17 years for overnight songwriting success.”  – Tim Hicks There’s often a misconception when someone in the music business succeeds. It’s easy to think that an artist became and instant sensation or overnight songwriting success. So, I thought I’d share a story of how it most often happens here in the real world…… Read more »

Does Writing A Great Song Even Matter Anymore?

Does writing a great song even matter anymore? Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson weigh in on the subject and share things you can focus on in your songwriting instead of getting wrapped up in the negative. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series will help you level-up your songs and… Read more »

How Do Songwriters Get Paid? 4 Ways You Could Be Missing Out

Songwriters are wonderfully creative people with the ability to dream big with their hearts and minds. But often, we don’t understand the answer to the important question, “how do songwriters get paid.” So, here’s  an overview of how songwriters get paid. Publishing Draws for songwriters. This is a monthly amount a publisher pays to a… Read more »

Writing To Your Song Title

When I was a rookie songwriter, I don’t know how many times I had someone tell me “you have to write FROM your title”. Looking back, I think that advice contributed to some weak songs. At the time, I didn’t need any help writing a weak song. After gaining more experience and writing hundred of… Read more »

Getting Feedback Before Demoing a Song

Should you be getting feedback before demoing a song? Listen in as Hit Songwriters Clay Mills (Multiple #1 Songs, Grammy Nominated Songwriter) and Marty Dodson (10 #1 Singles and 125+ Cuts) talk about how much feedback you should get before demoing a song and where that feedback should come from. Go to Source Author: Clay… Read more »

How Do I Submit Songs As A Songwriter To The Music Business? (Updated- 2022)

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there over the question “As a songwriter, how do I submit songs to the music business?” The truth of the matter is that there is no one way to “submit” songs to the music business. When you simplify the “song submission” idea, there are basically three… Read more »

How To Write Songs For Sync Licensing

In today’s ever changing music landscape, writing music for sync has become an important marketplace for songs and songwriters. Knowing how to write songs for sync will not only supplement a writer’s income but it also has the potential to launch a recording artist from obscurity to stardom. More music content is being consumed now… Read more »

Writing WITH Recording Artists

Writing WITH an artist can be a totally different experience than writing for/pitching songs to an artist. Hit songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson share co-writing tips from their combined 25+ years of experience of writing with recording artists. If you want to have a better chance of your song getting cut by an artist… Read more »

Blueprinting Your Songs: How To Write Better Songs Faster

Something that has changed my songwriting in a radical way is a technique I call blueprinting your song. When you’re building a house, you hope that the builder is working from a good blueprint.  That’s really the only way to make sure that the house you wind up with is the house you intended to… Read more »

How To Get Motivated To Write More & Better Songs

Over the last 8 years at SongTown I have personally responded to thousands of aspiring songwriter emails. Many want to write better songs but can’t seem to find the answer to how to get motivated to write on a regular basis. If this is you, you are not alone. We all feel the pull of emails,… Read more »

10 Do’s And Don’ts For Pitching Your Songs To Music Publishers

Pitching songs (playing songs for publishers, artists or record label people in hopes of getting them to record or help you get a song recorded), is one of the areas where songwriters make the most mistakes.  And, those mistakes can be costly.  You don’t get too many chances to make a good impression before you… Read more »

What REALLY Makes A Song A Hit

What really makes a song a hit? People often ask me if I KNOW that I’ve written a hit song when I finish it.  The answer to that is a resounding “NO”.  I generally know when I finish a song whether it is great or just good.  Beyond that, so much goes into what makes… Read more »

Songwriters: 5 Keys To Building A Better Song Catalog

Several SongTownian’s have recently asked the question, “what’s the best way to build a better song catalog?” Here are some key things I’ve learned over the years after writing for several major publishing companies and building a new catalog at each. Write, write, write! There is no substitute for this. A catalog is a collection of songs. You… Read more »

Writing To Pitch To Recording Artists

How do you write songs that major label or indie artists would want to cut?! Hit Songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson sit down to talk about things you should pay attention to and research you should do when writing to pitch to recording artists in any genre. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s… Read more »

Songwriters: How To Get A Publishing Deal

One of the first things an artist or songwriter learns when contemplating career is music, is that a good music publisher can often be the difference in succeeding or not suceeding in the business. But how to get a publishing deal is often shrouded in mystery. After all, there is no college degree that you… Read more »

Why Have A Songwriting Mentor?

Songwriting mentors can help you avoid huge mistakes… I am a huge believer in finding a songwriting mentor.  My songwriting mentors helped me avoid so many mistakes and they cut years off the learning curve I would have experienced if I had to figure out everything on my own.  Little statements from my mentors still… Read more »

The “Instant Melancholy” Chord Substitution

The Melancholy Chord Substitution. I’ve been blessed to get away with some interesting chord changes over the course of my songwriting career. Those songs found their way onto pop and country mainstream radio—two formats that, right or wrong, have a rap for simple chords.   Whether it was sneaking in a 2 Major Sus chord… Read more »

7 Positive Thoughts For Songwriters

I’m a big believer in positive thinking. Here are some positive thoughts for songwriters that can help keep you moving forward and help you enjoy the journey. 1) The only person I have to beat is me. If I continually work at writing a better song than I wrote yesterday, then I will someday be… Read more »

Why A Hit Songwriter Had To Learn To Eat Humble Pie!

After writing my first hit song I thought I had arrived but songwriter humble pie wasn’t far behind… About 13 years ago, when my son was eight, I was fortunate enough to have a new single on radio. I had moved to Nashville at 32, and eight years later, it was finally paying off with… Read more »

Starting Off With A Bang – Why Opening Lines In Songs Matter

I believe that one of the most overlooked, yet most important line in a song are the first opening lines. Yes, your title is super important and a great setup line before your title lands is crucial. But, the opening line of your song often determines whether or not anyone ever gets to hear that… Read more »

Writing an Explosive Hit Chorus in 3 Steps

Over the course of my career, I’ve had a diverse collection of artists sing my songs, from R&B artist Babyface to rocker Darius Rucker to country’s Reba McEntire. I believe the reason for this lies in my ninja power for writing an explosive hit chorus— songs that leap out of the speaker when they hit… Read more »

Writing an Explosive Hit Chorus in 3 Steps

Over the course of my career, I’ve had a diverse collection of artists sing my songs, from R&B artist Babyface to rocker Darius Rucker to country’s Reba McEntire. I believe the reason for this lies in my ninja power for writing an explosive hit chorus— songs that leap out of the speaker when they hit… Read more »

Mizer and Moore – Songs From The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Emmy-nominated songwriters Thomas Mizer and Curtis Moore join Marty in the SongTown Zoom room to talk about their most recent project, creating the music for the hit Amazon Prime Video series, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Mizer and Moore share more about writing for theater, television and movies as well as give advice on what you… Read more »

The Nail in the Wall

I’m a very goal oriented person. I need to see the end goal so that I can figure out how to get there. I like to break down my big goals into bite sized pieces and check things off my list. There are so many elements of getting a song recorded that are out of… Read more »

How To Turn Everyday Conversations Into Great Songs Using The Talk-Sing Melody Method

Early in my songwriting career, I was driving to a co-writing session with Hall of Fame songwriter Rory Bourke. Traffic was extremely slow that day. I rushed into the writing room and frantically said, “I’m so sorry that I’m late.” Immediately, Rory sang what I had just said: “I’m so sorry … that I’m …… Read more »

How To Turn Everyday Conversations Into Great Songs Using The Talk-Sing Method

Early in my songwriting career, I was driving to a co-writing session with Hall of Fame songwriter Rory Bourke. Traffic was extremely slow that day. I rushed into the writing room and frantically said, “I’m so sorry that I’m late.” Immediately, Rory sang what I had just said: “I’m so sorry … that I’m …… Read more »

Let SongTown Protect You Against Songwriting Scams

One of the reasons Clay and I started SongTown was to help people learn how the songwriting business works and immunize themselves from being ripped off. So, I want to give you some advice that can help save you hundreds and maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you heed this advice, you can… Read more »

Attitude and Outlook Are Everything When Considering Good Versus Bad Contemporary Music

“Today’s music sucks. The stuff artists are putting out is bad music—and it all sounds the same!!” We hear it all the time from songwriters, I used to say it myself. But the truth is, changing your attitude and outlook on contemporary music can actually help you write better songs. Not long ago at Bongo Java… Read more »

A Lifetime of Learning For Songwriters

One of the things I love most about being a songwriter is that it is one of the few things in life that you can never totally “figure out”.  You can always write a better song than you wrote today. No matter how successful you get, it requires you still be a lifetime songwriting student…. Read more »

Songwriter Kim Williams Was So Much More Than A Frequent Garth Brooks Co-writer…

When I first started as a staff writer for Kim Williams, Garth Brooks had already taken off. And, he had recorded several of Kim’s songs. They were flying high and selling MILLIONS of records, as in 10-20 million per album. Crazy numbers. But I was soon to find out that Kim was so much more… Read more »

Multi-hit Songwriter Billy Montana

Multi-hit songwriter Billy Montana (Garth Brooks, Lee Brice, Jo Dee Messina) stops by the SongTown Studios to chat it up with host Clay Mills about his career, his approach to writing, and drops some killer advice for aspiring songwriters. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series will help you level-up your songs… Read more »

Are You Too Close To Your Song? Good Songs Need Perspective

Have you ever poured your heart into a song about a traumatic experience you’ve just experienced, barely able to hold back the tears as you write, and then rush out to play it for someone only to get a lukewarm reaction? How does this happen? While singing and capturing that great rush of inspiration, it… Read more »

#SongwritingHack 1.18 – “Top 5 Songwriter Guitar Hacks For The Broke A$$ Writer”

Today I’ve got five songwriter guitar hacks that are free for all – check them out. 1. Capo Trick When you’ve come up with that great guitar idea, and you want to come back in a few days and remember what you did, your iPhone can perfect for recording a short little video. Simply grab… Read more »

Find Songwriting Community NOW!

No matter what your definition of Songwriting Success is, one of the most overlooked aspect of a songwriter’s journey is community. I run into many writers who are writing pretty good songs, but they are doing it in a vacuum. In reality, it’s nearly impossible to succeed as a songwriter or anything without a supportive… Read more »

Are You A Pro Vs. Aspiring Songwriter? Great Songs Doesn’t Care!

Over the weekend someone tagged me in a Facebook thread that had over 500 comments debating heatedly over whether or not a lyricist was an actual “songwriter”… All I can say is who cares? I don’t mean that in a harsh way. You see, I’ve been fortunate that over 150 major artists have recorded my… Read more »

5 Songwriting Tips You Might Not Have Thought Of

These are 5 songwriting tips that you might not have thought of. Over the course of my pro songwriting career I have picked up many such tips but these are my top 5 to share with you today! Your songwriting rhyme scheme helps the listener keep up with where they are in the song. You… Read more »

Hall of Fame Songwriter Byron Hill

Marty sits down with Hall of Fame Songwriter Byron Hill who has penned hits such as “Fool Hearted Memory” George Strait, “Nothing On But The Radio” Gary Allan, “Born Country” Alabama and many more! Byron shares his journey through the music business as well as tips and advice for aspiring songwriters! If you are looking… Read more »

The Truth About “Turning Pro” as a Songwriter

When my son was going through his freshman orientation at Belmont University’s School of Music Business, many there were hopeful of turning pro one day as a songwriter. Another parent raised their hand and asked “So, if my daughter gets her degree in songwriting from Belmont, she’s pretty much guaranteed a “slot” in the Music… Read more »

Songwriters: How To Format Lyric Sheets Like A Pro

One of the most overlooked details in the songwriting business how to properly format lyric sheets. Here are the “dos and don’ts” for aspiring songwriters wanting to present themselves as real pros. Since starting SongTown, fellow hitmaker Marty Dodson and I have had the chance to see many songs lyrics presented in our publisher groups,… Read more »

4 Big Ways Songwriters Network

Networking seems to be a common struggle for songwriters.  Many creative types are just not very social and we tend to be introverted.  That can make it hard to really build the team you need to help you get your songs heard and placed.  So, here are 4 ways this introvert has overcome some of… Read more »

Recording At Home: My Demo Process On A #1 Song I Co-wrote With Darius Rucker

People often ask me if they have to do full-production demos to present songs to publishers or major artist? I do a fair amount of full demos, but I also have had about half of my major cuts from pitching home demos done on a very basic set-up on my mac laptop. The Home Studio… Read more »

4 Ways To Get Out of Your Songwriting Comfort Zone

Most songwriters find themselves in a complacent songwriting “comfort zone” from time to time.  Personally, I find myself at times resting on a little plateau of my own making.  I work really hard for a stretch and then I coast for a bit.  When I find myself coasting, here are some things I do to… Read more »

5 Ways To Break Out Of Your Writing Rut And Spark New Songs

One of the hardest things a songwriter has to learn to level-up their writing is learning how to avoid or pull themselves out of a songwriting rut. Here are 5 things I’ve learned over my 25-year career that have me avoid songwriting ruts and stay inspired… Switch instruments to spark new song ideas… If you… Read more »

How To Get A Songwriting Staff Writing Deal

As a pro songwriter for the last 25 years, I’ve learned there are 5 key ways I know to increase your chances of getting a songwriting staff writing deal with a publisher: Get to know music publishers organically. If there’s a publisher you are interested in and you are able, go to writer’s nights where… Read more »

How To Get A Songwriting Staff Writing Deal

As a pro songwriter for the last 25 years, I’ve learned there are 5 key ways I know to increase your chances of getting a songwriting staff writing deal with a publisher: Get to know music publishers organically. If there’s a publisher you are interested in and you are able, go to writer’s nights where… Read more »

Chris Wallin : #1 Hit Songwriter

Marty sits down with Hit Songwriter Chris Wallin who has topped the charts with songs such as “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney, “I’m Tryin’” for Trace Adkins, “Something To Be Proud Of” and “Speed” by Montgomery Gentry and many more. Chris talks about the ups and downs of his journey through the music business and… Read more »

Songwriters And Artists: Are Your Songs Real or Really Clever?

Perhaps the most common songwriting mistake that I’ve seen kill a song… If I had to choose one songwriting mistake I’ve seen over and over in mentoring sessions through the years, it would be “writing clever instead of writing real.” Throughout the entire writing process I am asking myself, does this feel real? Could this have really happened?… Read more »

Success In Any Creative Business: 4 Ways To Increase Your Odds

From time to time, someone asks me “What are the odds of getting a cut?”  In my mind, what they are really asking is “Is this even worth trying?” I’d like to share with you how to increase your odds of success in any creative business. I’m going to suggest here that this is the… Read more »

Success In Any Creative Business: 4 Ways To Increase Your Odds

From time to time, someone asks me “What are the odds of getting a cut?”  In my mind, what they are really asking is “Is this even worth trying?” I’d like to share with you how to increase your odds of success in any creative business. I’m going to suggest here that this is the… Read more »

5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Creativity And Songwriting Power

As a professional writer, learning to boost your creativity and songwriting power is crucial to success. I am asked often how I walk into a co-write with superstars like Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, or Lady Antebellum and create songs “on-demand?” Well, I didn’t start out doing this, but I’ve learned a few tricks over… Read more »

How To Increase Your Odds Of Success In Any Creative Business

From time to time, someone asks me “What are the odds of getting a cut?”  In my mind, what they are really asking is “Is this even worth trying?” I’m going to suggest here that this is the wrong approach to dream chasing of any form and will hurt your odds of success. Let me put… Read more »

5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Creative Songwriting Power

As a professional writer, learning to boost my creative songwriting power was crucial to my success. I am asked often how I walk into a co-write with superstars like Darius Rucker, Little Big Town, or Lady Antebellum and create songs “on-demand?” Well, I didn’t start out doing this, but I’ve learned a few tricks over… Read more »

The Scariest Songwriting Moment

I believe that the scariest songwriting moment in songwriting is the moment before you start. Most of us have voices that play in our heads. Those voices often tell us that the task at hand “can’t be done”. “You aren’t good enough”. “You can’t handle this”…. you know the drill.   It is the rare… Read more »

Fake It Till You Make It: A Pro Songwriter Shares Why It Isn’t A Smart Strategy

How many times have you heard it said that one must “Fake it to make it” or “Act as if you’ve already achieved your goal.” Nice comforting quotes but not a smart strategy for chasing your songwriting goals. I remember starting out years ago, landing my first publishing deal as a staff writer in Nashville,… Read more »

6 Last Minute Re-Writing Questions For Songwriters

I have found that rewriting songs a week or two after I write them and running through this quick checklist helps me catch and fix many of the major flaws that can exist in a song. Print this one out and hang it in you writing (or re-writing) room to remind yourself to check these… Read more »

Your Next Song Demo: Read These 7 Tips Before You Spend Money

I have received several emails this week asking about the best approach to recording song demos. There are many things that have changed over the last year since I first blogged about this. Here are a few questions to consider when demoing your songs. 1. Who will be listening? If you are playing your demo… Read more »

Mistakes Lyric Writers Make

Can songs sound good AND make sense? Hit Songwriters Marty and Clay sit down to talk about the common mistakes they see lyric writers make and share lyrics hacks that you can apply to your own songs to instantly make your songs better! Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s 10-day video series will help… Read more »

This Valentine’s Day: 5 Ways to Write Songs About Love

One of our standard pro songwriter jokes goes something like this… Bill – What are you up to today, Bob? Bob – Oh, just trying to find another rhyme for love. We joke about it because many hours in the life of a pro songwriter are spent trying to find a new way to say… Read more »

Songwriters: Songs Can Sound Good AND Make Sense!

Can songs really sound good AND make sense? A couple of years ago, I was scheduled to co-write with a pretty well known rock band. Little did I know it would prove to be a case of sound and sense…. They wanted to write at 9 PM at a remote house they had rented for a… Read more »

SongTown: Keeping The Craft Of Songwriting Alive

Eight years ago, fellow pro songwriter Marty Dodson and I made a pact to do all we could to keep the craft of songwriting alive. We were chatting at a local coffee shop in Nashville, Tennessee. We discussed how we’d learned early on in our careers from master songwriters who passed their knowledge and torches… Read more »

5 Second Verse Lyric Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Song

There are many ways that a song can start to go wrong in the second verse. Don’t let these “song-killers” crop up in YOUR second verses!  Here are 5 second verse lyric mistakes than can destroy your songs. 1) Say the same thing as the first verse in different words. You have to give the… Read more »

How To Find Great Song Ideas

Ever wonder where your favorite artists or songwriters consistently find those great song ideas? I like to think of ideas as a creative river—constantly flowing by. It may sound simplistic, but maybe it’s purely a matter of learning how to catch them. Once you learn how to find great song ideas, it really is that easy…. Read more »

Shelby Kennedy – Award Winning Songwriter & Industry Executive

Marty talks with award winning songwriter and industry executive, Shelby Kennedy. Shelby talks about his long successful career in the music business as well as where he thinks the music business is headed in the future. He gives advice for up and coming songwriters and talks about his current job managing “Amazing North America”, the… Read more »

5 Ways To Improve Your Songwriting Instantly

There are some simple steps you can take to improve your songwriting instantly. Try these steps to see a dramatic improvement overnight: 1- Write with someone who is strong where you are weak. Years ago, my mentor told me to identify my strengths (honestly) and to let him know what I thought I was world class… Read more »

Mistakes Melody Writers Make

Writing an impactful, memorable melody can be the difference between writing a good song and a GREAT song! Hit Songwriters Marty and Clay sit down to talk about the common mistakes they hear melody writers make and share some melody hacks that you can apply to your own songs to instantly make them better! Write… Read more »

Does Your Song Need A Bridge?

So you’ve reached that point in the song; you’ve written two verses and a chorus, and that little voice in your head is asking “Does your song need a bridge?” When do you know if a song truly needs a bridge? I’ve heard publishers say things to their writers like, “You must write bridges because… Read more »

Want An Artist To Record Your Song? Try This Goal Setting Worksheet

One of the most important components to reaching any songwriting goal is to know exactly what you’d like to achieve. Here is a songwriter goal-setting worksheet that I like to use to help me focus on where I am going… As you set your goals, be sure that each one is something that you can… Read more »

Quick Song Biz Tip: Songwriting Mechanical Royalties 101

What Are Songwriting Mechanical Royalties? Every time a song you’ve written is manufactured (CD, Vinyl, etc) or downloaded on a digital music retail site, or streamed through services like Spotify; songwriting mechanical royalties are paid to you. As a songwriter/publisher, you are owed a royalty every time your composition is reproduced (on vinyl, tape, CD,… Read more »

Writing Song Lyrics Vs. Poems

One of the frequent questions we get in SongTown is “How do I write song lyrics?” Many people confuse song lyrics with poetry, but there are some subtle yet important differences. So, how are lyrics to a song different from poems? Poems are typically visual pieces and song lyrics are auditory works. Someone reading poetry… Read more »

My Best Friend in the Music Business

I had a conversation this week with one of my song pluggers. I have worked with this guy for more than 20 years. I consider him my best friend in the music business. Why? He tells me the truth. Always. At one time, I turned in a song I wrote with a young artist. His… Read more »

9 Ways Pro Songwriters Beat Writer’s Block

One of the top questions I get asked as a pro songwriter is “how do I beat writer’s block. The worst part of the whole writing experience for many writers is just getting started. It’s those times when we sit down to write and nothing comes out that is most frustrating. We feel like we… Read more »

Songwriting Is All About Communication

Communication vs. rules… I had a mentoring session with someone recently who was very frustrated.  He had read a book by a leading songwriting teacher and had tried to apply all of the songwriting “rules” that the book taught.  The end result was that he felt he was writing worse and worse songs the more he… Read more »

Songwriters: Job #1 As A Writer Means Doing Your Job!

Last week in a mentoring session I was offering tips to help a young writer understand a songwriter’s Job #1. One of the demos had an extremely long guitar solo after the first chorus. I suggested that: #1- Guitar solos typically are after the 2nd chorus and not the first. #2- The solo was so… Read more »

Who Can Stop You From Writing Songs?

“Who can stop you from writing songs?” I think that’s a valid question for every songwriter to ask themselves from time to time. On occasion, I hear songwriters say things like… “It’s not really worth writing a song if I can’t get a publisher to listen.” Or “Why bother writing another song no one will… Read more »

A Melody Writer’s Secret Weapon: The Wind-up

What’s one songwriting component that separates the promising newbie songwriter from the seasoned pro? How much punch the chorus packs. Specifically, when the chorus hits, does it impact the listener? This is one of the main things I work on with writers in my SongTown Melody MasterClasses. Often their choruses show up un-announced and begin… Read more »

10 Things I Wish I Knew Early In My Songwriting Career

Early in my songwriting career, I knew nothing about how the business works or how to actually become a full-time songwriter and sustain a career as one.  This is a list of things I wish I knew when I was starting out.  Knowing these ten things could have saved me years of trial and error. … Read more »

9 Things Skilled Songwriters Do Differently

So, what does it take to be a world-class writer? Early in my career, a Hall of Fame songwriter offered me an invaluable piece of insight. He said many people make it 95 percent of the way to greatness, but very few finish the last 5% of the journey. That statement has fascinated me, and… Read more »

It’s Not the World’s Responsibility To “Get You” or “Get Your Music”

I was in Starbucks last week enjoying my morning dose of inspiration—COFFEE!—and an aspiring songwriter approached me. “Are you Clay from SongTown?” “Yes,” I said. He asked if he could chat about writing for a couple of minutes. Then he began by saying, “I’m writing some great music, but no one “gets it.” He continued, “I’ve… Read more »

Writing Your Life In Song

The area in which I have had the most career success is writing my life in song. I believe that to be successful as a songwriter, you have to be very versatile. I have had songs recorded by artists as varied as The Oak Ridge Boys and The Plain White T’s. When I have written… Read more »

Songwriters: Inspiration For Those Days Of Doubt

Songwriters… When you have those days of songwriting doubt and wonder why you are chasing your dream…. I wasn’t exactly young that day I realized I wanted to be a full-time songwriter. I knew no professional songwriters. Also, I was in my mid thirties and had little money to support my dream. I was the… Read more »

The Mindful Songwriter

The world we live in is full of distractions.  With an unlimited supply of entertainment and information in our phones, it is becoming more and more rare to see someone just sitting, thinking and being fully present or mindful. We walk in restaurants and 100% of the people sitting alone are on their phones.  Many… Read more »

Songwriters: Tell Yourself 5 Things Each Morning

  Songwriters: Tell Yourself These 5 Things Each Morning 1) This could be the day that changes everything.   One Tuesday, I walked into a room and wrote a song that became the most played song of the year.  Prior to that day, I had been worried about losing my writing deal.  Therefore, one day… Read more »

Songwriters: Tell Yourself 5 Things Each Morning

  Songwriters: Tell Yourself These 5 Things Each Morning 1) This could be the day that changes everything.   One Tuesday, I walked into a room and wrote a song that became the most played song of the year.  Prior to that day, I had been worried about losing my writing deal.  Therefore, one day… Read more »

Songwriters: Ordinary Is The Enemy Of Great Songs

I can’t count the number of times I have had songwriters tell me… The music business is “trying to keep them out” or that they can’t break into the “cliques” in Nashville, LA, or wherever they are trying to break in. I’d like to give a different perspective on all of that. I put forward… Read more »

How To Write Commercial Songs – Without Selling Your Soul

  Often songwriters in our SongTown classes ask, “How do I write commercial songs without selling out?” They are writers who would like to have commercial success and hear one of their songs on the radio or an album. But they want to know how to accomplish this and still be true to themselves. They… Read more »

Songwriters: Ordinary Is The Enemy

I can’t count the number of times I have had songwriters tell me that the music business is “trying to keep them out” or that they can’t break into the “cliques” in Nashville, LA, or wherever they are trying to break in. I’d like to give a different perspective on all of that. I put… Read more »

Your Ticket Into The Music Business: Writing Better Songs

Marty Dodson and I spend a lot of time preaching the gospel of “writing better songs.” Each time we blog about the power of a great song, we inevitably get several emphatic comments stating something like this: “I have lots of great songs, but I don’t have the connections you guys have!” While this is… Read more »

SongTown – The Power Of Community For Songwriters

When I first started writing songs I was obsessed with listening to records. Songs and sound just turned me on. I was thoroughly engrossed with my favorite artist. I read books about Bob Dylan, I read liner notes and interviews with the Eagles. Deep down, I felt I was part of their world through their… Read more »

SongTown – The Power Of Community For Songwriters

When I first started writing songs I was obsessed with listening to records. Songs and sound just turned me on. I was thoroughly engrossed with my favorite artist. I read books about Bob Dylan, I read liner notes and interviews with the Eagles. Deep down, I felt I was part of their world through their… Read more »

Songwriting Tips For Writing A Great Second Verse

Writing a great second verse is often the difference in a good song and a killer song. Here’s are my tips for leveling-up your second verses. Map out an outline of the song as soon as you decide on a hook. Knowing where you are going helps you avoid saying too much before you get… Read more »

10 Songwriting Tips For Co-Writing On Zoom

As a long time professional songwriter, what used to be an occasional tool for co-writing long-distance, has turned into an everyday affair. In these days of social distancing, co-writing on Zoom has become the norm for scores of creatives around the world. And as a result, many SongTown members have asked me to share my… Read more »

Songwriting Tips For Co-Writing On Zoom

As a long time professional songwriter, what used to be an occasional tool for co-writing long-distance, has turned into an everyday affair. In these days of social distancing, co-writing on Zoom has become the norm for scores of creatives around the world. And as a result, many SongTown members have asked me to share my… Read more »

Who’s In Charge of Your Songwriting Destiny?

I can’t count the times that I’ve heard a songwriter blame their lack of success on the radio, publishers, a “closed circle in the music business”, A&R people who “can’t hear a hit”, bad co-writers, just plain bad luck and the list goes on and on and on. While any of those factors COULD potentially… Read more »

Does Your Songwriting Focus Need Tweaking?

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over my songwriting career is that my songwriting focus constantly needs tweaking. It’s easy to lose sight of the important foundational things and veer off into the worlds of negativity or procrastination. So I have a short checklist of things I remind myself of daily… No matter what… Read more »

Song: World War II Homecoming

The Logsdon Twins Watch the Song Video on YouTube The “WWII Homecoming Song” sprang to life one afternoon during a songwriting workshop with more thanRead more Go to Source Author: Director

Song+Story: Out On the Water

Listen to the song. Do you remember that favorite childhood swimming hole, ocean, or stream that called you to explore and peaked your sense ofRead more Go to Source Author: Director

SongTown Year End Message 2021

As we come to the end of 2021 we celebrate a year of SongTown successes! We are so proud of our members and all the hard work they have put in this year! We look forward to teaching, mentoring and cheering everyone on in 2022! Get a jump start on your 2022 songwriting goals with… Read more »

Sara Davis : Mega-Hit Pop Songwriter and SongTown Alum

Marty sits down and talks with Mega-Hit Pop Songwriter Sara Davis. Sara’s song “abcdefu” sung by GAYLE is currently #1 on the Spotify World Chart with more than 160 million streams! Sara shares her journey of songwriting, being a member of SongTown and how finding her songwriting tribe has been a big part of her… Read more »

#SongwritingHack 1.15 – How I Wrote “One Day You Will” With Lady A

Clay here, coming to you with a video this week because there’s something that’s been on my heart. A couple of days ago, Songtown member Andrew Cavanaugh sent me a link to a video, a Lady A video. It was a song that I had wrote for their first album that I wrote with the… Read more »

Can You Teach Songwriting?

Can songwriting really be taught or do you just have to have “it”? In this episode Clay and Marty debunk the myth that songwriting can’t be taught and give examples of how they themselves have learned songwriting from mentors who have taught them and made them better songwriters. Write better songs faster! Clay & Marty’s… Read more »

#SongwritingHack 1.03 – “Verses Are The New Chorus”

When you think of using repetition in songs, you usually think of it as a device that’s used in choruses, where you’re repeating a title over and over, or you’re repeating the same words to make a song memorable. But today I want to talk about a few ways that you can actually use repetition… Read more »

#SongwritingHack 1.03 – “Verses Are The New Chorus”

When you think of using repetition in songs, you usually think of it as a device that’s used in choruses, where you’re repeating a title over and over, or you’re repeating the same words to make a song memorable. But today I want to talk about a few ways that you can actually use repetition… Read more »

Launching Your Songwriting Into 2022

Launch into 2022 with a solid songwriting plan! Creating a plan is an important part of achieving your goals! Marty and Clay sit down to talk about how you can organize your songwriting to progress towards the goals you really want! If you are in the process of planning your new year or not sure… Read more »

#SongwritingHack 1.06 – How To Write Killer One Chord Songs

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at workshops or songwriting classes and had students come up to me and say something like, you know, I wish I had taken more music theory when I was younger. Or, I wish I’d taken piano lessons or guitar lessons; I can only play a few… Read more »

Handling Song Feedback Constructively

Getting feedback on your songs can sometimes be very overwhelming. Then, once you get the feedback you have the questions of “should I re-write this song, leave it as it is or just write another song completely?” In this episode Clay and Marty talk about how to handle feedback and use it to your advantage… Read more »

Anatomy of a Sync Song

Randall Foster is Vice President of Business Development and GM of the Nashville office of a digital distribution company called Symphonic Distribution. Prior to his current role, Randall was the leader of the Creative Sync & Licensing for ole music publishing where he oversaw a vast catalog of music copyrights and intellectual property and managed… Read more »

People To Thank This Thanksgiving: A Songwriter’s Perspective

  Being grateful and giving thanks is a discipline that I try to practice daily. From a songwriting perspective, here are some things I believe all of us creative types need to be thankful for: The Believers My mom was a huge believer in me and my music.  When everyone else was telling me “no”,… Read more »

Creating Perfect Opening Song Lines: Lyrics That Are Musical

Often when we talk about key elements of a song, you’ll hear people talk opening song lines. They’ll say things like, that’s where you grab the listener’s attention, and that’s where you set the scene of the song. Or maybe if you don’t do it right, you’re going to lose the listener at the very… Read more »

Songwriting Hack – “Creating The Perfect Opening Line: Lyrics That Are Musical”

Often when we talk about key elements of a song, you’ll hear people talk about the opening line. They’ll say things like, that’s where you grab the listener’s attention, and that’s where you set the scene of the song. Or maybe if you don’t do it right, you’re going to lose the listener at the… Read more »

Eliminating Distractions For Songwriters & Artists

With a combined 50+ years of songwriting experience, hit songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson have seen and experienced their fair share of songwriting distractions. In this episode Clay and Marty talk about the most common distractions that keep songwriters from writing their best songs and what you can do to overcome them. Write better… Read more »

Songwriting Hack – “From Song Idea To Major Label Cut”

We’re going to do something special today. Since the beginning of SongTown, I’ve had members ask me if I would break down a song – from the beginning of the idea and inspiration, how he wrote it, to how it became a major label cut. And I’ve always been hesitant because songs don’t always start… Read more »

#1 Songwriter Lee Starr / The Power Of A Great Song

SongTown alumn/songwriter Lee Starr just celebrated his first #1 Billboard hit (“My Boy” sung by Elvie Shane) and the birth of his first child. SongTown’s Clay Mills chats with Lee about his journey and his approach to writing. Lee offers inspiration to aspiring songwriters everywhere with his story of how one great song can change… Read more »

Mother’s Day Newsletter

Happy Mother’s Day! Read our most recent newsletter to learn more about our month long Springboard 2020 Online Festival. Join Judith-Kate Friedman this Sunday forRead more Go to Source Author: Director

Fundraising Goals

We have raised $1,145 so far but we have a long way to go to meet our goal. Help support Songwriting Works today! Go to Source Author: Director

How to Get On Spotify Playlists

Spotify has been steadily emerging as the MOST essential place to get fans, followers, music industry attention, and even money for your songs. And Spotify Playlists have been emerging as the Holy Grail of music promotion. What you need to do have use Spotify for your own music promotion is a “Spotify For Artists” account,… Read more »

How to Write a Holiday Song [Saint Patrick’s Day song example]

As songwriters, sometimes we are asked, or sometimes inspired to write songs for holidays, celebrations, current events, birthdays, etc. Is writing lyrics for these type of songs different than for others? Yes, and in some ways they are actually easier, if you know how. in this Saint Patrick’s Day song example we will learn how…. Read more »

IN FLAMES Singer On Songwriting Process: ‘We’re Just Trying To Write The Best Possible Album We Can’

Rob Herrera of Front Row Live Entertainment conducted an interview with frontman Anders Fridén and guitarist Björn Gelotte of Swedish metallers IN FLAMES prior to the band’s March 19 concert at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, California. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). On what led them… Read more »

Babyface’s Songwriting Camp Is Headed To Toronto

Babyface is sharing the knowledge.https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/babyfaces-songwriting-camp-is-headed-to-toronto-news.58758.html Read more: feedproxy.google.com

Mumford & Sons beware! An AI can now write indie music

A fascinating project called Amadeus Code promises to out-Tay-Tay Tay Tay and out-Bon Bon Iver. The AI-based system uses data from previous musical hits to create entirely new compositions on the fly — and darn if these crazy robot-songs aren’t pretty good. The app, which is available from the iTunes Store but doesn’t seem to… Read more »

Paul McCartney says John Lennon only complimented his songwriting one time

This Sunday, Paul McCartney will appear in his first 60 Minutes profile. Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi spent two days with the Beatles songwriter at his U.K. recording studio, and a press release describes the pair’s interviews as “surprisingly intimate,” with Macca sharing “rare details from the Beatles years” and getting misty about the band’s final concert atop… Read more »

Cat Power on Working with Lana Del Rey and Writing as a Ghost

Download | Subscribe and listen via iTunes | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS Chan Marshall, also known as Cat Power, talks with Kyle Meredith for Kyle Meredith With… about the minimal style of her new record, her lifelong songwriting practice of “three chords and the truth,” and the importance of freeing oneself from one’s past. The singer-songwriter also speaks… Read more »

Ani DiFranco on Ignoring the Press and Writing Her New Memoir

Listen and subscribe via iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | YouTube | RSS Twenty years after her landmark album Little Plastic Castle, seasoned songwriter and activist Ani DiFranco speaks with Kyle Meredith about the “prophetic” qualities of songwriting, the vital importance of getting into the voting booth, and when she decided to stop reading press coverage about herself. DiFranco also discusses the origins… Read more »

Sophia Somajo talks Private Dancer, women in pop and writing with Max Martin

Last week Stockholm-based pop polymath Sophia Somajo released an intimate bleakpop reimagining of Tina Turner’s 80s behemoth Private Dancer, and in the coming weeks she’ll be featured on a fairly high profile collaboration with a song she wrote in the same way she’s written music for many massive pop artists in the past — she… Read more »

NBC Orders Songwriting Competition Songland From EP Adam Levine

We’ve heard plenty of aspiring singers on reality TV — now it’s time to meet the people responsible for writing all those lyrics. NBC has ordered a new reality competition series, Songland, that aims to “find the next generation of hit songwriters,” with The Voice coach Adam Levine on board as an executive producer, TVLine… Read more »

Loco Reveals The Extravagant Gifts He Bought His Mother With Songwriting Royalties

Loco has revealed some interesting things about his royalties! The rapper recently appeared on the October 18 broadcast of MBC FM4U’s “Two O’Clock Date With Ji Suk Jin” as a guest. During the show, DJ Ji Suk Jin asked, “Woo Won Jae said a few days ago that he bought his mother a house with the royalty fees… Read more »

‘I listen to a song I love and I copy it’ – The 1975’s Matty Healy on his writing technique, addiction and Arctic Monkeys

“I don’t listen to rock bands” The 1975 Matty Healy, frontman of The 1975, has opened up about his songwriting techniques, why he doesn’t listen to rock bands, his problems with addiction and more in a new interview. Speaking to The New York Times about the band’s forthcoming third album ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online… Read more »

Top 20 Songwriting Youtube Channels to Follow in 2018

Top 20 Songwriting Youtube Channels Songwriting Youtube Channels List. The Best Songwriting Youtube Channels from thousands of Songwriting Youtube Channels in our index using search and social metrics. Subscribe to these youtubers because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their audience with frequent updates and high-quality videos. These Youtube Channels are ranked… Read more »

How to Write Lyrics

One of the first tips on how to write lyrics to a song that will really get your creative juices flowing is that it is sometimes good to just start writing anything that you are thinking about, feeling, or about what is happening in your physical environment right now. Creating a journal about what happens… Read more »

Audio Story: on the Water

“Out on the Water” Out on the water Cool, clear water ‘Round about this time Seagulls are gathering for dinner   Out on the waterRead more Read more: songwritingworks.org