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 forward that ordinary is the enemy.
In my experience, nobody is trying to keep anyone out.
There are camps that try to keep most of their artists cut songs from within the camp. But, even those camps are after the same thing. If you increase their chances at getting that one thing, then you are in like the long lost cousin at a family reunion who just won the Powerball.
What is that one thing, you might ask? $$Money$$, my friends. It’s the same reason the family reunion welcomes cousin Lenny who was last seen stealing granny’s Oldsmobile 20 years ago if he pulls up this year in a Bentley.
If you come in with a song that sounds like money, people are going to be fighting over it (and you).
You see, the enemies of the songwriter are not publishers, artists and record labels.
Ordinary is the enemy. That pile of ordinary songs that ALL of us have.
I have hundreds of them. Maybe thousands. They are never going to get recorded because they just don’t stand out in any way.
The people I played them for earlier in my career weren’t trying to keep me out. I just wasn’t giving them anything unique enough to work with. I was playing them ordinary songs. Just like hundreds of other writers were playing them. And I thought they were amazing.
Consequently, the SongTown mantra is and has always been “write a better song”. Ordinary is the enemy! If you aren’t getting anywhere with publishers, write a better song. If you don’t get a prize in a song contest, don’t keep submitting that same song to every contest in the world, write a better one.
The answer to ANY lack of progress in your songwriting is to simply write a better song.
When you finally write that song that is OUT of the ordinary, you will see a different response when you play it for people in the business.
So, if you are so inclined, drop out of the blame game and fight against ordinary, not against the music business. That’s the ticket to succeeding. Refuse to write ordinary ideas. Refuse to settle for ordinary lyrics. Realize that ordinary is the enemy and keep digging until your melodies are unique and stand out in a crowd. Then, and only then, will people start to pay attention.
Write on! MD
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Author: Marty Dodson