Songwriters Anonymous: “If only it were that easy.”

Posted on January 9, 2011

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9/18/10
"The life of the singer is the song."
Jeremy Dean

I recently saw the following posting on Craigslist. I realize, sadly, that someone sincerely thought it might work, and they took a desperate chance (which we all do at times, I suppose), but it provided me a hearty laugh, as I exclaimed, “If only it were that easy!”

(Note: I am reprinting it as it was listed – spelling errors and all.)

FAMOUS PROFESIONAL SINGER

LOOKING FOR A PROFESIONAL SINGER OR SINGERS TO RECORD AND PRODUCE SONGS FROM LYRICS WHICH I HAVE WRITTEN. I HAVE WRITTEN SONG LYRICS TO SEVERAL SONGS. THERE IS NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT SOME COULD BE SMASH HITS IF RECORDED BY THE RIGHT ARTIST. I AM NOT A MUSICIAN NOR DO I KNOW ANYONE IN THAT PROFESSION PERSONNELY. IF YOU ARE A PROFESIONAL LOOKING FOR A NEW HIT MABE WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.

If only it were that easy, right?

It amazes me how nieve some songwriters start out, with very little knowledge of what is expected of them in order to get a song heard. I’ve waded through boxes and boxes of audition materials, lyric submissions, and classifieds much like this, and I’m always bewildered as to what would possess a true songwriter to conceive the idea that someone as “profesional” as a Music City executive (of any kind) would lunge at the chance to contact the writers of such classifieds, when songwriters all over this town are taking their pitching to whole new face-to-face levels, along with songwriters attending all the betterment workshops and critique clinics, who are gaining knowledge that will actually help them get their music heard.

So, if you’re one of those writers who thinks you’ve written a hit song the world will leap to you at the chance for, and that it won’t cost you any money out of your pocket, and you think you’re just one Craigslist ad away from stardom, let me burst your bubble here…Nashville is the windshield, and you are the bug. Whatever aspirations you had when you decided to try and become a songwriter were apparently unfounded, considering your idea of making money as a songwriter is merely based on advertising yourself as a “smash hit” writer. So, while you certainly entertain us with the comedic value of the ad above, you must begin to understand that nobody is going to come looking for your songs. As a matter of fact, the chance of you getting your song heard, even if you took them to the appropriate people face-to-face is almost non-existent. A plethora of GREAT, undiscovered songwriters have tried many ways to get their songs discovered, but landing a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s yard (like Kris Kristofferson did with “Sunday Coming Down”) will only give you jail time to write about these days.

At one time or another, songwriters have all heard great rare stories of how the hits got discovered. And, apparently many songwriters have this idea that music executives find great songs sorta like winning the lottery and choosing our phone number for the ticket. If only it were that easy.

There is no golden process for getting your songs discovered – merely golden steps laid out ahead of you like a road that you should be following: songwriter classes, workshops, song critiques, songwriter nights, etc. These are all viable, tried-and-true measures toward your discovery. If you are not participating in any of them, and you are relying on Craigslist to get your shot, you most certainly will just be the bug on the windshield.

So, before you post your next Craigslist classified, ask yourself this question, “What would Kris Kristofferson do?” I can guarantee you he’d laugh his butt off at you for mentioning Craigslist. He was a wild and crazy guy at one time, and he learned a lot from it. He took some unordinary steps to reach his extraordinary success, but he did them within the confines of his character as a strong writer first. His belief that he was a songwriter outweighed his zeal to proclaim himself as one, and he took every opportunity to reach song success before his own personal success, because – just as we all have had – there were times he didn’t believe in himself. “I could no more not write than not breathe,” he said. He didn’t need to reassure himself as a songwriter through desperate attempts to get his songs heard, even though he did take risks. Posting an ad on Craigslist is hardly such risk.

Let me encourage you to quit trying to take the easy road as a songwriter…it does not exist. Whatever trail you’ve ventured off on in this journey as a writer is dangerous and deadly to a songwriting career if you are unable or too cheap to stay on the road of proven methods. A walk down that road involves hard work, dedication, desire, a million rejections, and more hard work. And if you stay on that road long enough, and do your due diligence, there may come a time when you’ll eventually be able to learn that a bug flying in the same direction as the windshield hurts much less than closing your eyes and hoping for the best.

If only it were that easy.

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