Are You A Pro Or Aspiring Songwriter? A Great Song Doesn’t Care!

lyricists - songwriters.

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 songs. 16 Billboard hits. And you know what.. I’ve been on co-writing sessions where I contributed ONLY lyric. Other times sessions I did ONLY the music. And often BOTH music and lyric. Some days I play an instrument on the session and others I won’t. In fact, I know Hall Of Fame lyricists that have written some of the most iconic songs of all time. 

The song doesn’t care if you’re a pro writer.

Another thread here debated what it means to be a “pro songwriter”… Well, a great song doesn’t care about that either. I’ve heard songs that stop me dead in my tracks written by a writer without a pub deal. And as a pro songwriter, somedays I’ve written some pretty “just okay songs.” What we label ourselves or what we’ve accomplished doesn’t matter when we sit down to write. has become the #1 online songwriting community in just a few years with hundreds of thousands of song feedback comments on each other’s songs. Why? Because SongTown members spend their time on the ONLY thing that really matters. The SONGS. And helping each other write better songs… Not labels or who does what. Because in the end, who cares? It’s all opinion…

Do you know what is real and not opinion? THE SONGS.

When a song is written right and moves everyone that hears it to tears, or to dance, or to laugh. That is all that matters. A song doesn’t care how it was written, who wrote it, or if it was created by a pro or a first-timer. I’ve had songs on over 15 million albums sold and a string of hits. If I write a bad song, guess what… nobody wants to sing it or hear it. At least not for a second time!

I’m thankful for the supportive community we have in Songtown and for our members that keep their eye on the ball (song). They are learning to write the best song they can. That’s why we have members signing staff writing deals and artist deals. That’s why many of our members are having fun just learning to be better writers.

Participation in heated OPINION will rob us all of our ability to create great art. All of you matter. Your songwriting matters.

Write On! ~Clay



Clay Mills is a co-founder of and a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter. He has 2 Grammy nominations and is the co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.  New book, Mastering Melody Writing, coming in 2021!

19 thoughts on “Are You A Pro Or Aspiring Songwriter? A Great Song Doesn’t Care!

  1. Thank you, Clay; I love your spot on commentary on songwriting here.
    I have written one, so far, national, award winning song, never made money off of it, per se..The recognition was great.
    Now, I’m asking to do that again, and make a large pile of money 🙂

  2. My first goal would be to earn that first dollar from a song, as a lyric writer, and have it framed. That would be a prized possession. I would consider myself a professional songwriter at that point. The meaning and inspiration behind the song are priceless.

  3. I appreciate what you have accomplished. I’m certain you considered yourself a professional songwriter prior to coming to Nashville. I am neither bitter or jaded. I am determined. Determined to figure out how to get a ‘Nashville’ publisher to believe in my music like the ones I have worked with outside of Tennessee. I realize a great song could open these doors. But- Not having my music on the charts doesn’t mean I haven’t written them.

    It’s all good. In due time.

  4. The meaning of the word professional is if you get paid or have been paid for your craft, even a pultry sum. At least that was the meaning. So you are a pro.

  5. It’s just what I do, Pro or not, I have had some cuts etc, and I’m daily trying to get better at writing, while also trying to figuring out the business end of it. The business end seems to be important and a challenge. But, you don’t need to have that all figured out when your first get going. I suck at the business end now and when I got those cuts. Here’s what seemed to make the real difference, I am a loving true blue loyal caring person that hopes to make real friends and good lasting relationships, as I go forward everyday, and I show up and follow up. I believe that was a big part in those cuts, as well as, they were really good songs. One of those songs “Gettin’ There” is up for song of the year this weekend at the Josie awards, and Alexa Grover, the artist, is up for new artist of the year, becuase of that single. Never expected that, and that was a relationship cut through my co-writer. We wrote a really good song and she loved it and asked us to make it work for her even though she was the oppisite sex of what the song was written for and under age for the content of the song. So we rewrote it for her. We didn’t have anything to lose, by doing it, and it was fun, and the original song is still there too. So I guess we wrote the same great song twice. lol Bottom line, I just keep writing. Hoping things like that will happen again, hoping a great, song will happen everytime, and hoping that somebody who hears it will love it enough to sing a long, or make it there own. So maybe I am a pro. 🙂

  6. I have taken two Songtown workshops and the main thing I’ve learned is that you should not consider yourself a Pro Songwriter until you can write consistently good songs. They emphasize that writing better songs is the key to having a chance at success.

  7. I’ll bet a lot of the Songs we’d all recognize were one-hit wonders for some Lyric-Only creative mind, or even some Lyric-And-Music creative. They hit on an inspired idea and got it to market where it found its way to the masses. And then they never wrote another one, or never got another one to market, or got others there but never hit and became classics like that one.

    I have taken the Lyrics of a few other people and set them to music and feel as strongly about them as I do my own. If it works, it works. I think it was Duke Ellington who said, “If it sounds good, it IS good.”

    We don’t know where the Songs we’ve enjoyed all our lives came from. Most of the time we have no idea who wrote them or how it all came together. We play ‘trivia’ just remembering who SANG them, and that’s about as curious as we get. Elvis never wrote a Song.

    So whether the issue of Lyric-Only or Music-AND-Lyric creativity is even worth debating, is worth debating. lol

    All I and 99% of the world want from you is a new Song. Just write a new Song; a GOOD new Song. And get it to market where we can hear it.

  8. Thank you so much for the in formation, hope to meet you in person someday. if i ever get fortunate to write a great song I’ll want to shake your hand.

  9. Any advice on how to find a publisher who will find established artists to record my songs? I’ve written all the music and lyrics so own all the rights, and and performed on the demos as well. But I’d love to find major artists to record them.

  10. Hi Clay,
    Although new to Songtown, I have truly come to appreciate the perspective, wisdom and “tidbits” that you continue to provide for fledgling songwriters like myself; once again, you have made some excellent points here! Personally, I came to music later in life, learning how to play (guitar) AFTER age 40, and did not get into the songwriting thing until my early 50’s. It has become an extremely important, if not cathartic and therapeutic, part of my life. However, I have no plans to quit my “day job” (school administrator), and will be content to remain an amateur. If anything positively happens for me out of my local, central Maine area, I will consider it a blessing and am just happy that I could finally cross this off from my “bucket list” – better late than never, as they say, ESPECIALLY where songwriting is concerned!!! Thanks again!!! KAM

  11. Thanks, Clay
    I write lyrics, I also am going to be writing my own music. I do collaborate with various other people. I written many lyrics, and have other people do their interpretation of what they feel the music should be like. One of the most recent songs that has been finished, made people cry, not my voice, not my music. I appreciate the different Input of creativity. So thanks again for this today, Clay, it is greatly appreciated.

  12. Interesting! I have been creating songs since age 13! I have studied everything I can afford to study! I was invited to write in Nashville, my first year in University! I chose to study! I am not sure I made the right choice …. Nashville seems to be a major hub for getting country music cuts! But we do have our own songwriting community and things are happening 🙂 I just wake up writing and go to sleep with it on my mind. I write both lyrics and melodies. … or they write me. I enjoy entertaining on a local scale! It is fun! But, I am very dedicated! I practice new material and study new hits daily …. I know some days what I write is not great, but the more I write, the less I write poor songs! Happy songwriting!

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