SongTown: Keeping The Craft Of Songwriting Alive

keeping Songwriting alive- songtown


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 to us: Hall of Fame songwriters like Kim Williams, Rory Bourke, and Richard Leigh.

Marty and I also had the same experience starting out: it took us both many years of writing before we were able to get in the writing room with top song craftsmen.

And boy, songwriting at that level was drastically different from what I had learned up to that point!

You see, I had read all the books, tried music college at a famous music school, and attended some workshops. But, they only served to confuse the hell out of me and leave my writing flat! However, when I sat in the room with great songwriters, things simply and elegantly made sense. Instantly, I could see I had to let go and unlearn what I had been told about songwriting before. I was now playing in a different game; I was learning intuitive creative skills that could only have come from the kind of knowledge that gets passed down from the doers themselves—just as they had learned from the one who came before them.

It was this day at Starbucks that Marty and I realized we wanted to start teaching aspiring songwriters the real way to write songs. To keep this craft of songwriting alive and well.

In SongTown, you won’t find sexy book theory. Instead, you get real, genuine artisan advice. Pros that want to pass along the love of the craft, the writing room flow, and technique that applied in the living breathing real world of songwriting. We wanted to keep the real art of songwriting alive.

Little did we know then how much sheer energy and drive it would take. The energy to balance our own pro songwriting careers writing for hit artists like Darius Rucker with feeding the endless hunger for knowledge of SongTown members.

The thing keeping us going has been the tremendous feeling of family from the creative artists and writers at SongTown—and getting to know many of you personally.

Being a songwriter can be lonely because friends and family don’t always understand us. But, everyone in SongTown understands and supports each other. And from day one, it’s been a vital, positive vibe.

Just know Marty and I appreciate your talent and the work you do showing up to learn in our classes and workshops, offering each other feedback on the website forums, and meeting face-to-face at SongTown events and our new SongCircles. I counted: 500,000 comments in the last few years. Wow, that’s a lot of feedback, learning, and support you guys have for each other!

Yes, SongTown has over 1 million views of our 1,000 lesson videos and courses. And yes there are 80 plus pro writers helping to instruct. But for those of you thinking of joining, know that Marty and I have an open-door policy.

Ask us anything you need, and we’ll get back to you when we are done with our day’s writing sessions.

The internet is filled today with marketers offering expert advice. And, I wish we had the energy or desire to market SongTown in a bigger way like those guys, but we are consumed by working at what we love. We are full-time staff songwriters for our publishers and passers of the flame to all of you who love songwriting as much as we do.

Write On! Clay


Clay Mills is co-founder of SongTown 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. 

34 thoughts on “SongTown: Keeping The Craft Of Songwriting Alive

  1. Previously we were members of another American company. We received little feedback there, no mentoring and little personal communication. So, we were a tad sceptical on joining Songtown. We have been members now for just over a month, and we are so impressed. The level of attention, the mentoring available, the education, the forums are wonderful. Thank you very much guys from two of us on the other side of the Pacific.
    Cheers Sue and Pete

  2. I have been studying songwriting for a little minute, but when I joined Songtown, I quickly realized that all those books, classes and seminars I had been studying had me so confused, I was lucky to write one song a year. It was like the sun finally coming out after a long cloudy year when I discovered the real deal at Songtown. All the Thank You’s in the world could not express how much I love Songtown and how much I respect & appreciate Clay ,& Marty for allowing unknown songwriters like me to be here and learn from the best in the industry. Thanks Clay & Marty….You guys truly are great humans.

  3. Great blog, as usual! I’m so glad I discovered Songtown when I did. Been a member about 2 1/2 years. Went from writing a few lyrics on my own to now having written a bunch of complete songs by myself. Learned about all aspects of songwriting and most importantly, how things work in the real world of songwriting. Thanks, Clay and Marty!

  4. I would love to see a video of a pro songwriting session, just to watch their process, though it’s hard to imagine any pro writers agreeing to being recording in the act.

    1. Hey Lon, there are two or three of these on the site right now. You might have already watched them. One was their amateur vs. pro songwriters where you got to see a couple pros write to a title and then see the amateurs write to the same title. Also, there was one with Marty and Clay writing a song called “Parkin'” I believe. I thought Clay also had one where he and someone else was writing with a track person but I could be mistaken.

  5. I seem to recall a quote that Songwriting is 10% ‘Inspiration’ and 90% ‘Perspiration’.
    That metaphoric analysis implies that those ad lib Lines of Lyric that come out of your mouth, and the Melody to which you sing them, the ‘Inspired’ part, can benefit from some ‘Perspiration’, the ‘Crafting’ of that ‘Inspired’ creation.
    When I’m writing I’m editing as I go. The Line may change, different words to say the same thing, whole substitutions of Lines, moving Lines around, getting ‘Inspiration’ that some Lines will be better in Verse II than Verse I, tweaking the Melody. Should the pitch go up or down at the end of the Line, there in the middle. And does it need a Bridge, or am I clever enough to find a Verse III that completes the Storyline?
    Crafting your Inspiration to construct a Song can make the difference between forgettable and memorable.
    You boys should pass through and drop a comment. Lots of folks are looking (‘Views’), and you may be what they’re looking for.

  6. I really believe that you and Marty were predestined to create Songtown, and that your meeting at that coffee shop will go down in history like Bill Wilson’s meeting with Dr. Bob to create AA and Sargeant Shriver’s meeting with JFK created the Peace Corp. The connection between members in Songtown is so much deeper than other membership organizations. So many of us have arrived at Songtown with the common bond of finally finding our tribe. And the fact that you, Clay, and Marty are able to maintain truly personal relationships with each and every member who seeks to have one seems impossible, yet you guys do it year after year. What a legacy. I’m so grateful I found Songtown and finally found my tribe. Please keep on doing what you do so well.
    Write on!

  7. “Being a songwriter can be lonely,” No shit! lol Thanks for being there with your video tips, answers to questions, exposure to pro writers, and roll up your sleeves work ethic. I’m way better than I was 2 years ago. Thanks.

  8. Clay – it’s the fact that you and Marty are still in the writing room everyday that makes Songtown excellent. I feel like your videos and workshops are always current and relevant, which isn’t the case with most other books/sites. I write all morning and turn to you guys for info and encouragement in the evenings. Thanks for being willing to split your time and include the rest of us.

  9. Clay, I hope you and Marty can sense our gratitude, as SongTownians, for what you do. It’s cool, for one, just to be able to converse with you two (as hit songwriters and great guys). It’s also super-encouraging to have you guys point out that all songwriters (even pro hit songwriters) go through the tough stuff. And the advice and critiques you guys give us are gold! Getting into pro songwriting feels like finding your way through a huge labyrinth, but with you guys in the mix, it’s kind of like having a guide with a walkie-talkie helping you figure it out. Thanks for deciding to “pass the torch”!

  10. I’m all for keeping the craft alive, but how can non-singer-songwriters make a living writing songs in the current climate of “free” music (You Tube, low payouts from companies like Spotify, etc).?

    1. Lee I’m not a recording artist and make my living writing songs for other artist. Not all music is free. We had 4 Songtown members sign publishing deals in the last year. Others are close. You have to write great songs. That changes the game. Cheers, Clay

  11. Songtown is my town! Know that I’m most appreciative of all you do for all of us from every aspect! Two thumbs up to you both! Way Up!!

  12. You and Marty are inspirations. So grateful for you guys and Songtown. Thank you for giving back to those of us who aspire to follow in your footsteps!

  13. SongTown has been the thing that has propelled my songwriting abilities to the next level. I hope all committed songwriters join SongTown. I recommend it unconditionally.

  14. First time I’ve actually read completely through one of your blogs and replied. I sense a genuineness in your words. Looking forward to learning some more things about crafting better songs…

  15. You guys rock this. I work a full time “day” job and by the time I get home and take care of the family and the household stuff –as I’m sure you do also–there is little time or energy to sit and write and rehearse. You demonstrate your level of commitment to us here at SongTown when I get email responses from you at midnight Pacific time which means it’s 2:00 AM in Nashville.
    Thanks for all that you do and all that you provide for us here.

      1. Clay says he sleeps… I see no evidence of that. 😏😎
        He’s a great example of doing the work, and if you’re a member of ST, you just so happen to be the beneficiary of his insomnia.
        Thanks brotha for the ungodly hours you spend on our behalf.


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