Bad Music And Songwriting

by Clay Mills
Feb 1, 2024

“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 in Nashville, an aspiring songwriter behind me in line offered to buy my cup of Joe and wondered if he could talk to me about songwriting for a few minutes. I was early for a writing appointment, so I said, “Sure.” First of all, the writer wanted to say thanks to Marty and myself for starting SongTown and inspiring folks like him to keep writing. He was a great guy. I asked him what he wanted more than anything.

He said with no hesitation, “I want to get one of my songs recorded by a major artist and make a living writing.”

“Great goal,” I thought. I told him that I had been in the same place 12+ years ago! The next thing out his mouth was a small rant about how music today “sucks.” “Nothing good out there” and “the artists look good, but can’t sing.” He went on to say he spends most of his time listening to classic music. “Hmmm…” I thought, “this is something I hear a lot in writing forums on the internet.”

Later that day I pondered the morning conversation about “today’s music” and this writers attitude towards it.

Let me suggest this: if you find yourself hating the music that’s being played today, then getting one of these artist to record your song will most likely NEVER happen. In fact, almost all the successful writers that I work with waste little time complaining about music they don’t like. They are too busy creating new music, working on their own sound, and talking about the cool new music they’re currently into. If they don’t like the latest Luke Bryan record, they simply don’t listen to it longer than it takes to understand why other people DO like it.

It’s really about FOCUS and INTENTION. If you feel the radio is bad music, you’re not going to create songs for the radio.

And that’s okay. But, know your goal. If it’s to create music better than the radio, then find the artists that do those kinds of songs and spend your time pursuing that goal. Every second we spend complaining about “Radio,” steals our energy away from doing what we love. If your goal is to get a song on the radio, then I challenge you to immerse yourself in the songs by radio artists that you like. Even if it’s only 10 songs this year. What makes those songs special to you? Can you soak up what’s good about those songs? Strive to write songs of that quality or better.

The bottom line: be clear about what you want for your life and your songwriting. And chase that positively!

Write on! ~CM

Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.


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