Don’t Judge A Pro Songwriter By His Cover

by Clay Mills
Oct 9, 2016

The other day, a friend and I were talking about a songwriter in town that is on FIRE. He’s getting an amazing number of cuts. We were talking (with a little envy) about his success and wishing for something even close to what he is experiencing. Someone else came in the room and heard us mention his name. They said “Do you know his story?” Both of us admitted that we did not.

So he told us the story. This writer came to town and was living in his car. After several months of living that way, he met a song plugger who really liked his music. The plugger discovered that he was living in his car and invited him to live in the spare room in his house until he could afford a place to stay. The writer said that he didn’t want to impose. Instead, he asked if he could just live in a tent in the song plugger’s yard. He would not change his mind, even though the plugger begged him to stay in the house. He cooked his food outside and only went inside to wash clothes or to use the restroom.

For over a year, the writer lived in a pup tent and worked to improve his writing. The song plugger began pitching songs and getting them cut. Eventually, the writer got a record deal and had some major hits as an artist. Now, they still work together and the writer is one of the hottest writers in the world. They have made a fortune together. The writer now lives in a very modest house. And the song plugger still pitches his awesome songs. We sat there, dumbfounded. It is so easy to look at someone’s success and to think – “Wow, things come so easy for them. I wish I had their life” without knowing what they sacrificed to get where they are.

The moral of this songwriter’s story is two-fold…

1) Don’t assume that anyone got their success without great sacrifice. 2) If you want to succeed, it really helps to want it THAT bad. People who succeed in the music business are not half-way in it. They commit to it with everything they have and they pursue it relentlessly. That’s the competition. That’s the level of “want to” that gets you to the top. That doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed without living in a pup tent, but it DOES mean that songwriting has to be a SERIOUS pursuit – not just a hobby – if you want to succeed. If it matters to you, devote yourself to it and do what it takes to make it happen.

Write On! Marty

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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