by Clay Mills
Apr 4, 2020
I was in Starbucks last week enjoying my morning dose of inspiration—COFFEE!—and an aspiring songwriter approached me. “Are you Clay from SongTown?” “Yes,” I said. He asked if he could chat about writing for a couple of minutes. Then he began by saying, “I’m writing some great music, but no one “gets it.” He continued, “I’ve played my songs at several pitch-to-publisher meetings, and Nashville just doesn’t get my writing. I made a few suggestions to try to steer my friend in the right direction.
As he walked away, I realized he would need to accept a simple, but powerful, truth: it’s not the world’s job to “Get Us.”
This was a hard lesson for me to learn in the beginning of my career. I would go to meetings with publishers or play live shows, all with the hope of being discovered. And I often got angry when no one paid attention. They just don’t “get me,” I would say.” I’m as good as all those writers making a living with their songs.” Eventually, after years of working so hard and not getting noticed, it hit me. “It’s MY job to show the world who I am and what my music is about.” It’s not the world’s responsibility to stop and listen to me.
The world has millions of artists on social media, playing songwriter’s nights, doing showcases—millions of artists and writers screaming, “Notice me!”
So, how did I finally make things happen in my career? If I got an opportunity to play my songs for a publisher and he didn’t care for my writing, my first thought became, “How can I write better songs?” If I got an opportunity to play my songs live for an audience and they weren’t paying attention, my first thought was, “How can I write new songs that will move this audience the next time I play?”
I went from telling myself that “no one gets my sound” to “how do I write a song that moves people?”
In doing so, I gave myself the power. I stopped handing it over to some external world. No longer expecting the world to change and suddenly start liking what I was doing. It’s not the world’s job! I take this approach even today, because music changes. Every day I’m trying to figure out how to better master melody writing. I study lyrics. I want to know what affects people, because that is constantly changing. I want my music to reach into the listener’s heart. To move them to cry, smile, laugh, or just have a good time!
It didn’t happen overnight. It was more like over years!
I was a full-time writer, writing almost daily for five years before I got my first major artist cut! A song called “Second Chance,” sung by country superstar Trisha Yearwood. My first experience at writing a song that moved a lot of people! Over the years I’ve managed to get several cuts on this song and it’s been a featured movie song as well. And even though it’s been 15 years since I wrote it, it’s been recorded by two major artists and I think it still stands up today.
You can check it out below… let me know what you think.
Today, show the world who you are!
Write On! Clay
Second Chance – Trisha Yearwood
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