Music Business

How To Weather The Ups and Downs of The Music Business

by Marty Dodson
Sep 13, 2022

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”  ~Hunter S. Thompson

There is no doubt that the music business is tough. But so is the “Medical” business, the “law” business, the “teaching business”, etc. You get the picture. Things are tough all over. But, the music business is FULL of things that look promising and fall through, things that are “guaranteed” and don’t happen – on and on it goes.

I have shared some of my disappointments. Holds that were all but a “sure thing” and didn’t happen. Singles that were promised on Carrie Underwood at the time when every song she released had gone to #1 and never came to be. The list is long and sad.

So, how do you stick with it when the “downs” start to pile up? I learned the hard way that you have to have a plan.

The plan I came up with was this:

1. Don’t LIVE for songwriting.

I had to re-align my priorities. If songwriting is the ONLY thing you are living for, things are going to get rough. I had to back up a little bit, re-establish my priorities and start living for the REAL important things. In my case, my family. Living for them put musical disappointments in perspective.

2. Don’t let yourself get too high or too low.

I made the mistake of getting too excited about every hold and banking on it before it got cut. That road was the express lane to depression. I learned to celebrate a cool hold with a beer and then move on. I didn’t spend the money before it came. Keeping the “highs” in perspective also helped keep the “lows” in perspective.

3. Concentrate on the songs you haven’t written yet.

I write songs, demo them and then forget them for the most part. I’m trying to write a better song tomorrow than I wrote today, and that requires a lot of focus. The song from yesterday or last week doesn’t get ANY attention until I have tried to write a better one. That philosophy keeps me moving forward and not looking back.

I hope those ideas help if you have struggled with the “low” aspects of pursuing a musical dream. Keep living for something bigger than music. Keep yourself centered – don’t get too high or too low. And look forward, not back.

Then, just write on.


Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing


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