by Marty Dodson
Apr 24, 2022
I don’t know how many times each week I hear the word “impossible”. The ridiculous part of it all is that most of the things I hear being branded impossible are not really impossible to do at all, they’re just difficult. So, I’d like to do a little bit of songwriting “impossible” myth busting. Let’s take a look at several of them that I hear most often.
“It’s impossible to get a song cut if you don’t live in Nashville, New York or LA.”
False. Lance Sims, a SongTown member, lies in Washington State and got a cut on a major label artist that I wrote WITH and stiff didn’t a cut on. Lori McKenna lives in Massachusetts and gets TONS of songs recorded. Is it more challenging to get cuts if you don’t live in a recording center? Probably so. But it’s far from impossible.
“It’s impossible to get a song cut unless you write it with the artist.”
False. I’ve had 5 #1 songs and over a hundred songs recorded that I did NOT write with the artist. Some artists only cut songs they write. MOST artists are open to a hit song they didn’t write. So, our job as writers is to write those hit songs that are better than the songs the artist is writing. I have built a career on writing songs without artists. It can be done!
“It’s impossible to get a song cut if you are over 30 years old.”
While it may seem like youngsters are getting a lion’s share of cuts these days, they don’t have the market cornered. SongTown alum Sara Davis recently had a worldwide pop #1 smash with “abcdefu” by the artist GAYLE. Sara is in her early twenties. But, there are many songs and topics that a 20 year old can’t write. I’m still writing hit songs in my late 50s. My friend Bill Anderson is still writing hit songs and he is 84 years old. In fact, Bill has had hits in 7 consecutive DECADES! Several SongTown members in their 60s just celebrated their first #1 song. Your age can be an advantage if you learn to write meaningful songs from a more mature perspective. If people find a great song, they don’t care how old the writer is.
“It’s impossible to make money in the music business anymore.”
False. Lots of people are making LOTS of money from music these days. I have a friend who placed a couple of her songs in an online soap opera. In the chat group after the show aired, she interacted with people and wound up selling $12,000 worth of CDs. Another friend just made $250,000 from NFTs of ONE of his songs. Yet another friend is making a lot of money from instrumental tracks he posts on Spotify. Many people are making a killing from streaming, IF they own their masters. Is it hard to make a living from the conventional ways of “selling” music? Yes. But, people who are adapting and learning how to maximize their music with new technology are doing well.
Are these challenging times for songwriters? Yes, in many ways, they are. It’s hard to succeed at a high level in any business, especially a new business you are trying to break into. But, if you listen to the naysayers, you’ll never achieve anything.
I’m a firm believer that you can achieve anything you are willing to bust your tail to achieve. If you heard my early songs, you would have bet the farm that I would not make it as a songwriter. I have simply tried to learn all I can and outwork everyone around me. And, I’ve turned off the negative voices coming from inside and outside who try to tell me that my dreams are impossible. No one can tell you what you can accomplish. Only YOU define what is impossible for you. AND, the only 100% guarantee is that if you never try it, you will ALWAYS fail.
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