by Clay Mills
Jul 14, 2020
One of the hardest things to come to grips with as a songwriter is other peoples opinions on your songs. Here is a story that can help you navigate those waters.
I wrote with a writer last week who is actively looking for a publishing deal. He is a super talented writer and was expressing frustration over how two publishers suggested changes on a song he wrote and both gave exact opposite opinions on what his song needed. One said his chorus music didn’t go anywhere and needed work. The next publisher he played his song for loved the music but thought his title was not strong enough. “I like the song the way it is,” he said to me in total frustration.
Since I mostly co-write songs I’m a little more used to navigating the opinion waters. So I offered my friend my take on how to handle opinions on your songs.
If my co-writers publishers, a producer, or label person are all giving me feedback that my song is lacking somewhere then I’ve probably missed the mark on my song and they are trying to come up with a reason.
The specifics of what they personally don’t like about my song is not the bottom line. The bottom line is my song is not getting them excited and hitting the replay button. These folks really want to like my song. Their jobs depend on them finding great songs and they don’t care where it comes from.
Now when I have done my job right it usually goes something like this- My publisher is asking when he can get a copy of the demo.
My co-writers publisher can’t wait for the demo and is so pumped up about the song he is running over to a producer to play the simple work tape we did that morning when we wrote the song. The producer then wants to hold the song until he can play it next week for the artist. The bottom line– The song is motivating people that hear it in a good way.
Even though I have a track record of getting songs onto records, I can tell you the second scenario here happens way less than the first.
So opinions on your songs are often an important measuring stick. But I try to stay focused on the bottom line. If a publisher I trust suggest I make a change, I often try it and see if I like it better. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. But it’s always my call.
Reba once called and asked me to write an additional 3rd verse to a song of mine called “Sky Full of Angels”.
After hearing her reasons, I wrote a 3rd verse with my co-writer and she recorded the song. I could have disagreed but she was right with her observation. So the bottom line is I listen to feedback but I remember the bottom line and it’s always a matter of what I feel is right after considering someone else’s opinion.
Write On! CM
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