10 Things I Wish I Knew Early In My Songwriting Career

by Marty Dodson
Jan 20, 2022

Early in my songwriting career, I knew nothing about how the business works or how to actually become a full-time songwriter and sustain a career as one.  This is a list of things I wish I knew when I was starting out.  Knowing these ten things could have saved me years of trial and error.  Consider them my gift to you!  And may they trim years off of YOUR trial and error songwriting journey!

Diversify Your Songwriting

Learn to write lots of different kinds of songs. Your goal should be to have a great song that works for every artist.

Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.

If you can be honest with yourself, you can find people that are strong where you are weak and write better songs immediately.

Don’t wait so to follow your passion.

Discovering the book “What Color Is Your Parachute”  was a pivotal part of my becoming a songwriter. It helped me figure out what my passion was (and is) and inspired me to try to make a living doing something I loved instead of just chasing a paycheck.

There are many kinds of writing deals.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Early In My Songwriting Career

I thought publishers would either say “No”, sign me to a writing deal or offer me a single song contract. That is false. You can create your own kind of deal if you are creative and smart.

One song can change everything.

Several times in my career, things were not going well and one song changed the whole course of my deal and my career. That’s why, at SongTown, we say “Keep writing better songs.” Tomorrow’s song could be THE one.

Listen to your critics.

People who will take the time to give you honest critique of your work are invaluable. They won’t always be right, but they can make you better. Drop your pride and listen.

Have fun.

Don’t stress so much about holds, cuts, passes, etc. Just enjoy writing.

Write the song in the room.

In the beginning, I tried to force too many things. Pushing to write uptempos or a song for a certain artist cause me to walk right past a great song begging to be written in the room that day. Learn How To Write The Song In The Room and it will transformed my songwriting.

Don’t blame anyone else for your lack of success.

It was tempting early on to blame “the business”, “stupid A&R people”, or anyone else I could find. When I started writing hit songs, they didn’t keep me from getting cuts. I don’t think they got smarter. Maybe I did.

Don’t demo everything you write.

Spend your money wisely. If I had spent the money I spent on demoing mediocre songs on something that would help me write better songs, I would have progressed more quickly.

Hope those help!

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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