Trusting Your Gut On Your Songwriting Journey

by Marty Dodson
Jun 23, 2016

I hear people all the time talking about “trusting their gut”.  While I am a big proponent of that in many ways, I have discovered that the “trust your gut” strategy has cost me thousands of wasted dollars when it comes to my songs.

When I got my first writing deal, my gut had urged me to demo around 20 songs at a cost of $6000 or more out of my pocket.  That same gut told me that these songs were awesome.  Awesome enough to get cut.  Awesome enough to be on the radio.

I had pitched these songs around town and met only with rejection.  I was perplexed because my gut is usually right in other areas of my life.  It has literally saved my life on several occasions.

So, I blamed the people hearing my songs.  “They don’t know a good song when they hear it.”  “They just want the same old thing.”  “They are biased in favor of ‘their’ writers.”  You know the drill.

When I finally found a publisher that “got” me, I proudly gave him all twenty demos to listen to.  He offered me an entry level deal but told me that he didn’t want to pitch ANY of my twenty songs.  He didn’t think any of them were commercial.  None.  Zero.  I was heartbroken. My gut had led me astray.

The publisher  said that he signed me on “promise”, not on those songs.  It sounded to me like the “she’s got a great personality” kind of statement.  But, what could I do?  I started writing and learned to write better songs.

One of the things I learned during that first writing deal was that most of us are not good judges of our own work.  It’s nearly impossible to be as objective as you need to be when you evaluate your own music.  It’s sort of like evaluating our children.

Most of us believe that our kids are above average and beautiful.  Some of us are WAY off base on that one.  But, we LOVE the little boogers so much that we can’t see them clearly and honestly.

If you have played your demos all around town and gotten NO positive responses, your gut is not giving you good info.  You need to find someone who knows that they are talking about to give you a little “gut check” and hep you get on track.  That’s one of the things we do in our mentoring sessions. We want people to have a realistic expectation of where the bar is and we want to help them elevate their writing to that level.

Don’t let your gut cost you a fortune like I did.  Check it out before you spend lots of money on demos.


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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