Songwriting

How To Increase Your Odds Of Success In Any Creative Business

by Marty Dodson
Aug 20, 2019

From time to time, someone asks me “What are the odds of getting a cut?”  In my mind, what they are really asking is “Is this even worth trying?”

I’m going to suggest here that this is the wrong approach to dream chasing of any form and will hurt your odds of success.

Let me put it to you this way.  What are the odds that a Nashville guy with middle school and high school band experience as his only formal music training finds himself in New York City writing songs for 2 plays, conducting a band and helping the NYC music director from “Jersey Boys” chart out music?  Almost ZERO.  Yet, here I am.

What are the odds that a guy who grew up with no connections in the music business at all, figures it out, gets more than 110 songs recorded, and writes 6 #1 songs?

Not great odds.  Yet, here I am.

What are the odds that two songwriters with no formal business training create a business that has grown from day 1 and has served more than 30,000 songwriters all over the world?  That’s laughable.  Yet, here Clay and I stand. We learned to increase the odds.

The longer I live, the more I realize that it’s really not about the odds unless you are playing the lottery.

In that case, there really are odds that are stacked against you. Those odds are measurable and accurate.  They are based on math.  They are real!

In any creative endeavor, however, the odds are not so fixed.  You can figure out ways to cut them WAY down.  To increase your odds of success. How do you do that?

Focus On What You Want

Keep your eyes on the prize.  Keep your goal in sight and the mountains in between you and the goal will diminish.  If I want a Grammy badly enough, I can figure out what I have to do to get to that goal.  I can study people who have them and figure out which categories are most and least competitive.  Also, I can steer my writing toward those categories with fewer entries.  I can cut my odds significantly.

You Can Refuse To Quit

The people who achieve their dreams are the people who don’t quit – 100% of the time.  Think about that.  No person ever achieved their dream by quitting.  The winners are ALWAYS the people who kept going even when it was tough.  You increase your odds immeasurably just by keeping on going.  As time goes by, you’ll see many others falling by the wayside.  Don’t join them and your odds of success go up.

Work Hard

I run into lots of songwriters who don’t want to work very hard.  Even some with songwriting deals.  These writers never succeed long-term.  Why?  People who are willing to work harder pass them by.  I can’t tell you the number of writers who are MUCH more talented than I am, I have passed by on the road to success.  They wave from underneath their shade tree as I hustle down the road, but I gain so much ground that they can’t catch up when they hop back on the road.  You can outwork most of the “competition” if you are willing to put in the hours.

Work Smart

Writers who work hard AND smart are a force to be dealt with.  That’s a powerful combination.  Learning HOW to work in smart ways and then outworking everyone you know can turn “odds against you” to “odds in your favor”.  Don’t simply work hard – learn about the RIGHT things to do and work hard at those things.

All of that to say – don’t worry about the odds.  Change the odds!

Write on! MD

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit 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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