Songwriting And Life: Lessons That Apply To Both


Someone pointed out this weekend that my posts often have as much to do with life as they do with songwriting.

That made me think, and I realized that it’s probably because songwriting is just a reflection of life. So many of the principles we talk about in our posts and the answers we give are really just life principles.

How do I get a meeting with a publisher? Produce great work. Work harder than everyone else. Be friendly and get to know people. Be persistent. Aren’t those things true in any walk of life?

How do I make sure I get invited back by a publisher? Respect their time. Play them great music. Be businesslike. That’s life stuff.

How do I write better songs? Pay attention to the marketplace. Study and continually grow in your craft. Challenge yourself to get better every day. Never settle for something less than great. Life principles in regard to any product you are creating?

How do I “write up”? Don’t irritate people. Respect those higher up the ladder. Give them a reason to work with you. Bring in great ideas. Work harder than they do. Be friendly. Get to know people organically.

Getting the picture? Being a great writer starts with being a good human. If you are a hard worker, you write great songs and you are persistent, you will probably have some measure of success.

Here are some “sound bites” I remind myself of frequently to keep the “good human” part at the forefront of what I do. 1) Give back 2) Work hard 3) Treat everyone with respect 4) Don’t criticize 5) Celebrate other people’s successes 6) Don’t take yourself too seriously.

All of those ideas applied to life AND to songwriting will help you get ahead in whatever you do. Write on and on!

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter and co-founder of

23 thoughts on “Songwriting And Life: Lessons That Apply To Both

  1. Life and songs are closely related. Happy life create happy lyrics. Sad feelings mostly brings out perfect lyrics. Thanks for the advices.

  2. Hi Marty. Excellent advice for both life and creative aspirations! I would just like to add that honesty, both with ones self and with others is very important. Also, it’s about listening to what others say about what you are doing and being able to step back and see whether it rings true for you or not. Being humble and open. Thanks for the time

  3. Geez Marty,

    You have a wonderful ability to encourage greatness and thus, improve the quality of life for all. Thank you!

    P.S. Here’s my daily affirmation: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say, “I used everything you gave me, thanks.”

    1. Your first suggestion for “writing better songs” is “pay attention to the marketplace.” I understand that the idea is to place songs with a VB publisher, but you may be more VB likely to end up with trivial bullshit if you consider the marketplace first.

  4. Good stuff as always. I think I need to work on the “don’t irritate people” suggestion. Would probably help.

  5. True, true, true, that is why enjoying he journey is so important, is the learning, the growth and the awesomeness of putting them into 🎵

  6. Bravo, Marty, thank you for this. Very good advice, staying grounded in reality, working hard, but most of all be respectful and appreciative.

  7. I am encouraged.!! Getting better may mean taking you up on some of the songwriting classes that you give

  8. Hi Marty,

    I was wondering if you would look at some of my music I wrote? I have tried entering the lyrics only in the American Songwriter magazine lyric contests in the past with no success. I write music for fun and have a page as a tribute to my late Grandfather in World War Two. Thanks Dustin Hovermale (Hoovey’s Music)

  9. I recently had a very good friend remind me of these very same principles… He was on point, and so are you. Thanks for being real…


  10. Sound advice Marty, thank you. We all need the daily reminders to keep our feet on the ground and the “good human” at the wheel.

    1. I love this article..
      Life is a reflection of who we choose to be.
      May we all learn greatness in all.
      And as Hitman so succinctly put it:
      “A good human at the wheel.”

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