Cheering audience

Songwriting Success Requires a Plan

Winning an Oscar means much more than simply getting recognition for your efforts from your colleagues in the industry. Much, much more. Sure, the accolades are nice, but everyone knows that if your movie happens to snag a Best Picture award, your movie gets a second run. Many people who might have given your film a pass the first time will now want to see what all the excitement was/is about, and you get a huge amount of new revenue.

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As a songwriter, you’ve probably said many times, both to others and to yourself, that getting an award for what you do is not important. You’ve got a mission, to express your thoughts and feelings in music, and whether someone recognizes that on an official level with an award or not, that mission stays the same. Many good songwriters never receive awards for what they do.

It comes down, of course, to what you consider to be the definition of success. If your definition incorporates how much money you’ll make, getting awards is important. With music, just as with movies, getting an award gives your song an entirely new life, as a huge new audience gets interested in what you’ve been doing. And what’s wrong with that?

Success does breed success, and there are studies to prove that. You can write a fantastic song, but it takes people — and generally lots of them — to make that determination of success. If no one hears your song, success can only really be a concept. It’s one of those “if a tree falls and no one hears it” issues.

For whatever you think success is, we know three things:

  1. Success requires a plan. Success doesn’t happen by accident. It comes about as the result of a plan to succeed.
  2. Success is tangible. Success cannot just be an opinion. True success can be measured: sales, gigs, reviews, etc.
  3. Success is vital. Songwriting without success will result in a creative block.

And as you can see, the only way any of these three statements make any sense at all is if you already have a clear understanding in your mind of what success is to you. If your view of success is seeing happy faces when you sing at a seniors’ home, the same directive applies as if your definition includes scoring a major recording deal: you need 1) a plan, that 2) results in tangible results. And 3) you need success in order to continue.

Defining success is always tricky, and answering the question may even require you to face some difficult truths. You may have started years ago, dreaming of a record deal, adoring audiences, and travelling around the continent with your band. If that didn’t work out for you, you need a new plan. Without that new plan, your songwriting is going to grind to a halt.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with changing your definition of success as life proceeds for you. It happens all the time, and not just with music. There are thousands and thousands of people working in the insurance industry, but no 5-year-old dreams of being an actuary. For all of us, the definition of success changes over time, and that’s a good thing.

So what is your definition of success? Do you have a plan for your music? Can you measure the results of that plan? These are all difficult but crucial questions that need to be answered — and often re-answered — as you continue through your life as a songwriter.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Essential Secrets of Songwriting BundleAny success you have a songwriter requires writing music that’s strong, imaginative and compelling to an audience. Gary’s eBook bundle packages have been helping thousands of songwriters achieve their songwriting goals.

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One Comment

  1. There is no real way to Know if a song in Demo form will become
    a Hit Song, Publishers dont know , A and R personnel dont know
    Managers dont know Song Writers dont know

    There are many instances where aggressive Sales Teams have got
    songs to the top of the charts;

    Some times it can be The band or Lead singer who is not right for the song

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