Over the past two days I have written on the subject of the difficulty of getting major cuts in this day and age. It is hard even for "inside" writers and publishers to get them and ESPECIALLY hard for independent, non-connected, OUTSIDE writers. There are a LOT of steps, aside from writing the songs themselves, getting them recorded, getting inside people to pay attention, being patient, building and maintaining relationships, all have to be done and have to be done CONSISTANTLY. Rarely are their "lightning strikes" where one song just ignites and the world all falls into place. Happens, but not often, and people win the lottery too. Can't bet your rent or kid's college education on it happening.
The reason I have written these is not to paint a "It is all impossible, the business is gone, and you might as well give up" scenario, even though much sounds grim. Actually it is the OPPOSITE. Because being involved in music, has MANY MORE rewards than just getting that big hit that the whole world sings. And I see far too many people overlooking some of those. I use myself as an example.
You see, while I think that is ONE GOAL, getting the cut, getting the hit, making money, getting recognition, etc. I look at things much differently. I live my life much differently. You see, I believe there are many smaller, yet equally rewarding victories you can claim. Writing songs that hit the target every time they are played, with people smiling, laughing, singing along, elbowing each other when they hear great lines, coming up and quoting lines, or singing melodies, weeks, months or YEARS after they have heard them.
Audience members claiming a song "changed their life, or got them through a terrible time." When you sit across from someone and they say "You're song got me through the death of my daughter..." it all takes on a different tone.
I get to do that. I get to work constantly with people. Writing songs and showing them things they have not seen or been able to do. Getting to subjects and things inside them they could not get out Yesterday writing with a new artist from Chicago, Breezy Love, and writing a song about her hometown. Or a song for her sister's Bat mitzvah. And watching her come back to Nashville with new skills and developing in her voice and performing.
Getting a phone call from a co-writer who wowed a bunch of people in a guitar store in San Francisco with songs we wrote. Getting texts and emails from former clients, who have had songs placed in Television shows like American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and movies. And both these guys being over 60 years old! Who says you can't make waves past the age of 25?
Having a group of people at a club in town, when you are sick, send you a video of the entire club singing your song when you are not there, to make you feel better. Attracting hit writers and people you GREW up with, like Jim Peterik who has written some of the biggest songs in history, EYE OF THE TIGER, HOLD ON LOOSELY that you have performed all your life and considering you a friend and talented enough to do it again. Becoming friends, performers and co-writers with people who have cut your songs like David Ball and John Berry. Being friends and co-writers with hit writers like JIMBEAU HINSON and WOOD NEWTON, and also those “undiscovered gems like SCOTT SOUTHWORTH AND HEINO MOELLER.
Sitting onstage next to people like RANDY BROOKS as he does GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER and watch people go crazy when they hear it. And being able to call him a friend. Being able to interact with people you respect, your peers, like Jason Blume, an amazing teacher and writer. Rick Barker, management expert extraordinaire. Being able to hang with Doak Turner, Will Carter, and Adam Melcher and be a part of a great organization like MUSIC STARTS HERE, and Vinny Ribas at Indie Connect. Contributing to Facebook, In Charge, and other periodicals, who ask you to write stuff for their publications. And bringing people to you by doing that.
Having people like Lee Rascone Sr., Lee Rascone Jr., and Debi Champion consistently want to book you and put up with your idiocy, and messing up on dates, but keep you coming back. Being a part of the weekly “unemployed songwriters party at LIZARD’S BOBBY’S IDLE HOUR with SAM COOPER’S SAM’S JAMS. People approaching you quoting lines in songs, and reading what you write and take it to heart. Working with amazing talents like Jay Verne and many other players and friends, and an amazing soon to be seen horn band, DANGEROUS DAN AND THE FUNKTOWN HORNS with DAN EIDEM AND JD WIGGINS.
Writing songs; performing songs. Recording songs. TOUCHING LIVES! I've had one amazing run. 12 year rock career. 28 year Nashville career. Been an artist, a writer, producer, teacher, mentor, friend. Great loves in my life, kids, girlfriend, family, many, many close friends and associates. These are things I can claim. Would I like those big cuts and hits? Sure, always a cool thing. Always great to hear a major artist like FRANKIE BALLARD, do things you wrote with him in his stage show. Always good to get the accolades. That is nice. But being able to touch lives in a million ways, either directly or indirectly, that is the REAL DEAL. That is what every writer and artist can do. They can help others and share some great things. And so what if it doesn't make you a household name? There are many other victories you can claim.
Shoot for the moon, work your butt off, stay focused and be a light to others. Don’t' swim in the river of bitterness. Make the place a little better for your having been here. Make em' LOVE YA! Give them PLENTY TO LOVE! Don't quit. Do that consistently, and you'll find yourself in a great place career wise.
"YOU DON'T CHOOSE MUSIC, CHOOSES YOU!" Don't make it be sorry it chose you.
Marc-Alan Barnette http://www.marcalanbarnette.com/