It's all about the song
What to do..What to do? by Marc Allen Barnette
Okay, so I've given you some of the reasons you can;t just waltz into TWANGTOWN and start getting cuts. And there are a TON OF THEM. I should put them into a book. Oh wait, I DID! In 2001, I wrote a book called "FRESHMAN YEAR IN NASHVILLE" which was cool and I keep thinking I might go back, re-edit it and re-release it. The main hold up is that technology changes so quickly, by the time you write it in a book, it is out of date. I might do it some time, but for now, read here and we'll cross that next bridge when we get to it.
So you are the NEW KID on the BLOCK trying to get into see someone. FORGET TRYING TO GET CUTS WITH ESTABLISHED ARTISTS. Ain't gonna happen at first.
For a few reasons.
First of all, if you don't do this every day, and are exceptionally talented, YOUR SONGS ARE PROBABLY NOT AS STRONG AS YOU THINK THEY ARE.
Most songs are not good, not bad, just average. Most people write the same stuff.
GIRLS WRITE "ACSS."
(ANGRY CHICK SINGER SYNDROME)
Everything is angry, bitter, negative, dismissive, pessimistic, man, those girls are PISSED!!!!
And not altogether without reason. We guys are TWITS a lot of the time. We do our share of damage.
But do you want to hear it EVERY SONG FROM EVERY WOMAN OUT THERE! WE GET IT!!! YOU'RE UNHAPPY!!!
WE'RE WOKE OKAY?
The problem is redundancy! Go to an average writers night, and listen. If you get 20-25 girls, doing three songs each, there are going to be 45-70 songs that are ANGRY, BITTER, NASTY, ATTITUDE FILLED HATE EVERYBODY SONGS.
That's a lot of anger. If you get ONE that is NOT pissed off, you breathe a sigh or relief and actually LISTEN.
Works in a therapy session, not so much where a lot of people are trying to get AWAY from all that. You think there is NOT ENOUGH NEGATIVITY OUT THERE IN THE WORLD?
Don't add to the pile.
GUYS DO "DDSS". (DEPRESSED DUDE SINGER SYNDROME) or "HADRTS"
(HERE'S ANOTHER DAMN REDNECK TRUCK SONG)
Dudes, QUIT LISTENING TO THE RADIO AND WRITING WHAT IS ALREADY OUT THERE!!!!
It's already so bad, we can just replace the lyrics on half these freaking radio songs with other lyrics. (and they actually do that!)
They also do the WHINY ASS SORRY I LOST MY WOMAN CAUSE I'M A JERK songs! Yeah, you messed up! How about DOING SOME SONGS ABOUT HOW GREAT SHE WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Maybe you wouldn't have lost her you twit!
Look, we're all living life, so we are going to be writing the same stuff. But we can STRIVE to make it different. When you use the same titles,same rhymes, same melodies, same obligatory rap break down bridges, you are going to just be retracing the same stuff that there's already too much of.
It doesn't have to always be UPTEMPO AND POSITIVE, but it can be MID TEMPO AND NOT NEGATIVE! There are millions of things to write about. Random acts of kindness. Do you not see dozens of TV reports, news stories about someone doing something good for somebody? It happens. You just have to find it. And you don't really have to look hard.
Songs about other subjects than just romantic relationships. Songs about friends, teachers, parents, kids, there are a lot of things to write about, look for em'. SAY THE SAME THING DIFFERENTLY. Try it. Harder to do than you think.
RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS.
The other problem for the "outside writer" (and this includes people living here.) Songs are a dime a hundred thousand. RELATIONSHIPS are the key.
Make FRIENDS WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN.
I was once asked at a writers workshop I taught in California, "HOW DO YOU MEET WRITERS IN NASHVILLE?"
I answered "HOW DO YOU NOT MEET THEM?" Pick up a hand full of rocks! Everyone is a writer. The valets parking your car. (and NO don't hand them your CD) Your bartender, waitress, waiter, club owner, gas station attendant, probably are better writers than you've ever met. They're waiting in line too. Remember the old stories of Hollywood actors and actresses waiting tables or trying to be discovered at other jobs? SAME WITH SONGWRITERS.
Everyone is trying to do the same thing. So you have a job. WRITE A LOT OF SONGS WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE. Even if you think you have the BEST SONGS. There are two reasons to co-write. One is to get different ideas, different songs.
The other is PURELY POLITICAL. You are writing your way up a ladder. You need other people. You have to write with them. Get used to it. The song might not even be your best. But you learn with each one and it will help your RELATIONSHIPS.
And you never know. That "ditty song" you wrote in 15 minutes, might be THE ONE that opens a door for you. Trust me on this. I owe a career to a song I wrote with Ron Muir about A GUYS ZIPPER BEING OPEN!
THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF ALL.
"Gherming" (pronounced "GURMING") is the process of trying to give a CD, a business card, YOUR product or information, to a hit writer, producer, publisher, label people, BEFORE you have established a RELATIONSHIP. They are not going to take a chance on a lawsuit, "HEY I GAVE YOU MY CD WITH 35 SONGS ON IT AND IT WAS TRACK NUMBER NINETEEN!!! I know you stolded it because it had I LOVE YOU in the seventh verse!!!! PAY ME NOW!!!!!"
NAAAAAH!!! Thanks for playing! Here's a copy of our home game and don't let the doorknob hit you in the butt on your way out of town!" You'll shoot off both feet and end your reputation. DON'T DO IT.
What do you do?
WRITE WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE.
SUPPORT OTHER PEOPLE.
MAKE MEMORIES NOT EXCUSES.
It takes time, so settle in. Find your own circles and friends.
Write with artists and be part of their journey.
Make your songs sound and look as good as you can.
Be a good friend.
Quit shoving in line. Won't get you anywhere any faster.
We have a GREAT TOWN. WE like it. Unfortunately we have not "needed" any writers since about 1973. In some ways, we're the merchants in the California gold rush, selling worth less claims and picks and shovels.
Do hits still happen? Yep.
Cuts"? yep, but WAY FEWER AND A LOT FARTHER.
So do it for the love of it and take your chances. But UP THE LEVEL of your odds, and keep your EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC.
If you want some REAL help, go to places like NSAI (Nashville songwriters Association) TSS (Tennessee Songwriters Association) and dive into some writers nights.
And if you REALLY want to do something, contact me. It's what I do. I'm the guidance councilor here and am HAPPY to help you. I charge but I'm WELL WORTH IT. Ask anyone who knows me, half this town is my reference. And I've JUST GIVEN you a couple hundred bucks of FREE ADVICE!
You're welcome. If it keeps you from writing ONE MORE PISSED OFF SONG, it's worth it.
For the rest, check out my web site.
And pass it on. It'll help you. Trust me.
YOU DON'T CHOOSE MUSIC.
MUSIC CHOOSES YOU.
Yeah, I already wrote that. DON'T STEAL IT.
Now go on and DON'T SUCK!