5 Ways Songwriters Can Financially Prepare To Make “The Jump”


Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.


I’m excited to be speaking on song idea discovery and development at the 2014 Songwriting And Music Business Conference in Nashville, TN! Click the image below to find out more. I’d love to see you there!

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“The Jump” is the financial leap from a full-time day job to pursing songwriting on a full-time or serious part-time basis.  It may be when you quit your job to sign a publishing deal, or it may be when you quit your full-time job to write, whether paid or not.  You have to put yourself in a position to survive long-term.  The odds are against you landing a big publishing deal or a life-changing cut in just a few months.  Basically, if you’re gonna jump out of the boat, take a life-raft.  You don’t know how long it’ll be before you wash up on the shore of the promised land, if ever.

Here are five ways to prepare to make “the jump.”

1. Get out of debt.

Debt raises your break-even income.  Getting out of debt frees up money for other things.  You might want to read my post, “Debt Is A Dream-Killer” and “4 Ways Debt Kills Songwriters’ Dreams.”

2. Save money, save money, save money.

Like I said, you’re probably not going to land a publishing deal or big cut right out of the box.  Be prepared to pay the rent for a while.

3. Build a side gig.

What can you do on a flexible part-time basis to generate income?  I spent over a year as a Starbucks barista – those 20 hours per week (from 5am to 10am) got health insurance for my family (saving $600 per month).  I also got a TON of free coffee, which rocked.  I miss that part- but not the getting up at 4am part.  Maybe you wait tables or get some other part-time job.  Or maybe you build your own side business, like selling on ebay, teaching guitar lessons, or whatever else you can do.  The point is not to totally rely on music for your income, at least starting out.

4. Build spousal support.

Does your spouse work?  Few songwriters can support their families with only their songwriting income.  I know some writers who are fortunate enough to have a spouse that works (and wants to).  I’m fortunate enough to have a wife who stays home with our kids and also keeps a few haircut-and-color clients on the books each month (or at least did before we had the second baby- we’ll see what the future holds).  And even more than any financial support from your spouse, you’ll need his or her emotional support.  That’s huge.  You have a big, long roller coaster ahead of you.  If you don’t have support at home, it’s going to be doubly difficult.

5. Lower your overhead.

Along with dumping debt, how else can you lower your monthly expenses?  Maybe you don’t need all 7,000 channels.  Maybe you can eat at home a few more times each month.  Getting on a budget and naming each dollar at the beginning of the month will be a big help. You’ll need to be disciplined with your finances.

Good luck.  Build it to last.

God Bless,




Anything you’d like to add or ask?  Leave a comment!  Are there any topics  you’d like to see addressed in a future MvR post?  Thanks!


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18 thoughts on “5 Ways Songwriters Can Financially Prepare To Make “The Jump””

  1. Hey Brent, great advice and openness as usual. Regarding #5 – L
    iving in a foreign country as I do – The cost of living is quite low; a 3 bedroom house with 2 bathrooms can be as low as 300 dollars us. – Wishing you a big cut! And thanks again.

  2. Thank you, Brent
    Everything you said is why I live where I live up here in northern Michigan in semi-retirement and don’t live in Nashville. I frequently get pressure from my publisher but no offer of a stipend to make the transition…So I wait upon the “mailbox money” before I move south.
    I love what you are sharing here…I Know some of it is right on and that makes it easier to accept the rest as true.

    Thanx again Terry

  3. Jon Acuff books Quitter and Start are also good books so you don’t make the jump a suicide jump ;p

  4. Ok, if 2 people wrote a song say 10 years ago, and no agreements were made as to publishing rights, is it fair to assume that each writer has a 50% share of the respective publisher’s interest? That’s what I am thinking should happen. But … if after 10 years of nothing happening with the song, and one of the writers is responsible for getting a significant song placement, is it still fair that the other co-writer be hanging on to their 50% of the publishing? I just don’t know what’s usual and customary … if anything about this nutso bizness is “usual” or “customary”.

  5. Great advice, Brent. #3 is partly why I joined the military. But by the time I retire, I fear I’ll be too old to do anything in music anymore. So, now I’m trying to get started in songwriting while globetrotting with the Navy. Not an easy task.

  6. Ok, where do you see the best financial investment as a songwriting newbie? Other than saving cash, stockpiling legal pads and pens, is there any area that really needs to be top priority?

      1. I’m an absolute fan of Dave as well and have 2 of his books. I was just curious about what you felt were great investments, in working toward professional songwriting. I’m looking at demo costs (or not), writing associations, etc. and just wasn’t 100% sure where’d I get the most ‘bang for the buck’ in your opinion. Thanks Brent!

        1. Shane, it’s really a case-by-case basis. For some writers, it’ll be associations or coaching. Others, demos. Others, home recording equipment.

          In general, writers tend to start spending money on demos when they’d be better served spending it on education. But that depends on the writer.

          A new writer might be wise to start off spending 90% education, 10% recording. As time goes on and they improve, it moves to 90% recording, 10% education. Those are arbitrary numbers, but you get my point.

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