Songwriting: Not For Control Freaks!

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

Control Freaks

Songwriting is a terrible career for control freaks. Sorry. It just is. There is just so much that’s out of your control, and you need to make peace with that.

You control a few things. You control how hard you work… and that’s about it.

You don’t control your natural talents. For example, I can work really hard on my singing and melody-writing, but I’m never gonna be great.  So that means I have to give up some control.  It’s not me singing the demos or up on stage at the Bluebird.  It’s not me writing the melody.  Sure, I have input and cowriter approval rights, but it’s not total control.  It’s collaboration.

If you don’t have solid producer chops (or communication skills), you don’t have full control over what happens in the demo session.  It’s not you playing every lick on every instrument. You just have to hire the best and hope for the best, giving your input along the way.

Once you start pitching the song, you don’t control the reaction of anyone who might hear it. You can’t tuck them in bed the night before to make sure they’re awake and focused. You can’t keep a bad-news email from hitting their inbox just before your meeting, etc.

And if your song makes it to the artist and they like it, you can’t control if they just cut a similar song the week before so they pass on yours.

And you sure don’t have control if an artist takes your song into the studio to cut it.  You don’t hire their musicians.  They don’t have to cut the song just like the demo.  And the artist doesn’t have to sing it exactly like you want.

And you don’t get a vote on whether your song makes the final album or gets singled.

So many things can happen to derail your song. But that doesn’t mean you’re not doing your job. Your job is to work really hard, write the strongest songs you can, and do your best to put them in a position to win.

At the end of the day, that’s how you should evaluate your success:

Did I work hard?
Did I write the best song I could?
Did I do what I could to get my song in front of someone who can say, “yes?”

If so, you controlled what you could. Make peace with the rest. I know it’s hard, but when you stop spending all that emotional energy on being a control freak, you have more energy to devote to your life, your family, and to working on things that matter.

God Bless,



To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro. In this complimentary report, learn the mindsets that help the pro songwriter get cuts, earn respect in the industry, and maintain long-term success in the music business. Just click on the picture below to download this complimentary report today!

The Pro Knows


8 thoughts on “Songwriting: Not For Control Freaks!”

  1. Interesting… I am NOT a control freak at all, but this is still a good reminder to not only do what we can but to let go of the rest. I try to approach songwriting just like other aspects in my life and let God be in control and trust that He knows the way and the best, but we sometimes need reminders. 🙂

  2. I think the best advice I could give a songwriter who has honed his or her specific songwriting skills, be it lyric writing, melody creation, producing, singing, playing or all of the afore mentioned, is to surround yourself with people better than yourself. Create a team of highly skilled people you can use to create a finished demo that can compete head to head with your competition, which is anyone and every one who is attempting to get songs cut. Always be looking to improve your team if needed. If you need a co-writer or co-writers to write a top notch song, then find them. You need an outstanding demo singer, musicians, sound engineer and someone to get your song to the decision makers. You need to be brutally honest with yourself. What do you do that is at a high professional level? That’s your job. You had better have the people who are pro’s at what you aren’t.

    Speaking of myself personally, I create the lyrics, melody and sing the scratch demo. From time to time I may work with another writer on melody creation if I’m not happy with a riff etc. Once the scratch demo is finished and I’ve decided that it’s a song that is as good or better than the best that’s currently being cut as singles, it’s out of my hands. I have full confidence in the studio, musicians, sound engineer, demo singers and the person pitching my songs. I let them take it from there. The only time I might get involved beyond creating the scratch demo, is if I have an opportunity to pitch a song face to face with an artist. That’s it.

  3. Thank you Brent for the download of The Pro Knows. I really appreciate it. It asked for credit card info but I don’t have any credit cards. I used to but paid them all off in 2003 and never got another one. The only thing I owe now is my student loan. But that’ll take forever lol lol Thanks again Brent. Hoping you’ll hear my music eventually. Or that we get to meet at some music venue. Who knows? All the best. Krista Kris Kory Music

    Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2015 11:38:50 +0000 To:

      1. Hi Brent … yes … as soon as I finished work I got your email and downloaded it. Thank you so much. And ya … ♪♫Puff the Plastic Dragon ♪♫ Feels great. I now know how to play the ‘game’.

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