Starting off, pretty much every songwriter wanting cuts feels like the fastest way to get there is to “write up.”
To “write up” is to write with a songwriter who is at a higher level in his or her career. It might mean writing with a hit songwriter, a published songwriter, or even just someone who’s been at it for more years. Hey, writing up is great if you can make it happen, but it’s not going to suddenly unlock every door on Music Row. And focusing on writing up might actually lead to some big mistakes.
The big danger of focusing on writing up is that you’ll neglect your peer group. Don’t neglect your peer group! Who is your peer group? It’s those songwriters in the same boat as you. It may be that guy in your hometown that has the same dreams and work ethic as you. It might be that unpublished writer you keep running into at songwriter rounds. It might be someone in the same online community who posts songs that are similar to yours.
Sure, maybe none of these folks are pro writers… (yet), but who’s to say where they’ll be in five or ten years? If the raw talent and work ethic are there, maybe all they’re missing is time and the right song or connections. What if you’re supposed to write your first hit TOGETHER?
That’s what happened with “Monday Morning Church.” Neither Erin Enderlin nor I had ever had a major cut before that song. When I wrote that song with her, I WAS writing with a hit songwriter – she just hadn’t written the hit YET. We were supposed to write that hit together!
I’m glad I didn’t neglect our cowriting relationship while I was busy trying to write up. Here are some ways of neglecting your peer group:
1. Holding back your best ideas
What if I had held off on writing “Monday Morning Church” until I could finally get in the room with a “real” hit songwriter? What if I thought my idea was too good for one of the best cowriters I had back then? Well, the song might never have gone top 5, and you might not be reading this blog right now.
Write your best ideas with your best cowriters, whoever they are, even if they aren’t a “pro” yet.
Even if the song doesn’t live up to your hopes, it’ll still probably be better than the average idea you’re tempted to settle for instead. And better songs will lead to better opportunities in the future.
2. Not writing with a good writer just because he/she isn’t a “pro”
Like I said, neither Erin nor I had ever had a cut when we wrote our future top 5 single together. I was so much better off writing with her – an unsigned but talented and serious writer, than I would’ve been just waiting to write with a hit songwriter.
I’m not saying your should write with just anyone with a pulse. I’m saying don’t overlook a serious, talented, hardworking songwriter just because they don’t have a hit or a publishing deal yet.
Knowing that you shouldn’t neglect your peer group is one way that pro songwriters think. And if you want to become a pro, you need to think like a pro. In my FREE e-book, “THINK LIKE A PRO SONGWRITER,” I not only reveal several of the mindsets which separate the pro songwriter from the amateur, but also…
- How to get on a music publisher’s radar
- How the pros know who is looking for songs
- Six simple ways to make your songs more commercial
- And more!
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
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.