Songwriting Coaches Don’t Make You Do Push-Ups

 

First of all, what is a coach?

A coach is an experienced and trusted advisor. A songwriting coach could be a more seasoned, experienced cowriter. It could also be a publisher or PRO representative (ASCAP, SESAC, BMI, SOCAN, etc.) who takes time to meet with you. It could also be a pro-songwriter coach from NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) or GSC (Global Songwriters Connection), or Songwriting And Music Business. There are several good independent coaches out there, too.

A quality coach can help you get where you want to go more effectively and efficiently- if you’re willing to learn. Here are five specific ways songwriters can benefit from a coaching relationship.

1. Your coach knows things you don’t.

He may or may not have some #1s to his credit. He may or may not have a song on the charts this week. But the important thing is that he has been down the road ahead of you and can point the way. He’s seen more, learned more, and accomplished more than you have (yet). He can help accelerate your learning curve and avoid some of the pitfalls.

2. Your coach is not your mom.

A coach doesn’t have to see you at Thanksgiving or worry about the quality of the nursing home you’ll choose for her. Therefore, while a quality coach will not be mean, she has the freedom to be honest about your writing- as she sees it. She also doesn’t know your backstory. This means your writing has to stand on it’s own- singing about Jenny you dated in high school means ONLY what the song says. Your coach can’t fill in the gaps from your shared experience- your coach won’t know that Jenny was Prom Queen unless your song tells her.

3. It’s good practice.

If you want to get songs recorded on a professional level, you’re going to have to get comfortable throwing your babies into the real world. It can be scary and frustrating, but it’s something you need to get used to. A quality coach is a safe place to get that professional feedback. It’s a step into the music business where you’ll be challenged and have to toughen up. But it’s also safe because being “just okay” or even “bad” doesn’t close the door to them in the future. Your coach doesn’t expect you to be professional-level, and it’s not about, “Well, did you bring me a hit today?”

4. A coach is a potential entry point into the music business.

If you want to be a professional writer, you won’t get there alone. You need a network of relationships in the business, and a coach is a great start. A coach might recommend potential cowriters or publishers. He or she can be your champion- especially at places like NSAI or GSC. A coach might even write with you. Eventually. (But you should never be the one to mention it first.)  None of this is guaranteed, and when you sign up with a coach, do not expect it.  But if you EARN it, it MIGHT happen.

5. A songwriting coach won’t make you do push-ups.

I hate push-ups, and thankfully… no matter how bad my songs were… I’ve never had one of my songwriting coaches say, “drop and give me 20.”  So, there’s that.

Coaching has had a profound impact on my songwriting. There were coaches I only met with now and then (and sometimes only once). These included guys like Chad Green and Ralph Murphy at ASCAP. It also includes publisher Clay Myers, who gave such blunt, honest and challenging feedback that I wanted to throat-punch him 10 minutes into our first meeting… and wanted to write for him 30 minutes later.

It includes my songpluggers- Mike Doyle, Jesse Frasure and Scot Sherrod at Major Bob Music, Sam Ramage at RPM Music, and Paul Compton at Writers Infinity. These guys wouldn’t just pitch my songs. They encouraged me when I was down, they celebrated our victories, and they challenged me to write better.

Are there songwriting (or other) coaches who have made an impact in your life or on your writing? Give them some love in the comments!

Coaching can make a big positive difference in your songwriting. But let’s face it, even the best, most knowledgable songwriting coach in the world won’t do you any good if you’re not willing to do the work it takes to implement their suggestions and rise to their challenges. Seeking out a coach and then ignoring their advice only annoys the coach and wastes your time. Don’t do that, okay?

But, if you ARE ready to get some coaching, and you ARE ready to do the work, I have a cool opportunity for you. It’s called The C4 Experience, or C4X. It’s a series of workshops in January and February in 2016. What does “C4” stand for?

Creative
Commercial
Coaching
Community

The C4 Experience is about celebrating your creative spirit and sharpening your commercial songwriting, guided by expert coaching and encouraged by a supportive community.

Click on the image below or CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE!

c4x

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,

Brent

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.

8 thoughts on “Songwriting Coaches Don’t Make You Do Push-Ups”

  1. Interesting. Yes. There have been coaches (not naming names) who were more-than-mean and not just verbally but in writing. Did not permit me to associate with some songwriting partners I had been working with. Did not like the fact that I wanted to spend more on a rather ‘crappy’ sounding demo. Before I could explain that I was willing to put the $$ into it, called to ‘put me in my place’, and wrote a more than impolite and unprofessional e-mail to me. So yes, I’ve certainly been impacted by a Nashville writing coach. So much so, that the entire business felt really dirty to me. I haven’t written or even vocalized since then. I know the Lord will heal my heart. I also know He has a place for my music. But not at the moment. BTW: I’ve been in the business world for decades. I know the difference between being professional and being smug. I pray for you, Brent. I believe you are the real-deal I think you have a good heart. It’s why I follow your blog. I hope you aren’t offended by my post. I’m just telling it like it is.

      1. Thank you, Brent. I appreciate it. I’m still praying for you. Hope you are beginning to get a sense of what you are feeling led toward.

  2. Gotta give some love to Bruce Miller at Global Songwriters Connection….he has been a great encourager, someone who challenges me to get better and better at my work, and an overall great guy. My goal one day is to play him a song, and he will say “I got nothing, it’s perfect”!

  3. Brent,

    I really like that line “If you want to be a professional writer, you won’t get there alone.” That’s so very true!

    Lucky for me, I know people, who know people, who know I… well, so far I’m a pretty handy guy to have around that can hold my own as a performing musician.. hehe.. not quite there on the songwriter radar yet.

    In my few experiences writing with someone in a coach’s role. What was most readily evident to me was the “GET THROUGH THE DRILLS” discipline. Walk in with ideas and thoughts and always leave about 2 hours later with a song. It never mattered how many squirrels I saw.. the coach would blow the whistle and I’d line up for the next drill.. and my goodness.. we got them songs done! Water cooler hang outs and such were cut real short, because time spent not writing songs is time spent spending money instead of potentially making money.

    I’m excited for the C4 Experience, may it be as explosive as C-4 in terms of great ideas and collaborations!

  4. Hey Brent,

    I enjoy all of your insights into successful, commercial songwriting. They are much appreciated!

    I have been fortunate to have developed relationships with a long list of coaches and mentors over the past 10 years, starting with hit writer, Bucky Jones. That relationship has led to many co-writes and I’ve learned something from each one. I’ve had similar experiences with Dan Demay, Craig Bickhardt and Angela Kaset.

    I’m also thankful for Sheree Spoltore (GSC), Debi Cochran, Trish Matthews and Bart Herbison at NSA, Amanda Williams at Songwriting and Music Business, numerous coaches at SongU.com, as well as, Clay Mills and Marty Dodson at SongTown USA.

    As you’ve eluded to…none of them are going to make you do the push ups. In the end, the hard work is up to us.

    Congratulations on your success and keep up the great work!

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