Should You Save Your Best Stuff For ONLY Hit Songwriters & Artists?

Man vs. PRO

Are you sitting on your A-list song ideas, waiting for someday when you might get in the room with a hit songwriter or an artist?

Are you intentionally NOT writing these titles/ideas with your current cowriters because they’re unknown, unproven, or don’t have publishing deals?

That can be tempting.  After all, you don’t want to “waste” your brilliant idea with anyone less than a hit songwriter or an artist.  It’s tempting.  But it’s also a mistake.

Here are four reasons you should NOT save your best ideas for “someday.”  This is why you should bring your best stuff to EVERY cowrite.

1. Today’s unknown cowriter might be tomorrow’s hit writer.

Erin Enderlin was definitely higher up the Nashville ladder than I as when we started writing together (she still is, by the way).  But back then, she was still a college student with no cuts to her credit.  It’s a good thing I decided to pitch her the idea of “Monday Morning Church” instead of waiting till “someday when I get to Nashville and get to write with a hit songwriter.”  ‘Cuz you know what?  Erin WAS a hit songwriter.  And so was I.  It just so happened that we’d write our first hit… with each other.  If an unknown writer is talented and hardworking, don’t hold back your best stuff.  I’m certainly glad I didn’t.

1 today unknown tomorrow hit

2. Your best work creates better opportunities.

Simply put, your B-list work isn’t going to open A-list doors.  Always bring your best.  And as your best gets better, you’ll start to get noticed by folks higher up the ladder.  If nothing else, think of your best stuff as bait for better cowrites.  Here’s an example.  You’re a lyricist, but you’ve only written with “B-list” melody people.  Opportunity might happen when a publisher says, “Wow- what a great lyric and idea.  Let me get you with some of my melody writers.”

1 best work better opps

3. There’s more where that came from.

If you keep writing, you’ll have more ideas.  You’ll get better ideas.  You’ll write better grooves, better guitar licks.  Your creativity is a renewable resource.  Trust that your current “best stuff” is not the only “best stuff” you’ll ever have.

1 more best ideas

4. The clock is ticking.

For one thing, your current best stuff might not even be relevant in a year or two.  The market may change.  Trends may shift.  Strike now, while the iron’s hot.  Also, you are (or at least, you should be) growing as a songwriter.  Most of your A-list stuff today will become your B-list stuff tomorrow.  But the clock slows down for really good work.  A great song stands the test of time, and you can only write one if you’re writing the very best you can, not holding back for “someday.”  So do your best work as often as you can.

Does this mean that EVERY best idea is right for EVERY cowriter?  No.  And that’s something we’ll discuss soon.  But the point is that you want to do your very best work, regardless of who else is in the room.  Your songwriting skill is like a sport- you play like you practice.  If you don’t make it a habit to always do your best (acting like some cowrites are just “practice”), your best may not be there when you need it- when you finally do get in the room with that hit songwriter or artist.

What about you?  Have you held back on presenting your best stuff to cowriters.  How’d that work out?  Have you presented your best stuff to an unproven cowriter only to be happily surprised by the results?  I’d love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post and think it might help others, I’d appreciate a share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… wherever.  Thanks!

Also, if you want to become a songwriting pro (in how you think, write songs or do business), then a great place to start is RIGHT HERE.  I want to help you on your songwriting journey.  I’ve been in the music business for years, and I’m here to help you get the cuts – and avoid the bruises.  CLICK HERE TO START HERE.

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.


5 thoughts on “Should You Save Your Best Stuff For ONLY Hit Songwriters & Artists?”

  1. Good stuff. I remember an A-lister critiquing me on one of my songs. He made a suggestion to change some lines around. That tells me that he WAS listening, not just hearing. One needs to remember, what YOU feel is your best stuff may not necessarily be what someone else thinks is your best stuff.

  2. It’s a question I ask myself often.

    I’ve had the experience of writing a mediocre song from a great idea. My cowriter and I didn’t ‘gel.’ No blame.

    But etiquette demands that I don’t take it to another cowrite. So a strong idea is dead. Not that I won’t come up with others, but it’s a shame.

    These days, I don’t throw my best ideas on the table in a first cowrite with a fellow amateur writer. I wait to find out how we are together. But, I don’t hold back my best ideas from my best cowriters in hopes of a ‘write-up.’

  3. Yep if the best idea you have now is the best you’ll ever have you may as well quit.

    And if you have a co-write where you get a mediocre song out of a great idea you just have to suck it up and move on. You’ll have other ideas…better ideas.

    I always figure my goal is to write the best song I can today with whoever I’m writing with.

  4. So far, I’ve only had two occasions to cowrite with someone. At first they were very excited about the idea of writing together. But when it came down to it, those two people just weren’t ready to give their all for whatever reason, so we parted ways.

    I have a new opportunity now to work with a Christian worship leader. I, again, sent some of my best work for him to look over. He some ideas for taking one of my songs in a little different direction. Sounds good to me. I have no problem with that. So far, so good. The truth will tell as we continue to work together. I really hope things work out this time and we end up with a good song together.

  5. I have co-written a good bit and now have decided to buckle down and do the hard work myself. It does take longer sometimes but it isn’t nearly as complicated. I would love to write with someone who really brings the goods to the table though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.