How Does A Pro Songwriter Balance Passion & Profit?

Ask Your SWP

Today, I want to tackle a question I got from a Songwriting Pro reader…

QUESTION:

“As a pro songwriter, do you write each song with the goal of profit, or (in the beginning) did you just write out of passion- and success naturally flowed from that passion?”

ANSWER:

YES and NO.

Okay, you’re probably looking for a little something more, so here goes.  I wrote – and still write- for BOTH passion and profit.  I’ve always loved creating.  It started with making up my own comic books, then moved to short stories, poetry, and now songwriting.  Creating something new has always given me a buzz.  I get off on it, pure and simple.

And that passion for songwriting led me to write for profit.  Why?  So I could spend more time writing!  If I can make a living writing songs, it means I can spend a lot more time on my passion.  I don’t have to jam songwriting into the cracks between a day job, family time, laundry and sleep.  If I can replace a day job with songwriting- I get to just focus on songwriting, family, friends and sleep (haven’t figured out a way to avoid laundry yet).

I love getting cuts.  It’s validating and encouraging.  And not many feelings are better than hearing my own song on the radio.  And the money from a hit single is fantastic, no doubt.  But I would trade cuts for just being able to sit in a room with a buddy every day and make up songs.  Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works.  I need money to keep a roof over my head.  So I aim for cuts and hits because it allows me to write more songs.  Money feeds my habit.

Cuts equal time

No, success definitely didn’t “just happen” as a byproduct of writing for passion.  A lot of my songwriting success is due to things out of my control, but it was never unintentional.  I was intentional about writing often, intentional about learning the craft, intentional about networking.  I wasn’t always very good at it, but I was purposeful.  My intention to get cuts affected what kind of songs I wrote, how I chose cowriters, even moving to Nashville was a result of this intention.

I can’t say, “I made success pick me,” but I can say, “I raised my hand as high as I could as often as I could.  I made it easy for success to find me.”  It was definitely no accident.

Does this mean that every song I’ve ever written – or will ever write – is ONLY with an eye for profit?  Does this mean I never write a song “just for fun” or just because it was something I “had to say?”  No, that’s not what it means at all!  But those times are the exception, not the rule.  Because even when I write those songs, I usually try to craft them into a commercially relevant form.  (Best of both worlds, right?)  Even with “passion” songs, it’s wise to write them in a way that leaves the door open for profit.

What about you?  How do you balance passion and profit?  Do you even bother trying to balance them?  And if YOU have a question you’d like me to address in a future blog post, email me at brent@songwritingpro.com.  (I can’t get to them all, but I’ll answer your question here on the blog if I think it’ll help the Songwriting Pro community.  Oh, and I’ll leave your name out, so you’ll keep your privacy.)

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

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.

Man vs. PRO

 

7 thoughts on “How Does A Pro Songwriter Balance Passion & Profit?”

  1. Man alive Brent,

    You’re throwing more songwriting sparks than lighting a whole pack of sparklers (4th of July is Monday!)

    “Passion or Profit”, “cuts without bruises” those are some good sparks!

    I seem to be on a 10 year plan to slide the profit needle over from Day Job on the far left to Making Music on the right. Big boys like me don’t do good with see saw analogies, but I’ll take a sliding scale.

    For me personally, I’ve always been terrible at profiting from my passions because most of my passions I consider talents that are gifts from God and I was raised that talents were given to us for us to share and further the work of the kingdom. I think I might need some psychotherapy to flip that curve in my head and feel guilty about profiting from the day job and obligated to profit from my passions.. Hmm.. (sparks flying)

  2. So, true story, right after leaving that comment above.. I get a text that started a nice conversation with an old friend/co-worker of several years that is totally out of that type of business now and is basically a park ranger/maintenance man at a park on the gulf coast. He was seeking help advise on setting up a surf cam to be internet accessible.

    I’ll have to quote him “The Parks system doesn’t pay good, but coffee on the beach every morning doesn’t suck. I love my job. Everyday is different.”

    There’s my sign! 🙂

    TK

  3. My philosophy is very simple. I write songs that move me and sound commercial. If I don’t think a song is right for current major market country radio, it doesn’t get demoed. In my opinion it’s too expensive to do anything else, but that.

  4. I write songs for both profit and passion. There are definitely songs that I’ve written just for myself with no expectation that they will get cut. I even demoed a few of them because I wanted to hear a full production on the song. But I also write songs that I hope have potential for the commercial market.

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