Stop Calling Your Own Songs “Great!”

Stop calling your own songs “great.”  YOU don’t get to decide that.  And neither do I, to be fair.  Today, let’s talk about who DOES get to decide if your song is great.


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When I was writing my earliest songs back in Arkansas, my cowriter, Tim Meitzen, and I would feel great about some of our songs.  But I remember Tim being reluctant to call those songs “great.”  Now, in the excitement of creation, we probably said things like, “Man, this is great!”  (I’m willing to bet that I did on several occasions.  I was wrong, but I didn’t know that then.)  But when speaking about those songs outside the writing room, it was a different story with Tim.

I remember him saying once, “I have a hard time calling one of my own songs ‘great.’  I’ll say ‘I love it,’ but I don’t think I can call it ‘great.'”  I took it as a healthy dose of humility and uncertainty on his part.  After all, what qualified us to call our own songs “great?”  What had we accomplished, other than recording some work tapes around a campfire?  What gave us the right to proclaim greatness?  Nothing did.

We don’t get to decide if our own songs are great.  Only the market gets to decide that.

If the market (the listeners) decide your music is great, then it IS great.  If the market decides your music is forgettable, then guess what?  It IS forgettable.  If the market decides that your current album isn’t worth their time, then the market is right.  If that same album is “rediscovered” ten years from now and the market decides that it is brilliant… then the market is right.

Like it or not, the market is always right.

But how can that be?  Because the greatness of music is ultimately a qualitative decision.  It’s subjective- a matter of opinion and taste.  Music isn’t math.  2+2=4 no matter what the majority decides.  Music isn’t like that.

Yes, you may be able to point out objectively how your song has a more sophisticated structure, rhyme scheme or melody than “cliche’ and stupid” hit songs on the radio.  But at the end of the day, you haven’t proven that your song is great.  You’ve only proven that is is more sophisticated.

I personally don’t really care if you call your own songs great.  Sure, in certain settings, that will make you sound like an egotistical amateur.  But whatever.  That’s not the biggest problem.

For many of you, your biggest problem is that you’re too busy blaming the market for being stupid and wrong when you should be focused on writing better songs.

If people don’t “get” your songs, it means one of two things:

  1. Your music isn’t for that audience, and you need to find the audience that WILL love it.
  2. You’re in front of the right audience, but your music isn’t good enough yet.  You need to keep working on your craft.

Let’s say you love country music, but you hate “today’s country music.”  That’s fine.  I can respect that opinion.  But if you want to write hits, what are you supposed to do?  Calling the market stupid does you no good.  Instead, study “today’s country music.”  What is it that the market likes about this music?  What makes it relevant to today’s country audience?

Don’t hate.  Investigate.

Once you start to understand that, you can incorporate some of those elements into your own songs – making them more relevant, or market-smart.  Or you can choose to stay inside your current musical box and hope that the market eventually changes its mind abut your music.  Hey, that’s fine.  Some writers stick to their creative guns, and sometimes the market eventually decides to like it.  Either choice you make is fine – as long as you understand the implications.  Just…

Don’t waste your valuable time blaming the market.

If you want some guidance on how to write “market-smart” songs that artists want to record and audiences want to hear, I have something you should check out.  It’s called, “Cut/able: Lessons In Market-Smart Songwriting,” and it’ll help you give your songs their best chance to one day be called, “great.”

Click here to take your songwriting to the next level.

God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,



To BE a pro, you need to THINK like a pro, and this FREE ebook will help transform your thinking, your songwriting, and your success.  Get it today!

Click Here For The Book

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. SWP 4

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