In Today’s Music Biz, Songwriters Must Have THIS Skill

Hit music publisher, Dan Hodges of Dan Hodges Music, was our most recent Play For A Publisher guest, and he dropped a HUGE value-bomb on us!

It was just too good and too important to keep to ourselves, so I decided to share it.  If you want to become a pro songwriter, read on!


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At Songwriting Pro’s most recent “Play For A Publisher” event, Dan Hodges was asked about the importance to a publisher of a songwriter being able to play, sing, record their own demos, etc.

His answer was surprising.

Here’s basically (paraphrased) what Dan told us.

In the 1990’s, it was really important for a songwriter to be able to write solo.  That way, you could put that writer in the room with anybody (or nobody), and you were confident that he or she could come out with a good song.

But these days, it’s different.

Now, Dan places a big value on work ethic.  Is the writer a hard worker?  Does he or she show up consistency, putting in the effort and the hours?

Then Dan hit us with something surprising.

It’s really important that the writer is a good hang.  A publisher is always looking to network, and it’s very important that the writer is LIKABLE.  Just like in the ’90’s, when publishers wanted a writer who could go into a room with anyone and come out with a good song, these days, they often want a writer who can go into a room with anyone and come out with a good RELATIONSHIP.

The social aspect of the music business is vitally important.

He told us the story of one of his songwriters.  According to Dan, this writer is a very positive person.  He just makes everyone around him feel good.  This writer recently landed a #1 hit country song, which he cowrote with the artist.

Basically, as Dan explains it, his writer got a #1 not only because he is a good writer, but the artist enjoyed writing with him.  They became friends, and after that relationship garnered 30 or so songs, one of them landed on the artist’s debut album.  It was released as a single, and eventually hit #1.

Now Dan’s songwriter has a #1 hit to go with his winning, positive personality.

Now, here’s my (Brent’s) take on that.

I know some writers who hate to hear these kinds of stories.  They hate to think of the music business as “high school all over again” or a “popularity contest” where only the “cool kids” get the attention.

That’s a loser mentality, and you can’t afford to think that way.  

(Those are my words, not Dan’s, just so we’re clear.)

The music business is FULL of writers with a ton of talent.  It’s full of writers with a good work ethic.  And there are a lot of writers trying to get into the biz who also work hard and have talent.

Bringing a good hang can be worth as much as bringing a good hook.

Why?  Because being a good hang can get you in the room again and again.  Yes, you need the talent.  But once the talent-bar has been cleared, the artist (or hit writer) still has more potential cowriters than they have time for.  So…

What’s going to get YOU in that room instead of someone else?

Be a good hang.  Be likable.  Be someone other people want to be around.

Like it or not, personality matters.  People just have too many options to be stuck spending their time with people they don’t like.

If an artist or cowriter doesn’t HAVE to write with you, it’s your job to make them WANT to write with you.


I want YOU to join me at the next Play For A Publisher event- and get great advice and feedback on YOUR song in person! (No matter where you live.)

If you’re ready to connect with a publisher, I have a path for YOU and YOUR great song to get to a real, legit, successful music publisher, no matter where in the world you live.  That’s right- it’s all online, so you can join us from anywhere!

On Thursday, December 14, I’m having the next round of Songwriting Pro’s “Play For A Publisher.” Our guest is John Ozier of ole Music.  John has had his hand in a bunch of hits, but the deadline to submit your song is coming up THIS MONTH!  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS GREAT OPPORTUNITY.

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.

4 thoughts on “In Today’s Music Biz, Songwriters Must Have THIS Skill”

  1. I think a big secret is in this statement:
    “They became friends, and after that relationship garnered 30 or so songs, one of them landed on the artist’s debut album.”

    You have to be a great hang to write 30+ songs with an artist.

    Also you know that artist is very serious about hits if he’s writing over 30 songs with one songwriter for an album (on top of all the other songs he writes and listens to).

  2. Life is too short and hanging with negative people or boring folks weighs on creativity. Hanging out and being with people with good chemistry is important. Conflict, not so much!

    Having a sense of healthy community works.

  3. Hooray! So good to get confirmation that skinny jeans and good looks and tattoos on big biceps are mainly for those wanting to be an artist! I can spend some of that money I was about to spend on cool sculpting (just kidding) on more studio gear and trips to Nashville instead!

    This plays well into the older folks too because more life quite often = better stories, i.e. a pretty good hang.

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