7 Qualities To Look For In A Songwriting Mentor

Let me set your suspicious mind at ease.  This is NOT a “hire Brent” blog.  I’m really not doing mentoring right now.  It comes out of family time, and that’s where I’m focused.  That, and on my own writing.  Just wanted you to know.  Now, on to the good stuff…

I’ve you’ve been following Man vs. Row, you know I’ve been posting a lot on the topic of mentoring.  If you’re new, a good place to start catching up is “11 Tips To Maximize A Songwriter Mentoring Session.”  I’d be doing you a disservice if I did all this talking about mentoring and left out one of the most important parts of it- finding the right mentor.  So here are seven qualities to look for in a potential mentor.

1. Credibility.

Does this person have relevant real-world experience?  Not every great football coach was a great player, but I want my coaches to have spent a good amount of time in and around the game I want to learn.

2. Recommendations.

Look for recommendations and reviews of the mentor from friends and from online sources.  Are they associated with credible songwriting associations or schools?  Do your homework.

3. Goal-compatibility.

A mentor that specializes in country lyrics will be of limited value if your goal is to write hit rap songs.  Make sure you get a mentor that understands and respects your goals and can help you get closer to achieving them.

4. Style of mentoring.

Some mentors are a kick in the pants, and some are a hug around the neck.  Know what gets the best results with YOU, and choose a mentor accordingly.

5. Relevance.

If you want to write the hits of the future, it’s best if your mentor isn’t stuck in the past.  It’s not a question of age, it’s a question of whether or not your mentor has kept current.

6. Attitude.

Does the mentor seem to enjoy the mentoring process?  There are several pro writers that have taken up mentoring to pay the bills, but not all of them have the heart of a teacher.  Try to find the ones that do.

7. Pricing.

Not all mentors are priced the same – nor are they all of the same quality.  Shop around.  Make sure you’re spending your money wisely.

If you’d like to discover much more about how to find a songwriting coach- and get the most out of that relationship- check out my Amazon bestselling ebook, “Hit Songwriting: How A Songwriting Coach Can Fast Track Your Success.” It will help you prepare for the coaching session- what to do before, during, and after the session- and more! CLICK HERE TO FAST TRACK YOUR SUCCESS.

 

YOU VS…

What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  What qualities are important to YOU in a mentor?  Leave a comment!

SHOUT OUT…

I have songs on two records which are released today.  First, we have Gord Bamford’s new album, “Country Junkie,” out in Canada.  It contains two of my songs, “Nights Like You” and “When Your Lips Are So Close,” which (at the moment) is in the top 15 and climbing on the Canadian country singles charts.  I also have the title track to Joe Nichols’ new album, “Crickets,” which is available today.  Thanks, Joe and Gord!

www.joenichols.com

www.gordbamford.com

 

You Win By Adding Value

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You win by adding value.  Opportunities come to those who add value.  For example, I brought the idea of “Caribou Barbie” (a Ray Stevens cut) to Matt Cline and Max T. Barnes because they added value by being in Ray’s camp and because they write that kind of song very well.  The value I brought was a title that Ray himself told me I should write.  Lisa Shaffer and Bill Whyte brought the title and idea of “Crickets” (a Joe Nichols cut) to me because they thought my lyrical sensibilities would make the song better.

Artists bring the value of having a record deal.  Published writers bring the value of experience and a team of songpluggers.  What’s your value?  Great hooks?  Do you do your own demos, saving your cowriters money?  Do you have artist potential?  Great melodies?  What can you do to add value?  If you identify it, you can sell yourself on it.  Good luck and God bless!

-Brent

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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Wordplay Thursday #11

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Here’s a writing prompt for you.  It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank.  You can use one word or several.  Feel free to get as crazy, genre-appropriate, or as imaginative as you want.  The point is to get the creative juices flowing.  And it’s a good thing to dig deeper, so don’t stop at the first idea that hits you.  Try coming up with at least five things.

“Hope is  _____________________.”

I’ll give you one example to get you started:

“Hope is running into your ex, and she’s wearing your ring on her necklace.”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments.  Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating.  It’s a family show, after all!

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to Andrew Clayton, Nila Kay, Mark, Bryan Elliot, Derek Nyberg, cathy1112ct, Steve, and Jessica Stewart for their great additions to Wordplay Thursday #10 (read it here)!  Great job!

FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

Hey, ya’ll.  If you like this blog, then make sure you don’t miss a single post.  Subscribe by entering your email address in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” box either in the top righthand corner or down below.  And I love it when you share this blog through facebook, Twitter, and wherever!  Thanks!

-Brent

Video Tip: Team Sport

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FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

5 Reasons Songwriters Need To Know Why They Write

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Knowing why you write will make you a happier, more successful songwriter.  Whoa.  That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it?  Well, today, I’m going to give you five reasons I believe this is true.  So let’s get to it.

1. It provides direction.

If you know why you write, it’s a lot easier to figure out what to do next.  For example, if you write as a way to preserve family stories and history, then your next step might be to pull out the family photo albums to find ideas.  Or you might want to record some songs as Christmas presents for your family.  On the other hand, if you write songs about fishing that you hope fishermen will buy, you can focus on writing fishing songs and figuring out how to market them to fishermen.

2. It clears the clutter.

Knowing why you write not only provides direction to your writing, it helps you identify what you SHOULDN’T be doing.  For example, if you write songs to get them recorded by others, why are you spending so much time booking your own shows and shopping for stage clothes?  Just go to shows of people that might record your songs and get to know them.  If you write to see kids light up and dance in the living room, you know you can stop making videos and trying to get views on YouTube.  Just find some kids and a living room.

3. It helps you find your tribe.

Or maybe it means you don’t need to find a tribe.  Your tribe is that group of folks who care about what you care about and share similar interests, passions, and goals.  If you write to express your love of beer, maybe you shouldn’t be looking for cowrites at a church choir convention.  Find a band playing in a honky tonk.

4. It helps you spend your time and money wisely.

If you’re writing to hear your song on the radio, you don’t have to spend money demoing that novelty song written in Russian.  You also know you don’t have to watch hours of YouTube videos on “how to write hit songs” if you know you really just want to write songs to cheer up sick children in the hospital.

5. It lets you know which advice and criticism to ignore.

You post a song online and some bonehead rants about how your song, “This Is How You Milk A Cow,” will never get on today’s country radio.  Since you know you write to entertain and educate kids about farming and country life, you can just laugh and go on with your day.  But if they say they were confused because for the whole first verse, they thought you were talking about being an astronaut, then you know you might need a rewrite.

So, yes, I believe you’ll be a happier and more successful songwriter if you can define why you write.  Irrelevant criticism won’t drag you down, and you’ll spend your time and money on things that get you closer to what was important to you deep down anyway.  You’ll have a better idea of which opportunities to pursue and which to ignore.  And you’ll have a better chance of finding like-minded folks with which to share your journey.

YOU VS…

So, why do YOU write?  Spend some time thinking about it if you haven’t before.  If you’re feeling really froggy, post it in the comments.  There are no wrong reasons.  Just honest or dishonest ones.

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If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

The Necessary And The Difficult

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The music business is a tough, tough business, and the path to success travels through setbacks, failure, and doubt.  The journey requires you to have patience, and it requires you to do difficult, challenging things.  I don’t know of any hacks or tricks which avoid hard work.

However, it is important to remember that not all difficult things are necessary, and not all necessary things are difficult.  To maximize your efforts, you want to avoid the unnecessary and do the necessary, whether difficult or not.  Doing the easy, unnecessary thing is sometimes inefficient, sometimes just lazy.  Doing the unnecessary, difficult thing is sometimes inexperience, and sometimes just self-sabatoge.  Try to spend the vast majority of your time on only the necessary things.  Wisdom, experience, and the advice of the wise and experienced is vital to knowing which things those are.  Good luck and God bless!

-Brent

FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Wordplay Thursday #10

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Here’s a writing prompt for you.  It’s a simple fill-in-the-blank.  You can use one word or several.  Feel free to get as crazy, genre-appropriate, or as imaginative as you want.  The point is to get the creative juices flowing.  And it’s a good thing to dig deeper, so don’t stop at the first idea that hits you.  Try coming up with at least five things.

“Grandmas are  _____________________.”

I’ll give you one example to get you started:

“Grandmas are  homegrown tomato sandwiches.”

I’d love to hear what you come up with, so please share in the comments.  Oh, and please keep your posts below an R-rating.  It’s a family show, after all!

-Brent

SHOUT OUT!

Thanks to Jessica Stewart and Phil Grigg for their great additions to Wordplay Thursday #9 (read it here)!  Great job!

FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

Hey, ya’ll.  If you like this blog, then make sure you don’t miss a single post.  Subscribe by entering your email address in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” box either in the top righthand corner or down below.  And I appreciate it when you share MvR on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Video Tip: What It Wants To Be

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FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

5 Things Songwriters Must Know To Go Pro

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Nobody can provide you with an exact roadmap on how to get from being an amateur songwriter to being a professional songwriter.  But here are five things you must know – and act upon – if you want to go pro.

1. Nobody turns pro alone.

You have to build a network.  Songs move from hand to hand (or inbox to inbox) and into the right hands based on relationships.  These relationships can range anywhere from business acquaintances to best friends.  You MUST get to know people, and they must get to know your music.

2. “Professional” means your songs earn money.

In order to earn money, your songs have to have value in the market- somebody wants to record them, and a bunch of somebodies want to buy them.  To live off your royalties or to get and keep a pub deal, you songs have to earn significant income.  Your job is NOT to write songs.  Your job is to write songs that make money.

3. Songwriting is NOT your hobby – it’s your business.

If you treat it like a hobby, that’s all songwriting will ever be for you.  And that’s fine.  But if you want it to be a business, you have to act like a professional.  The serious writers make the serious money (sometimes).

4. Good enough isn’t good enough.

To break into the biz, your songs can’t be “just as good as” the worst stuff on records and radio.  If an artist wants to cut mediocre, they’ll cut THEIR OWN mediocre song, or their buddy’s or their producer’s.  Your song has to compete against everybody else’s BEST songs.

5. You WILL have to sacrifice.

The professional songwriters are the ones who have been willing to sacrifice.  They came home from their day jobs and picked up the guitar instead of the tv remote.  They spent their Spring Break in Nashville instead of at the beach.  They left family to move to Nashville.  They waited tables – even though they had a masters degree – just to be there.

Thanks for hanging in there with me- I know this post is more about perspiration than inspiration.  Work hard, good luck, and God bless!

-Brent

YOU VS…

What did I miss?  Anything you’d like to add or ask?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment!

FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

“The Song”

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I’ve run into some aspiring songwriters who believe they have “the song,” and if they can just get “the song” to Kenny Chesney or Carrie Underwood, that it’ll be a surefire hit.  The hard truth is that it’s foolish to put all your hopes on one song.  So much timing, luck, and networking goes into getting a cut, much less a hit, that you need a CATALOG of great, commercially-viable songs.  If you have a bunch of great songs working their way through the system, MAYBE one will get cut.  If you can write one great song, that’s great.  Now focus on writing more great songs.  Good luck and God bless!

-Brent

FOLLOW AND SHARE THIS BLOG

If you like this blog, don’t miss a single post!  Subscribe by putting your email in the “Follow Man vs. Row via E-mail” section on this page.  It’s either in the upper righthand corner or down below.   Also, please share this blog with anyone you think would benefit from it.  I appreciate it when you share it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else.  Thanks!

Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

Helping songwriters turn pro.