The Big Picture
by Larry Robkoff
In this wonderfully diverse world of ours, there are essentially two kinds of songwriters. Not good ones and bad ones, not big ones and little ones, not even successful ones and unsuccessful ones. The line that most clearly separates writers is defined by those who write without regard for the requirements of the marketplace, and those who attempt to write for public consumption.
If you write songs because it brings you joy, and have no interest in being compensated financially for doing so, then by all means continue to bring beauty into the world and take no advice from folks like me! People who feel this way are fortunate indeed. These lucky people have found an activity that is rewarding to them and those around them. Their success will be judged only by how much joy this activity brings to themselves and others.
If however your goal is to have your music presented in the highly competitive public marketplace to the widest possible audience, and generate substantial compensation, you must be prepared to do the following things:
1. Learn all you can about the craft of writing commercially. (Many fine books are available)
2. Learn and understand the makings of a successful commercial song. (Study hit songs)
3. Learn all you can about the Marketplace. (Read trade publications)
4. Gain an understanding of quality demo making. (Be involved in your demo’s)
5. Seek the advice of music industry pros. (Attend workshops)
6. Seek the advice of successful writers. (Attend workshops)
7. Keep a positive attitude. (Keep writing)
8. Plot a course for improvement. (Challenge yourself, work your writing muscles)
9. Network with other writers. (Join local writers groups)
10. Stay current, know what’s popular.(Listen to the radio)
If success as a commercial songwriter is your goal, What you should not do is present your work to music business professionals unless and until you understand the above listed items. Most publishers and artists are looking for songs they consider “hits.” While there is no exact formula for what a hit is, there are certainly aspects common to most songs that become hits. If you are pursuing publishing agreements as a writer your only goal should be to write well-written, hit songs!
Some writers view writing commercially as “selling out.” I am by no means suggesting that you stop loving what you are doing in exchange for profit. I have been writing for the music marketplace for many years and have loved every moment. This is simply a career choice. If you take your shot, you should be prepared to do it as best you can, and with a reliable road map for success.