With compliments from Cliff Goldmacher, Educated Songwriter
In order to suffer the slings and arrows which are an inevitable part of trying to generate income from your songs, it’s a good idea to love them first. I’m talking about a very specific kind of love here. What I’m not talking about is the kind of desperate, dysfunctional love where your song is so dear to you that you’re crushed if someone doesn’t love the song as much as you do. The love I’m talking about is where, like a good parent, you’ve put all of your experience and effort into creating a solid, well-adjusted song-child and you feel confident putting it out in the world no matter what anyone else says. I realize this kind of confidence/love won’t come right away and seeking out constructive criticism from more experienced songwriters is a very useful part of your education. However, in the end, this is art you’re creating and the most important opinion is yours. Below are three good reasons why loving your songs can be a huge asset when it comes to getting your songs out there and furthering your career.
1. Maintaining Your Motivation
Writing songs is hard work and requires a great deal of willpower and dedication. In the best of circumstances, it’s a tall order to motivate yourself to create something from nothing. If you don’t feel good about your songs or you’re too easily discouraged by a less-than-glowing comment, it’s twice as hard to get up the courage to dig in. Regarding negative comments, you have to be thick-skinned. Very few non-songwriters can appreciate what it takes to write a song so don’t let a thoughtless or uninformed comment discourage you or shake your belief. And, too, negative or mean-spirited critiques from seasoned, successful songwriters should be taken with a grain of salt. In the end, they’re only opinions and, as I mentioned above, it’s your opinion that matters most.
2. Pitching Your Songs
When it comes to the unromantic, soul-sucking work of pitching your songs for various opportunities, loving what you’re “selling” is a huge help. The more confident you are about your material, the easier it will be to get up every day and subject your songs (and yourself) to the whims of the music industry. If you only love your song when someone else loves it, that means you won’t believe in it if someone says it’s not for them. Our industry is full of stories of successes who were told “no” over and over again. What if they’d listened? Loving your songs gives you the courage to try again when your song is passed over for a given opportunity.
3. Confidence Is Contagious
Loving your songs and being confident in them works on many levels. As I mentioned above, if you love your songs, you’re more likely to want to keep making new ones. But, more importantly, confidence is something people can detect in a million small ways from your body language in a pitch meeting to what words you choose when you’re submitting a song via email. In other words, if you love your songs, people will be able to tell and they’ll be more likely to love them, too. This explains, in large part, why your first cut is the hardest to get. It’s easier to believe in - love - your songs once you’ve gotten some outside affirmation. That being said, it really does begin with you loving your songs first.
Be patient. The kind of love I’ve been talking about is not something that happens overnight. It comes from putting in the countless hours necessary to perfect your craft, incorporating others’ suggestions that make sense to you and ignoring the ones that don’t. Once you’ve done all that, loving your songs, in a quietly confident way, will make your work - and your life - more fulfilling.