Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Itty Bitty Pity Committee

Have a few minutes to relax on this Thursday...some call it "throwback Thursday" on Facebook. With that in mind I thought I'd do a "throwback Thursday" blog and reflect on a time years ago when I use to walk the street of "Music Row" in Nashville (I hate to say how many years ago) along with some other songwriting friends. We would spend the day knocking on publishing houses trying to get anyone willing to listen.  Then we'd drown our sorrows at a Nashville drinking establishment and compare notes and mostly complain about how we had all these good songs and no one would give them a sniff. I use to call our meetings "An Itty Bitty Pity Committee". We would commiserate and pretty much blame anyone and everyone else for our lack of success. We talked about how our songs are so much better than what we are hearing on the radio and how the "suits" listened to the music and if we could just get our songs right to the artist they for sure would cut them. 

That was over 30 years ago and eventually there came a time I had basically given up on songwriting totally (and picking music for that matter). The level of frustration had beaten me down!! Then about 1992 I moved to Indianapolis and met some really fine pickers and started to rekindle the musical fire. I'll always be grateful for those Indy friends for doing that!!! :) I started to rethink, retool, and rededicate myself to songwriting and the music. I sat down and started to set goals, make a plan, evaluate my songs more objectively, dove into educating myself on the business of songwriting and excused myself from the "itty bitty pity committee" meeting. It was time to roll up my sleeves and be "ALL IN" to this songwriting thing! It was time to invest in my own success...not rely on others!! I'm always wary of someone that wants others to invest and take all the risk for their success. If you are NOT WILLING TO LAY EVERYTHING ON THE LINE to invest in your success...then maybe you aren't cut out for it. This can apply to life in general :) More than money, fame or anything else other than God and to have a PASSION in life!!!

You know, one of the hardest things to admit is that the songs that you have written are just NOT all that good. This was my case...oh sure, I thought they were reality they were maybe "good" but far from "great". I go back and listen to some of the songs I was pitching in Nashville those days and pretty much "cringe"!!! I decided to study some of my songwriting heroes and their songs to try to close the large canyon/gap between my songs and the GREAT songs of my musical heroes. I decided to set goals and make a plan.  Here are some of the things I wrote down and laid out:

1. I did a "Mission Statement"...What were my core values of music and songwriting?

2. I did a 5-year plan...Where did I want to be in 5 years on my songwriting journey?

3. I set "milestones"...little goals along the way...each that would move me toward my goal. These included things like "I will write everyday even if it is only for 15 minutes", "I will read one chapter in a songwriting book every week", "I will try to pitch one song every week" and on and on. Each of them gave me small "victories" along the way while pushing toward my major goals.

4. I vowed to STOP blaming others for my lack of songwriting success!!! The buck stops with me!! I got out of the itty bitty pity committee for good!

5. I committed to being "professional" at all times and "treat others with respect" whether they like my songs or not.
6. Surround myself with great songwriters to both learn from and to lift each other up!!! Celebrate all our successes and offer encouragement in a business that is full of negativity. Be truly HAPPY for someone else's success!!! NO ONE EVER GOT AHEAD BY TEARING OTHERS DOWN!!!

7. Vow to "DO THE RIGHT THINGS RIGHT"!! Like in any business if you concentrate on doing the right things right...success usually follows.  The results will come.  It changes your focus from complaining about NOT GETTING doing the right things right to achieve "cuts" and by doing that...the "cuts" will come if you have great songs :)

Anyway, I talk about this today because I've heard from several aspiring songwriters over the last few months who seem to be focusing on blaming the rest of the world for their lack of success rather than focusing internally on what they can do to improve. Their focus was on everyone else and how it was their fault for the lack of success. I can identify with that feeling and I saw myself 30+ years ago. 

Now that being said...I know there are rare times now...but they do happen...where I'll slip into an "itty bitty pity committee" meeting, but I try not to spent much time there :)  You shouldn't either!! Roll up your sleeves, get a plan, goals and the plan...focus on doing the right things right and hopefully success will come...even if it doesn't it will be fun along the way because you are following your "passion"!!! :)

Have a GREAT Throwback Thursday and remember:  Write more...whine less!!!!

Write on!!



  1. hey brink loving your posts here about songwriting and music !

  2. Brink : I would love to read your ideas on the following : I've written a few tunes, mostly instrumentals , a few with lyrics. In my mind it's like a gift from God, I hear the song , then I know I better QUICK grab my banjo and paper and QUICK write down a rough draft of the progressions / notes , or else ! It's gone , really , and if that happens I can't ever seem to get it back ... I am sure you know what I'm saying , right ?
    Maybe a blog - post from you on this ?

  3. Matt, I may do a blog on this...but if you don't document an idea right is GONE! I write it on a napkin, even call my own voice mail to sing a melody or recite lyrics etc. :)