Songwriters for the most part are great at writing songs but when it comes to doing the "business of songwriting" not so much :) Writing songs is the fun part...the business stuff is the part we hate. But, depending on the level you want to achieve, the business part becomes more important. In previous blogs I said I would talk about a "plan" for songwriting. Well, today I'll touch on some of my own thoughts on "planning". The specifics are up to each writer as they are very personal but this might be an overall approach :)
The first decision that must be made is "What kind of songwriter do you want to be?". There is no "right or wrong" level of songwriting. It is only "right" for YOU!!
1. Do you want to only write songs from yourself for fun? You don't care if you ever get a song recorded and you mainly just write them and sing them for yourself, family and friends. This kind of a songwriter has really no business need but still may want to keep learning about songwriting. The only "plan" that might be desired would be one to have a path to becoming a better songwriter...but not even that is necessary...it is just FUN :)
2. A "hobby" songwriter. This is a songwriter that encompasses all of type "1" but also has some desires to maybe play their songs "out". Let the general public hear the songs they've written. A "hobby" songwriter has some goals to maybe get a song recorded at some point. They would love to hear one of their songs played on the radio but if that doesn't happen...well they are good with that too. The emphasis is on FUN but with a minimal emphasis on the business part of songwriting. A "hobby" songwriter may attend some conferences and do some pitching if the situation would arise. There is a light need for a plan but really again not a necessity.
3. The "professional" songwriter. By professional I mean a songwriter that is serious about crafting songs to be recorded. They will study the craft of songwriting, network, pitch songs, will either become a publisher or seek out a publisher for their material and generally do the both the crafting of songs and the "business of songwriting". While this blog can be used by Type 1 and 2 it is really meant for the songwriters aspiring to move to a "professional" level.
So, with that said, let's talk about level 3. If you aspire to reach level 3 then you have to approach songwriting as a "business". It is just as much of a business as selling a product or manufacturing something. Every business NEEDS a plan. A well thought out mission and direction...a "track" to run on so to speak. This takes a LOT of thought as it will set your direction for the next few years. So here is how I approached my songwriting and my continuing effort to be a "type 3" songwriter :)
1. Like any quality business you need a mission statement. A short statement that encompasses your "core values". A template which you can lay over all your songwriting activities to make sure you are doing and accomplishing what you set out to do. There are many resources on the internet to help write a "mission statement". I know many folks go..."I don't need any mission statement!" but I would argue that "you do"!!! If you haven't done a mission statement, I would encourage you to try it :) At the very least it will add some clarity to your songwriting as a business! :)
2. Once you have you have your "mission" documented you want to create a 1 year and 5 year plan. Write down what you want to accomplish in your first year...then write down what you want to accomplish in 5 years. This isn't a quick and easy thing to do. If you are serious about songwriting and want to compete in the business world of songwriting you need to have a "plan" as to where you want to be and what you want to accomplish in the first year and then more long term in the next 5 years. Make a list of where you want to be, what achievements and goals you want to attain in those time periods. You want to set goals that are a "stretch" but attainable.
3. Once you have decided on your basic 1 year and 5 year goals you then REALLY need to roll up your sleeves and set "milestones" to get you to your goals. Milestones are really "mini-goals", they help you monitor your progress toward your goals and the MOST IMPORTANT thing is that the "milestones" will include the "ACTIVITY"!!!! The DOING! The actual daily/weekly steps that you will DO to reach the milestone. Here is where THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD!!!!
Now, the one thing no one can tell you is what your plan will be! You have to do a LOT of soul searching. Your plan will include steps to improve your knowledge of songwriting both craft and business. A marketing plan to get your songs in the pipeline and recorded. But ONLY YOU can decide what your mission and plan will be.
Setting Milestones is critical as they are the things you do on a daily basis and allow you to celebrate small victories along the way and THAT is really important to have positives on your "road to success". For example: I may have a milestone for the one year plan that might read:
"I will pitch at least one song per week for the first 12 months. I will reach out to artists/bands and get permission to send one song per week for consideration." I think most people will agree this may be a "doable" thing. It's one song per week...heck...I can do that!!! :) So you start every week with the goal of pitching "one" song that week. At the end of the year you have pitched 52 songs. This gets your feet moving, so to speak. Without this kind of milestone I tend to procrastinate!! :) By setting several milestones that when added together keep you moving toward your overall "goals" you will begin to see accomplishments.
So, I hope this might get you thinking about your own songwriting and some soul searching as to what level of songwriter do I want to be and more importantly the things that will help me "get there"!! Of course your mileage may vary! :)
Remember: Write more ....whine less!!