When it comes to pursuing a career in songwriting, there is very little room for songwriters to indulge in stereotypical “artistic” behavior. The reality is that flighty, irresponsible and disorganized creative geniuses rarely have any significant commercial success. Being organized yields measurable benefits above and beyond the obvious ability to find a pair of matching socks. Below are a few important reasons why it’s worth your while to stay organized as you pursue your songwriting passion.
I feel like I end up saying this a lot but if you’re hoping that people will actually give you money for your songs, then you’re not just an artist, you’re a business person. The grim reality of businesses is that they don’t run themselves. Staying organized by tracking deductible expenses, managing your copyrights and a thousand other things will only make your business (and your career) run more smoothly. Also keeping a current backup of computer hard drives is another thing that businesses do to prevent catastrophic data loss. To make it more personal, song ideas are precious and losing them because of a hard drive crash is not only tragic but unnecessary.
The difference between writing a song when all the planets line up versus writing songs every day comes down to being organized. Keeping track of your inspired songwriting ideas, snippets of melody and titles in a way that allows you to go and find them, will allow you to more consistently create even if the magical inspiration isn’t immediately accessible.
Keeping folders on your computer of your song demos, lyric sheets and anything else related to your songwriting, will enable you to find – and exploit – your songs quickly and efficiently. On a very personal note, my first major label cut almost didn’t happen because the artist was in the studio and couldn’t find the demo we’d sent them. Because I was able to quickly find and email an mp3, the artist cut the song in the studio that afternoon. I can’t imagine how disappointing it would have been if I hadn’t been able to find the song until a day or two later when the opportunity had come and gone.
So much of being a professional songwriter is about getting the maximum amount done in the limited time you have to do it. If you’re constantly rooting around on your computer looking for partial song lyrics or instrumental mixes of certain demos, you’re not making the kind of progress you could be. Staying organized can take you a long way towards being productive and, ultimately, successful.
It should be understood, of course, that there is no substitute for writing great songs. Unfortunately, there are many, many songwriters capable of writing great songs. The way to differentiate yourself is to not only create great music but also keep yourself and your songs organized in a way that will allow you to take full advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. By improving your odds of success, staying organized might be the deciding factor in sustaining a career in the profession you love.