Gratitude. It’s a seemingly simple concept. Be grateful for the things you have or are given. It almost seems like it would be difficult not to be grateful when something good happens or someone shows you a kindness and, yet, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our pursuit of songwriting success that we forget to stop and simply be grateful. Take my word for it. Stop. Appreciate all the good things and the generosity you’ve been shown and everything will almost immediately feel – and get – better.
At its best, a career in songwriting is still an incredibly slow developing one with very little proof of progress for a very long time. In the absence of that major label cut or placement in a film or TV show, it’s up to us to find the good in the little things. A comment by someone you’ve never met saying they were moved by one of your songs would be a good example. If you’re going to – and we all do – take the snarky comments to heart, then please remember to take the compliments to heart, too. It’s a long road to financial success as a songwriter, stopping to “smell the roses” will make that road a much more pleasant one to travel.
I know this seems a little mystical but the energy you put out in the world is tangible. If you’re brought in on a co-write, for example, and you make sure to express your appreciation for your collaborator’s work and talent, not only will you be more likely to get another co-write but you’ll also be an easy person to recommend for another co-write, gig or session when the opportunity presents itself.
OK, this one’s personal so bear with me. I’ve been at this a long time (if you think writing songs for twenty-five years is long) and for better or worse I’ve developed a reputation as an expert in the ridiculously subjective field of songwriting. As a result, I would guess I receive a dozen or so requests a week via email or my website asking for help on a songwriting related topic. It’s a point of pride that I read – and respond – to every single request. I like doing it and I know how good it feels to hear back from someone in the industry given how few and far between those responses can be. Thinking back to when I was starting out, I still remember exactly how good it felt when my call or email was answered. Now to my point… I can’t help but notice how few of the people who have asked me for help actually take a moment to send a thank you email in return after I’ve responded to their questions. I won’t even try to guess why this is but I will tell you that it makes me appreciate the grateful replies that much more.
Look. We all know it’s tough out there. It’s always been tough and it always will be or there would be a lot more people doing what we do. That being said, why not choose not to pick the low-hanging fruit of complaining about it or, worse yet, letting it affect your work. Take time to be grateful for the good things and the kindnesses and you’ll be amazed at how much better things can be.