There’s an old Yiddish curse that says “may you do what you love for a living.” In other words, taking the thing you’re most passionate about and attempting to earn an income from it is full of challenges and can certainly feel overwhelming at times. After twenty-five years of doing this, I’ve found that it’s way too easy to find the negatives about a career in music. The good news is that I’ve found that there are also plenty of compelling reasons to remain optimistic that translate into real, tangible advantages as you make your way in the world of songwriting. I thought I’d take a little time and mention some of those below.’

1. It keeps you motivated

I’ve learned over the years that the single most important element of my career has been my motivation. Metaphorically speaking, I can take a punch (or punches) and get back up every time as long as my desire to get out of bed in the morning and pursue my career stays in tact. Looking at the bright side of making music for a living is essential when it comes to maintaining this motivation. Conversely, looking for or dwelling on the negative aspects of our business is a surefire way to diminish and potentially destroy your motivation. Stay optimistic and it will keep you motivated. It’s that simple. Songwriting Career

2. It brings like-minded people to you

Another observation I’ve made over time is that optimism attracts optimism. It’s amazing how a positive outlook will draw others with a similar outlook into your world. On top of that, the more optimists you surround yourself with, the easier it becomes to stay optimistic. By creating this kind of virtuous cycle, you’re doing yourself and those closest to you a favor. Optimism really is an attracting force.

3. Pessimism leads to missed opportunities

Realistically speaking, if we actually stopped to calculate the odds of every potential opportunity for our songs, we would see that they’re not particularly good. However, I don’t see that as a reason not to pursue these opportunities. As a matter of fact, it’s the success against those odds that makes for some of the sweetest moments in a songwriting career. A healthy dose of optimism will give you the courage to reach for the all but unattainable. Pessimism, on the other hand, will most likely freeze you into inaction which is a guaranteed way to avoid any success. And, hey, someone has to have success. Why shouldn’t it be you?

4. It translates into your songs’ messages

Optimism writes as optimism is. Inevitably, a positive outlook will make its way into your songwriting. Now put yourself in the position of an artist considering which songs to put on an upcoming album. What kind of song would you choose to represent yourself with?  There’s a reason that “uptempo, positive” is all but a mantra in our profession when it comes to what artists and labels are looking for. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions but why not go with the majority on this one?

5. It’s free

Believe me when I tell you that you’ll have no trouble finding things to spend your money on when it comes to a career in music. Given that the financial return on these investments is generally a long way down the road, it nice to know that one of the most powerful tools you can employ to move your career forward is completely free. A state of mind is a truly valuable thing and cultivating optimism in your day to day approach to your career is an investment that begins paying dividends immediately without requiring any financial outlay. That’s the right kind of math in my book. Songwriting Career


I will freely admit that a career as a songwriter is not easy nor is it without a great number of disappointments and discouraging moments. That being said, a life spent pursuing your passion and connecting with the world through your songs far outweighs any difficulties you’ll encounter along the way. As with most things in life, the way you choose to perceive your situation has a lot to do with how much you’re able to enjoy it. Hopefully, some of the suggestions I’ve made will help you make your way towards the “sunny side of the street” as one of our kind wrote a few years back.

Good Luck!

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8 responses to “Five Ways Optimism Helps Your Songwriting Career”

  1. Great points, Cliff… especially #4, it shines through in your songs!

    It’s always sad to see artists sabotaging themselves with a bad attitude. It’s also tough to point it out to negative people, the response I used to get before giving up explaining it was “I’m not negative!” ….

    I still find ways to help people that doubt themselves, because self doubt can be a great help if you learn how to focus it correctly!

  2. A friend recently taught me ‘Neutral’. When there’s something negative you can’t do anything about, and you certainly can’t be positively overjoyed about it, don’t dwell in the negative; shift into neutral. ‘Decide’ to give it a neutral effect on your thinking.

    There was an issue, a stupid mistake, monetary value literally thrown out with the trash, that was burning me. I shifted my thinking on it to neutral and got relief; for a while. The habitual regret reasserted itself but I immediately shifted to neutral again, decreasing the effect on my emotional ease.

    Optimism, from the dream of $uce$$, to the whole-life overflow optimism can deliver is a wise man’s choice. A bad attitude generates bad chemistry, within you, and without. Other people gravitate toward optimism and away from pessimism, unless they’re already pessimistic, and then you can get drawn into their drama.

    I like it. Cultivate optimism. Generate it in yourself. Spread it to others. It really is a choice. It really is free. Cliff! You’re a genius! Or…at least…I’m optimistic about the possibility you’re a genius!


  4. Tyler Morger says:

    Par the course it is nice you offer pro advice.
    Thanks Cliff!

  5. sconniesongster says:

    Hi Cliff and All,
    I knew I’d enjoy these comments, and bonus was “neutral” concept in prior comment. Ten years ago I had no idea song writing workshop leaders would soon drill into me the need for optimism and for keeping the body fit. From early-mid life to mid-mid life (I write optimistically), I changed for the better by exploring the craft of song writing. Now how do I get paid for eating bratwurst?

  6. Dick Karg says:

    Yo Cliff!
    Truly HOPE is a virtue and your highlighting optimistic steps and rationale is helpful.
    Make It a Great Day!

    My best

  7. Mark Sweeney says:

    The greatest athletes in the world learn to live in the present. They have slumps and successes. Let them both go and stay in the middle to keep moving forward. Songwriting is no different. The worse voice is the one in your head.

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