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.

1. You’ll enjoy yourself more

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. 

2. More opportunities will come your way

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.

3. You’ll have a good reputation in the business

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.

Good Luck!

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16 responses to “Three Reasons Gratitude Makes Your Songwriting Career Better”

  1. Avrim Topel says:

    The generosity that you and other pros share is a beautiful thing, almost like a 12 step program where one has to give it away to keep it. Thank you for all that you do.

  2. good stuff….the other benefit from opening your heart
    chakra is that your writing will expand from being self-centric, with endless songs about you and your feelings…
    (because everything we create is a self-portrait,
    these songs are about us anyway)….
    so, shift from the “me” to a “we” perspective….
    then your protagonist will not be so internalized
    and will connect with our common
    global struggles to create a peaceful planet…

  3. I, for one, want to express gratitude for this email. Sometime we get so caught up in trying for more than we have, both music success and life in general, that the little things to rejoice about go by the wayside. I have also found that the more you open yourself to people and possibilities, the more things actually happen. Almost as though you are willing it to happen. So thank you Cliff, for this reminder to be grateful. Ed and I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Taxi Music Road Rally; we sent your our song, Jazzlife, and you gave us some wonderful feedback on it. So thank you for taking the time to do that. Yes, people do remember:)
    Ed and Carol Nicodemi

  4. Richard Terry says:

    I very much agree with you and I do try to live my life that way.

    And by the way, thank you!

  5. Words of wisdom not just for sonwriting but for life! Thanks, Cliff.

  6. Rosemarie says:

    Certainly a perspective on life that never grows old. Trying to do this more as I meet some peers and professionals in the field.

  7. Ricky says:

    Thanks! Songwriting is a complicated endeavor. No one set of rules or guidelines work for everyone but the things you have mentioned do. My only wish is that there were an effective way of bringing songwriters together to collaborate. Many songs that have great potential are dying with the songwriters who penned them just because of the lack of having the right connections.

  8. Jamie says:

    Hi Cliff,
    Even before I got to the part about you not hearing thank you from everyone, I was about to write and say it – mainly because having you produce that Christmas demo showed me how wonderful it is to ‘let go’ and let session musicians do their own interpretations on parts for a song. It actually made me brave enough to hire a couple of musicians to come up with parts for another one of mine – and, would you believe it? What they’ve done has given me the framework and confidence to be going into a studio for the first time in years in two days. Working with you taught me so much more than that, but I don’t want to dominate the page. Just let me say thank you, Cliff – for that experience, for your blog, and for all your help. Love and light to you always, sir.

  9. Willie Norwood says:

    Thank you for this much needed wisdom. I work with songwriters and we need this attitude to change our altitude in the business.

  10. Christina says:

    Well Stated Cliff! I couldn’t agree more! And by the way, that’s one thing I noticed about you right away and was grateful for (years ago when you did my first demo.) You have always taken the time to answer back promptly, and help with my requests. Very rare and much appreciated! Thank You Cliff!

  11. Justin Ezzi says:

    I hear you brother! When I was teaching the 5th grade I made tee shirts for my students that said, “The attitude of gratitude!” It was the only attitude we allowed in my room.

  12. Karl Crosby says:

    Can you submit songs to a music publisher that are accepted and not become a staff writer? Is there anything mandatory?

  13. Cliff says:

    Hi Karl,

    Yes. Publishers often take individual songs from songwriters to pitch without signing the songwriters to a staff songwriting deal. Nothing mandatory. Be careful of letting publishers “cherry pick” your catalog though. Sometimes it’s better to keep your entire catalog of songs together instead of signing off individual songs to different publishers…

  14. Tyler Morger says:

    Great advice Cliff!
    Your insight is always great. I like the part about putting the energy out there and it will come back. Like a person gets what they put into it.
    Thank you.

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