When people ask, I always try to give them a balanced perspective on what it takes to succeed at the highest level of songwriting. Some sites promise to help you breathe the "rarified air of hit mountain." Others promise to get your songs in front of "X" number of "big" Nashville producers. I don't want to hype you up or give you false hope. I shoot straight.
I want to tell you the truth. All the time. Sometimes I worry that my posts are too blunt and real. But, my premise is this: If I tell you the truth, then you can evaluate for yourself whether you want it bad enough to do what it takes to succeed. I try to give you all of the information you need to make good decisions about your songwriting, and about a songwriting career.
So, here's the truth for the day. It's HARD. It's REALLY hard. There are lots of ups and downs. And LOTS of heartache when you get SO close, but it doesn't happen. Still it's worth it.
The first time I heard one of my songs on the radio, I had to pull off the road because I got so emotional. It was the group Ricochet singing "Can't Stop Thinking ‘Bout That." I had worked for several YEARS to get that cut.
My mother (My biggest supporter) had died just before it came out. I pulled over into a gas station and I cried. I cried because my mom never got to hear one of my songs on the radio. I cried because I had worked SO hard for that one cut. I cried because I had FINALLY reached one of my career goals. And I cried because I wondered whether it was worth everything I had to sacrifice to get that one song on the radio.
That song went to #37 on the charts. I counted that as my first "Top 40" hit. I made about $8000 on it. Divided across the years I spent getting there, it wasn't much. But, at the end of the day, it was worth it.
Hearing that song on the radio inspired me to write better, to work harder, to dig deeper for better ideas. It kept me going when times were hard. That song led to a Lonestar cut called "I've Gotta Find You," which went triple platinum and got me my first gold and platinum records. That one was followed by "While You Loved Me", which went to #7 for Rascal Flatts and "Must Be Doin' Somethin' Right," which became my first #1 song.
All of that to say - the road has been hard. But it has been worth it. There were a MILLION opportunities to give up. I was tempted to take each one of them. Sometimes the road was so hard that I didn't know if I could keep going. But it has been worth it.
If you dream of hearing your song on the radio, I just challenge you to keep chasing the dream. Is everyone chasing that dream going to make it? No. But, some of you will. And the ONLY ones who make it will be in the group that persevered, even when it was hard.
Dig deep inside of yourself and see how bad you want it. If you want it badly, then don't give up. Ever. When you hear that first cut, turn on the radio and your song is playing, or watch a crowd of 68,000 people singing along to something you wrote - it's worth it. It’s WAY worth it.
If you want it bad enough, then the only choice is to…Write on.
See the official video for "Must Be Doing Something Right" here:
Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Find out more about at SongtownUSA.com and martydodson.com. Or follow him here: www.facebook.com/songtownusa and Twitter @SongTownUSA.