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SongTown USA: Traits of a Successful Songwriter

I have a degree in Psychology and I love to observe people.

It’s fun to try to figure out what makes people tick.

It’s also interesting to me to study successes and failures to better understand what causes one or the other.

Here are my observations about successful songwriters.

Successful writers tend to:

1)Work harder than most other writers. No surprise here.

2)Keep a positive attitude. They don’t have time to complain because they are working their tails off.

3)Continually strive to be better. They are always working to improve their craft.

4)Know the music business inside out. They understand who does what and how each aspect of the business works. This gives them a competitive advantage.

5)Keep up with who is looking for songs and what they are looking for.

6)Stay current. They know what is working on the radio. They change and adapt to make what they do fit the format.

7)Write a wide variety of songs. They don’t have just one “thing” that they do. They have lots of pitches for lots of different types of artists.

Unsuccessful writers tend to:

1)Write only when inspiration hits.

2)Complain all the time.

3)Argue that their songs are already good enough to be on the radio.

4)Write whatever they want to write whenever they want to write.

5)Remain unaware of who is recording and how the business works.

6)Look for shortcuts.

7)Have one “thing” that they do.

I’ve always believed that doing the things that successful people do helps you move toward success yourself. Look for yourself on these lists and if you find yourself behaving like an UNsuccessful person, make the switch to the corresponding behavior that leads to success.

A big percentage of success is your state of mind. Train your mind to be successful and the success should follow.

Write on!

Marty Dodson

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. Follow him here:, at and at Twitter @SongTownUSA or visit

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