SongTown: What Are You Shooting For?

Clay and I do a lot of mentoring sessions through

One of the big discoveries we have made in those sessions is that people have all kinds of different goals for their music.

And we have discovered that almost every answer to every question people ask us depends on THEIR answer to the question, "What are you shooting for?"

Some are just writing for themselves and want to get better for their own satisfaction. Others want to hear just ONE of their songs on the radio someday. Many are hoping to make a living writing songs.

Your end goal, your target determines so much about what you need to do to improve.

If you are just writing for your own satisfaction, you don't have to worry about whether or not your lyrics or melodies are commercial. You don't have to worry about what is working on the radio. You don't have to stick to topics that are commercial. You can paint the singer in whatever light you choose. To improve, you mainly concentrate on matching melody to lyric and on making your lyric make sense.

If you hope to get a song on the radio someday, then you need to pay more attention to what is happening on the radio. In addition to writing what YOU want to write, you look for titles that lend themselves to broader commercial appeal.

You write those ideas in song forms that are commercial and have wife appeal (big choruses, catchy melodies, etc). You mix in writing for yourself and writing for contemporary artists.

If you hope to make a living writing songs, then you need to treat writing like a job. You show up and do it whether you feel like it or not. You learn the market. You study the artists and you become a student of what is working on the radio. You work hard on hooks and you hold your writing to the highest standards. You paint the singer in a good light. You are continually working to make your songs more commercial.

So, take a little time this week and ask yourself, "What AM I shooting for?" The answer to that question determines that NEXT big step.

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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