You hear crazy stories from songwriters that have made it in the music industry, about how little money kept them afloat and what they compromised on. Jason Blume comes to mind, his stories are wild. Eating cat food. (look it up) I don't think I have that much dedication! Tuna yes, cat food no. I'm sure you get what I'm saying. It takes dedication and compromise to get somewhere in this crazy industry we call songwriting! Sometimes even thinking out of the box… gasp!
Money is an important part of surviving in the industry. Without it you have no demo's, no networking at parties or shows, no classes, no critiques. You need money and you have to have a plan.
Lets talk strategy. How many writers just up and decide to go to a musical metropolis without planning. I will tell you how many. All the writers that you don't know, all the names you have never heard of, the ones that pack up their bags within a year and go home. They didn't have a plan. The struggles of writing day after day for hours at a time, just to hear nope not what we want, take its toll on every writer. The above writers followed their dream with no direction, no plan. It's better to have a plan, you have a higher chance of succeeding. We all know that life doesn't always go the way we plan it, but its still better to start with a strategy.
Planning or Strategy 101
1. What skills do you possess to earn a living: cook, accountant, waitress, sales person, mechanic, teacher, etc., what do you have to contribute to the economy of the area you are moving into?
2. Who do you know in that town? I mean really know, what church they go to, where they shop, what their favorite color is? Will that person vouch for you?
3. How is your writing along side a professional music industry songwriters song? Do you think yours are better, same quality or need improvement?
4. How much money do you have saved up for demo costs? This is important, playing your songs out is a great way to get them heard, but you do need them demo'd. You will need a continuous monthly budget. It's part of business.
5. Do you have a website. You don't need a fancy one just a place that you can call your own.
6. What are you willing to compromise on, clothes, eating out, the newest cell phone, etc…
7. Are you willing to room with or live with another songwriter? You will find writers just starting out living together to share expenses. How easy are you to live with?
8. How dedicated are you? Are you willing to skip the party to do a writers round and play your material for an hour every night. FOR NO MONEY!
9. Are you willing to network and go to parties and gatherings just to meet other writers and connect, night after night. Yes, it can get tedious.
10. How is your rejection level? Can you take a hit every single day? How easy do you bounce back?
11. How long have you visited or stayed in the town you want to move to? Do you belong to any music organizations? Any writing groups?
12. Where do you see yourself in a year? Three years? Five years?
13. Do you have an end date? At what point is enough, enough?
Getting Down To It
If you have answered all of these questions with positive detailed answers, you might have the beginnings of a plan. Take all that info then write down your plan.
- Why you are going
- How long are you going
- Where are you living
- What job you will have and backup options
- What happens when you hit the end of enough is enough
- What is your first plan of action
- Second plan of action
- Third plan of action
When it comes to, how to make a living writing songs, your survival comes first, then you might have a chance to get noticed. To start the process of job hunting look on Craigslist in that area of interest, get the phonebook/hardcopy or online out and call companies that you may have a skill set for.
DON"T BE SHY!
You have to ask in order to get the information. Call temp agencies, ask your friends and acquaintances where they work and ask if there are openings. Finally the easiest idea is, if you work for a company that can transfer you to the city you want to move to.
Example: Whole Foods Market has stores on the East coast, West coast, TN, and TX., they are a great company to work for and have a ton of creative people working for them.
Through all of this, keep in your mind songwriting is a journey and you are going to learn many new things about yourself, somethings will be awesome and wise, some things you will want to sweep under the rug and never remember.
Here is to your journey!
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