I spent four days at the Durango Songwriters Expo, and it
was inspirational for me. There were about a hundred songwriters
and artists from all over the country, and many of them were
Several members came up to me after the panels to tell me
how much they enjoyed belonging to TAXI. They also told me
that they were glad to hear the industry people on the panels
repeat many of the same things that I've been preaching to
you for years.
The first sermon: Persistence pays off. Every panel that
I was on, or sat in on, cited examples of artists or writers
who succeeded because they never gave up. Hallelujah! It doesn't
take a brain surgeon to figure out that hard work pays off.
Why then, do some people think that success comes as easily
as submitting a tape or two?
Let's take that logic out of the music realm for a minute,
and apply it to Olympic figure skating. If the argument (or
should I say fantasy) held any water, then someone who badly
wants to go to the next Olympic games and win the gold medal
would simply have to strap on a pair of skates every now and
then, show up at the Olympics, and win.
Of course, we all know that's unrealistic. Actually, it sounds
downright foolish. To win Olympic gold would most likely require
that the skater follow a strict regimen of practicing long,
hard hours, day in and day out for a number of years. And
then, and only then, would the skater even have a shot at
qualifying, let alone being allowed to compete or bringing
home the gold.
Does that mean you have to quit your day job to become a
hit songwriter? Not necessarily, although it's likely that
could speed the process up considerably. But, I'm assuming
most of TAXI's members aren't independently wealthy, and still
need to earn a living at a day gig. That being the case, the
smart thing to do would be to set aside a regular time each
day for working on your material. It makes sense that the
person who spends several hours a day working on their craft
and their material is a more likely candidate for success
than someone who doesn't.
The second part of my over-told sermon that was heartily
agreed upon by the panelists is that you must have patience.
Tons of it! I've said it many times before, and I'm sure I'll
repeat myself in the future, but I've got to say it - Diane
Warren spent nearly every waking hour of her life for twelve
years working on her song craft and pitching her material
anywhere she could before she got her first song cut. The
investment paid off in spades. She is arguably the most successful
songwriter of our time. At the very least, she's fabulously
wealthy, and she's made her millions doing what she loves
On my flight home from Durango, I had the pleasure of sitting
next to Country songwriting legend, "Kostas." He's an extremely
nice man, and he was very forthcoming as I grilled him for
details about his career. I was shocked to find out that he
didn't get his first cut on an album until he was forty years
old, although he had been making music his entire adult life.
Actually, he told me he started making music as soon as he
could walk and talk. Forty years! Now that's patience!!
The other most often heard word to leave the mouths of the
industry folks was "Passion." You got to have a real passion
for making music, or you'll never succeed. And I'm extremely
proud to say that each TAXI member who spent time talking
to me at the conference exuded genuine passion.
But maybe the thing that made me most proud was the performance
by TAXI member Sarah Hendricks. I first met Sarah at the Durango
Songwriters Expo four years ago. She performed what I'll politely
refer to as a poem that went on for a very long time with
music under it.
I saw her perform again last year, and her progress was remarkable.
It sounded like music! Very cool music. This year, Sara's
performance was incredible. She's taken her music to new heights.
It's melodic, original, quirky and captivating. A great combination.
Several of the A&R people sitting with me commented that they
liked her material and wanted a copy to take back to the office.
Sarah credits TAXI with helping her dramatically improve
her music. Personally, I think it's her persistence and patience.
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