Songwriter: Put Me In Coach..I’m Ready To Play!

Get up, give in, go long, go short, go it alone, go with your gut, your guru, heart, head,  friends. Go with family, the facts, the figures. Get a coach, get a conscience, get a life, get a new device .
Pay attention to the charts,  common sense, dollars and cents. Sell out, buy in, can’t be taught, it’s a gift, it’s a curse. I’m better than what’s on the radio, radio is dead, labels are obsolete, internet is the shortcut. I wanna be word of mouth, worldwide, boutique, burn bright, burn out, be smart, hip, obscure, Americana. Be a sure bet, long shot, a dark horse. Commercial, confessional, true to myself  and selfless. Work hard but don’t let the work show. Honor  the new and embrace the old…traction and tradition.

All this and more has come up in my 2 years of coaching writers and artists. I’ve also heard why writing and being a recording artist is not something that can be coached or taught. I disagree.

Coaching at its best can be everything from what to look for to what to look out for. I’ve worked with writers and artists  from all over the world about subjects beyond words and music ranging from taking a meeting, making the best and most economical demo, when to seek legal help, co-writing etiquette and even how to balance artist vision with marriage and relationships. This is what makes the whole coaching idea fun for me. It’s a way to take all the years of ups and downs, successes and mistakes and hopefully turn them into usable, real life lessons. Sometimes it’s about information, sometimes about affirmation.

I’ve also heard the argument that no one should charge for coaching or teaching music but I think that’s ridiculous. If you’ve earned it and paid for the experience yourself and you feel you have the skill and expertise to pass it on, of course you should be paid fairly for it. Similar argument to the question should music should be free? I also believe in being fair, honest and setting realistic goals. If someone promises commercial success – run as fast as you can. If someone promises to use all of their past experiences and connections to help you on your way, make you a better writer or artist and give you more tools to compete, whatever that looks like to you, make sure they’ve actually done what you want to do and then decide to invest or not.

Coaching, mentoring or teaching is only as good as the one offering it and the work you’re willing to put into it. I’ve been having a great time watching some of my clients get cuts but more often than not it’s about hearing the next song, seeing the next lyric come to life, seeing them get a web presence , fans and being able to encourage.

Bob Lefsetz’s blog is one that I really like and the subject of paying for a music education was a fun one to watch for the responses. One of the most interesting ones was from a parent who actually decided, after hearing all a music school could offer for a 200K education, to pay for a mentor to give his son actual on-the-job, practical training for a semester and see how it goes. I’ll be interested to hear.

Have you had someone mentor you , inspire you or just give you encourgement or honest feedback when you needed it? Organizations like NSAI, West Coast Songwriters, BMI and ASCAP can be great places to meet co-writers and plug into some good programs in addition to writers, producers and publishers like myself.