Let’s take a moment to discuss famous songwriters, past and present, and how they arrived at the fame they now enjoy. A warning, though: this will be a realistic look at the music industry, from Kip Allen, Nashville songwriter, music producer, and session musician. There will be no sugarcoating in this article, no false hope, no undeserved pats on the back. What you will read here will be the real of it, as seen through the eyes of a person who has been there, done that, and now thrives in the most competitive music city in the U.S.
Name any of the famous songwriters and the story will be the same
Go ahead, go through Wikipedia, or name them yourself . . . Gershwin, McCartney, Lennon, Dylan . . . legendary names in the music industry, all worthy of the “greatest” title. Or name current songwriters, outstanding with lyric writing, with current hits being played on the radio, and being streamed by the tens-of-thousands.
If you had the opportunity to interview them, any of them, or all of them, we are betting their stories will be eerily similar, and we know that because those stories are still playing out today, with kids arriving in New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville, talented kids with a dream, kids who firmly believe they have the talent necessary to make it on the biggest stages in the world.
And, then, reality hits. The sheer number of wannabes would stop a team of oxen in their tracks. There are only so many honkytonks to play at. There are only so many hours in a day for music executives, and music producers, to see would-be musicians and songwriters.
The vast majority of wannabe songwriters, and musicians, will never experience fame. In point of fact, the vast majority of them will never make a living doing what they love doing. They work at their crafts, from sun-up to sundown, day in and day out, and at the end of five years, or ten, they are still working as waiters in restaurants, hoping for their first big break.
There is only one way to be successful, and that’s not guaranteed
If that last section did not discourage you to the point of quitting, read on.
Some do make it, and they make it because they did not quit, they did everything in their power to be seen and to be heard. They paid their dues, just as Kip Allen paid his, working every gig he could find, in 2008, in an effort to meet just the right person, at just the right time, who would open a door for Kip.
The only way to make it in this business is to work your butt off, and even then, you are not guaranteed. But, if you don’t work your butt off, you are guaranteed to fail.
If you are determined to be a famous songwriter, here’s what you should do
We alluded to it earlier in this article. You must become the fly on the wall who will not be swatted away. The famous old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is famous for a reason: it is true. You must become such a familiar face in the local music industry that you cannot be ignored. You must shake hands, you must become a persistent pest, and when none of that works today, you repeat it tomorrow, and the day after that, and the years after that.
Great songwriters are born with a unique talent, but famous songwriters are only famous because they had game, and they persistently put themselves in situations where they would eventually be seen and their talents noticed.
A final word about Kip Allen
Kip Allen, Drum Workshop Artist, is a name known in the Nashville music industry, and that statement is all you need to know about his talents as a songwriter, music producer, and session musician. When what you are producing calls for the very best, call Kip Allen.