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You’re Not a Songwriter. You’re a Business.

by Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder

AKA The art of being a songtrepreneur (patent pending).

Your songs are your product.

Putting it as bluntly as possible… What do you need to do to sell your product?

The best entrepreneurs I know are constantly solving problems, seldom relishing in their successes. With hard work and problem-solving, success is inevitable. That should be no surprise.

Pretend it is bluetooth enabled hula hoops you are selling, and not songs.

What are the steps you need to take in order to make sure that your target market of Bluetooth-enabled hula hoop enthusiasts know about you and your product?

Seems like perhaps an absurd correlation, but really in fact it’s the exact correlation you need.

Is your hula hoop a good quality?

Do your hula hoops come in a wide array of colors?

What makes your hula hoop stand out from all of the other hula hoops on the market?

Who is the target demographic for your hula hoop?

Now substitute “hula hoop” for “songs.”

Now take that philosophy and apply that to your music.

Here are five ideas to help you march to your own beat, toot your own horn and sing your own song.

R&D - Part of being a great songwriter and creating a fantastic product is understanding the market and who it is exactly that you are trying to appeal to. Great songwriters can work across many different genres and mediums. A big part of knowing what to write is listening. If you want to be a pop songwriter, you need to consume all of the top streaming charts. Obviously, platforms like Spotify make that incredibly easy. What’s new, and what’s working? Doing the research is the number one way to inform your creative self of what it is that you need to be writing. But it’s not just lyrical content. It's the chord structure, production, and the presentation of those songs. What does the kick drum sound like? What does the snare drum sound like? Curating sound choices IS part of songwriting. Breaking down and understanding the compositional structure of music on every vertical is the number one way that you will learn how to become a better songwriter and producer.

Quality Control - One perfectly executed song, is infinitely better than 10 average songs. One song can change your life, while 10 average songs will do absolutely nothing for you. I do advocate for writing as much as possible, and of course, completing as much as possible. But really understanding the ones that are special that need that extra touch is paramount to ensuring that your music is resonating with your audience. Average s#!t yields average results. Exceptional stuff…well…you know. Exceptional is Adele…Exceptional is Radiohead…exceptional is Drake. Be exceptional!!

Marketing and Promo - Back to our hula hoop analogy. You can have the world's most incredible transformational hula hoop. But if no one in the world knows about it… Who cares? How do you tell people about your hula hoop? How do you let people know who you are? Despite popular belief, it’s not all just in the way that you manage your social media. It’s certainly part of it, but a huge component is actual in-person relationships. Understanding how to commoditize your social relevance into professional benefits. Figure that out, and you won’t need to worry about social media. Your network = your net worth.

Sales - Are those placements coming in? Because placements equal sales in this business. If they are… Keep doing what you’re doing. If they’re not, question why is that? Are you in front of the right people? Are you opening the right doors? Are you even acknowledging the doors that are in front of you? Too many people think that writing is the most important part of business development. But relationships and executing sales on your music are even more important. Do you attend conferences and get yourself in front of the rainmakers you need to meet? Otherwise what’s really the point?

Re-investing - I wish you nothing but the most incredible amount of success. But when you have success, the smartest thing that you could do is reinvest in yourself. What does reinvesting mean? In my experience, I’ve discovered that sitting back and admiring my successes forces me to become lazy and entitled. So I just don’t do it. I recall one time working with an artist of mine and I just found out that I had gotten a massive placement. Six figures. I acknowledged it and in the middle of our vocal session continued to work. He looked at me and said

“you don’t even take time to celebrate.“

“I said...celebrate what?”

Success is a result of the hard work that I already put in. It does not dictate the future. Success is earned from yesterday's investment. The hard work you put in today is what creates the future. So reinvesting is about reinvesting in your own self-belief. And it’s about giving yourself the best tools to be the most efficient that you can be.

The Coda: There is no shortage of millionaires for mediocre products. That’s why billionaires with exceptional products are unicorns. If you wanna be a songwriter unicorn, you must always have three things.

1. Great music

2. Exceptional marketing.

3. Flawless execution.

Do those three things and all of your dreams will become reality.

See you next week and keep writing them hits


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