Songwriting is incredibly competitive if you want your songs played on the radio.
Let me give you an idea of just how competitive it is.
Here’s a listing from a publisher looking for songs for a successful US country artist:
“I need songs that are as fresh, original, and unique as they get, while still being radio ready. Undeniable, ‘Song of the Year’ smashes, with award winning potential. Engage me through the whole song; don’t make me turn it off after the first chorus because I already know where it’s going to end up. Story type songs that have the best shot at saying something that I haven’t already heard 5 times this week. No bro country, and no stock melodies that I can sing 10 other songs to.”
This listing reveals how high the bar is for songwriters. If you can’t write a song of that quality then you’re not even going to be able to play the game.
So that’s the first step…being able to write a fresh original uptempo song that’s good enough to win Song Of The Year.
But that’s just the beginning because that artist and his camp will be listening to around 3,500 songs to choose the song he takes into the studio.
For this one break out smash they might listen to 500 different songs to choose one they think is right.
And those songs will be almost entirely from professional songwriters who had some kind of connection to the artist or someone in the artist’s camp or some connection with a publisher who has access to the artist.
The pro songwriters are co-writing usually with 2 other professional songwriters…often with the artist too. That dramatically increases their chances of getting a cut with that artist.
So once you can write a truly great song you’re competing with songs the artist has written with professionals, songs the artists friends and other contacts have written, songs written by professionals being pitched by publishers and their professional song pluggers.
To really stand out you’re going to need some astonishingly great songs and you’re going to need to build some contacts in the industry.
Ideally write with artists who are on their way up and build relationships that way too.
With only one in ten artists signed to a label having any success even that is a crap shoot.
It can be intimidating and humbling to realize just what you’re up against. It really is an incredibly difficult and competitive field.
But you should also remember that every month hard working, talented songwriters break through and get huge cuts.