Kelly Paige is not only an amazingly talented Nashville songwriter with an incredible voice, she is also my new partner in crime on SongwritingBusiness.com. Later this week we will be launching the SongwritingBusiness podcast series which will be hosted by myself from South Africa and Kelly from Tennessee (a true international collaboration). Another great quality about Kelly – who is waist deep in Nashville’s songwriting music scene – she tells it like is! Welcome Kelly!!!
Your Talent Isn’t Enough
Probably not what you wanted to hear, was it? Look, I know how you feel. It’s frustrating to see these supposed morons become successful off of what you consider to be sub-par, stereotypical, formulaic bullshit. And when you hear it on the radio you can’t help but wince at the piercing sounds of mediocrity blasting through the atmosphere… Self-pitying thoughts of, “Why can’t it be me?” consume the fibers of your being, and the threads that hold you together start to unravel. It’s just not right! It’s not fair! Why is this happening? You know you can do better, so why is it so hard for everyone else to figure out?
Well, truthfully, nobody gives a shit if you can do better. Odds are there’s probably someone else out there that’s better than you, and further down the line, someone else even better than them. That, of course, goes on and on until you reach the elusive prodigies of each generation, most of whom, you’ve probably never heard of. That’s not to say that talent doesn’t help, and the idealist in me likes to believe that it still plays in extremely important role in popular music, but the lines are easily blurred between greatness and mediocrity when it comes to an individual’s personal preference. Success, in this miserable, cutthroat industry, ultimately comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice.
If you’re doing things the old fashioned way, and you don’t have several million dollars to readily be invested into your career, odds are you’re going to have to work extremely hard, doing things that you don’t want to do, just to stand a chance at doing what you do want to do. Some of the most talented people I know are only making any money through writing with 14-year-old, half-wit hopefuls who want to sing about fairytales and high school. Others are stuck writing the theme songs for mind-numbing reality-TV shows about Bristol Palin or the Kardashians. These degrading feats may seem like a waste of time and energy to many, but all hope is not lost…
These seemingly mundane tasks are actually useful at the end of the day, because however talented you may be, your art, be it singing, songwriting, or playing, is still a craft. It requires practice and dedication, application in a variety of situations. Does an Olympic sprinter want to run distance? No. But the ones who want to win will do it if it makes them a better sprinter. You’re not going to be able to do exactly what you want when you want to, but hopefully, if you work long and hard enough in the beginning, you’ll get to a point where you can do exactly what you imagined yourself doing, exactly what you dreamt of doing. I say hopefully because there are no guarantees, especially in this business, but the ability to use your talent in any given situation will be a major key to success—a stepping-stone on your way there.
So don’t shy away from an opportunity because you think it’s beneath you, beneath your level of expertise, view it as practice and get as much of it as you can. The ignorant may call it a waste of talent, the idiots might call it selling out, but the truth is, nobody gets into the music business because they don’t want to be successful, and as I mentioned before, success requires sacrifice.