Your Talent Isn’t Enough – by Kelly Paige


Kelly Paige is not only an amazingly talented Nashville songwriter with an incredible voice, she is also my new partner in crime on 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.



Thanks Kelly. You can find Kelly’s music at or follow her on twitter at @kelly_paige. Feel free to leave comments for Kelly below.



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11 Responses to “Your Talent Isn’t Enough – by Kelly Paige”

  1. Andrew Kay says:

    So true. I’ve been gigging a lot this ye3ar, doing restaurants and bars,as well as festivals and clubs that require original material only. In some places people take more notice of the skirting board than they do of the entertainer/human karaoke machine, in others a vibe does get going, which is cool. Hard work to make it happen though, and usually only by the third set. But it’s been great on so many levels – my voice and phrasing has improved to the point where I can satisfactorily produce tone and interpret the material I’m singing in an original way with ease. Something that I’ve been incapable of before this. It’s gigging two or three times a week to support my family that’s enabled this. Recordings (just demos) of my voice in comparison to a year ago before I started gigging a lot are like chalk and chesse, and I feel much more capable of moving people with my original work now. Still gotta keep working and promoting and thinking of angles from outside the box. It’s not easy but I’m starting to make things happen. It’s all about perception too.

  2. Josh says:

    I was one of the guys who attended your songwriting seminar Jon, and the main thing that stood our for me was PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE and working hard – I was always under the misconception that songwriting was this magical gift that only a few could possess but of late I’ve realised that the more you work at it the easier it becomes and the “luckier” you get! I also learnt how important having a catalogue/archive of songs and song ideas is! Wish me luck with writing more stuff

    • Jon Savage says:

      Thanks josh! Was great to meet you! Yes i think Kelly reiterates that statement in her writing as well.” Just get on with it!” is the message, hey?

  3. Peter Stenson says:

    Ugh, she sounds so bitter.

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi Peter. Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure if you read the entire thing but I don’t think she sounds bitter at all. She sounds realistic, and I think the last paragraphs really turn it around for a positive spin, don’t you think?

    • Kelly Paige says:

      Sorry to hear that you think I sound bitter! There are certain harsh realities of the music industry that nobody likes to talk about, and perhaps I could be a bit softer in my approach, but this sort of stuff is difficult for me to sugarcoat! I hope I haven’t discouraged anything, not my intention at all!

  4. Ferdi says:

    Hi Jon,

    I kinda like her vibe,
    Im quite new, and have been writing a couple of songs/lyrics for a while now, but

    help me, what do u call this part of the song ? the Riff ?
    it repeats every now and again, and that to mee is the hammer on the right head(s)

    “…… You’re gonna hurt like me
    You’re gonna feel like this
    You’ll see,
    You’re gonna hurt like me….”

    My view, i need to read the lyrics in detail first
    and then disect it and ignore the music video, and only very much later have a look at the music video, cause it tends to through people a bit
    to much judgement going down, people are to biased (and thats nothing agains the other blokes that commented on top)

    its like walking on the beach…. mmmm she’s got nice lips, ooo, look at her hips, but her legs are too skinny, but her smile is on my phone to dail.

    comment on the disecting of someone else’s songs

    Kind regards,

  5. B-Zee says:

    Hi thanks for a great webpage jon.. I tend to strongly agree with kelly in anything you do it is important to first do the ground work, learn from it and build up from there. I am an aspiring Hip hop artist but i also have a passion for songwriting. My question is how important is having a singing ability when taking songwriting as a profession?

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi B-zee. Thanks for the comment.
      I think you dont need to be able to sing to be a songwriter – absolutely not. I do think you need to be able to hold a melody, or at least be able to recognize a melody! Melody is the king of songwriting and the voice is the easiest way to work with it, but if you are more comfortable on another instrument or if you’re voice isnt strong, it wont impact the songwriting at all. You can always get a great vocalist to sing the final product for you.

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