Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Songwriters

January 3, 2012

By Cliff Goldmacher at,

1. Write down a song title every day. If you take a minute or two every morning to wake up your inner songwriter, you’ll be amazed at the cumulative results by year’s end. Keep a small notebook by your bed and write down a song title first thing every day. Don’t spend a ton of time on these; just write down the first thing that comes to mind. Some of your titles will be uninspired but others will be genuinely unique and song-ready. This notebook is a great way of not having to start from scratch when it’s time to sit down and write. Sometimes a title that seemed dull when you were writing it down will inspire a great song when you see it again later. It’s a small thing but it’s a reminder that inspiration is an active pursuit.

2. Find a new (or your first) co-writer. Carrying the weight of creating a song by yourself is both a worthwhile challenge and a discouraging burden, depending on the day. Sharing the load with a co-writer is a great way to stay motivated and explore different approaches to songwriting. Read the rest of resolution #2 here.

3. Write a song in a genre that’s new to you. As a country songwriting friend said to me once, “there are lots of countries.” In other words, try to write a song this year in a musical style that’s unfamiliar to you. Read the rest of #3 here.

4. Don’t give up. Songwriting is not a profession for the faint-hearted or the easily discouraged. It can be both exhilarating and demoralizing. Read the entire article here.

Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, Educated Songwriter, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter and his company, Nashville Studio Live, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos.

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to

Twitter: @edusongwriter

One of the best hours you’ll ever spend

July 3, 2011

Derek Sivers has written a book called Anything You Want. If you’ve ever read his blog or heard him speak in person, you know what a sharp thinker he is. And you know how supporting independent musicians has been his main gig, starting with his founding of CD Baby.

So it should be no surprise to see that his book is full of useful, practical (even if sometimes philosophical) info for musicians. What surprised me is how much of his advice would work for other startup businesses, not just indie musicians.

I also liked learning more of the CD Baby back story, including how it was sold for $22 million, but Derek didn’t get the money. Who did? I won’t give away the answer here.

Read this book review by Michael Ellsberg of Forbes magazine.

The day Steve Jobs dissed Derek Sivers

November 12, 2010
Steve Jobs announces iTunes in 2003

Steve Jobs announces iTunes in 2003

I have to share this amazing story. In his recent post, Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, recounts how 2003 was a huge turning point for independent artists.

Read it here.


In May 2003, Apple invited me to their headquarters to discuss getting CD Baby’s catalog into the iTunes Music Store.

iTunes had just launched two weeks before, with only some music from the major labels. Many of us in the music biz were not sure this idea was going to work.
Especially those who had seen companies like eMusic do this exact same model for years without big success.

I flew to Cupertino thinking I’d be meeting with one of their marketing or tech people. When I arrived, I found out that about a hundred people from small record labels and distributors had also been invited.

We all went into a little presentation room, not knowing what to expect.

Then out comes Steve Jobs. Whoa! Wow.

He was in full persuasive presentation mode. Trying to convince all of us to give Apple our entire catalog of music. Talking about iTunes success so far, and all the reasons we should work with them.

He really made a point of saying, “We want the iTunes Music Store to have every piece of music ever recorded. Even if it’s discontinued or not selling much, we want it all.”

This was huge to me, because until 2003, independent musicians were always denied access to the big outlets. For Apple to sell all music, not just artists who had signed their rights away to a corporation, this was amazing!

Read the rest here.

Performing Songwriter resurfaces

September 23, 2010

I received this email from Lydia Hutchinson, founder and editor of Performing Songwriter magazine.

Hi, Everyone!

When I folded the magazine in June of last year after a 16-year run, I wrote that Performing Songwriter was a community of music lovers that just wore the clothes of a publication—and it was simply time to change clothes. I had no idea what that new outfit was going to look like, so I followed the mantra I woke up with one morning: Be patient, be open, be brave. And I’ve spent the past year breathing, dreaming, learning and walking around in all the ideas that were making themselves apparent. (And I finally got to go to Italy!) It has been, without a doubt, the most extraordinary year of my life, and I’ve arrived at this point of the journey renewed, healthy and ready for the next chapter.

What happened was that I was led right back to why I started Performing Songwriter over 17 years ago: I simply love music. What songwriters provide us with has immense value in our lives. So Performing Songwriter Enterprises is re-establishing itself through music-focused media initiatives to continue the mission of “celebrating music and those who create it.”

Under the Performing Songwriter umbrella I’m launching Be Heard Music Media, a home for songwriters, musicians and journalists to tell their stories in print, video, audio and digital formats—separately and as multimedia projects. And 2011 will see the “Be Heard Songwriter Series” of books written by songwriters, available in multi-formats and with digital enhancements. It’s all very exciting!

The first offering of Be Heard Music Media is “Letters From Lydia,” a collection of almost two dozen “Notes from the Editor” that appeared in the magazine, plus photos, an introduction that looks back over the past year and an afterword detailing the process of letting go after closing the magazine. It’s available at in hardback gift-sized book, audio CD and MP3 download, hi-res pdf and digital edition for iPad, Kindle and other e-readers. Also available in the online store are digital editions of the last five years of the magazine and over 500 articles, all in hi-res pdf format so the beautiful designs and photos are preserved in high quality.

I’ve immersed myself in not only learning to create different forms of digital media, but have also built a website and online store. One of my favorite things about the site is the “Be Heard Jukebox.” I always regretted that artists would work so hard on creating a CD, and then had to succumb to the music business model that allowed for a few weeks of promotion, a tour, and then have to start work on the next album, convinced the life-span of that release was over. But music lovers don’t care about release dates—new music is simply something we haven’t heard before. And music has no expiration date!

So I made a list of CDs I might have missed if I hadn’t published a music magazine, or didn’t live in a town with a great non-comm radio station, or didn’t go to music festivals. And each week a fave of mine (or of a special guest’s)—regardless of when the CD was released—will be available on the home page of for visitors to listen to in its entirety. All the links go directly to the artist’s site so visitors can buy the CD and directly support songwriters who create the music we love.

The Be Heard Jukebox’s premiere CD is Jonatha Brooke’s The Works from her own label, Bad Dog Records. It’s a gorgeous collection of songs that she wrote with Woody Guthrie’s previously unpublished lyrics, which she discovered after she was invited into his archives. I hope you enjoy it, and pleas e spread the word to anyone you know who loves music—it’s an open invitation to stop by and listen to something they might have missed. And for most artists, all they’re asking for is a chance to be heard.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support over the life of the magazine and your good thoughts during my time of dreaming up this next phase of Performing Songwriter’s life. I have no idea where it will all lead, but I sure am enjoying the ride. And I know, without a doubt, that music matters.

P.S. To continue to receive emails from me with news or updates, please sign up here.

This may be just the ‘kick in the pants’ I need

July 17, 2010

Music Success in Nine Weeks book cover

OK, a little background is in order. Two years ago I bought Ariel Hyatt’s book Music Success in Nine Weeks after hearing her speak at the Taxi Road Rally. I read through most of it, but skipped the exercises that accompany each chapter. You know how it goes, other priorities pop up, time goes by, and I sort of forgot to go back and do the exercises. I kept the book on the top of the pile, so it was always nearby, where I could see it out of the corner of my eye when I was sitting in my home office/music studio/spare bedroom.

Cut to a week ago, when I read about Ariel’s Music Success in 9 Weeks Blogging Challenge. I thought, ‘this may be just the kick in the pants I need.’ The rules are minimal: read the book, one chapter a week, do the exercises and blog about it, one blog entry per chapter. In order to qualify for the contest, all you need to do is create nine blog entries, taking your readers through your experience and blog about what you are learning, how it is helping, where you where you are getting stuck, etc. etc. This is the 2nd time she’s run this challenge. You can read comments from previous participants here.

The rules are minimal: read the book, one chapter a week, do the exercises and blog about it, one blog entry per chapter.

The artist who has come the furthest using the techniques in the book will receive a complimentary Headliner Cyber PR campaign for three months. This campaign is worth $1,595 and will get your music into the hands of bloggers, podcasters and online radio station DJs.

So how did my first week go? Well, I got to page 16, including the reading and the exercises, which is about halfway through chapter one. Already behind! The reading goes quickly, but it’s very thought provoking and the exercises are even more so. I have some major work to do (goal-setting exercises) before I can move on to chapter 2.

The good news is, with just the first 16 pages, I have committed to doing 5 things a day that need to be done and will impact my music career. (Maybe doing the exercises can count as one of the 5 things). That is no small potatoes, given the day job, the night gigs, the songwriting and the home life. If I can even keep this much going, I can foresee big changes.

Some examples of the 5 little successes I achieved this week – nothing to write home about individually, but they add up and build on each other: sent a song to a Broadjam film opportunity, worked with my bandmates, graphic designer and CD manufacturer to finalize the cover graphic for our next CD (lots of back and forth emails and phone calls), sent an mp3 of a children’s song I co-wrote to several people who are in the position to use it and share it, hooked up some musicians to back me up at an upcoming gig, finalized the gig with the promoter and made cold calls to find some new bookings. Like I said, none of these are earth-shaking in and of themselves, but the trick is to keep doing it. And it is a bit of a mind trick – a little extra motivation.

Reaching for the Sun - Soulpajamas CD cover

Next post, I’ll let you know how week 2 goes.

How to become a singer

June 15, 2010

Always inspiring and always in a new way, Derek Sivers, the musician who created CD Baby, has once again hit the nail on the head, this time about becoming a singer. OK, becoming a singer is only the surface of what this post is about.

Read his latest blog post.

3 simple keys to success

May 18, 2010

The full title is The Three Surprisingly Simple Keys to Success by Sonia Simone, from her blog copyblogger. And the cool thing is, you only need two out of three to reach your goals. Find out what she means.

Thanks to Bob Baker for turning me on to this post.

The World Needs You to Do What You Love

September 13, 2009

If you want to make a difference in the world, the single most important thing you can do is consciously and deliberately choose to do work that you are passionate about.

Check out this zenhabits post.


August 11, 2009

“Motivation is created by showing up. Not the other way around.” – Christine Kane

How often do you sit down to write when you’re not feeling particularly inspired? Do you prefer to wait for the right ‘moment’ to start writing? If so, you probably don’t write very often. Here’s a way around that common dilemma from Christine Kane.

She talks about what she calls the Day-4 Syndrome – you get wildly motivated (by a book, a workshop, a coaching session, whatever) and four days later you’ve lost it. In her post, she provides helpful new ways to think about motivation, with lots of specific examples.

Christine also provides a downloaded audio version of her post for those who would rather listen than read.


August 6, 2009

Laskow Sivers

I received this email from Taxi president, Michael Laskow. It contains a plug for Taxi, of course, but more importantly, it is a message for songwriters that I think many of us need to hear. It’s been a few years, but the message it just as true today as it was in 2004.

Full disclosure: I am a paying member of Taxi and I get no compensation or benefits from reprinting this email.

Dear Passengers,

I had dinner last night with Derek Sivers from CDBaby. We’ve been friends for years, and get together one or twice a year to just hang out and talk about our companies, our lives, and musicians in general. It’s always refreshing…for lack of a better word.

Derek and I are part of a very small group of people on the planet who deal with large numbers of indie artists and songwriters. Therefore we understand what very few others on Earth would even be aware of.

I think I monopolized the conversation for a while, speaking about my deeply felt frustration that every musician/writer/artist that I’m in contact with isn’t “successful,” when the majority of them could be. Of course, it depends on how each of you defines success.

One thing I’ve come to learn over the years is that most people really don’t have the expectation that they can be a multi-platinum rock star. Some of you do, but not the majority.

Just by staying in touch with you, I’ve come to understand that most of you want some sort of validation that your music is as good as you think it is. That “validation” might be in the form of TV placement, a cut on an album, an indie label deal, and for others, the elusive major label deal.

All those options are wide open, and as you’ve come to know from my letters, Film and TV placements are the easiest. So, why don’t more of you just go for it? We’ve got a fair number of members who’ve belonged to TAXI for years and never submit a single song.

We’ve got huge numbers of people on our “not-yet-members” list who keep thinking about taking the plunge, but they don’t.

We’ve all joined a gym at least once and petered out quickly, but this is MUSIC. You love to make music. Recording music shouldn’t make you sweat, and it won’t give you sore muscles!

I know it’s easier to just do nothing, but in the back of your mind you’re always going to wonder “what if?”

It’s a new year, and it’s becoming a new music industry. Don’t be a brick! Do something. Make forward movement. Take a chance. Take several.

If not TAXI, then form a band, play a gig, or write a song. Don’t be a spectator. Life is SO short. Please don’t spend yours just existing day to day. Accomplish something. Leave some sort of legacy. Feel good about yourself.

I’ve finally gotten this off my chest — whew. Welcome to 2005 kids!

Talk to you soon,


Reprinted with permission from TAXI: the world’s leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows.

© 2004 TAXI. All rights reserved.