Keeping a good attitude about your music can mean the difference between everyday joy and existential despair. I’m not even joking. If you’re wondering if bitterness is sucking you of your lifeblood, see if the following points resonate with you.
You might be bitter if…
1. You don’t get why you’re not on the radio by now.
If you think your songs are 100% radio ready hits, but don’t understand why you aren’t celebrating your success at your first swanky number one party – and that makes you feel cheated – chances are, there’s a good reason why you’re not where you want to be.
It could be your songs. Perhaps they’re not commercial enough. It could be that you’re focusing your efforts on the wrong things (working harder instead of smarter). It could be that you need to meet more people. Whatever the case, real radio success rarely comes as quickly as we want it to. It takes time – keep learning, keep writing, and figure out what you need to do in order to get to the airwaves. You’ll only waste your time being bitter about it.
2. People meet you then regularly cancel plans… or never make the plans in the first place.
Honestly, hun, nobody likes a Debbie Downer.
If you find that people keep avoiding you or cancelling plans, it may be that you’re bitterness is bringing them down. Would you call yourself a pessimist? Or rather – would other people call you a pessimist? This might be why folks don’t want to hang out with you as often.
3. You can get first cowrites, but rarely do people follow up with you for more cowriting.
A first cowrite will tell both parties right away if you want to continue writing together or not. Many cowriter relationships don’t make it past the “first date,” but if you’re finding it extraordinarily hard to hang on to cowriters because “they just don’t get you,” it might be more of a you problem than a them problem. If you’re not a good a hang in the writing room because you’re jaded about music, no one is going to want to schedule that second cowrite with you.
4. You feel like more wrong has been done to you in music that good.
Look, I get it. Working in music is hard. It can be a drag sometimes, and the lows can be some of the lowest you’ll ever feel. But the highs can be equally as amazing in intensity. And if you feel like every single person you’ve met along your musical path has done nothing to help you – but has instead only looked down on you, sabotaged you, or not given you what you deserve… then you’re definitely an embittered songwriter.
The fact is, working in music is a lot like working on anything: you’re not entitled to success. You’re not entitled to people giving you what you want simply because you asked. You have to earn the trust of individuals who believe in you. Lasting relationships in any part of life are made from give and take. You have to take care of others – and they will take care of you.
Being bitter does nothing to help you gain success. In fact, it will only hold you back.
If you’re feeling like any of these points resonated with you, my advice for you would be to practice gratitude. Be obsessed over the things in your life that bring you joy. Help people, too! Consider reaching out a hand to someone you’ve met through music and offering to help them with something. Can you share their latest release and brag on them on your socials? Can you introduce a fellow performing songwriter to a booker in town they’d like to know?
Do this – and then put your head down and work.
SongFancy’s Fave Find for this week:
Shelly Peiken’s Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
I just finished reading Shelly Peiken’s memoir Confessions of a Serial Songwriter and it gave me LIFE. My mom actually mailed me this book for no reason other than she knew I’d love it, and it really is an awesome read. Thanks, Mom!
This is a wonderful book for those who want to know what a hit songwriter’s life is really like, and especially those 90’s babies like me who grew up on Christina, Brittany, and The Backstreet Boys! You’ll devour it in two sittings and laugh at Shelly’s irreverent but SO accurate referrals to “song sex.” Grab it here.