Warren Starry Sky at Merchant City Festival
Warren Starry Sky at Merchant City Festival

How to set and achieve your songwriting goals

The type of songs you write, your definition of ‘success’ and even your mental health will, to some extent, be dependent on your goals as a songwriter. So it’s important that you are clear about the reasons you write songs. Knowing why you write will allow you to choose goals that are in line with your particular outlook on life and give you much greater satisfaction when you achieve them.

With that in mind, this article is all about helping you set and achieve goals as a songwriting, goals that are in line with who you are as a person.

Try this exercise. Write down as many reasons you can think of that drive you to write songs. Some will be important, others not so much. That’s fine, just do a bit of brain-storming and write them all down.

Now draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper (or use a two-column table on your computer) – top of left column put the word ‘My Goals’ and on the right column put the phrase ‘Why they are important to me’.

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Pick three of your most important goals from those you wrote earlier. In a few words summarise the goal on the left-hand side of the page – and on the right-hand side summarise why it’s important to you.

Don’t be flippant. Your answers could have a big impact on your future as a songwriter. Take your time and take this exercise seriously. I mentioned earlier that your goals for songwriting can have an impact on your mental health. If you pick goals that don’t suit you as a person, even if you achieve them you may not feel fulfilled. And that’s not going to be good for your state of mind.

When you have finished this exercise you should have a clearer idea of what it is that is driving you as a songwriter and what is important to you as a person. For example, if one of your goals for writing songs is to make lots of money – that’s perfectly legitimate. Or perhaps one of you goals is to co-write with other songwriters – that’s also legitimate. Whatever your goal is, there’s no judgement involved – I’m not saying that some goals are good and some are bad. This goal setting is to help you understand who you are, what’s driving you, and what that means for your future approach to songwriting.

If you haven’t done this exercise, go and do it now and come back when you are finished.

Achieving your songwriting goals

Now that you have a better idea of what your goals are and what is driving you, you are in a good position to figure out how to achieve them. The key is to figure out the path you need to take – and take one step at a time down that path.
No matter what you want to do it’s always useful to start with some general research, i.e. what is this thing I want to do, how does it work, who’s doing it already. Give yourself a time limit for this more general task. You don’t want to be the person who can’t take action – because they feel there is something else to know before they start. You will never know enough. At this stage, all you want is a general overview. After that start to build your roadmap to successfully fulfilling your goals – i.e. outline the steps required.

Overcoming fears?

I’m probably slightly less of a believer in the idea that achieving your goals is about overcoming your fears and a bit more into the simple idea that you find out how to do something and then just do it. Your fears will still be there but they won’t be holding you back – because your mind will be too busy thinking about the immediate task in hand.

If you concentrate on each step on your journey at a time by just doing what is required at that point – you will inevitably arrive at your destination. When you jump into your car or buy a train ticket – you already know where you are going. It doesn’t cross your mind that you won’t get there. Achieving your goals as a songwriter is the same thing – so long as you know what your destination is and how to get there there’s no reason to think you won’t arrive.
So in summary:

  1. Know where you want to go (and why).
  2. Find out how to get there.
  3. Follow the path set out in 2.
  4. Achieve your songwriting goal.

For example, maybe your goal is to license your songs for tv. The steps you need to take will certainly include, doing some general research to find out what that ‘music licensing for tv’ is, speaking to people who are already doing what you want to do, ensuring you have professional quality recordings, signing up with a music licensing agency (or working directly with organisations who will use your music). I’m no great expert in this particular area, however, those are just a few things that come to mind that I know will certainly be required.

One thing I do know is that speaking to people who are already doing what you want to do is incredibly important. People are often happy to talk about their achievements in particular fields and opportunities may be available to interview them. Seek opportunities to share your ideas and hear what other songwriters have to say. You are a creative individual – use your creativity to find opportunities to learn from others.

In conclusion

This article just scratches the surface of the idea of setting and achieving your goals. It’s up to you to take it from here. Discover the steps, follow those steps, and arrive at a destination that gives you fulfilment. There will be detours along the way but as long as you keep moving forward one step at a time I’m confident you will get there.

If you have any thoughts in relation to this article, I’d love to hear them. Please add your comments below.

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