Getting too excited over one good thing. Positive feedback is great. But, I need to keep my head about me when I get good news. Having a publisher or artist like my song is awesome, but I can’t become their new best friend – emailing or calling constantly to check on the status of the song. Doing so puts me in the “crackpot amateur” category and hurts my chances of a long-term relationship with those people. As they say in football – “Act like you’ve been in the end zone before”. Play it cool. Be patient. Don’t behave unprofessionally just because you are excited.
Having sacred cows in a co-write. I have ruined several co-writing relationships by being unwilling to let go of a line I loved. Co-writing is a partnership. In a partnership, there has to be a lot of give and take. If I value my great line over the writing relationship, I’ll lose the relationship and be left with one great line. Be open minded. Be flexible. Acknowledge that your co-writer’s idea could possibly be better than yours.
Pitching songs before I had GREAT ones. I hurt my chances early on by getting excited and pitching the best songs I had, regardless of whether or not they were commercially competitive. So, I began sending everyone I knew (and some I didn’t) CDs of really consistently average songs. Pretty soon, they stopped listening. Years later, I still had to work hard to rebuild some bridges I had burned. Pitching average, or even good songs is going to hurt you. They have to be GREAT to compete. Looking back, I wish I had spent less time pitching my average songs and more time trying to write great ones.
Trying to write “up” too much. There are some people who I wrote with early in my career that now have more than 20 #1 songs. I thought they were ok at the time. But at the time, they didn’t have much going on (neither did I), so I was more concerned about trying to land a co-write with a current “big hit writer”. If I had invested more in the relationships of those people at my level, I could have remained in their writing circles and I would have more cuts – possibly LOTS more cuts. Looking up instead of looking around cost me big time. Find other writers at your level that are good and invest in long-term relationships with them. That’s the best route to success.
Not spending enough time networking and hanging out. I’ve always been the “Let’s get down to business” type. I wish I had spent more time really getting to know co-writers and hanging out with them outside of the writing room. I also wish I had gone to more writers’ nights, #1 parties and other industry events so that I could expand my network. Investing time in those kinds of things will be really valuable in the long run.