Greg Dorschel's Songwriter's Chain of Failure

Greg Dorschel

By Greg Dorschel
October 2002

I have a very pessimistic, but also realistic view about the way things typically seem to go in the business of songwriting. It seems to me that most of the stuff we try to accomplish, especially here in the music business, ends up not hitting the bulls eye. Regardless, I try not to let this likelihood of failure keep me from trying, and you shouldn’t either! I’ve found that fighting against long odds can be curiously motivating. Using music publishing as an example, and starting from the staff-songwriters’ point of view, follow this Chain of Failure. Here’s how it goes.

  • Many of the songs that you write will never get approved for demo recordings.

  • Of those that are demoed, most will never be pitched.

  • Of the songs that are pitched, few will be "taken" and those that are probably won’t be put "On Hold" for a major label artist.

  • Most of the songs that DO get put on hold will not be recorded for the album.

  • And, of course, many times songs recorded for the album end up not being included on the final project.

  • Of the songs that do make the album, the majority of them will not be released as a single.

  • Almost certainly if the song is released as a single, it will chart poorly.

  • If the tune does incredulously chart well, it is a long shot to make the Top Ten.

  • Even if it does make the Top Ten, it almost certainly will not make it to the coveted "Number One" spot.

  • If your song miraculously does make it to "Number One," well, congratulations! Enjoy it while you can. Your hit will almost certainly be replaced next week with someone else’s tune.

The odds are that your song will fail in some small way long before it gets far enough along to supply you with a major disappointment, when it fails further down the trail outlined above. I’m still not sure if that’s the good news or the bad news...?

Anyway, take your failures whenever and wherever they come and keep your chin up. You’ve been through worse and you can always write another song and start the whole wearisome process again. Happy trails!

Greg Dorschel spent 13 years at Sony/Tree Music Publishing, and recently served as Vice President of Ash Street Music. Greg lives in Nashville and works as a freelance writer and independent song plugger. Read Greg Dorchel's Article about the Durango Songwriters Expo.