From The Complete Singer-Songwriter, Second Edition, Backbeat Books 2016
So you want to be a songwriter! And not the writing alone at home into the wee hours, sipping wine, dreaming by yourself kind. A real touring, playing, recording, published songwriter. Like Dylan. But your own version. That’s you. That’s why you’re holding this book.
And you’re holding a good one. The Complete Singer-Songwriter is a guidebook that will focus you on your craft and career. And it’s a great source of inspiration! Not just because it has useful business information and thought-provoking anecdotes, but also because it shows the hows and whys of a sustainable working life as a songwriter. And like songwriting itself, the business end has to be driven by inspiration.
I’ve been writing songs and touring for over twenty-five years, and it’s an incredible way to spend your life on the planet. But we are a tribe of oddballs. Traveling, performing, creating. Walking the path of our heroes. And there’s no school for this profession. It’s a trial by fire. Hurdles are everywhere. Doubters are looming in the bushes. Then there’s self-doubt. Financial issues. “How do I get through this?” You’ve probably already been accosted by the naysayers. The well-meaning doubters who ask, “No, really, what do you do for a living, ya’ know? Like, to make money?” And, sometimes, they’re your parents! This book is an oasis from that.
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers takes you through all of it—from the fun stuff to the daily grind, from writing to stepping onstage and building a business around you. He schools you on the mechanics of songwriting. Informs you about some key business contracts. And the insightful quotes from working songwriters give you a true sense of belonging. Jeffrey brings you into the mindset and lifestyle of the touring professional songwriter.
If you’ve been an active songwriter for a while, by now you also know some of the downsides. Rejection. The difficulty of building a business that gives you enough to survive. Booking shows, keeping up with social media, finding an audience. It’s enough to make Van Gogh go after the other ear. But you also know the rewards of creating and sharing your own music and becoming part of a music community.
For the great parts and the not-so-great parts of being a singer-songwriter, keep this book by your bedside—you’ll need it.
Welcome to the tribe.
Ellis Paul has been a touring musician for over twenty-five years, performing over 5,000 shows. He has been the recipient of fifteen Boston Music Awards and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Maine and has been inducted in the Maine Music Hall of Fame. His songs have been featured in numerous films and television programs and have been covered by artists in a variety of genres. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, when not on a highway traveling somewhere.