Home Worship & Creative Leaders Articles for Worship & Creative If You Don’t Have This, You Won’t Make It as a Songwriter

If You Don’t Have This, You Won’t Make It as a Songwriter

So, your good song got axed. Nothing wrong with it, but compared with all the other songs available, and with the stylistic “home” of the musicians and record producer, and with the theme the pastor wants, and with other variables, your song didn’t fit.

This has happened to Kristen and I. We wrote several songs for an Sojourn children’s music album, including one we particularly loved. We got an email from one of Sojourn’s worship directors, Jamie Barnes (who produced the children’s album), saying he loved it too and wanted to record it.

However, in light of several factors, Sojourn Music decided to change the focus of the children’s album to be psalm-inspired and focus on songs that teach and encourage expressive worship. Jamie explained this to the songwriters and issued a new call for submissions. Our song no longer fit the theme of the album, so we went back to the drawing board and wrote some more, which I also believe are strong songs. As for the one that almost made it: We still loved it and wanted to record it someday!

But we weren’t going to sit around and stew about the fact that it didn’t fit one particular project. I did, however, post a photo on Jamie’s Facebook wall that showed him sleeping in a car while on a trip with me to the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship in Michigan, his bald head hunched over to the side. Touche.

You may not be in this position. Maybe you’re a singer-songwriter who records all your own music. But you’re still struggling to get the attention of fans, record labels, radio stations, publishers—anyone that your game plan is counting on. It may be that you aren’t writing enough. You’re recording everything that you write, and it just isn’t strong enough.

Instead of writing 10 songs for your next album, write 50 and whittle down to your 10 best. Volume is your friend. It will give you more choices, and the sheer amount of work it requires will cause you to improve over time.  

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Bobby Gilles has written several of Sojourn Music’s popular worship songs for albums like The Water And The Blood, Over The Grave and Before The Throne. He is content manager for sojournmusic.com and has mentored songwriters and led many Sojourn songwriting workshops as part of Pastor Mike Cosper’s worship ministry. Bobby is also Sojourn Church Director Of Communications, and works with Lead Pastor Daniel Montgomery to communicate Sojourn’s mission and vision. He co-wrote the children’s book Our Home Is Like A Little Church, published by Christian Focus. As a former radio disc jockey and music director, he was twice named a National Top 10 Finalist for Gospel Music DJ of the Year.