The attrition rate with sessions songwriters is very, very high. Writers have to fight for a percentage of earnings from downloaded and traded music. Because of this underbelly of the business, it's more difficult now than ever for a songwriter to make a living wage off their efforts.
Billy Montana takes the poison with an antidote chaser on a routine basis. "I was writing with a guy named Doug Nichols, and I said something like, 'Man, do you believe we get paid to do this? To write songs?' And he said, 'This is not what we get paid for. We get paid for all the other stuff surrounding it. The negative stuff.' Which is really true, because for the 999 times out of 1,000 that you have the non-success, that's the hard part. The easy part is getting with your friends and trying to create a song. I mean, that's really fun and exciting. So if you understand it, just what he was saying was we don't get compensated for doing the fun stuff. You have to be compensated for doing the hard stuff. And the hard stuff is taking the rejection that is very predominant. Because when we're hearing the successes, like even the cuts that I've had and the hits that I've had and all that, I'm still sitting on a pile of songs that is exponentially greater than those things that you've heard. So you've got to look at it like, you still go in and try to write them the same way every day, and try to write the greatest songs that you can every day."
And about that pile of songs: "I'm not one of those guys that loves everything I write, thinks everything I write is great, because I know that's just not true, and it's not possible. But there's some in there that I pitch. Because it's just got to be the right day. I'm gonna venture to say almost every artist or someone associated with every artist in town had a chance to hear my song, 'House Of A Thousand Dreams
,' prior to it being recorded. That being the case, it tells you that it just has to fall right. I mean, timing has to be right for it to happen, and so you don't want to give up. There's times when songs have been pitched several times, and who's ever listening, whether it be a producer or A&R representative, or the artist themselves, either it doesn't suit the project at the time, or there's something about the song that's not floating their boat at the time, but then if you go back and pitch it a year later, it's perfect for what they're looking for. And so you've got to keep at it." (Thanks to Billy for talking with us about this song. Read his full Songfacts interview