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The Verse Chorus

Mar 22, 2021

Jason kicks off the second season of The Verse Chorus with Songwriter/Author Mason Douglas.

S1 Ep 11: The Entrepreneurial Songwriter

Welcome to The Verse Chorus Podcast. Thank you for your support and for coming back to listen. We hope you enjoy this episode.

The Entrepreneurial Songwriter, with guest Mason Douglas. 

Songwriting needs to come from a place of passion, being genuine. For some, a goal with songwriting is to make money; but for some of you, it may not be. Finding the balance between your songwriting and your objectives is essential. You can have a day job or other ways to have an income. Often referred to as "stringing pennies together." 

Quarantine and Covid having people work from home have opened up an entrepreneurial mindset. Songwriters realize that there are other ways we can make money while we are writing songs. In this episode, this is one of the things we will dive into with my guest today, Mason Douglas. An independent, full-time songwriter who is a top 40 songwriter who co-wrote American beauty for the loss trailers. He's the author of an Amazon bestseller; Now You Know Nashville and Secret Nashville. 

Mason's experience with finding different venues to be successful as a songwriter

Mason is often asked how does someone makes it as a musician full time. The message that he gives people is that being a full-time musician can be done. There's no reason that someone can't do this, but you have to be focused and open to crazy gigs.  

"And let's say, hypothetically, we're making $50,000 and doing those 50 weeks, that's a thousand dollars a week essentially. Instead, songwriting is a thousand ways to make 50 bucks."

This is the type of mentality that you need to have when you come to Nashville. Once you realize this, Mason says it's freeing. The vast majority of songwriters are trying to find a gig here, a job there, maybe do vocals for someone, or write a song for a special occasion. There are a plethora of ways that a songwriter can make money. But, Mason says one of the things that he wants anyone wanting to come to Nashville and take a plunge is that you're not going to go there for a career. 

Good side gigs for someone trying to string those pennies together 

Use your talents - are you a great guitar player who can get involved in sessions, play guitar with your buddies, and become a utility player. Or go out and sing vocals for people, get involved with co-writers, and cut your friend a rate. It gets you involved with the people who are producing and engineering the vocal session. They hear you, they like you, and they can potentially give you a call in the future. They will eventually call, and then the offer for more vocals will come in; then, your singing demo songs for folks. You might play smaller gigs at bars, grills, and wineries. 

One side gig that is frequently overlooked is voiceovers. Mason says he knows people making six figures alone doing just voiceovers. These can range from reading books on tape and recording answering service messages or phone directory navigation. If you have a specialty or something that you want to give to the world, you can show your expertise. You can host a podcast, be an influencer on Instagram, write books, or be an actor. These are all creative ways to use what you are already doing. Go get out in the world and see how the industry works. Get behind the curtain and see how engineering production, vocals, guitar, and even voiceovers work. 

There's joy in the side gigs, especially when it's a labor of love. 

In this industry of being a musician or songwriter, the top 1% make the six or seven figures. That's why it's crucial to be passion-driven and not be blinded or tempted by what's not there. It's a lot like the quote from Willie Nelson, he did it for love, but he was not above the money. 

How does Mason deal with rejection, and how does he deal with telling people things they didn't want to hear 

Having thick skin and the more you do it, the more you get used to it. The first steps are the hardest and putting your stuff out there, but you're going to be afraid regardless. When you do get those victories, be sure to love them, embrace them and celebrate them. It's always good to remember that it's not personal - this is the music business. If you submit something and don't like it, it just means that your work doesn't fit their project in this instance. Never burn a bridge, never get mad and never yell at them or email them angrily. Giving criticism has gotten easier just because Mason has been doing this for so long. There are buzzwords to smooth out a particular complaint. 

Did Mason co-write before he moved to Nashville? 

He was part of an acoustic duo in Tucson and then moved to Nashville. He and his buddy co-wrote, and that was his first experience with co-writing. Mason remembers looking at Brooks and Dunn albums and Garth Brooks and seeing that multiple people collaborated and wrote them. 

What's it like co-writing with someone that you may not know as well?

Mason says that it's, of course, nerve-wracking, but that's when he would contact the other person and invite them to grab a drink and get to know each other. That way, when you jump into a room to co-write, it's a little more comfortable. Co-writing is just a skill that you have to get used to and see every experience. 

How often do you fight for something when co-writing

It should happen with every song. Mason says that you want different angles and different opinions to have discussions about it. If you're going to stop and say you don't like something, it's best to have options. Please don't say you don't like something and then do not have an option for replacing it. If you're writing with an artist, go with what they're going to be putting out because it'll be their stamp, but you have to do your job as the more experienced person in the room. 

Thank you to Mason for being on the show today, speaking about being the entrepreneurial songwriter. To our listeners, please remember to rate, subscribe, and share our podcast with your friends!

Connect with Mason




Now You Know Nashville 

Secret Nashville


Links and Resources

Song Dive