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   I’ve been asked to write about the heartbreak and disappointments of being a gospel song writer. The problem becomes how to deal with my experiences in this area—and they have been manifold—and still remain encouraging. Try to hang in there through my litany, because the encouragement will follow.
   Roughly twelve years ago, I began pitching songs to Southern gospel groups, soloists and the occasional recording company. I went to every concert I could and handed artists demos. I mailed out countless demos. My husband and I made numerous pilgrimages to the National Quartet Convention and worked very hard at networking with artists there.
   I am a great list keeper. One of my lists is entitled “Songs on Deck.” This list includes songs artists have verbally committed to record, and, to my knowledge, have never followed through on their commitments. This has happened for almost every reason imaginable. Let me tell you about some of them. Oh, by the way, I will not be using any of the names or genders of the artists, as it is not my intention to malign anyone. My intent is to demonstrate how difficult this “business” can be.

   Early in my song writing career, I received a long distance phone call from a person who was very interested in a song called “Not on My Terms.” The group they represented was quite excited about the song and wanted to record it. I, of course, was thrilled. This later fell through because there was a divorce involved with the group. I was disappointed because of the song but even more so for the couple involved.
   On another occasion, a group was to record the Christmas song, “Oh, How the Angels Sang!” A contract had been sent out, but then the person I was dealing with was offered a position with another group. Since the group needed time to restructure after this person left, the idea of recording a Christmas project got lost in the shuffle. Losing or gaining personnel can change group dynamics and song writers may suffer because of this. Perhaps the person who just left was the main cheerleader for the song or perhaps the song no longer works with the group when a new member is brought into the mix. It is unfortunate that occasionally the loss of a group member will cause a group to fold.
   Sometimes disappointment comes from the group’s financial status or as a result of financial decisions they make. One of my songs received a commitment to record from a group five years ago. Every time I see them, they recommit to recording the song but have not yet done so. Times can be tough for groups struggling to support their ministries and families. Often they just don’t have funds for an expensive recording project. Unexpected expenses incurred because of an ailing bus can keep them cash strapped. There are any number of reasons why planned projects get put on the back burner.
   “Patience is a virtue” but for gospel song writers, it is more than that. It is a necessity. I once told the owner of that particular group God had given them to me to teach me patience. My most recent meeting with them gives me hope five years of patience will soon pay off. We will see.
   Another financial influence on song choice is it is simply cheaper to record Public Domain songs than to record new songs since the writer’s fees don’t have to be paid. Also, if a group member (or their relatives, friends, producers, etc.) writes a song, yours may be bumped to keep the money a song would earn closer to home. Songs also have to compete with writers well established in the business. There is a cache to having songs on your latest CD written by well-known names in the business. This doesn’t mean the bumped song isn’t just as good but it doesn’t come with the same advantages.

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