The DNA of A Songwriter - Thoughts from NSAI's Emily Mack


          What makes a songwriter?

In my personal and humble opinion, it takes courage, hard work, determination, showing up, and never giving up. I am in constant awe of how hard you guys work every day and the proof is in the pudding with your songs. I love hearing all your successes on the daily and love that I get to be a part of your journey. I get to be a facilitator of your dreams being here at NSAI and I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful for each one of you. You give me the best job in the world.


            In a very recent live NSAI workshop with Brandon Ray, he said, “As a songwriter, we are all the same, but all so different at the same time,” and I've never heard anything so true before. Each one of you are songwriters and have the same passion but have different dreams and goals with what you want to do with it.  Take me for example, I am a songwriter for me. I write and co-write music for me to record and release, but have no desire whatsoever to have a publishing deal. I moved to Nashville to pursue music on a performer level. I have the best of both worlds working here. I get to work and help all of you amazing writers during the day and get to do my thing at night.


Brandon also said, “There is no right or wrong way to write a song.” We all approach songwriting in different ways, and I think that is why it is so important to write with as many different people as you can. We learn from each other, and that is one of the things that makes songwriting so special. One other thing he said that really stuck with me is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I know firsthand how easy it is to look amongst each other and possibly feel a little jealous that one person is more ahead of you, but the thing we must remember is your time will come too. I also then take a step back and think, well what is that person doing that I am not. What can I do more of to help me accomplish the goals that I have set for myself. If you were not able to catch his workshop, you can click the link to watch a replay of it


            One of the best things I ever did as an artist and writer was take the advice from one of my favorite local singer/songwriters, Bre Kennedy. At her album release show, she mentioned that one of the things that helped her write her album was to get real with herself. The book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron helped her do that. I went home that night and bought that book, and it has been a great tool to use for my writing, but also really figuring out who I am as person. I realized that I was quite mean to myself and took note that it was time to give myself some grace in my musical journey. I highly recommend checking that book out and see if it is maybe something that could be useful for you. 


            In conclusion I think the most important thing I want you to take from my little rambling here is that whatever your goal may be as a songwriter, it is important and valid and if you continue to work for it, you can achieve it. Remember, show up and never give up. Go to the writers’ rounds. Introduce yourself and network with as many people as possible. It is a New Year, write those goals down and start crushing them. Get out of your comfort zone and do something out of the ordinary. It may just be your ticket to success. We will be here rooting you on every step of the way and I can’t wait to hear all the latest and greatest next time I hear from one of you.


Emily Mack

NSAI Receptionist