Live to Win – The Story of a Song Writer

Live to Win – The Story of a Song Writer

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I recently went to an inspirational seminar with one of the persons in the music industry I really admire. He is a songwriter who’s songs have sold more than Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Barbara Streisand, Taylor Swift and many more. However it was not until he joined in as one of the judges of the TV show Swedish Idols that people outside the music industry started to recognize who he is. His discography includes songs for artists such as N-Sync, Carrie Underwood, Bon Jovi, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Kate Perry and Celine Dion. His name is Andreas Carlsson and these are some things that has helped him in his carrier and life and that may also help you and me. These inspirational words are both from the seminar I went to and from his book “Live to Win” which I highly recommend if you know Swedish. (There are unfortunately no English version)


I think the first lesson here is that one don’t have to be chased down by paparazzis and crazy fans just because you have succeeded with your music career. If your privacy is important to you just be careful with your ego and don’t always try to be in the middle of the party. One thing that is so special with many Swedes is that they seldom brag about who they are. I wouldn’t mind having a career like that and still being able to go shopping at my local supermarket without anyone noticing. This obviously won’t work that well for performing artists though since the big focus there is to market your brand, which is yourself or your band. With some exceptions of course like a band such as Kiss where all the members have so much make-up that you hardly would recognize them on the street.


Andreas have had several mentors. The first being his music teacher in school Magnus Lundin who became both a good friend and helped Andreas in his personal development. These are people who posses a greater knowledge than you in one or several areas and who are willing to share their knowledge and guide you in your journey. By taking advantage of their long experience you can take shortcuts and don’t have to go through all the mistakes they did before they reached where they are now.


Every car needs petrol. Without it the car will stop moving. We humans are the same. We first need dreams or goals. “Your dreams are the map to you own reality” -Andreas. Then we need something that pushes us towards these dreams. That is the big “WHY?”. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Andreas had seen a life that was broken. His dad went to jail when he was young and his mother was struggling to keep ends meet. The urge to have a better life together with his passion for music I would say were really big drives in his life. One thing he said in the seminar was that “it’s important to find meaning in what you are doing. Meaning is the biggest reason why we manage to perform.”

Social Competence

Often we want to do everything ourselves. Some people think that the only one you can trust is yourself. This is not true. There are many people out there you can trust and many times we let ourselves down. We need other people in our lives to be able to do the big things. As I wrote earlier mentors are one side of the story. We also need to network and find those people who can help us move forward all the time. It can be people who are already doing what you want to do, people who can open doors and simply people who has a skillset which you are lacking. Andreas is a master at this. He was not only taking the oportunity when it came but he was actively looking for certain people. By being open and proactive he met people like Denniz Pop and his team which became the engine that has made Swedish pop music so famous far beyond ABBA and Roxette. We are now one of the top nations in the world in producing pop music. He met his idol Paul Stanley from KISS who became a songwriting partner. He was working with Simon Cowell who later became one of the most important people in the British music industry.

Great Work Moral

I was once told when joining one of the big network marketing companies “If you treat it like a hobby it will pay you like a hobby, if you treat it like a full time job it will pay you like one”. I think this is true for most things we do. You need to spend those 10.000 hours to become really good at something. No elite athletes work out once or twice a week, they do it every day. Andreas is no exception. He is a great songwriter and producer but he is also not one of those people working 9 to 5. He loves to work and many times worked long hours to get things done or simply to develop his skills. According to himself he has had 10% skill and 90% drive. “You can succeed with anything totally without talent.” -Andreas

No Drugs

One thing is to get to the top, another is to stay there without loosing your soul. Many big celebrities within the music and film industry have reached their dreams but they are miserable. The pressure are sky high and they have fallen victims to drugs and alcohol. Many of those who used to be stars are now forgotten or dead because of this. Andreas have always stayed away from drugs and instead found comfort in his work. So I bet he will be around for a long time.

Ability to Fit In

I would say this is related to social competence. To be able to hang out with rock musicians, lawyers, old and young, calm or crazy people on their premises without feeling out of place is a great skill. It will certainly help you get out of the box and learn things you never even thought of. As with most skills Just a few of us are born with it. To me Andreas seems to be one of them. The good news is that it can be learned if we put ourselves in enough situations that make us uncomfortable.

Becoming Successful Through the Mistakes

There is a saying which is “Fail fast and fail forward”. In school we learn that making mistakes is bad but in life we need to allow ourselves to make mistakes to learn. Andreas was no exception failing in both relations and music. One example from the book is about a band that the guys at The Location believed in very much. The Location was the name of the previously named world famous Cheiron studio after the team split up. They spent a lot of work on this band and gave them a great amount of freedom. It was not until Andreas pitched the band at a major US label that he realized that it was far from good enough and they had to scrap the whole album. From this he learned to never let go of the control of his productions as he had done with this band. So don’t be afraid to fail. That is how you will learn.

Never Stop Developing

At one time some years after the tragic death of Denniz Pop the music market started to change. The team at the Cheiron studio had been living in their own world and had a hard time coping with what was going on and kept on doing what they had always done. Fortunately they had good finances from previous years and also they later learned how to adapt to the new ways of the market. Most of the guys are still very successful. However if they hadn’t managed to adapt maybe the Swedish music wonder would have been gone. So never stagnate in your life but always keep developing and moving forward. Stagnation is the same as going backwards and it may be fatal for your development, career or life.

His final words at the seminar where “Don’t forget to have fun!”

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