There are many sides of this subject, and I think whats really important is not to look upon these services as a 'buy and get your song fixed' kind of thing.

I believe these services can certainly help you, but only if you are willing to help yourself. It's no secret that learning is a part of life, but it's a complex one, because you'll never know what direction the enlightenment takes you. I believe I can vouch in on what's good/bad coaching and learning, as I've been trained to coach at the university, have been teaching and done research in the learning department for years, and have worked years professionally as a business development coach (NOT in music business, though).

Last year I spent between 500 and 1000$ on coaching alone for my music, and it was mostly well worth it! For that dole I could take a songwriting course on Berklee, but like with the Berklee stuff, much of the coaching I can take with me, so when I write now, I remember many of the issues and points from the coaching, and use it to take the songs elsewhere, and I believe up one level. I think the experience these coaches has from practice is invaluable, and not something you'll learn in formal education. It's actually possible to take a BA in songwriting here in Denmark too! (not that I care, just interesting to see how far off markets academics usually are - Im one to know)..

I have learned very important things from cowriting, and producing my own demos too. But I DO believe coaching can be really helpful, especially in stages where you really struggle with how to get your lyrics to match what the current markets are looking for. You could benefit from coaching no matter how long you've been writing and your professional level.. it all depends on how it's set up.

Sure VIP songwriters are becoming consultants, and we all know the joke about consultants that charges you for asking you what time it is. And the business part of it where the coaches pat each others back, as there are good economic sense in that, makes your options less than transparent. So certainly there IS a risk it all becomes too obvious..

I would say, stay away from paying for common sense stuff! I think the usual suspects are to be told how hard the business is, how hard it is to get your songs heard, how good your demos have to be ect.. (You know, the Forum stuff.. On forums those things makes sense to enlighten newcomers with unreal expectations with hard facts, but thats NOT for personal coaching where you try to learn a craft). You don't want that kind of negative energy in a learning situation, and it's not doing anything for you in terms of motivation either.

So if that's what your getting from coaching, you get nothing but an abusive grumpy father, telling you what you already know. I believe thats the relations you should pull out of, as you otherwise will just have your creative energy drained from your body, and end up demotivated. You don't need other people to tell you what your goals should be, but you'll need someone to assist you getting there. But most times you get really useful stuff that is particularly about the craft of your work, and guidance on your options to take it waay further. THAT's where the coaching gets invaluable!

Money and learning is usually a real bad combo, as focusing on the money aspect tends to sabotage learning on both sides of the table. Knowing people often expect too much and don't want to go where the good hurting can get them ahead, coaches feel obliged to give you certain standard knowledge, without really take into consideration if thats for you in particular. But if they give you that, they secure their back from complaints.

Also the fact that you are paying for knowledge makes YOU have certain expectations about what you should be getting, and then you focus on the money aspect of it, if you don't get what you expect. If the learning setup is any good, you SHOULD get out of your comfort zone (not by being told or intimidated, but by realizing that you're nowhere near where you want to be and you really have to fess up to get there), and that usually doesn't feel too good.

That's excactly why it is so important to develop a good relationship with your coach, and create an environment together that feels safe to ridicule both of yourselves in, and to take a firm handle on things (both relational and on the craft) you both feel doesn't work and discuss them through.

So, to me it makes most sense to develop a closer relationship with a coach (or with a publisher!), and decide to stay in it for the long haul. Those are not easily found, and you probably will have to go through many people to find it. But, it is possible, at least for a period of time. Find and develop a respectful relationship like that, and coaching can be really rewarding, I think..