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Songwriter for Britney Spears explains why he gave it up for a 'normal job' after spending all his money
Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Image / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Songwriter for Britney Spears explains why he gave it up for a 'normal job' after spending all his money

"She had me selling life insurance. Like 10 days before I'd been performing at Glastonbury."

A songwriter who worked with Britney Spears has opened up about the reality of the music industry.

The music industry may seem all glitz and glamor, but as we know - partly from Spears' experience - it's not always as it seems.

A songwriter who worked with the star has since revealed what the true reality of the industry can be and why he ultimately left, taking up a wildly different career.

Rising in the industry

With a passion for music dating back to his school days, Simon Smith followed his dreams to becoming a musician and ended up being signed to the same management as Miss Dynamite and signing a production deal in Canada.

He then decided to head back to the UK, but this time trading his hometown of Derby for London to study at university and 'move things forward' in his career.

Simon got his 'big first break' when he ended up meeting some of the 'early movers' in the dubstep movement, becoming Skream and Benga's hype man from around 2011-2012, ending up signed to Universal and with a publishing deal with Warner Chappell.

Touring with shows across the globe, Smith was all set to release his own record but then the dubstep movement 'sort of fell off a cliff' and he had to regroup.

The musician decided to focus on writing music for other artists instead, and was eventually invited out to Los Angeles by a well known songwriter - one of Simon's songs ending up in the hand's of 'Britney's people'.

Simon Smith decided to transition into songwriting.

Simon notes his transition into songwriting was 'tough' because you write a lot of songs but never know 'which one is going to hit'.

He tells UNILAD: "It was a rollercoaster, it was a lot of times just in Airbnb sleeping on sofas in LA and and being in these fancy studios.

"But just the juxtaposition of like, on the one hand, you're writing with stars and you feel like you're getting there, but then on the other hand, there's a lot of disappointment and upset because songs don't get released or they don't do what they're supposed to do which results in you not earning any money."

However, after writing 'hundreds of songs' one fell into Britney's lap and Simon 'got the call' saying she 'loved it'.

Working with Britney

Britney ended up recording the song and Simon reflects on the experience as being 'mental' hearing the tune played for the first time. "Because you grew up listening to that stuff right? That era," he adds.

Simon's song ended up in the lap of Britney Spears'.
Getty Images/ Kevin Winter

He then got invited to work with the singer in person and notes how 'really, really, really lovely' she is.

"Very talented and just full of life in the studio," he continues. "We did some great stuff, we got multiple records with her."

Simon co-wrote the 'Private Show' record with Britney, alongside Carla Marie Williams and Tramaine Winfrey - the song title going on to be the name for the singer's perfume too.

Simon reflects: "We were buzzing man."

However, despite such a big win with one of the biggest pop stars of the time, Simon's career in the music industry didn't continue in the same trajectory after he finished the release with Britney.

The reality of the industry sets in

Despite writing with the likes of Britney and Paloma Faith, Simon explains the 'problem with the songwriting world was it was impossible to predict the results or predict the income,' as well as there being 'just so many external factors' to try and take into account too.

Without a mortgage, no pension or retirement plan and having accrued 'certain debts,' the musician admits he 'didn't really have anything'.

He notes the 'one big decent check' he did get he quickly whittled down by going out and 'stupidly' splashing it on a 'BMW M Sport'.

"Going from those heights of like performing at Glastonbury and [...] doing like world tours, and performing at Coachella and all them things in front of 1000s and 1000s of people and then next thing you know, I was due to be married and I was like, 'I think I'm gonna have to actually get a normal job'. Which was the first time I'd had to do that."

The music industry didn't end up being as glamorous as it seemed.

Simon found a sales role advertised on Indeed which said it was a high level with the possibility of massive commission.

He showed up to the interview wearing the one suit and pair of shoes he had saved for weddings and funerals, but also his Rolex from his music days - he could see the interviewer looking at it confused.

"I could tell he was thinking like, 'Well, why the hell are you here then?'" he recalls.

Simon got through the first interview and the second and was then taken by the interviewer on a bus. "She ended up setting me up outside of a Co-Op," he continues. "And she had me selling life insurance."

"Like 10 days before I'd been performing at Glastonbury."

A change of heart

After ten minutes, Simon excused himself and left.

Simon went from performing at Glastonbury to selling insurance outside a local supermarket in just 10 days.
Getty Images/ Matt Cardy

"I hit rock bottom and it was like I need to make a change now," he says.

And that's when he researched and discovered the property industry, signing up to a course and putting the cost on a credit card - which was supposed to pay for the catering for his wedding.

However, with no real results within nine months, Simon resolved to sell his BMW and used the cash to buy a property.

The decision paid off, but without more cars to sell, Simon looked around and ended up finding Rent2Rent where instead of buying the property to let it out, you rent it to rent it out again, - but 'legally' - and he found a way to do it 'much quicker' and 'much cheaper' too.

A different type of success story

With the money he's made from Rent2Rent, Simon has been able to help his wife retire out of her 'very tough' profession in the mental health sector, as well as support his mom.

Simon reflects the 'music game was amazing,' allowing him to travel and do what he loved, but he wishes he'd 'invest[ed] more wisely'.

Simon traded the music industry for the property world.
Instagram/ @simonsmithonline

"If I would have invested, then it would have been a different scenario. But then again, I wouldn't have ended up outside of the Co-op. So therefore, I probably wouldn't have ended up doing what I've done. [...] So, it's tough.

"You think it's gonna last forever, and it rarely does. Unless you're like really like smashing, unless you're Ed Sheeran [...] And the other misconception with the music industry is you can have a song on the radio, and be on TV and be on stage and it looks like you're smashing it but financially, you're just not.

"[...] It was a very glamorous lifestyle [...] this person had a Ferrari and it's all glitz and glamor and all of this sexy stuff, but you don't know how long it's gonna last and nobody was advising us,' Hey make sure you invest this in there. Or build some assets'. So a lot of that money just evaporates."

Simon resolves he believes people either 'want more time doing the things we love, we want more money and ultimately we want more freedom'. "Because time is money is freedom, right?"

He continues: "Sometimes we focus on freedom or passion, a bit too soon and I feel like if you can find ways to invest to generate money and get your time, then the freedom will come and you'll have it in in bucket loads.

"But [...] I think you've got to follow what you love. And I'm really, really lucky because I guess the final part of the [...] story is [...] I was documenting what I was doing online so loads of people that could relate, hit me up and ask for help."

Spears may've just released her memoir, but Simon has also shared a book with the world and found his own 'amazing' community too.

"I meet so many people that've had bad mental health and are in a bad place and I've been I'm able to help them," he continues. "[To see people] actually benefit from it and be able to feed the family, you know?"

So, while Simon's story may not be a success story of the music industry and his decision to retreat from his music career down a more stable path may feel like a harsh reality, he's chosen a different road to success and also helps navigate others to find their own too.

Topics: Music, Britney Spears, Celebrity, US News, World News, Money, UK News