Whether you’ve been writing songs and tracks for several years with a good couple hundred of demos under your belt or you’re a complete newbie wanting to dive into your songwriting passion further, it’s always beneficial to go back to the basics and make sure you’re taking the right steps to achieve great results.
This is such an important lesson no matter your songwriting level, as to how can anyone grow from something they didn’t know they were struggling with. Though having gone through the most popular ones out there myself, I found it difficult to uncover where the experience laid within each bullet point. Or the ‘proof in the pudding’ so to speak.
The tricky and sad notion is that like so many beginner tips are aimed at inexperienced writers, it’s easy to get caught up in the numerous songwriting myths and understanding which tricks and techniques are just outright bonkers vs the ones that will allow guaranteed beneficial development.
Every piece of advice that is to be shared with growing songwriters, producers and artists needs to be something they can take away to learn and grow from independently. Becoming a professional writer especially takes having a supportive and professional team, but there will always be a time where you need to be the leader of the group and trust that your knowledge, experience and skills will be the key to having a successful outcome. For example, going into sessions, meetings, social networking events.
So let’s get started with some of the most beneficial songwriting tips to kickstart your songwriting.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
This is such an important lesson no matter your songwriting level, as how can anyone grow from something they didn’t know they were struggling with.
Master your strengths and develop your weaknesses in baby steps.
Understanding your greatest and most challenging aspects will come down to you writing and then analysing your creation by yourself as well as from your trusty peers.
Wrote another bad song? Great! Write more.
To this day it still amazes me at how new songwriters become so disheartened when their 5th, 10th or 20th song is bad. The first time I sat in the passenger’s seat of an ‘L’ plated car, it was no surprise I wasn’t a natural F1 drifter so why should that be the case with songwriting. This is a skill, an art that takes development and dedication. Oh, and a ton of patience.
The biggest writers today still write songs that don’t go onto becoming global hits. On the odd occasion, they may be weak, but the reason why these masters don’t write bad songs as often is that they understand and have taught themselves the key elements of what makes a song stand out. Making sure the dynamics are hitting in the right sections, lyrics are telling the story in a fresh and captivating way or that the beat simply drops out when it needs to. Small techniques make the biggest difference. We analysed Lauv’s ‘Love Like That’ and picked out the elements of what makes this song so great - check it out here.
The more bad or average songs you write, the closer you become to writing game-changers; as long as you’re ensuring you’re constantly growing and developing your technique with the right tools.
Learn from the Pros
This one continues slightly from point 2 above. Writing development is not something that can only start happening once you have a record or publishing deal in your hands, nor does it especially mean you can only truly become a better songwriter with a professional team; not the case at all. A professional team will enhance your music career with opportunities, becoming a strong songwriter and showing great potential is down to you.
Learning from the pros is as simple as heading to Spotify, iTunes, Youtube, going through your favourite (preferably current) hit songs and simply analysing them. If you are a songwriter, write down what makes the lyrics and melodies so great. What makes the wording so special? How do the melodies change in the pre’s, choruses and bridge?
For producers, dig deeper into the track and pinpoint what’s happening throughout the song. Listen especially to big DJ’s and figure out what kind of sounds they’re using and why they’re being used in certain sections, how have they allowed the leading hooks/beats to come through and how do the surrounding instruments compliment the hooks?
Get to the nitty-gritty, you’ll be amazed to see the impact on your writing by regularly doing this fun exercise.
Don’t try to finish a song every time
One of the many myths I’ve come across is being told to never leave ideas or rough demos on the harddrive. This is a misconception that so many writers and producers force themselves into and inevitably lead themselves into a stressful situation of a writers’ block. Pushing yourself to sit and write start to finish in one session is an impossible task for most, but not impossible. When an idea is great and the inspiration is constantly flowing, you may even be able to finish the track within 20 minutes. But this is only when that inspiration is naturally flowing to you.
Having hundreds or even thousands of melodies, beats, lyrics etc is not at all a negative as I 100% encourage every writer to have this. I’ve heard an excuse that a producer didn’t like doing this and preferred to always finish a track every single time (needless to say they were not surprisingly in a writing block 365 days of the year) for the reason that this made his hard drive too messy. All it takes is organising each folder, but the big reason to why this is such a great tip not just to keep away the writing block is so that you are able to come back to your previous melodies, hooks and beats with fresh ears and new ideas.
Get constructive ears on your songs
One of the most terrifying parts of songwriting is sharing your music which is completely natural since, of course, songwriting is like reading out your personal diary. It’s personal and creates vulnerability.
Once you and your music are ready, have your peers listen and always ask for critique without fear; some feedback may be difficult to hear but always take it on as a professional as possible in preparation for your career ahead. I like to recommend to try to avoid family or close friends as let’s face it, they’re more likely to shower you with everything you’re hoping to hear. Unless you have one of two brutally honest friends, they’re the best ones who will say what needs to be said.
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