How To Be A Successful Songwriter

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

There are many questions to consider asking yourself when pursuing a professional career in the music industry. Whether you are aspiring to sign a major record or publishing deal or tour around the world with the biggest artists, every single successful artist and writer commonly carry similar attitudes and traits.

To be a successful writer in the music industry, there isn’t a long list of must-do’s but there is a short list of crucial must-have's and a certain mentality you will need to adapt into your everyday routine.

What Traits Must I Have To Be Successful In The Music Industry?

Not only will having a great amount of passion push a writer to become the best at their skill, but songwriters will need to physically show consistant perseverance. Being open-minded and confident when taking on a new challenge is most definitely an important factor - you must be able to take away feedback with a motivated attitude, whether those comments are great or make you want to curl into a ball and cry.

Think of it this way, all feedback is setting you up for your successful career. Do you think Selena Gomez, Harry Styles or Zedd are always getting nothing but praise by their fans? It’s obviously unrealistic to think that even big successful artists would be getting nothing but positive words, so why would an unsigned growing songwriter have that treatment?

Be that enthusiastic and open-minded writer that co-writers and A&R's love to work with and believe me, things will come to you much faster and with open arms.

Do I need To Learn About The Music Industry As Well As The Creative Side?

Surprisingly, many writers will lack the right amount of knowledge about the music industry. It’s of course not uncommon that most do not have an experienced and educated familiarity, because who would unless you either work in the industry or have gone out your way to understand it.

Nobody is to say you need to invest in hundreds of books that all cover every single category in the business, but depending on your goals it’s important to know at least the beginners guide.

What’s the difference between a Publishing deal vs a Record deal? Which one will you need and why? What’s an Advance and what does this cover? Do you see yourself becoming an artist? What will an artist need?

Research inspiring videos from professional writers, artists, DJ’s, A&R’s, managers, you name it. Interviews are an amazing way to have your own questions asked that can not necessarily be answered with a google search.

Do I Need To Be A Great Singer To Record My Demos?

In short, not necessarily. As long as you portray the vocal melody and lyrics well and are not attempting ad-libs that you are not most confident in doing, then there is no problem at all with having your vocals on your demo.

Sing the melody how you would like it to be sung and pronounce the lyrics clearly and with the same emotion as when you were writing them.

While you are using your vocals, for now, collaborate with as many singers in order to not only get a strong vocal recording on a track but also to learn from them.

Should I take extra time to learn production? Will bad production ruin my demo?

It’s always great to learn an extremely useful software as a songwriter; Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Ableton etc. Though you don’t need to become an expert in order to attract an A&R’s ears - as long as you are able to record simple stripped-down vocal and guitar/piano track, then that’s what they look out for. Allow the producer and A&R to hear the potential with no distractions - this is especially key for pitching songs to global DJ’s as they love love love to hear a simple stripped-down track and listen to the songwriting alone. When it comes down to it, most DJ’s songs are basically highly produced ballads - they’re extremely lyric, story and melody-based. Mike Perry, Lost Frequencies, Robin Schulz, Avicii, Zedd and Alesso are all great examples.

One of the biggest mistakes songwriters might do include overly producing a potentially great song with bad production, resulting in an industry professional becoming uninterested much quicker.

Keep it simple and allow the songwriting to come through, it is your strongest skill afterall. Don't let it be hidden with distractions.

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