1 – Don’t just write Good songs.
You can’t only write the good songs. You should be writing a lot of songs and weeding out the bad ones and workshopping the good ones. You need to be writing songs consistently and in high volumes to learn as many aspects to songwriting as you possibly can and to widen the net for when you catch a big one.
This may sound obvious but it actually isn’t. A lot of artists only write songs when they are gearing up to release an album or a single. This could be a costly mistake because you are missing out on vital songwriting practice.
Practice, practice, practice. That’s the biggest secret of how to be a songwriter. Keep at it every day and write all the time – this will help strengthen your songwriting muscle and you will improve drastically in a short time of space.
2 – Listen to songs in a different way.
Start obsessing over song structures, melodies and rhythms every day. Start listening to your favourite songs a little bit differently. Listen out for the bass line and ask yourself, what do I love about this song?
Ask yourself what are the specific things you like about the song. What about the chorus grabs you? What are the best parts of the melody that are the most memorable. How does the rhythm of the vocals affect the song?
Take mental notes and even try to replicate those elements in your own songs. That does not mean stealing the melodies! It means borrowing the ideas to teach yourself what a good song looks like under the hood. This is your biggest research in your quest on how to be a songwriter.
3 – Try not to get stuck on a song (this is very difficult).
If you can write one great song, you can write another! Sometimes artists can get so involved in a song, particularly if it has some commercial success early on, that they keep on trying to shove it down people’s throats for years.
Another stumbling block is when you have written a superb part of a song, maybe a chorus or a verse melody, you can become so obsessed with it that you can’t seem to write the other parts of the songs as they just don’t stand up to the first thing you wrote. It’s all in your head. Keep calm, move on and come back and revisit it another day.
When your song is done, let it go. Of course, you can always revisit it and make changes, especially after some time has passed and you get a new perspective on it. But once you have written a great song, smile and get on with the next one. Keep learning, keep improving.
4 – Give yourself excercizes to force you to write fast and furiously.
Deadlines can create some of the best songwriting from any writer. When you are writing for yourself, it is easy to get caught up in hours and hours of self-indulgent introspection (which can be great!).
But when writing to a deadline, the juices flow faster, your creativity levels increase and you don’t have time to be precious.
Challenge yourself to write a song in an hour in a specific genre about a specific topic. Give yourself as many parameters as possible so that you can focus on the task and getting it done.
When the time is up, leave the song and come back to it another day. Then decide whether to throw it away, or to see if there are any good ideas in it.
This is a killer way to create a lot of ideas for songs very efficiently and can fast track the whole process of how to be a songwriter.
5 – Start carrying a notebook.
Make sure you are always scouting for song lines. They could come up in conversation, on TV, on the radio, or where you least expect it. Come up with usable phrases that you can use for song-fodder and keep them in your notebook.
Start programming your brain to listen out for interesting phrases and lines all the time until it becomes second nature to collect them.
You never want to be sitting in your room and asking yourself, “ummm, now what should I write about?” Just flip open your notebook, find a few phrases and get started.
Plus, you’ll look cool carrying around a songwriting notebook.
6 – Record your songs.
Make sure you record your songs while they are still fresh in your mind! Let me repeat this :
MAKE SURE YOU RECORD YOUR SONGS WHILE THEY ARE FRESH IN YOUR MIND!!!
There is nothing worse than singing a little melody in to your dictaphone (or cellphone) while you are flowing with song ideas but by the time you actually get round to recording them, you still have the element you recorded but you can’t remember all the great ideas you had around them. This is the songwriting sewer. Once you’ve lost them down there, they don’t come back.
Go and check out my Songwriting Starter Kit blog entries to see how to set something up to record your song ideas (http://www.songwritingbusiness.com/songwriter-starter-kit-part-2). This is the most important step in how to be a songwriter.
7 – Publish your songs.
If you are not doing your publishing properly, you are throwing money down the toilet.
I am going to be talking a lot on this subject so you can either sign up to my newsletter or go and buy a book on publishing. This is a vital part of the business and usually largely misunderstood by artists.
Here are 7 killer tips in how to be a songwriter. I hope they are helpful. If you’d like to add some more tips, please add them in the comment section below as I would love to hear from you.
Until then, happy songwriting.