Hands Up Who Knows How To Write A Song

How To Write A Song

This phrase – ‘how to write a song’  – seems to mean different things to different people, so I’m discovering.


I thought I’d take a step backwards a little bit this week. I’ve spent the past few months charging forward to build up to the methodology behind making good money from your songwriting (because this topic is so exciting to me AND I really want to share it), but I seem to be leaving quite a few people behind based on a lot of emails I’ve been receiving.


There seems to be 3 types of readers of this blog.


1)   Experienced songwriters who know how to write a song and are frustrated with not knowing how to monetize the craft.

2)   Bands who are struggling to get playlisted on radio stations, who have a good understanding of how songwriting works, but seem to not be getting any honest feedback from the station about why their songs are not being playlisted.

3)   Musicians who can play an instrument, but want to get more into songwriting so that they can make a lot more money each month, but are struggling to figure out how to get started.


Do you fit into any of these categories? If not, please mail (or leave a comment in the section below) so I can know who to cater this site to?


I’ve been all 3 of these people! The biggest change for me came after touring with Cassette around the world for 5 years, and having numerous hit singles, but still not making any real money out of it. I started to look carefully at my songwriting business model and, after years of experimentation and investigation, figured out a very straight-forward way to make good money from songwriting if you just know what you are doing. It’s how I’ve made a living for the past few years and how I plan to continue making a living forever more. And I’m talking about serious money.

How To Write A Song

I’ve decided to spend the next few months designing some products to help people who are struggling with these things.


So far I’m thinking of starting :


1)   An online academy to teach experienced songwriters how to get your business affairs in order, and a simple strategy to starting to make good money from songwriting.

2)   A masterclass membership-only site with a limited number of spaces, for artists to have their songs critically reviewed by some of the biggest name songwriters in the world, every month.

3)   A Beginners Introduction to Profitable Songwriting for people who a) have never actually written a song and just really want to learn how to write a song in a simple and straight-forward and understandable way and b) musicians with day jobs who want to start learning this craft to possibly quit their job and get into a full-time career as a musician, but don’t know how to get started with songwriting.


Please could you guys give me feedback and comments. I would love to know if any of these services would  be of any value to anyone! Or is there anything else you guys can think of that you think is really needed.


I don’t want to waste my time creating hours of video tutorials about how to write a song when they are of no use to anyone so your feedback will be invaluable.


Let me know by writing in the comment section below!!


Also, if you guys have any blogs or websites out there and feel that I’m giving out invaluable information, please feel free to link to my site :)


Happy Giving-Me-Feedback-On-My-Crazy-Ideas

Jon Savage



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29 Responses to “Hands Up Who Knows How To Write A Song”

  1. I would like to subscribe to point 1 and 2, I think its a great idea and I could really use your help!

  2. Kgotso Motaung says:

    I think your products would be a great idea. I’d be interested in subscribing to points 1 and 3.
    It’d be a definate step in the right direction.
    *your tips are much appreciated :) *

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hey guys!
      I’m really excited about this! thanks for the comments. They are really appreciated! I guess I’ve got some work to do! :)

  3. Ntsiki says:

    All ideas are sure to change a lot of lives, personally I would go for 1 and 3 because I would benefit a lot from it, 2 also sounds great for artists and I will tell my artists about it

  4. Adrian says:

    I think all 3 of these idea’s are great Jon. Like with anything in life, it may take a while to cultivate a large membership base, as only recently I (for example) become aware of this site, and your podcasts. But I have no doubt that ANY information you offer here, whether it be a forum, video tutorials etc, will be regarded as a gem in our SA industry and treasured if not now, then certainly in the near future.

    An idea may be to create video tutorials, but limiting them to no more than 5 or 6min. I urge you to go check out http://www.youtube.com/user/recordingrevolution?feature=watch this guy is a genius, even though I don’t create mixes on the same level he does, I still love to watch these vids as he gives insightful tips in no more than 5 minutes!

  5. Simon says:

    This site is great! It’s inspired me to start churning out music, work on my songwriting skills as well as my Classical stuff! I’m really excited to see where it goes and learn from what you have to teach. The products do sound really beneficial, keep it up!

  6. Damien says:

    Hi Jon.

    All the ideas you mentioned are awesome and think that what you are doing with regards to this blog is really amazing and unique. So thank you very much for that.

    i would love to subscribe to points 1 & 2 as Ive written many songs myself and have recorded them using Logic Pro and watch many videos on mastering using Logic so Ive recorded most of my songs (the ones that i think could go to radio and be hit singles) in my lounge and keep on writing new songs weekly (a goal Ive set myself thanks to your blog), and would love to know where to go from here as a musician and songwriter. i would hate for these songs just to sit on my computer and not go anywhere as im sure you know, recording and mastering and the time put into each song, is a lot of effort, and what is it worth if its not going to serve its purpose and get out there into the world for people to listen to and for me to make a living from something that im so passionate about and have sacrificed alot in my life for.

    So Points 1 & 2 defiantly, but more point 2. I think that would be a great opportunity for songwriters out there.

    Keep Up the good work. Loving this blog.

  7. marc says:

    Hi Mate
    points 1 and 2 for me and ive got a cool nashville type song to send you ill drop box it later tonight

  8. pietr says:

    Hey Jon

    I would do point 3 , I am a working begginer muso , I have been in a few bands the last 3 year , but I am going solo for now , other muso’s are hard to find , so I am writting my own songs and playing them in pubs at open mic nights at this stage , I must say I am struggeling with being on my own , I play the guitar and I can feel I need more instuments in my songs ! Do you have any suggestions ? And sorry for the spelling , at least I have spell check on my pc

    Have a good day

    • Jon Savage says:

      I do have MANY suggestions, Pietr!

      I think you are in the perfect position to actually earn money from your songwriting! I think i must get started on this tutorials asap!

  9. J-dizzle says:

    As a professional drummer and developing producer, I’m looking for points 3 and 1 respectively. I’ve written a few simple songs but want to learn more about the actual nuts and bolts of writing a song, such as common structures/forms and how to come up with a intro, verse or bridge section when you have a good chorus. Essentially how to create a new section once you have an existing good one. Just to clarify further I’m mostly interested in electronic music so just basses and melodies with some textures and ostinatos essentially. Not much attention to chords.. My production is good and I think I’ve got good taste (haha) so I’m not so interested in point 2. Once I’ve gotten better at the actual songwriting (so putting more than one piece into a song unlike trance or something) I’m gonna be very interested in what to do next in terms of making money with my own songs ie point 1. Hope that’s relatively clear. Lastly thank you so much for what you’re doing here. I’m glued to you every word and have already progressed significantly with just last weeks ideas. THANK YOU!

  10. Mel Stevens says:

    It is ALL GOOD Jon. You are busy with a first in SA and I totally and utterly commend you for it. There is almost nothing to add to what you have covered, except possibly to EDUCATE THE ARTISTS THAT MAKE IT. They seem to forget that before God, gave them the break to become the star they are, they were JUST LIKE US. Dreaming for the big break. Trouble is, when they do become a star, it seems to go to their heads, in most cases and they dont have time to think of the guys that are still what THEY USED TO BE. There also seems to be clicks formed, where they will try to hold the monopoly, instead of genuinely GIVING BACK and helping others to also attain their dreams, just as they got a break to attain theirs. This is not half as bad in America, where up and coming artists and Songwriters are helped to achieve their dreams, followed by Britain and of course coming up at the very rear, is good old South Africa. So what YOU are doing boet is a BIG exception to the rule and I cant stress enough, just how many guys you will help and how many dreams, that through your help, might just be accomplished.
    What you have started, is exactly what I was trying to do with Mel’s SONGWRITERS of South Africa CLUB. The difference is you are better equiped to pull it through brother. Your heart is in the right place.
    In conclusion Jon, I have to live and so I have had to take on, at the age of 63, a job for the next 4 to 6 weeks, with horrific working times. It is going to render it almost impossible to be on FB much. I have had to co opt some Durban Muzo’s to try to keep Songwriters going for me and I certainly hope I’m not going to miss out on what you are going to be doing. But thats my problem boet, you cant let the hundreds of guys that will bebefit from this suffer. GO FOR IT Jon and MAKE ME PROUD, to be associated with a person who has this wonderful vision for songwriters of South Africa.
    Much love and God bless.

  11. Paul Jorgensen says:

    Hey Jon

    Awesome ideas, and so very much needed for South Africa! The internet is great at spitting out advice but from a US or UK perspective so its great to finally get something that brings in the SA context! As for the 1, 2 and 3 here are my thoughts:

    let me start with point 3a) this could be done in a book… but I feel at a beginners level either you have music talent or you dont, difficult to teach what is a natural inclination, so I think that you would get some people with the wrong intentions signing up for this… 3b) could fit into point 1….

    1) Great idea, but would this be only for experienced full time musos? what about part-time hobbyists or your muso described in 3b?

    2) definitely scope for this but with a clause of “if-your-crap-you’re-out” as not to waste anybody’s time!

    Not sure where my situation fits in though. When you say song writing do you mean somebody who writes lyrics and music and records it? The reason I ask is that I write lyrics… lots of them, some good others not so good… but I would like the good ones to get published somehow. So that if some bigger name star in SA is looking for lyrics then they can buy them. Obviously getting a publishing deal without previous success is a challenge. Now I do play music along with most of the songs, but recording is expensive stuff in a studio and I dont have a decent home set up. I have played around with Reaper but need some more practice to produce a quality sound (songs are too soft so I’m doing something wrong).

    But I’d be interested in your thoughts of lyricists and the role they can play in SA music and can some extra shekels be made by selling songs and the rights and royalties that go with it.

    Thanks for the rocking blog and show!

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi Paul!
      Thanks for the comment!

      I think you are in a tough place if you are only interested in writing lyrics. Unless your lyrics are truly out of this world exceptional and original, I think you might struggle in this department.

      There may be some artists out there looking for lyrics though and you might have to look hard and far.

      Have you thought about maybe trying to publish a book? Or even a lyrics blog to try and entice musos to see them?

      Otherwise, i think you should keep following my blog and learn how to use your studio and do one of my upcoming songwriting courses. you NEED the music aspect, in my opinion if you want to make money from this. People need to hear the music to give your lyrics an opportunity to stand out.

      On the other hand, if you just give your lyrics out to artists, you may stand a better chance of someone discovering your talent. Tough one though.

      good luck

  12. It’s a fantastic idea that I’d definitely check out.

  13. Sam Anderson says:

    Hi jon,

    I think all 3 categories you have established will be widely well received. I imagine there are many song writers/ musicians (myself included) who would like to be mentored in song writing and expand on their craft.

    Are you planning on focusing on songwriting or maybe the entire production pipeline?

    I work for a creative media education provider called SAE Institute based in ape Town and one of our courses we offer is Sound Engineering and Music Production and I believe a module in song writting specifically would be very attractive to our students as many of them are musicians who want to be able to do more on the production side and not many are the scientists.

    Anyway sounds exciting, you can check out some of what we do here: http://capetown.sae.edu/en-gb/course_overview/785/Courses to help.

    Hit me back just to chat.

  14. Cameron says:

    Great ideas Jon! Options 1 and 3 would suit me well. Hope some of these ideas come off.

  15. Reg says:

    Nr 2 would be great – tired of my mom telling me I sound great. I need some honest feedback!

    • Jon Savage says:

      Howzit Reg.
      Thanks so much for the message.

      In 2 weeks time I’ll be announcing something so up your alley you’ll be jumping for joy! Stay tuned :)

  16. Josh says:

    Hey Jon, all three categories for me please! This is a great resource, keep the knowledge coming!

  17. Tebogo says:

    Hi Jon.
    This will be the first in SA. make it happen

  18. Charl Diener says:

    Hey Jon,

    I’ve had no formal or any music training for that matter, but about 2 weeks ago, for no real reason, I purchased an old second-hand Yamaha Electone organ. It’s nothing special, just the stock standard late 70s/early 80s home organ. Well, actually, I was considering a freelance career in advertising – you know, working from home – and I thought I needed a distraction. I went on The Gumtree and came across this organ and bought it without consulting the wife.

    I played around a bit, but soon realised that you need more than just a curious mind to be able to put something solid together – and that’s when I stumbled upon your blog.

    Now I know you cater for musicians who want to learn how to make money from their music, but please don’t forget the guys who want to learn more about music and songwriting in general. I’m not saying that you should blog about the basics – like what’s the difference between chords and melodies etc, Google will help with that, and besides, your advice on surrounding oneself with like-minded people is another way to help get the beginner out of the starting blocks – but just the link to rocketpiano.com for instance already made a huge difference to me. And the comment by Mikhail on today’s article “Be Honest When You Are Song Writing” about “VOCAL MELODY” is something that I was also thinking about today. Now I at least know what to call it.

    I’m not sure what exactly it is you are trying to achieve with this blog, if it’s about making money writing about how to make money from music, or if it’s just about reaching out and giving back?

    Whatever it is, without any real training, I just put together a melody today – I played it to my wife and she thought it was amazing. But hey, I guess she was lying to me. Right Jon?

    Thanks for the inspiration man. Can’t wait to for the rest of it.


  19. this machine kills fascists says:

    I don’t fit in any if those categories. My problem is that I can’t like anything I come up with. Everything I write sounds too stock, amateurish or just plain embarrassing to my ears. It really frustrates me and I feel like abandoning songwriting altogether.

    • Jon Savage says:

      Hi there. Thanks for the message.
      I think this is a common feeling among aspiring writers. The truth is that you have to put the work in – and not only on the practice but also on the creativity front. That frustration from not being able to express yourself in your writing, and getting in to a rut comes from not challenging yourself in the songwriting room. There are loads of excersizes you can do to get yourself out of it.

      1) Set yourself a specific challenge. Write a song in a different genre. Write a song at faster tempo. Write a song for a film scene that you like.
      2) Give yourself a time frame. Try write 3 songs in 2 hours! Start to finish. Push yourself to be creative.
      3) Write the weirdest song you possibly can.

      You need to learn to “play” while you are writing. These sorts of excercizes shake you out of comfort zone and teach you something new.

      I’m about to release a training video in a few weeks that should really help you in this department. Stay tuned (and register if you havent already)

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