Songwriting Myths

Jon on guitar

There is a popular misconception that songwriting is like magic – that songwriters are able to tap into a mysterious part of the human psyche and weave a song out of the invisible music ether.


Well this perception suits songwriters just fine, as we get seen and treated as if we have a magical gift handed down from the heavens.


Of course a lot of soul, passion and creativity are involved in songwriting – as it does in any form of artistic expression. But at the same time there is also a huge amount of technique, skill and practice required to hone the craft.


You’ve heard of “The Tipping Point,” right? Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that the key to becoming successful at anything is that we need to practice something for 10 000 hours before we can master it.  Michael Jackson accomplished his 10 000 hours of stage work before he was 8 years old and then went off to dominate the world, he wasn’t just born with all of the skill AND all of the ability! Of course talent plays a role, but even sporting (or musical) prodigies have to put 10 000 hours of work in before they can succeed.


Well, people think that this rule shouldn’t apply to songwriting! Of COURSE it does. Most musicians and bands that do not succeed do not put enough practice in to their songwriting!


Now I’m not saying that you now suddenly need to get 10 000 hours of songwriting under your belt to start making money as a songwriter, because you don’t!   But if you want to be a truly great songwriter, that’s a good thing to be aiming for.


What I am saying is that you NEED TO PRACTICE as a songwriter, in the same way a footballer has to practice his ball skills.


On a daily basis, I receive songs from artists from all over the world who want me to play their songs on my radio show. And sometimes, the production is elaborate and the artwork expensive. Sometimes the biography will say “recorded at Abbey road,” or “produced by” some famous producer. None of that matters if the SONG isn’t strong.


Before you go spending ANY money on your band, your production, your producer or expensive gear, musicians need to spend some time honing their craft as a songwriter. And this means just following some simple guidelines, and practicing your craft every day.


Practicing your SONGWRITING is not the same as practicing your guitar, or piano or whatever instruments you are trying to improve your skills with. Songwriting is your instrument and THAT is what you need to practice. You should be writing a handful of songs EVERY day.


In coming weeks I am going to be helping you get started with your songwriting. By teaching you painless and simple exercises that will improve your songwriting tenfold, and increase your songwriting output by more than 100 times, you will be on the road to making money from your songwriting faster than you’d expect.


Please leave a comment below about anything you’d like me to write about, or about any opinion you may have!


Till then, happy practicing.


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2 Responses to “Songwriting Myths”

  1. Mel Stevens says:

    Hi Jon. Firstly, I want to feature your blog on my Songwriters Club. I’m getting it by mail and I’m not the greatest boffin on computer yet. This has resulted in ur two previous mails being saved in my drafts, while I figure out how to post them on Songwriters. Any way you can post direct on my Songwriters? Or tell me what I do, to post them myself.
    Regarding my actual songwriting, I’m a drummer so I know a sherbert load of beats and percussion and am pretty handy with Lyrics and coming up with a melody, but nothing about chords,etc. This is why I always have to have a co-writer. When I started, my original cowriter and I wrote about 36 songs untill we decided, if one is not accepted, whats the point of more and we both stopped. I carried on pushing the one you heard. Then about 8 yrs back, he passed on and I carried on alone. I have now just aquired a new guy. His name is Zane Lawrence and we are going to start working together. He plays Bass,Keyboards,rythm and lead guitaar, as well as wind instruments, but battles with percussion and lyrics. Hence our deciding to get together. I have plans to get another couple of guys, Andy Griffiths and Damien Lindeque on board, to make a songwriting team/business. Both new guys are also accomplished on several instruments, but I need a song to break for me to do so. Now the question. Am I heading in the right direction or do I need to change my tactics?
    Sorry to hit you with so much to read boet. Looking forward to your reply, LotSA love and God bless. PS. Zane is also a computer boffin.

  2. Jon Savage says:

    Hi Mel

    I see that you are only getting my letters but are not actually seeing any of the content. The questions you asked are mostly answered on my blog.

    Copy the link below and paste them into your web browser and you should be able to read the actual posts…..

    that should help.
    And finally, as ive said in the newest post, 36 songs is not enough to give up after! Punting a song for 8 years is not good enough either! Imagine an athlete racing 30 races and then giving up because he’s not the fastest man in the world? 36 songs is barely scraping the surface. You could have written another 500 songs and had a hit single in the past 8 years.

    The only way to grow as a songwriter is to to keep working on it. In a previous email you said youve been writing songs for the past 20 years. Well if you were writing songs 20 years ago, but not since, then youve been missing out on years of VITAL songwriting practicing time!

    I will be doing a proper songwriting course on my blog soon. Keep watching!
    And welcome back to the game! Good luck!

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