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So You Want To Be A Songwriter?

April 29, 2021

So you want to be a songwriter? I have given this refrain to hundreds of people throughout the years; it is my opening line to would-be songwriters everywhere.

Song writing is an art but it is also a craft and that implies patience and practice. Those are two qualities that are often lacking in new songwriters. This business is a bitch and impatience and a lack of fine tuning your craft can only lead to disappointment. Goals need to be defined early on and they need to be realistic. Nobody and I mean nobody  ever sat down and wrote their very first song to see it become an immediate hit.

If you are serious about songwriting, I have a few suggestions:

1. Write from the heart. Don’t let someone else’s idea of what’s important to say superimpose itself on your own voice. Be your own person with your own person with your own voice.

2. Learn the basics of composition, melody and lyrics. These are things that can not be bypassed, no matter what you have been told.

3. Acquaint yourself with popular song styles and how they are composed. Remember the 3-20 rule. Songs that run over 3 minutes and 20 seconds are apt not to get airplay no matter how great they are. (Established artists are an exception.)

4. Songwriting is a business. Treat it as you would any other business. Things like profit and loss, revenue, taxes and expenses are not mere words – they are real components of the business.

5. Develop a network of other artists. Develop another network of fans and yet another for collaboration. Strong songwriters need all three to survive.

6. Write material that others are capable of singing, keeping things relatively simple enough so that others can pick-up on it easily. Write melodies that can’t be sung by singers with a normal range ( 2 octaves).

7. Surround yourself with good musicians, be it for live gigs or recording and remember you get what you pay for.

8. Copyright all of your songs and keep a record of each in terms of when written, to who it was pitched and its licensing and revenue particulars. Again, this is a business folks!

9. Accept constructive criticism and suggestions for improving your creations. Seek out experts in the field and listen to what they have to say.

10. Be persistent and true to your passion. Define what success means to you and follow that path.

So you want to be a songwriter? Go for it!

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From → Music, Writing

  1. Hi my friend Allen great advice and especially with the uncanny amount of talent out there today. Just to let you know my songs are for my own pleasure and most people who are real musicians like some of the folks I follow are talented. I am enjoying my self indulgence. So I wonder what the statistics are for extremely talented song writers who make it verses those that don’t? I bet you know that number. Hope all is well and life is being good to you and yours. Sending hugs 🤗 Joni

    Liked by 2 people

    • Statistically it is about one in 1,500,000. Those are pretty tough odds. I was luck (and talented) in that I made an excellent living in the 1970s as a songwriter and producer. Unfortunately I have met hundreds of great talents who never made it at all. I currently mentor 6 musicians / songwriters with hopes that they will make a dent in the business. It is the toughest business , I know. I am always open to constructive criticism; If you want to send me a tune or two, I’d be happy to honestly evaluate them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I feel badly for all those really talented people who don’t make it who work so hard at it. You must have had an amazing ear. I am not looking to get in the business. My last post was a song I wrote and sang into voice memo. I do it for fun. Good luck with your students you mentor. That is wonderful. I hope they can make it with your help. You are kind to work with them. I imagine you enjoy still being in the business a bit or you would likely miss it. Thank you for your very kind offer. I know I don’t have the singing voice I had when I was younger. That statistic is staggering really. Stay safe and hugs to you and your family. 🤗❤️ Joni

        Liked by 2 people

      • Be sure to see today’s post “Singing.”

        Liked by 1 person

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