Your Songwriting Career: Are YOU In the Driver’s Seat?

Picture your songwriting career as a car. Just for fun, let’s say it’s a Ferrari. It might not feel like one right now but that’s because it’s not going anywhere very fast.

It could be that your car is driving in circles, starting and stopping, or stuck in neutral. Maybe the driver is asleep at the wheel or doesn’t know how to get where they’re going. Wouldn’t it be better if the driver woke up, checked the GPS, took hold of the wheel, and harnessed the power of that amazing engine to get to a real destination?

You are the car’s driver. The engine that powers this car is your Energy, Inspiration, Desire, and Excitement. There’s plenty of potential there but unless the you have a real idea where you’re going and how to get there, the car can’t take you there on its own.

Starting out
A successful journey starts with a clear destination in mind. Do you want to…

  • Have a career as a recording artist?
  • Write songs for other people to sing?
  • Write songs for film and TV?
  • Be a songwriter-producer?
  • Make money with your songs or write for friends, family, or your community?

Maybe you want to do all of these. Destinations can change, of course, but it’s a good idea to start your trip with one clearly in mind. => Write down a destination you want to reach. If you can’t decide on just one, pick the one you want to go to first, then list the others.

The road starts at your own front door. If you wait for someone to come along and pave a road just for you, it’ll never happen. You have to make your own road.  At the end of this post, I’ve included four ideas to get you started.

Continue reading “Your Songwriting Career: Are YOU In the Driver’s Seat?”

Break Through to Songwriting Success

Seems I’ve heard from a lot of songwriters and composers lately who are feeling frustrated.  Their careers haven’t gotten off the ground or they’re stalled at a level that isn’t really satisfying. Over and over, I hear things like…

frustrated-songwriter

  • I’m not getting the kind of response from the music industry I deserve.
  • I spend hours on my music but I’m not making any money.
  • They keep telling me my music is dated.
  • I’m doing the best I can. I guess I just don’t have enough talent.

I know how awful it feels to be in that place. But there’s really a very straightforward process for getting beyond these problems. It takes focus, determination, and effort. But If you’re willing to do that then you can get where you want to go.

So let’s cut to the chase… Everything you need to know to be a successful songwriter is right in front of you. If you study successful songs and instrumentals and use them to help you discover new techniques and choices to use in your own songs, you’ll break through.

Once you know what’s working for today’s listeners and the music industry and you can create original, authentic material in one of these styles, you’ll find you have an open door into the offices of music publishers and Film/TV music supervisors. They need this music and you’d be surprised how many ways there are to get it to them. But you need to have the goods first, before you approach them. Continue reading “Break Through to Songwriting Success”

The Eight Note Dilemma

A songwriter recently asked me: Is it copyright infringement if I use eight notes of a hit song melody?

A: When you think about it, there are only 12 notes in an octave. And only a few of those sound good in a melody. So, really, any eight notes are going to be in plenty of songs. The trick is to make sure your eight notes don’t remind listeners of a song that isn’t yours.  If they do, that’s called “substantial similarity.”

Substantial similarity is one of the tests for copyright infringement. If your eight notes are in the same order and have the same melodic rhythm as a hit song then there’s likely to be too much similarity. And that’s not good.

The truth is there’s NO hard and fast rule that determines how many notes of someone else’s melody you can use in a song of your own. It may only take two or three notes if they feature a very recognizable interval jump or rhythm. But here are some ideas that can help you out.  Continue reading “The Eight Note Dilemma”

Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season

Unlike radio hits that burst on the scene then fade away, holiday songs have a long, long lifespan. Almost every major artist records at least one album of holiday songs. Sure they include the songs everyone knows and loves, but they need to sprinkle in a few potential new holiday hits, too. So, while the sights, sounds, and excitement of the season are all around., take the time to look and listen like a songwriter. Make a note of images, grab snippets of conversation. Be aware of your own feelings. Remember the holidays of your childhood. You’ll use all these ideas to make your song  fresh and emotionally honest.

Themes
One of the biggest challenges of writing a holiday song is coming up with a new idea or approach. A generic holiday song with all the usual images isn’t hard to write but it will be hard to sell. It’s been done already…a lot!

Emotional themes: “White Christmas” is a such a classic and we’ve heard it so many times, it’s easy to miss the things that make it so great. The idea of yearning for the ideal Christmas of youth – the white Christmas of dreams – is a powerful, moving theme.  What do you long for? What do you remember? Try writing a song about those feelings.  Continue reading “Holiday Songs: ‘Tis the Season”