Faster & Better: Pick Up Your Songwriting Speed

We all want to be more creative, have more songs in the catalog, and feel satisfied that we’re getting things accomplished. It’s just that reality doesn’t always work out that way. More often than not…

  • We don’t have any good ideas for new songs.
  • We’re not sure what kinds of songs we should be writing and for what market.
  • We get stuck working on one song that’s in trouble.
  • We’re scared our songs aren’t good enough so we don’t finish them.

We all know that good quality has to be maintained, but I bet you could write more songs and keep the quality at the level you want or even improve it. Here are a whole bunch of ideas for writing FASTER and BETTER.

The quickest way to get started.STUDY SUCCESSFUL SONGS
This is the quickest way to solve a lot of the problems I just listed. Spend at least one to two hours per week listening to songs on the music charts, or songs used in Film & TV. Of course, you won’t like everything you hear. You may have to dig a while before you uncover a song you want to learn from. But it’s worth it and it’s an essential part of the job of songwriting.

Too often we think of our songwriting career as ONLY the act of songwriting, but there’s so much more. Laying the groundwork for new songs, learning how others creatively use song craft, getting inspired, feeling like you could beat those songs – all of these are ways you can up your game. Get your ears used to hearing what’s successful out there and your songwriting will improve.

READ THIS: Here’s an article on my website with a list of resources where you can find successful artists and bands in a range of styles to listen to.

Embed current songs to give yourself an instant feel for the style
When you find a song you like, get a copy of the lyrics. (you can find them online or take them down by ear.) Practice singing along with the track until it’s comfortable for you. This may not be as easy as it sounds. Many current singer-songwriter songs have complex melodies and phrasing. Just learn it one section at a time. If the song isn’t in your vocal range, talk-sing along with it until you get a feel for the rhythm of the melody. These days, the rhythm of the notes is as important as note pitches.  Continue reading “Faster & Better: Pick Up Your Songwriting Speed”

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”

How Is a Lyric Like a Movie Script?

Here’s a quote from hit songwriter-producer Desmond Child in M Magazine, “The most important thing going into a song is the lyric. The lyric is the script, and you can’t shoot a movie without a script. The score is actually the last part that comes into a movie, in the same way that the music on a record should help bring out the meaning of the lyrics.”

I love his comparison of lyric and movie script. While music truly does have the power to move us emotionally and physically, it’s the lyric that draws us into the song, paints a picture in the mind, makes us identify with the singer or with the people in a situation.

Not the same old story
Like a good movie script, a song has a beginning, a middle, and an end. But I’m not suggesting that you should tell a story in your lyric the way a script does – I met you on Monday. We fell in love on Tuesday. Broke up on Wednesday. This doesn’t really work well for today’s listeners – and it’s not enough for movie-goers either.

The power of a movie script is not that it tells a story. The real power of a good script lies in its ability to draw viewers in emotionally, make them feel afraid when the lead character is in danger, happy when the hero falls in love, and sad when things fall apart. We don’t actually know these characters – they’re not even real – yet we care about them. What good is a story if you don’t care what happens to the people in it?  Continue reading “How Is a Lyric Like a Movie Script?”

Raw Sound for a Slick TV Commercial

Dior J'Adore ad

Here’s a luxury perfume commercial (Dior) using a song with a raw Indie vibe. The song is “Heavy Cross” by  three-piece Rock band Gossip. Listen to the song and notice how the electric guitar is used to create contrast between sections and drive the beat. The drums back up the guitar in a tight arrangement that adds plenty of punch. No big synthesizer string sections, no horns, no orchestra banging in and out, It’s just raw, good-ol’ Rock energy.

Watch the commercial on YouTube.

The vocal
The band’s singer, Beth Ditto, delivers attitude and power and she has a solid sense of pitch. You could record an edgy Rock song like this with either a male or female vocal. The singer’s personality and energy level will need to match the track, but pitch may not be such a big issue. Think of the Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light” album. There’s a lot of that influence here, especially in the guitar tracks. David Byrne’s vocals are expressive and full of character and energy; vocal pitch is definitely secondary.

Instrumental pitches
You could pitch a track like this as an instrumental and it would be a great match for many Continue reading “Raw Sound for a Slick TV Commercial”