Writing Songs for Film & TV

Movie SlateThousands of songs are used in TV shows, films, and commercials each year. For every song that’s placed, many are auditioned – often hundreds – but only one is chosen. And you want that song to be yours.

The song that will get the job is the one that enhances the emotion and memorability of the scene for the viewers. Is a character discovering real love for the first time? The song needs to evoke that feeling of innocence, yearning, and wonder for the audience. Is the film set in a small town in the 1950s? The song needs to make us feel that we’ve traveled back to another time and place.  And the right song can bring the whole thing to life!

With that in mind, it may seem a little strange that most of the songs that are placed in film and TV are written and recorded first, then pitched to these projects. Many of these songs are part of a CD released by an independent artist or band – that’s right, they’re not signed to mainstream record labels and publishers.

While these songs were being written and recorded, there was no way to know how they might eventually be used in a film or TV show. So, if you don’t know how your song will be used, how can you craft it to increase your chances of a placement?  Well, let’s just say that some songs work better than others. Here are a few tips that will help you write a song that will work for dozens of scenes. Continue reading “Writing Songs for Film & TV”

Add Emotion to Your Lyrics

Moon and LoversLet’s say you’re in love with someone and you want to let that person know how you feel. You could simply walk up to them and say, “I love you.” That might work. Or you could make an effort to create the right surroundings: a walk along the beach, holding hands on a summer evening under a twilight sky, and as the moon rises and hangs like a giant disco ball in the sky, you whisper, “I love you.”

Without a doubt, the second option seems more likely to convey your I-love-you message convincingly (except for the disco ball). And while it’s not guaranteed to make the other person love you in return, as a songwriter it’s definitely going to give your audience a better chance to feel what you’re feeling and believe you really are in love! And that’s what songs are all about.

When you give your listeners the details of an experience in a way they can see, feel, and touch, you draw them into the experience: they picture the beach at sunset, feel the warm air, and hear the words that are spoken. They’re involved in your situation without even thinking about it. Using the physical senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – to convey emotions is much, MUCH more effective than simply telling your audience what you feel. Here’s how you do it.  Continue reading “Add Emotion to Your Lyrics”