If there was a beginner songwriter’s handbook, this is some of the songwriting advice you’d read in the first chapter.
Professional songwriters take these things for granted so it’s rare that anyone actually talks about these things… here are 21 things they don’t tell you!
Below the video lesson is a summary of the strategies, with bonus ideas and links to other songwriting resources to improve your songwriting!
Songwriting Advice: #1
To write songs you need
1. songwriting knowledge and
2. songwriting practice. Knowledge is information about what goes into songs, a few examples include: understanding the 4 types of song sections, rhyme schemes, understanding chords and how to fit them together in chord progressions.
Songwriting Advice: #2
Practice is applying that knowledge by spending time writing and finishing songs. You need 1. knowledge about what you’re doing and 2. practice actually doing it.
Photo:Balance Songwriting with Song Learning
Songwriting Advice: #3
Songwriting takes effort. For most songwriters, songs take longer than you’d expect. It’s okay to take a long time to finish a song you’re happy with. This is normal. It’s rare for most songwriters to start and finish a song in the same day. The stories you’ve heard of an instant song are the exception, not the rule.
Some Songs Take Longer to Ripen
Songwriting Advice: #4
You might find songwriting frustrating or difficult at first. This is normal because songwriting is new to you. Songwriting is more complicated than most people expect. Repeat after me: “Songwriting isn’t hard or impossible, it’s just new!”… now say it a few more times so you start to believe it!
Songwriting Advice: #5
Don’t wait for inspiration. Start writing because inspiration follows action.
Songwriting Advice: #6
Songwriting isn’t about talent. It’s learning a set of musical skills and practicing to improve them. Songwriting doesn’t happen by accident. You need to make the time to write and to learn more about songwriting.
Songwriting Advice: #7
Overnight success isn’t instant or overnight, it seems that way because you’ve only heard part of the story. They worked to learn their musical and songwriting skills. You need to do some work.
Songwriting Advice: #8
You are your own worst critic. You will tell yourself terrible, mean things that you’d never say to a friend. Be kind to yourself, especially when it doesn’t feel easy. Get help if you need it. Take a songwriting course and talk to real life songwriters.
Songwriting Advice: #9
It’s hard to be objective about your own songs, you’re too close to them. When you start writing your songs won’t be as good as you think they are. When you get good at songwriting your songs will probably be better than you think they are.
Songwriting Advice: #10
Your songwriting process will evolve. There’s more than one way to write a song. It’s a personal process that grows as you gain songwriting experience. The only “wrong way” to write a song is to not finish the song.
Songwriting Advice: #11
Songwriting isn’t linear, don’t start writing the first line, then the next then the next. Start with the big picture or the title, know what you want to write about, then brainstorm ideas. Don’t edit while you’re generating ideas while writing, evaluate your ideas later.
Songwriting Advice: #12
Edit your songs. Once you’ve finished a song, go back and improve it. Songs are written then rewritten. Anything that doesn’t support the title and main idea of the song should be cut from the song. Save those ideas for another song.
Songwriting Advice: #13
One song isn’t important. When you finish one it’s time to start another. Successful songwriters have written dozens and hundreds of songs. They have a catalogue of songs.
Songwriting Advice: #14
Songs are experiments. Some experiments are better than others, some experiments are failures.
Songwriting Advice: #15
Nobody cares about your songs except you… people care about themselves. They love your songs if you create an experience they enjoy, if you change their emotional state… that’s all, that’s it.
Songwriting Advice: #16
Songwriting is a business, it’s not just an art form. Songwriting doesn’t end when you finish writing a song. It’s also about making connections with your audience and music industry professionals. When you approach people in the music industry, remember they are busy so do your homework, know who they are and how you might help them. Don’t expect them to do things for you.
Songwriting Advice: #17
Don’t get into songwriting for the money. Money is slow to return, songwriting royalties take time. Songwriting royalties are usually a bonus side income, not a primary form of income. Bands make more from tours and ticket sales than from music sales and merchandise sales than from songwriting or master royalties.
Songwriting Advice: #18
Publishing Deals are rare. You need to act like a professional songwriter before a music publisher has any interest in hearing from you. Music publishers that pay a salary are actually paying you some of your songwriting royalties before you earn them. It’s not free money, they believe that you’ll earn that money later.
Songwriting Advice: #19
Co-writing is a great way to improve your songwriting and to connect with other songwriters.
Songwriting Advice: #20
There’s always someone better than you. Whether it’s songwriting, singing, playing guitar or any other instrument there’s always someone who can do something better than you. But there’s only one you.
Songwriting Advice: #21
Songwriting is a journey, not a destination. Keep learning and enjoy the journey.
Now go write something you like, tomorrow when you’re writing again, find ways to improve it.
Your Next Steps:
How to Write a Song Chorus