There isn’t a more valuable currency in the music business than an amazing song.
A good friend (who is now my publisher) once told me, “A GREAT song can open every door”. In my experience, truer words have never been spoken. Vocal and production trends change, genres go in and out of style, but a well crafted song can transcend the things that make most of this business so fickle.
That’s why I’m sharing my top 5 Tips for Songwriting success.
The beautiful thing about writing is that it’s a skill, which means with hard work and perseverance, you can always find new ways to up your game.
Youth will eventually fade, and your ability to wear a thong and studded bralette while you perform shall also pass. But the ability to write an amazing song will serve you for decades. Tangible value AND longevity is why focusing on songwriting is the number one advice I give to people wanting to succeed in music.
So let’s get to it! Here are my:
5 TIPS FOR SONGWRITING SUCCESS
1. PLAY AN INSTRUMENT.
This is the number one advice I give to beginners asking how to make a living as a songwriter. If this is your dream and you don’t play an instrument… GET AFTER IT! There are a billion free resources out there to help you learn, so no more excuses! Watch some guitar tutorials or learn a little piano. Yes, it takes time and it’s hard and you’re lazy, but the bottom line is this… If you have to be dependent on someone else to help you make your art, you’re going to be a lot less spontaneous, creative, and productive. PERIOD. You don’t have to be the next Lindsay Sterling or Jimmy Hendrix, but you have to know how to play some chords so you can take the song where YOU want it to go while you’re writing.
2. STUDY WHAT YOU LOVE.
Pick 3-5 songs from your favorite artists and really study them. What do they have in common? Lyrical themes (love, longing, hope, power, etc.), melodic trends (soaring, quirky, sparse, dreamy), or writing styles (storytelling, visual, intimate). Studying what is attractive about other peoples’ art can give you some huge clues into who YOU want to be as an artist and how to express yourself in a way that is fulfilling to YOU. The more you can simmer down the essence of what connects with you as a listener, the easier it will be for you to inject those elements into your own songs.
3. KEEP IT PLAYFUL.
Nothing kills the vibe more than treating your writing time like your entire future depends on how the one song you are working on turns out. When you are hyper critical during the creative process, you end up tossing ideas before exploring their full potential. Pushing down ideas instead of letting them happen is a recipe for frustration and despair… and ultimately, writer’s block. Think of creativity like a faucet: When you first turn it on, the water can be dirty and gross, but the solution is not to turn off the water. The solution is to let what’s in that pipe come out so you can get all the delicious, fresh stuff underneath! The creative process is messy and unpredictable, so give yourself the freedom to try whatever comes to mind. The more ideas you have, the higher the likelihood some of them will be great, so don’t be too precious about it! Let it flow my peeps, let it flow.
4. FINISH THAT SONG SO YOU CAN MOVE ON!
Brace yourself and get ready for some hard truths. This is not the best OR the last song you’re ever going to write, mmmkay? There. I said it. Let it go and wrap that sucker up so you can move on to those other glittering diamonds down in the depth of your soul, waiting to be mined. You can always refine later, once you have perspective. Don’t let the need for perfection thwart your ability to set and reach goals.
5. DON’T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION.
Songwriting is a skill. If you want to get good at it you have to practice. That means being consistent and intentional about setting aside time to work on your songs. Writing when you’re inspired is magical, but what’s even MORE magical is when you can create your own magic by getting into an open and optimistic headspace and crafting something on a deadline (self imposed or otherwise).
Alright, now that you know all of my secrets for songwriting success, get after it! The world is your oyster.
Start strumming those chords and mining all of those sparkly word nuggets. Craft something so undeniable that every door will fly open at it’s greatness! And remember, growth is a process. The steps you take today will only bring you closer to the tomorrow of your dreams.
Let me know what you thought of these tips! Send me a virtual high five, ask me a question, or give me your trick for songwriting success. Leave me a comment below 🙂