Professional songwriting is about more than just the passion.
There is a method to the madness, and you’re going to have to get hip to that method if you want to succeed as a professional songwriter.
In this post, we’ve put together a list of 12 fresh tips that can help you break into the world of professional songwriting.
Tune in and enjoy the read!
1. Go To School
There is a debate about whether or not musicians actually have to go to college in order to make great music. While we won’t tell you that you have to go, we will say that getting a degree in music composition couldn’t hurt.
A formal education can drive home some useful skills (reading music, sight-singing, etc.). Not only that, but it can also help you make connections that will come in handy in the future.
2. Expand Your Horizons
You might have a preference for classical music. Or maybe you like jazz. Or maybe it’s rock music that gets your creative juices flowing.
Whichever genre rocks your world, you need to expand your interests if you’re to succeed in professional writing.
Sure, there is nothing wrong with specializing in a certain genre. That’s more advisable, however, after you have built your name in the industry.
As a newbie, covering a good number of music genres will broaden your skill set.
3. Record Your Writing Sessions
We don’t know what your writing process looks like. We’re willing to bet, though, that your first drafts aren’t your final drafts.
You likely sing potential lyrics out loud and vocalize ideas while you write.
For this reason, recording your writing sessions is a good idea. Recordings allow you to go back and listen to lyrics that didn’t quite make the cut the first time if you have a change of heart.
4. Get a Writing Partner
You may have some great ideas floating around in your head, and you can still go solo and hack it.
Sometimes, though, two heads are better than one.
A writing partner can pump more passion into a song that you might not be able to write by yourself.
The potential end result?
A heartfelt song that resonates with more listeners.
5. Become an Adaptable Writer
Adaptability is a cornerstone of professional songwriting.
Though many professional songwriters have a unique style, some have the ability to adapt their styles if necessary.
For example, new trends and current events might require a songwriter to tweak his or her style.
A songwriter could, of course, choose to ignore these trends. Sometimes, though, there is little artistic reward in avoiding them.
6. Choose a Starting Point
There are several ways to start a song. Some people, for instance, like to start by getting the lyrics down on paper. Other songwriters prefer to start with the music.
Whatever starting point you choose, make sure that it complements your songwriting process.
7. Keep It Simple
You probably want your songs to be memorable.
As a result, you might be inclined to write what you consider “deep” or “complex” music.
We’re not saying that complexity is bad. Even so, simplicity is often thought to be better. Listeners do, after all, want to understand what you’re saying.
If you don’t believe us on this one, just turn on your radio and listen to today’s biggest hits.
You’re more than welcome, however, to try something more complex. Just be careful about how you approach the songwriting process.
8. Format Your Songs Properly
Another cornerstone of professional songwriting is formatting. The format (musical notes, etc.) of your songs is a subtle yet important aspect of the songwriting process.
Simply put, you aren’t the only person who will look over your song.
As a result, you need to abide by the “industry standards,” and there really isn’t much more to say about this.
We did tell you that you might want to consider studying and creating music in more formal ways. That said, we don’t want you to think that you can’t put some heart into your music.
Yes, there are some technical aspects of professional songwriting. Even so, writing great songs is also about evoking emotions that listeners can feel.
10. Find Your Inspiration
Writers of all sorts get their inspiration from numerous sources.
Songwriters are no different. Some get their inspiration from novels, some from movies.
Some even get their inspiration from other artists’ songs.
If you draw your inspiration from a song, however, be extremely careful about how you act on that inspiration.
Some songwriters have been known to get a little too carried away with their “inspiration.” Such cases have at times resulted in lawsuits and claims of plagiarism.
Just remember that inspiration is artistic and that stealing is stealing.
11. Be Honest With Yourself
You may have just written a song that means more to you than life itself. Regardless of your feelings about it, you need to be honest with yourself about the quality of the song.
Sometimes professional songwriters write bad music. It happens.
How great a professional a songwriter is, though, boils down to whether or not he or she can put that beloved song on the shelf and start anew.
Setting something that is near and dear to you aside is hard. Still, you have to be willing to make the sacrifice in your profession.
You might have a natural, raw talent for songwriting. You might have so much passion for music that you develop the uncanny ability to put hits on the page within minutes.
Regardless of how gifted you are, though, you’re never going to get better if you don’t put some effort into your craft.
We’re aware of the fact that this tip doesn’t come across as “fresh” or “helpful.”
But the fact of the matter is, is that practice will never be optional for someone who is in the business of professional songwriting.
You must keep developing your skill as a songwriter.
You can do this by constantly writing, even when you’re not writing a song that will be performed. Try setting a daily goal for yourself so that you can get the practice you need to make perfect.
Final Thoughts on Professional Songwriting
We’ve now reached the end of our crash course on professional songwriting. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned here and start churning out the hits you’ve always dreamed of writing.
After you’re done writing, you’ll have a whole different challenge ahead of you as you try to sell your new tunes.
We’re sure that you’ll be able to find someone who’s just as crazy about your music as you are.