Songwriting seems like a very simple and fun thing to do, but in reality, it can be a daunting, overthought process that could drive you crazy if you obsess over it too much.
Many songwriters do things completely different from others, they disagree with the methods of others, and they feel as though the genre they're writing in makes the most HUGE difference ever, but it doesn't.
Coming from a professional songwriter who has many written works in at least ten contrasting genres, over the years, I've realized several common important decisions I make every single time in my process, no matter what style I'm going for.
Staying focused on these helps me to become a better songwriter over time. Here are a few tips that may be able to help your songwriting process.
Sometimes, you can get a song idea in your head that only has the vocal melody. You don't hear the instruments, you don't hear the beat, and you're not envisioning studio vocal effects at all. You just have this killer tune that may or may not have music (yet).
If you're planning to make this a song that won't have or necessarily doesn't need music, this tip won't apply, but setting music to your idea can make a world of difference.
On one end, you may have a vocal idea in your head that you aren't confident about, but once you follow through with instrumentation, it is the best thing you've ever heard.
On the opposite end, you could have a vocal line that you just know is a hit, but once you add the music, it doesn't work or sounds too similar to something you've already heard or created. It's important to check your writing with and without music to get a full idea of its potential.
As creatives, it's very easy to get lost in the process of perfecting your style to the point where all of your work begins to sound too similar.
While it's great to have your own, unique signature style that your fans have grown to love and anticipate, it's always a good idea to bring fresh sounds to the mix and add variety to spice up your style.
A cool way to do this is to challenge yourself in a songwriting prompt to write things in a completely opposite way than you normally would.
Some of the ideas are sure to be wonky and ultimately unused, but you may be surprised what magic could happen when you think out of your usual creative box.
When the process is done right, these out-of-the-box ideas paired with your already polished signature sound will create a fresh spin that explores a new level of greatness stemming from what you do so well already.
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Writing the perfect melody along with the perfect lyric can be completely undermined if it is sung in the wrong way. This statement may seem like it's a jab at those who write and don't necessarily have the greatest voice. But it's not just about the quality of singing talent here.
The difference between singing a line sweetly, powerful, sexily, smooth, ratchet, etc. can make a world of difference when it comes to the vision of your song.
When you're in the process of developing your songs, be sure to sing them or have them sung in many different ways to see what approach can work best for the mood of the song.
In some cases, the approach you think would be the most obvious, in your opinion, could be inferior to singing the line with a completely different inflection.
This tip will not apply if you're in the songwriting game for the simple fact that you just love expressing yourself in the way that you want to express yourself. Keep doing you, you're doing it well. You're not worried about the marketing aspects of music, and that's totally fine.
But if you are looking to shop your songs to the industry or increase the appeal of your lyrics in the hopes of getting new fans, this tip could work well for you.
In a current musical landscape where pop is simple and catchy, it's in your best interest as a lesser-known artist or writer to tap into that simplicity while still bringing something new to the table.
A lot of up-and-coming artists know that it's critical to set themselves apart in some way, whether it is sound, look, or personality, but not enough of them take the time to set their lyrics apart.
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I've done a lot of work in the independent A&R realm, listening to thousands of artists in several genres who present their creations. While most of these songs had appeal, 90% of the lyrical content seemed like it was plagiarized straight from pop culture over the last 20 or so years.
You may be thinking to yourself, "people don't really listen to lyrics these days anyway" but they do.
Even if it's a small subsection of people, I would guess 30%, that's a huge number of people that you should be trying to win over. And it won't be hard to do so since everyone is writing these simple, overused phrases in their lyrics.
Not only will you have a good chance of winning fans who appreciate real lyricism, but you will easily be able to set yourself apart from people in the music industry who are influencers and are actually trained to keep an ear out for that sort of thing.
While the masses don't look for lyrical depth, key players that can expose your music to the masses absolutely do. This can often be done by writing the lyrics before worrying about the melody or music.
The key is to be simple and catchy but mix in a good amount of depth.
It takes time, but it works way better to appease a far larger crowd than those who only like lyrical masterpieces or those who only like dumbed-down lyrics. Find the perfect balance to win over both types!
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As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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