Top Songwriting Tips!
Explore our top songwriting tips & Learn some essential advice around maximising the power of your songwriting.
The songwriting process is one that many have tried to master with varying degrees of success.
Writing songs can certainly be challenging – but while the creative process behind coming up with musical ideas can sometimes be hard to pin down, there are plenty of songwriting tips available on how you can give yourself the best chance of creating great song ideas, writing lyrics, and turning half-baked songs into hits.
In the first half of our blog, we’ll explore what songwriters need to consider when writing songs, followed by some essential songwriting tips for getting the most out of the songwriting process.
You can also read our previous blogs on other essential concerns for songwriters including how to calculate songwriting splits, the best songwriting tips on writing lyrics, our ultimate guide to lyric writing, how to write a melody and the basics behind writing songs.
- Song Structure
- What Makes Up a Song?
- Songwriting Process
- Songwriters and Music Producers
- What Songwriting Tools Do You Need
- Where to get Songwriting Inspiration
This may be obvious but not every song sounds the same.
From pop songs and dance music to leftfield electronic music production or country music, great songs can take myriad different forms and incorporate many styles.
If you want to write songs, then there are certain elements you may want to include in your song structures. The right chord progression, pre chorus melody and rhyme scheme can be building blocks for great songwriters when looking to nail an entire song and develop their music into a whole.
What Makes Up A Song?
In the art of songwriting, most writers will have to tackle many of the below elements and make them work together in harmony to achieve musical success.
Anyone wanting to access the most useful songwriting tips will need to investigate each area and how to make the most of them when serving their song.
Some of the foundations of a song include:
This is the heart of a song and if done well, will stick in the mind of the listener for a long time.
If you want to master the art of songwriting, then understanding chords and how they fit together will be an essential part of the process. Much popular music theory hinges around this and can be a great tool for aspiring songwriters to have in their toolkit.
Nailing the lyric writing part of the songwriting process will be a must if you want to write hit pop songs. These are the words that will help those killer melodies stuck in the mind and hopefully at the top of the streaming charts.
Whether you are pursuing electronic music production or more acoustic music, you will want to bring different themes to your songwriting. Anything from love to loss and more can be included. Let your imagination run wild…
Just as many songs take different forms, there are also plenty of different processes shared by professional songwriters and amateurs alike.
Some may adopt a cut up technique – so lyrics, a melody or words are written out on a page, then mixed up and put together to form a whole song.
Others prefer a more traditional approach when constructing song structure and use basic chords, a melody line and lyrical ideas to write music. Perhaps you will opt for a stream of conscious approach – so just letting your imagination guide you. Other artists borrow particular chord progressions or lyrical ideas to inform their song. Then deconstruct certain elements such as a piano roll, just melody or guitar riff. Elsewhere, you may learn music theory to aid your creative process.
Whatever approach you adopt, try and be flexible. Most songs will benefit from you working out your own process that is best for you and your skillset. Let your best songs and new ideas emerge in whatever way suits you.
Songwriters and Music Producers
Increasingly, the role of songwriter and music producer are blurred as the music industry and its relationship with song has evolved.
The music production process is increasingly intertwined with the writing process whereas in the past these were two separate pursuits. The role of the producer would be to refine the sound of a pre-existing song or piece of music.
But now they are involved in putting together a song structure, writing lyrics, coming up with chord progressions and other ways of making a song come to life.
As they are involved earlier in the writing process, they have more opportunity to steer the course of the entire song rather than just the music production process.
What Songwriting Tools Do You Need?
As a songwriter, there are various skills or pieces of music making kit that can support your entire process when it comes to creating a song.
A voice recorder can be invaluable when it comes to capturing a songwriting idea or an initial burst of lyric writing inspiration.
As a songwriter, you should not just love the creative process but also be a music fan. A vast record collection of favorite songs can be a great resource for those looking to master the best ways to write a song.
Technical skills and knowledge of a musical instrument can also go a long way in helping you push your musical journey forward. The style of music you’ve decided to make can dictate what kind of gear or musical equipment you need to master.
Where to Get Songwriting Inspiration
Struggling for musical ideas? Not sure where your next song is going to come from?
If you are suffering from writer’s block, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Almost all great songwriters can stumble or come up against seemingly insurmountable hurdles when trying to refine or master their process around writing a song.
If you are suffering from a bout of writer’s block, then here are some songwriting tips on how to beat it:
- Take a Break
- Play Your Music to Someone Else
- Carry a Notebook with Ideas At All Times
- Try a Different Instrument or Piece of Gear
- Write a So-Called ‘Garbage verse’
- Listen to Some of Your Favourite Songs
Take a Break
If you’ve been staring at the blank page for some time in a bid to start writing a song, then it could be best to give yourself a break.
Rather than persevering and trying to grind out a piece of music, doing something such as going for a walk or making a cup of tea can allow you to get some head space and refocus.
Then when you return, you will hopefully be ready to write songs with renewed vim and vigour.
Play Your Music to Someone Else
If making music has become difficult, then getting another opinion can be very useful in kickstarting your songwriting skills once again.
Seek out some feedback from a trusted friend on your song – and try and ensure that any thoughts are constructive. Receiving some negative comments may not leave you feeling inspired again.
Carry a Notebook With Ideas At All Times
We all know that great songs can come to creatives at any time. You might be in bed or on the way to work. In fact, it’s unlikely that you will be sitting with your instrument of choice when the concept for a song lands.
So it’s sensible to have a way of capturing an initial idea such as with a notebook or voice recorder, wherever you may be.
You can use this resource to write down a melody, perhaps some great chord progressions or any lyrical ideas that hit you.
Then you can finish songs you’ve might have dreamed up at a later, more convenient time.
Try a Different Instrument or Piece of Gear
Sometimes a fresh approach to writing songs can help you find your way to a new song.
When you write a song, if you are coming up against writer’s block, then using a new piece of software, synth, plug-in or instrument can help you progress.
Some songwriters always use a guitar to create a structure with traditional chord progressions. Others will start with a song title, then let the music and lyrics flow around it.
By flipping the script on how you write your songs, you may open up an exciting and creatively satisfying new way of working.
Write a So-Called ‘Garbage Verse’
If your writer’s block has you stuck on a second verse of your song, then one way of moving your music is to write something, almost anything.
Then once you have this down, you can hopefully move on to finish the rest of the song.
Once you have been able to put a bit of distance between you and the song, you can return to refine and enhance as you see fit.
Listen to Some of Your Favourite Songs
If you are stuck on a piece of music, then one way of sourcing new inspiration is by taking some time out and listening to your favorite songs, albums or artists.
Doing so can remind you of your musical ambitions and what you hope to achieve with your music.
Digging into your record collection and reconnecting with your favorite songs can also offer some enjoyable respite if you’re feeling too close to your own musical ideas.
Top Songwriting Tips
From collaborating with other writers to diversifying your pool of influences, here are some of the best songwriting tips we’ve found to help you enhance your songwriting…
- New Artists Need to Pair Up With New Writers
- Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Hit – Work at your Craft
- Stay on Top of the Latest Trends – and Don’t Always Follow Them
- Be Open to Collaboration
- And Create a Safe Space for Collaboration to Take Place
- Diversify Your Style
- Get Your Own Songs Heard
- Work Your Way Through Bad Songs to Your Good Songs
- Edit, Edit and Edit
- Write Something Else
- Write from Another Perspective
New Artists Need to Pair Up With New Writers
As a new pop songwriter, you should try and seek out artists who are also starting out on their musical journey or on the way up. This should mean that you can begin at the same level, then hopefully progress your career together.
Songwriter and record producer Jimmy Napes is a great recent example of this, an instrumental yet rarely heard creative cog in the success of electronic duo, Disclosure as well as solo artist Sam Smith. He has been writing and coming up with song ideas for these artists since their early days.
So do some online research into new talent. Go through SoundCloud, Instagram and other social media platforms to find acts you like.
Alternatively, explore gig listings and see if any new artists sound interesting.
As a fledgling writer, it’s all about expanding your networks and making connections to help you elevate your career.
Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Hit – Work At Your Craft
Aspiring songwriters shouldn’t sit around and wait for inspiration to come.
Instead, you need to do your work and write as much as you can. This will help you perfect your craft and hone your creative process.
Of course, there are always days when you might not feel like writing – but treating it almost like a job, and working at your inspiration can really help – sometimes, on the days you might not feel particularly creative, you can come up with your best work.
You need to be able to push through sessions where you feel uninspired. Sometimes, these moments or blocks can lead you to your greatest songs.
Stay on top of the latest trends – but don’t always follow them
If you want to succeed as a pop writer in today’s music market, then you need to have a broad knowledge of what is working and what isn’t with music lovers.
Keep an eye on the charts and the kinds of sounds that are seeing high numbers of streams and becoming hits.
Listen to music on these services and on the radio to check out the latest buzzy tracks and artists. But don’t be fooled into just trying to copy what’s successful now.
Instead, use this research as a sounding board to pre-empt the kinds of sounds that might do well next.
Avoid a straight up replication of what’s already worked and keep your songwriting locked on the future…
Be Open to Collaboration
Working alone is all well and good – but songwriters should also keep their doors open to collaborating. This can be an amazing way for songwriters to not only expand their list of contacts but also pick up new skills, creative insights or just different ways of approaching their music.
You might be experiencing a creative block – or even just unsure of how to progress a new piece of music to completion.
In these circumstances, working with someone else can be a simple and effective way of getting past this challenge.
If you can’t go as far as collaborating, then at least open up a conversation about creativity or seek some advice or insight.
And Create a Safe Place for Collaboration to Take Place
Writing music with other songwriters or artists is a very sociable experience, involving plenty of communication.
But it can also be a very personal and emotional experience if you are using your own feelings or perhaps things that have happened to you as inspiration.
If you do need to be vulnerable, then you need to create a safe space where you feel comfortable in sharing such information, particularly if this is with a songwriter or producer that you might have only recently met.
You need to do what you can to try and create a connection with your collaborator so you can trust them with how and what you’re feeling.
Diversify Your Style
In today’s musical world, we’re all exposed to a huge range of musical styles thanks to the magic of streaming services such as Spotify.
As a writer, it means there are a number of avenues your music can take and different opportunities for you to explore.
It’s an exciting time to be a music maker so make the most of it by opening up your ears to music from everywhere – and try and write in different genres too.
Utilising variety in terms of your collaborators or creative palette will keep you on your toes and ensure your music stays fresh and vital.
Get Your Own Songs Heard
Once you have written a selection of songs you’re happy with, then your next task is to get your music out there. Consider your release strategy and how you want to show this off to the world. You might want to investigate working with a record label, distributor or finding an A&R or press team to represent you and your music.
Perhaps you need to launch social media profiles and book some gigs – or if you want to stay behind the scenes as a writer, then you might want to consider finding a publisher or building a bigger team around you.
Work your Way Through to Your Good Songs
Many successful songwriters write many songs over the course of their musical lives and only a handful go on to become hit songs.
Amid such a creative landscape, it can be beneficial to try and write as many songs as possible. This is where you can sift through the creative mud to find the gold. The more songs you write, the more practised you will be at coming up with music.
Edit, Edit, Edit
If your melody is in place and your harmony feels good, then maybe your song is finished. But maybe not.
You can always come back to a piece of music and review. There’s much to be said about the editing process and giving yourself some space between your creativity and a piece of music. Doing so might be one of our age-old songwriting tips yet is definitely worth pursuing.
Going back to a song over and over again and reviewing, tweaking and refining is all part of the creative process.
Write Something Else
There are no strict rules around how you write a song.
If you are stuck on one line of lyrics, a melody or pre chorus, then you can move on to another piece of music.
There’s nothing to say you have to finish a piece of music in one go, then progress to another. It is perfectly normal to have an array of songs in various states of completion.
Sometimes, when you’re not contemplating one aspect of songwriting, then another might appear.
Write From Another Perspective
Perhaps you write a song based on your own experiences or perspectives. One way of flipping the script when it comes to nailing your songs is to try a different angle. Adopt a role or the persona of a character opposite to what you are used to.
By changing how you view your songwriting, then you can potentially breath new life into your music. There are other ways to approach this, from the melody to lyric writing.
If the melody is uplifting and positive, then writing sad lyrics can be an interesting contrast and juxtaposition of emotions.
How to Finish Songs
The best songwriting tips aren’t just about getting started with your music.
Most songs need an end as well as a beginning so an important part of the process is knowing when to draw a line under a piece of music or melody. Give yourself a deadline and put some limitations in place around the songwriting process. You can restrict the creative palette you utilise in terms of chords or equipment or the amount of time you have to write.
Doing so can be one way of making your be stricter with your songwriting and ensure you do what you can to complete a piece of music.
Your Songwriting Future
Consider what you want to achieve, then plot your music career course accordingly.
Some of these songwriting tips should be useful but you also need to remember that everyone us unique and can write music using different ways and processes.