In this guide on how to become a better songwriter, we´re going to apply simple concepts that can go a long way.
Songwriting is a process that is often filled with mystery and even fantasy. The image of the songwriter sitting on a beach on an exotic Caribbean island in order to be able to write is not often based on reality. In this article, we´re going to demystify the process of writing songs and give a reality check. After all, songwriting is arguably the most misunderstood aspect of the music business. Without further ado, here is how to become a better songwriter.
Write a lot of songs
Wait, you mean one must practice to get good at songwriting? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, your first songs will probably be as lame as a song could possibly be. Sorry to break it to you, but it takes a lot of practice to get good at songwriting.
Ed Sheeran is a perfect example of someone who wrote many songs in the process of getting better. He has been known to write up to five songs a day while planning for a new album. Once you get a good feel for what a nice song is, you’re going to be well on your path to becoming a good songwriter.
Record your songs
Recording your songs is imperative to getting better at songwriting. This way you can listen back to the song and decide if you still like it. It is quite common for songwriters to love a song when they are writing it, and hate it the very next day. This is actually a good thing, as it weeds out the good from the bad.
Our Roadie Coach is an excellent tool to record your songs fast and with quality when inspiration strikes. It features a high-quality recorder that can document your song accurately, so you can listen to it later and with more perspective to be able to decide if it’s a good one. Besides being a great tool for songwriters, Roadie Coach can also help you get better at singing and guitar, two things that you will surely need in order to write better songs.
Co-writing is when you get together with another songwriter to create songs. This process is very valuable as you´ll be able to enrich each other as you write. Typically, one songwriter will be better at lyrics and the other at melody or perhaps chords. This elevates your ability as a writer as you’ll become aware of the areas in which you are good, and those in which you are not.
Naturally, you will find more affinity with some particular co-writers, and not so much with others. This is perfectly normal. Try to co-write often, especially with those that you bond well with.
Another great thing to do is to write up. This is when you sit down to write a song with someone that is more experienced in songwriting. You can learn so much from this experience and it is truly invaluable. However, don’t expect to co-write with Grammy winners… for now.
Write more songs
I cannot stress this one enough. Even if you´ve already written 200 songs, you need to keep at it. Trust me, the next 200 songs will be so much better.
Even legendary songwriters like Diane Warren have a strict schedule of writing and stick to it. Despite the fact that she is one of the greatest songwriters ever, Mrs. Warren still writes every day for hours, seven days a week. She has done that for over 30 years… No wonder her song catalog is worth a billion dollars. Yes, with a b.
Learn music theory
Music theory often is thought of as boring and damaging to creativity. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to be a good songwriter, you need to know at least a little bit of music theory. For instance, you will be working a lot with chords. Because of that, you need to know how chords work.
This is not rocket science and is not hard or boring. You can learn most of the basics of this in a week, and it’s going to do wonders for your songwriting.
Analyze great songs
Analyzing great songs takes you into the heart of songwriting. It lets you see how a writer developed the idea, which chords were used and when, how the chorus hits, etc. It reveals so much about songwriting and gives you tools that you can later use on your own songs.
As a matter of fact, a great exercise is to use a ghost song to write your own. This is when you take a famous song you like and take everything out except for the chords. Then you write your own song using the chords in the same order as the famous songs. When you do this, you get a head start on the process, learn a lot about harmony, and likely end up with a completely different song. It is quite interesting to try.
Learn about production
This tip is actually quite broad. It can go from learning how to produce your own songs to listening to a lot of music to develop production criteria. Naturally, being able to record and produce your own songs will help you become better at songwriting. However, listening to current and old classic songs will give you tremendous insight into production styles that you want to use (or avoid) on your own compositions.
Developing a criterion that involves production is what some of the greatest artists do, from Madonna to Adele. This gives the artist a sound or goal to work towards. Perhaps more importantly, these artists know exactly what they do not want to sound like.
These tips on how to become a better songwriter can take you far if you apply them correctly. Naturally, most involve a good amount of time and work, but it will be well worth your effort. At the very least, you will be proud of the songs you write, and perhaps even be lucky enough to get a hit that many enjoy.