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Jessica Brandon

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The Songwriter’s Survival Guide

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Nov 03, 2017 @12:50 PM

The Songwriter’s Survival Guide
by Joe Hoten

bands-for-hire-songwriting.jpg
Song writing is one hair-tearingly frustrating, jump-out-of-your-seatingly exciting and air-punchingly rewarding pastime. That's quite a lot to experience from one activity, so if you're ready for that kind of roller coaster ride – one with plenty of loop-the-loops and vertical drops – then here are a few things to watch out for when you're penning your next number 1.

Humble Beginnings

Staring at a blank page can be like being lost on an Antarctic plain – nowhere to go, and no hope in sight. But, while being able to do absolutely anything can seem daunting, you've got to try and see the opportunity in it. Don't get carried away being overwhelmed by all the greatest songs ever written glaring down at you. Everybody goes through a little self-doubt now and then, but all it does is arrest your development. You can end up thinking your way into inaction. Just pick up your guitar and play. Or pick up your pen and write. Do, or do not. Once you've started messing around with a riff, a melody, even a single chord, the wheels will begin to turn, and you'll find yourself inching towards your goal.

Try not to discount anything before you've even done it. This is an easy trap to fall into, but it always comes down to this: you can't improve upon nothing. If you accept that a masterpiece isn't just going to drop out of your head onto your piece of paper, you'll find it a lot easier to rack up a respectable amount of 'OK' ideas that you can then hone and polish. A great idea can stem from anything – lyrics can inspire certain movements within your melody, or a particular chord could make you feel something that surprises you. Whatever it is that sparks that initial interest, run with it as far as you can.

Finding the Right Words

The music is a huge part of the emotionality of your song, but it’s up to your lyrics to convey your message literally. Keep them artful, rhythmical and true to your own character. People can spot a faker a mile off – say what you mean, and mean what you say, and everything else will follow.

Also, as tempting as it may be to flip things on their heads, beware of such tropes as writing depressing lyrics to happy music. It's completely possible to pull off, but equally possible to fluff up. That sort of thing is rarely so black and white as to simply swap out your majors for minors – you'd be going for more of an ironic melancholy that may best be saved for later. For the first few songs, pick the themes and vocabulary that do suit your music, just so you become accustomed to the effects such pairings can have. Learn how to roll before you reinvent the wheel.

The Great Plagiarism

All too often songwriters clap their hands together with glee as the final pieces of their puzzle fall into place… only to realise that the picture they’ve put together is strangely familiar. And that’s because they’ve unwittingly re-written somebody else’s song. This can be pretty soul-crushing to double check, but it's definitely worth it in the long run. No self-respecting creative mind would be at ease knowing it'd just regurgitated someone else's work, so you're probably going to have to carry on listening to as broad a range of music as you can manage. Sure, you'll notice trends reappearing across genres, and by all means use them for your own ends – but take heed of how they make you feel. If you notice a bunch of songs that sound the same and you find it a little tedious, it's time for you to buck that particular trend.

The Finished Product?

Is it really possible to know when your song's truly complete? Perhaps not when there always seems to be something else to think about. Is your melody hummable? Is the structure interesting? Does your verse flow nicely enough into your chorus? Is your word choice clear enough for your meaning? These are the questions that can keep you up at night. It's difficult not to become obsessive about every tiny little detail, second and third guessing every decision you've made, but at some point you're just going to have to throw your hands up and say 'that's enough!' When practically every note and every syllable could be different, sometimes you just have to go with your heart. After all, that's whereabouts your song's going to be felt when your fans hear it.

Phase 2

Now the writing phase is complete, congratulations are in order! Well done. And now for the bad news. You should probably prepare to want to change everything all over again, because now other people are going to hear your song.

Live It and Love It

The first thing to do is make sure you've learned your song inside out. This brings with it its own obstacles. Some say practice makes perfect, some say familiarity breeds contempt. In the context of learning songs, you need to find the happy middle ground. Learn it well enough so that it becomes second nature, as you'll be a lot more comfortable in front of an audience, and will hopefully develop a few muscle memories. But don't bore yourself to the edge of sanity either – we don't want a passionless recital from a robot who's fried their own circuits.

It’s great to try to test yourself – the comfort zone is where your creativity curls up and dies. By all means throw in a new technique you’ve been studying, go crazy with syncopation, make your rhymes and references as unusual as you like – just make sure you can pull it off. That’s what you wanted, after all. It certainly would suck if you vaingloriously flew straight at the sun only to have your wings melted off as you plummet into the sea of failure. Reading off your tablet doesn’t show the same degree of dedication as rattling off lines committed to memory, and fluffing up your carefully written solo probably won't win anybody over either. Prove to everyone you're serious about this – you're already been through the writing rigmarole, so you owe it to your creation. Let it live! Play it live! Well!

Rewrite the Wrongs


Once you've played your song a few times – and especially once you've written a few more – it's natural to start rethinking it. This is not necessarily a drawback. In a few rare cases, a song is just born immaculate – in which case, don't slap God in the face and change it! But as you learn more and more about music, you probably will start to think of choices you didn't make with your song back then as missed opportunities.

Revising your own work is a right and a necessity. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to skip this stage – only once you have something to improve upon will you be able to see what needs to be improved. There’s nothing worse than rushing a song and allowing your fans and bandmates to get know a version of it you’re not satisfied with, then visibly tiring of it then making changes they may not take kindly to. This should by no means stop you road testing your song, because, especially if this takes place before trusted friends and peers, you may get the essential feedback you need to make the leap from good to brilliant. But you've got to play this hand carefully, and swiftly too – there must be a cut-off point between showcasing the idea and the big reveal where you actually decide definitively that it's as good as it's going to get. You can always move onto a new song, after all.

So there's a few little potholes you might encounter on your road to success. While a couple of them might slow you down, they're unlikely to stop you in your tracks. Don't be afraid of falling into traps such as these – if anything, trigger them for yourself. Do accidentally-on-purpose rip someone off, do write unfittingly upbeat music for your hard-hitting couplets, do stretch yourself musically and risk tripping over yourself in public. Like anything, it's a learning curve, and you'll probably learn best by doing it. Make mistakes, break some eggs, and realise none of these things are really going to hurt you, or mean that you're any less of a songwriter. In all likelihood, you'll be all the stronger for it.

 

Written by Joe Hoten, from Bands For Hire https://www.bandsforhire.net

 

Information on the USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, record label, music publisher, song demo, Co-Writing Songs, Plagiarism, Rewrite

Top 10 Tips for Getting Sync Deals

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 @05:26 PM

Sync Deals: Everything You Need to Know

by Steve Gordon

 MusicInFilm.png

“Don’t sign anything until you have a lawyer check it out!”
It’s a show business warning that is as valid today as it ever was. By reading the following article, excerpted from his new book The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter and Producer Should Know, entertainment attorney Steve Gordon will school you on how to proceed, what to look out for and what questions to ask the next time a sync deal comes your way.

Signing the Best Sync Deal Possible
This article focuses on the use of music in audiovisual works such as movies, television, TV commercials and video games. I will provide examples of the amount of money you can expect to make, explain the role of Performing Rights Organizations in collecting additional income on behalf of songwriters, discuss the key provisions in standard licenses, and describe the role of publishers, sync reps and other licensing agents.
This article also provides comprehensive comments on the following three licenses: (1) MTV’s “Music Submission Form,” (2) a license for use of music in a TV commercial, and (3) a license for music in a television movie. If you get a similar deal, you will know what to look out for, how to make the deal fairer, and how to decide if it’s still worth it if the company that wants to use your music won’t negotiate.

Two Types of Copyrights: Sound Recordings and Musical Works
“Sync” licenses are agreements for the use of music in audiovisual projects. In its strictest sense, a sync license refers to the use of a musical composition in an audiovisual work. The term “master use” license is sometimes used to refer to the use of a sound recording (sometimes referred to as a “master”) in an audiovisual work. While sync licenses can only make money for songwriters, master use licenses can make money for both songwriters and recording artists. It is possible for a license to include both a grant of rights in a song and a master if the same person wrote the song and produced the master.

Copyright law protects “musical works,” such as songs and accompanying words as well as orchestral works, librettos and other musical compositions. Copyright also protects “sound recordings”; that is, recordings of musical compositions. Indie artists/songwriters who record their own songs generally own the copyrights of both their songs and masters. But once that artist/songwriter enters into a music publishing agreement, she generally transfers the copyright in her songs to the publisher, and the publisher pays her a royalty from the commercial exploitation of the songs, including “syncs.” If the same artist/songwriter enters into a standard recording contract, any record in which she performs during the term of the agreement is usually a “work for hire” for the record company. In that case (as explained in further detail below) the record company owns the copyright for the recordings, and pays royalties to the artist for both record sales and master use licenses.

However, in this article, we are going to look at sync and master use licenses from the point of view of songwriters and artists who have not entered into any exclusive publishing or recording agreements. Since an indie artist/songwriter does not have a publisher or label to negotiate sync and master licenses for her, she should have her own lawyer, or at least possess enough knowledge to avoid unfavorable contracts. Whether you are an indie artist, songwriter or producer, in this article, you will learn what questions to ask, what you can do to make the contract that you receive fairer and when you should just walk away.

Indie Producers and Copyrights in the Musical Compositions Contained in their Masters
Before the genesis of hip-hop in the early 1970s and the emergence of producers like Kool Herc, the role of producers was not to create music, but to help artists record their music and make it as professional as possible. However, that has all changed. In pop, R&B, and especially hip-hop, producers do create new music by providing beats or even complete music floors over which an artist sings. In that case, the producer is creating two copyrights: 100% of the sound recording and a part of the musical composition. Therefore, producers often sign publishing deals. The producer will generally have to transfer the copyright in any part of the musical composition that they contributed, such as the beat.

Sync and Master Use Fees
Companies that wish to use an indie musician’s music for a movie, commercial, TV show or video game often will offer an up-front, one-time payment generally called a “sync” fee (even if the songwriter is transferring rights in both the song and the master). The amount of the fee, if any, will depend on a variety of factors including:
• The professional standing of the musician: If an ad agency regularly turns to certain producers to create music for a client’s ads, it probably will have worked out a standard fee with that producer.
• The nature of audiovisual work for which the music is sought and whether the song was a hit: A major motion picture will usually pay from $10,000 to $25,000 for a song or master by an indie writer, artist or producer. However, the exact amount depends on how many times the song is played and if it will be used in the beginning or end credits (there is also often an additional fee if the song is used in the trailer). But, an indie filmmaker may only be able to afford $5,000 or less for any song or master. Don’t be surprised if they offer you no more than a credit. At the beginning of your career, a credit on the movie and on IMDB (an online database of information related to films, television programs, and video games, including cast, production crew such as music composers and musicians, biographies, plot summaries, trivia and reviews) could be valuable. In contrast, a pop hit in major studio movie can easily fetch $100,000 or more.
• The type of TV commercial: In the case of a TV spot, the biggest factor is whether the commercial is national (which may pay from several thousand to over $10,000 for an indie song or master) or will only play in one or several markets (which often pays less). But, for a hit song, the fee could well be in the six figure range and even more for a hit by a superstar artist.
• The type of TV program: Here, the most important factor is whether the program is network or basic cable. Usually, but not always, network shows will pay better than shows on basic cable. The money for an indie songwriter or producer could range from no more than the royalty payable to the songwriter by his Performance Rights Organization (see below) to $2,500 to more than $10,000 depending on how much the production company or network wants the music.
• Who owns what: If the master and the song are owned by different parties—for instance, if you wrote the song but your producer owns the track—a license will be needed with each of you.

Additional Income for Public Performance
A songwriter may earn “public performance” income from the songwriter’s Performance Rights Organization or “PRO” (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or the recently organized Global Music Rights or GMR) when her music is “publicly performed.” For instance, a songwriter can receive money when her music is broadcast as part of a television show or played on a computer game. This income may be the only income that an indie songwriter receives, or could be in addition to the up-front sync fee.

Each PRO has rules that determine the amount of money that should be paid for a performance in an audiovisual work. The public performance income from a song in an audiovisual work can be substantial in some situations. For instance, if music is used in a national TV commercial that airs on network TV, the PRO royalty can exceed the sync fee. In contrast, when a small amount of a song is used in the background of a single scene in a basic cable program, the public performance income can be very small.

When the public performance income will be substantial, you may decide to accept a lower sync fee rather than potentially losing the deal altogether. Note that we are only discussing the public performance income payable for the musical composition. The same considerations do not apply to the owner of the master recording—i.e., an artist or a producer. Under U.S. copyright law, the owners of master recordings, unlike the owners of the underlying songs, are not entitled to public performance income for the broadcast of their recordings except via digital transmission such as Spotify, YouTube and Pandora, etc. If a commercial is intended to play on network TV, the commissioning company will generally try to get Internet rights for little or no additional compensation (see Media below).

SoundExchange, similar to the PRO’s for compositions, collects income for the public performance of music recordings, but only for audio-only Internet Radio services such as Pandora. The situation is different in most foreign countries, where artists can earn performing rights royalties for the “public performances” of their master recordings on television as well as standard broadcast radio.

In short, the owner of the master recording’s only source of U.S. income from the master use license will be the up-front master use fee, which she receives from the company for a TV commercial, movie or TV show. If the owner of the master is not the songwriter, he will not be receiving any public performance income from the PRO’s (or SoundExchange), so he may feel more of a need than the songwriter to negotiate the highest possible up-front fee.

Proper Registration of the Song with the PRO is Crucial
Each PRO has requirements that make writers responsible for properly registering their songs and for notifying the PRO’s of any audiovisual projects that may generate performance income. I spent a year trying to get one PRO to pay for the theme song of a cable talk show because the writer did not provide a “cue sheet” before the broadcast of the series. A cue sheet is a schedule of the music contained in a film or television program or any other audiovisual work and is essential for the PRO to distribute royalties for musical performances in audiovisual media. It is typically prepared by the production company, but the writer will not get paid unless the production company actually files it in a proper and timely manner. See below for an example of a cue sheet.

Some licenses require a songwriter to yield all rights in a song to the company. In that case, the writer has no right to receive any PRO royalties. However, there are cases in which the company requires the transfer of the copyright in the song, but allows the writer to receive the “writer’s share” of performance rights income (that is, 50% of the total amount payable by the PRO). In that case, the writer has to make sure the company is properly registering the song, providing cue sheets to the PRO and complying with any other forms that have to be completed.

Work for Hire vs. Non-Exclusive License
An issue sometimes even more important than money is whether a license is “work for hire.” In a work for hire agreement, the songwriter, artist or producer loses all rights in her music, including the copyright and the right to use the music again for any purpose. If, on the other hand, the grant of rights to the company is a non-exclusive license, the creator keeps the copyright in her music, and retains the right to distribute it as a record and make other deals. Here is a typical work for hire clause:

It’s always better that the artist, songwriter and producer retain their copyrights. However, sometimes the work for hire clause will be non-negotiable, and then the creator must ask herself: whether the up-front money (and in the case of a songwriter who retains the writer’s share, the potential PRO royalties) adequately compensates for the loss of the right to use the music.

WORK FOR HIRE: Artist [Songwriter and/or Producer] agrees that all of the results and proceeds of his services shall be deemed a “work made for hire” for the Company under the U.S. Copyright. Accordingly, the Artist further acknowledges and agrees that Company is and shall be deemed to be the author and/or exclusive owner of all of the Recordings and Musical Compositions contained therein for all purposes and the exclusive owner throughout the world of all the rights of any kind comprised in the copyright(s) thereof and any renewal or extension rights in connection therewith, and of any and all other rights thereto, and that Company shall have the right to exploit any or all of the Recordings in any and all media, now known or hereafter devised, throughout the universe, in perpetuity, in all configurations as Record Company determines, including without limitation [name of movie, TV show, TV commercial, etc.] In connection therewith Artist hereby grants to Company the right as attorney-in-fact to execute, acknowledge, deliver and record in the U.S. Copyright Office or elsewhere any and all such documents pertaining to the Recordings if he shall fail to execute same within five (5) days after so requested by Company.

Other Basic Contract Terms
Here are a few other important terms in sync and master use licenses that are not work for hire:

DURATION (or “TERM”): The company will usually want the right to exploit the following durations of use:
• Theatrical Films: Generally for the “life of the copyright.” In other words, the company’s right to use your music will last as long as the song is protected by copyright law, which is as long as you’re alive plus 70 years.
• Television: Generally, the same as above.
• Commercials: Typically an initial term of one year, often with the option for the company to renew for another equal term upon payment of an additional licensing fee (which is usually the same as the original term, although you can try to negotiate for a higher fee, for instance 125% of the original fee.)
• Computer Games: Could be “life of the copyright,” or a briefer term such as three to five years. There are few games which will have a life span of more than a year or two, so in most instances, the company won’t consider it all that important to obtain a long-term license.

MEDIA: The company will want the right to exploit the audiovisual work as follows:
• Theatrical Films: Generally, a movie producer, production company, or studio will want the right to use a song or master in festivals for one year, with an option to exploit the movie, including your music, in all media (“broad rights”).
• Television: Generally, the network or cable service will want all media rights because a TV show can be recycled in any number of platforms such as streaming, downloading, home video, etc. Talent should, however, try to negotiate a separate fee for home video including downloading.
• Commercials: Typically limited to TV and Internet, but the songwriter/ artist/ producer can try to secure an additional fee for use of the commercial on radio.
• Computer Games: Generally all media now or hereinafter developed.

TERRITORY: The company will want the right to exploit the audiovisual work as follows:
• Theatrical Films: Typically “worldwide.”
• Television: The creator may be able to negotiate an additional fee for foreign use.
• Commercials: Local, multiple U.S. markets, national or worldwide.
• Computer Games: Worldwide.

The Role of Music Publishers and Labels
Once you enter into an exclusive recording and/or publisher deal, your label and publisher will negotiate sync and master use licenses on your behalf. The split is generally 50% payable to the label and 25% to 50% payable to the publisher after recoupment of any advances (including, in the case of a label, recording costs) that they paid you.

Reps and Licensing Agents
If you are familiar with the “sync business” you know that there are many companies, such as Pump Audio, that may be willing to represent your music for sync placements. Some are more selective than others, and some are more proactive in shopping your music than others. For instance, music libraries such as APM Music (Associated Production Music Inc.) have steady clients such as cable networks and ad agencies that continually scan the library’s collection for interstitial or background music. The reps’ fees vary from 65% in the case of Pump Audio all the way down to 20% or less, if a rep really loves your music.

The biggest controversy in the sync licensing business is the exclusive vs. non-exclusive issue. The best argument to let a rep have exclusive rights is that they may be more motivated to shop your music. The best argument in support of non-exclusive is an exclusive rep may lose interest in your music and let it sit on a shelf for the duration of the agreement. The primary differences between a rep and a publisher are: reps rarely pay you an advance, but rep deals are usually limited to the song or tracks you wish them to present. Standard publishing agreements cover any songs you create during the term of the agreement.

 

[Reprint permission by Music Connection magazine]

STEVE GORDON is an entertainment attorney with over 25 years of experience, including 10 years as Director of Business Affairs/Video for Sony Music. He is also the author of The Future of Music, fourth edition (Hal Leonard Books). See stevegordonlaw.com.

 

 

Information on the USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, record label, music publisher, song demo, MTV, Co-Writing Songs, Sync Deal, Copyright

10 Tips: What It Takes to Write a Hit Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 @11:19 AM

10 Tips: What It Takes to Write a Hit Song

by Loren Israel

 WhatItTakesToWriteAHitSong.jpg

An industry veteran––a songwriting mentor who has had years of experience grooming and handling multiplatinum-selling talent––gives you specific instructions about the art & craft of hit songwriting.

 

  1. Be up front with your story.

Look at the first two lines of your lyric. Imagine someone came up to you and read just those two lines. How much has the, “who, what, where, why, and how” of the story been communicated? If you’re still lost after hearing those first two lines (i.e., you don’t know what’s happening to the protagonist or have any idea what the song is about), then a record executive, producer, or casual listener will likely be uninterested in hearing more.

  1. Make every line count.

Go to any of your lines. Read just that one out loud. Does it make sense? Could it stand on its own without the support of the preceding and subsequent lines? It should. Every line should present a complete and independent picture for your listeners. Every line should also ultimately speak to the title of your song. Your title is your theme, and good writing never strays from its theme.

  1. Vary the length of your lines.

Type your lyric flush left on a sheet of paper (by the way, if your lyric doesn’t fit on one sheet, you’re in trouble). Can your draw a neat box around your lyric? How about your chorus or bridge? Do most of the lines hit the right side of the box? If this is true, then your song will likely sound monotonous.  You need variety in the lengths of lines and patterns of lyrics. Look for a really ragged right edge as a sign that your lyrics are conversational and rhythmically interesting.

  1. Vary the number of lines between chorus and verse.

Count the number of lines in each of your verses. Now, count the lines in your chorus. If they’re exactly the same (e.g., 4-line verse and a 4-line chorus), then you’re probably not contrasting enough between the two sections. That contrast helps the song feel fresh and exciting when played.

  1. Match the beat between verses.

Count the number of beats in the lyric of verse 1, line 1. Now, count the number of beats in verse 2, line 2. Do they match? What we often see is something like 8 beats in verse 1, line 2, and 13 beats in verse 2, line 2. No way those extra 5 beats are going to fit comfortably on the melody you worked so hard to establish in the first verse.

  1. Give yourself a title of power.

The position of your title tells the listener what your main point is. There are certain power positions in a song, all dependent on the structure you set up. Is it a verse/bridge structure (A,A,B,A)? Then your title will be in the first or last line of the verse. Think of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Exceptions are rare, and require strong melodic emphasis to counteract the weaker positioning.

For a verse/chorus structure, the power positions are at the beginning or end of the chorus. Pick one for your title. Keep in mind that repetition of the title can work here. Think, “Yellow Submarine,” by the Beatles.

Burying the title in the middle of your song confuses your listener, leading to fewer requests on the radio and fewer purchases at the store.

  1. Establish consistent rhyme schemes but change up your rhyme sounds.

Look at your rhyme scheme. If you have an a, b, a, b, c, c rhyme scheme in verse one, you should do the same for verses 2 and 3. Now, what about the sounds of your rhymes? Is your song just a repetition of the ‘ee’ or ‘o’ sound? The ear gets tired relatively quickly from repetitive sounds like this.

  1. Make sure your pronouns agree with their antecedent.

When you’re listening to a song, and you recognize that “you” has become a “she,” you’ve now entered Pronoun Hell. You, as a songwriter, shouldn’t write “I” three times and have it refer to three different people. This sort of thing needlessly confuses your listener and can totally take away from your song’s story. Pro tip: when you’re using a quote in your song, make sure there’s an audible “he/she/they said,” so the listener understands what’s going on.

  1. Sing your melody a cappella.

Do it into a tape if you have to, but keep an ear out for where the title goes. If that happens to be the best part of your melody, then congrats, you’ve placed the title correctly. If not, fix it. Also, look for emotional dynamics in your song. Do you feel emotion when singing it? Or does it sound repetitive like a nursery rhyme. Make sure you vary the lengths of notes and the intervals between the notes to create a sense of connection to the listener.

  1. Color your melody with chords.

Each chord has an emotional tone that gives shading to your melody. Minor chords tend to express doubt or sorrow. Major chords have a happy, positive feeling. Adding 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, suspensions, and inversions, give the basic chord more feeling. Appropriate use of chords will give you the sound you’re looking for. Being too rapid or complex with chords might be distracting. Not changing enough or having a repetitive strum can be boring.

[Reprint permission by Music Connection magazine]

LOREN ISRAEL is a Songwriting Teacher, Record Producer and A&R Consultant specializing in finding and developing new talent. For over 15 years, Loren was an executive in the Artist & Repertoire department at Capitol Records. He worked with bands such as Coldplay, Less Than Jake, and was the A&R rep for Jimmy Eat World’s multiplatinum Dreamworks album, Bleed American. Lately, Israel has been developing artists through his six-month Songwriting Course, while also recently becoming an A&R Consultant for Sony Music. Bands he’s mentored through his course include: Plain White T’s, Neon Trees and the Unlikely Candidates. His songwriting mentoring has helped his bands earn over $60 million in contracts, promotions and merchandise.

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, Verse, songwrite, song demo, writing lyrics, hook, bridge, Co-Writing Songs, Songwriting Process, Rhyming

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Song Lyrics

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Jun 06, 2017 @09:59 AM

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Song Lyrics

by Natalie Wilson

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Writing the perfect song is a difficult task. What is “perfect”, anyway? What is it that the most popular songs all have in common? If you’re hoping to write the next big hit, you’ve come to the right place. The best songs in history have incorporated lyrics that uses clever rhyming schemes and syllabic patterns, a story-like progression, personal but relatable topics, and a catchy hook. Writing the next big hit can seem impossible, but there are a few tricks you can use to increase your chances of success.

Here are five mistakes to avoid when writing lyrics:

#1) Too Much Rhyming

While rhyming is one of the most common writing tools used to create popular songs, too much of it can sound childish. If you consider some of the best lyrics in history, rhyming is used subtly and doesn’t detract from the main message of a song. For example, take a look at these lyrics from ”Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey:

 

Some will win, some will lose

Some were born to sing the blues

Oh the movie never ends,

It goes on and on and on and on

 

These lyrics rhyme the words “lose” and “blues” together, but refrain from rhyming any words together in the next two lines. The use of rhyming should be a strategic way to draw attention to certain words, rather than used simply for the sake of rhyming. The combination of the strategic rhyming scheme, catchy melody, and raw talent of the members of Journey has made “Don’t Stop Believin’” a classic few will forget.

#2) No Coherent Story

Just like an essay, novel, or poem, your song lyrics should tell some sort of story. As the song progresses, your ideas need to unfold in a way that will make sense to your listeners. If you’re struggling to write a song with a clear message, try answering the following questions:

 

  • What story do I want to tell?
  • How do I want my listeners to feel after listening to the song

 

Rather than singing about your recent trip to France and then jumping to an unrelated topic, such as your childhood friend, try sticking to the same idea throughout the song. This will allow the song to resonate with your listeners more easily.

 

#3) Writing Disingenuous Lyrics

So many songs on the radio feel like they’ve been created by a machine simply to generate an income. If you’re a true songwriter, you know that music is about so much more than that. While tuning into recent trends and incorporating them into your songs will most likely help you gain some extra popularity, being disingenuous with your lyrics will set you up for failure. We all know how hard it is too warm up to someone we feel is being untruthful or two-faced. Likewise, your listeners will have a hard time warming up to your song if they don’t feel the lyrics are a reflection of your true personality.

When you’re not a romantic, when you’re not political, and so on, do not try to sound like one. Disingenuous lyrics very easily and quickly will sound like that, and that’s a fantastic way to lose your audience. Regardless of your song’s theme or idea, your lyrics must in some way be connected with you if you want them to stand out and come across as genuine. If you don’t, your lyrics will lack conviction which will make them feel stale.

 

#4) Mismatched Syllables

The proper use of syllables is an important part of poetry and song lyrics. The number of syllables combined with the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables will set the tone and flow of your song. Take a look at the syllables used by Hozier below:

 

Take me to church

I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death

Good God, let me give you my life

 

The second and third lines in this song both use a total of twelve syllables each. The song wouldn’t have the same momentum if the pattern of twelve syllables was broken between lines two and three. In addition to the number of syllables, the last few words of these lines alternate between stressed and unstressed syllables in the same pattern. “Shrine of your lies” follows a stressed, unstressed, unstressed, stressed pattern, which you can see from the bolded words. Similarly, “sharpen your knife” follows the same rhythmic pattern. This creates coherence in the lyrics that wouldn’t be evident if you use different numbers and patterns of syllables in every line of your song.

#5) There’s No Hook

Every popular song needs a hook. Not only does a song need to have a hook, a good song needs to place that hook in a strategic spot. Just like a commercial you’d see on television, the hook should be at the beginning. Similar to how colorful ads are used to catch a viewer’s eye, catchy melodies are used to grab hold of our ears. Once you’ve established your melody, you’ll need to make sure the content of what you’re saying also acts as a hook. If you’re writing a love song and you use a cliche statement involving “your heart” and how hard it is to be “apart”, you won’t come across as the cutting-edge artist you’re hoping to be. Remember not to rush the development of your hook, as it will be what draws your listeners in more than anything else.

Enjoy these tips!

 

About Natalie Wilson

Natalie Wilson started a music blog to share her knowledge to enhance your skills as a musician . You’ll find a wide range of topics on my blog, including reviews, tutorials, and tips for musicians. Check out: https://musicaladvisors.com/

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, Verse, songwrite, song demo, writing lyrics, hook, bridge, Co-Writing Songs, Songwriting Process, Lyric Writing Mistakes, Coherent, Disingenuous Lyrics, Mismatched Syllables, Rhyming

One of the Biggest Lyric Writing Mistakes Songwriters Make

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 24, 2017 @10:16 AM

One of the Biggest Lyric Writing Mistakes Songwriters Make

by Anthony Ceseri

 Dave-Songwriter.jpg

A lot of times when writing, songwriters will get too focused on forcing their lyrics into their songs because they like the specific words they've chosen and how they've arranged them. But if you're not music-minded when you’re writing lyrics your song can sound wordy. Wordy lyrics can negatively affect your melody. For that reason, I want to address how you can write lyrics that can easily being sung in a melody. 

 

The Spoken Rhythm
The rhythm of a line happens as a result of a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables within a phrase. I’ll indicate the unstressed syllables with “ba” and the stressed syllables with “BUM.” For example, the phrase “Lonely and waiting” has this rhythm: BUM ba ba BUM ba. Hear that? The syllables “Lone-“ and “Wait-“ are stressed in their respective words, while “-ly,” and “-ing” are unstressed in those same words. The word “and” is also unstressed. If you say the phrase out loud, you’ll hear it. The accented syllables are longer, louder and have a higher pitch. That’s what makes them stressed. The combination of stressed and unstressed syllables in the phrase “Lonely and waiting” (or in any phrase) create its natural sonic shape.

If you need to figure out the stresses in a word with more than one syllable, you can usually hear them by sounding them out. For a word with two or more syllables, like “lonely” it’s usually best to listen for the accented syllable, and assume the remainder of the syllables are unaccented.

 

However, if you need help with this, you can always check a dictionary. It defines which syllables are stressed and which aren’t when you look up a word with more than one syllable. For example, when I look up the word “loving,” I’m presented with this pronunciation: luhv-ing. The stressed syllable is given in bold.

Single syllable words aren’t as easy. Some of them are stressed and some are not. Again, it’s best to listen to them within a phrase to determine which are accented and which aren’t, but if you get stuck you can reference this rule of thumb: Assume single syllable nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are stressed. In other words, words that carry meaning are accented. Other words are not. You won’t find the answer in a dictionary for single syllable words.

 

Writing in Rhythms
As you know, music has a rhythm to it. A lot of times the words and phrases we speak aren’t very rhythmic. But since you know that your music will have a rhythm, you can write your lyrics to a rhythm, even if you don’t have any music yet. If you take this approach, you’ll know that what you’re writing will more easily fit into a song.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say I write two lines of lyric that say this:

 

Looking out into the sky
The night is so beautiful

 

If I write those lines out into their rhythmic patterns, I’d end up with this:

 

LOOK-ing OUT IN-to the SKY
This NIGHT is so BEAU-ti-ful

 

I highlighting the stressed syllables in bold. We could also take the words out and isolate the patterns:

 

BUM ba BUM BUM ba ba BUM
ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba

 

The first line doesn’t really have a consistent rhythm. It has a strong stress, then a weak stress, then two of each before ending on a strong stress. The second line is better and more organized rhythmically (by having two weak stresses between each strong stress), but it doesn’t match the first line. That’s not a requirement, but it tends to make things easier, depending on how your melody will go.

So things might get a little chaotic when we start to put these lines to music, because their rhythms are random. What if instead we started with a rhythmic pattern, and then matched our words to that pattern. Writing out your stresses first lends itself well to writing catchy melodic motifs.

The rhythm of the second line was pretty good, so let’s stick with that and use it twice. Let’s say we want our lyrics and melody to have this rhythm:

 

ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba
ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba

 

You can see that looks better already. Now we just have to find words that fit that pattern. We know the second line from our previous example worked, so we’ll keep that. Since we want to stay with the same lyrical idea, we can try a first line that’s something like this:

 

The sky is so magical

 

Which rhythmically works out to be:

The SKY is so MAG-i-cal,

or

ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba

 

Now we have two lines with a good, consistent rhythm that match each other. So we shouldn’t have much of a problem fitting these words to music:

 

The sky is so magical
The night is so beautiful,     or

ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba
ba BUM ba ba BUM ba ba

 

You can hear the consistency in the rhythm of these lyrics, just by speaking them aloud. They have a good rhythm that’s the same from line to line, which will make them pretty easy to put them to a melody.

 

Last Note
This is an approach you can take whether you have a melody and you want to match your words to the music, or if you’re writing lyrics first, and you want them to be written rhythmically before you even develop your melodies. Either way, this approach will help you organize the stresses of your words to be more rhythmic, and lend themselves to being placed in music. It may be a little trickier to find the right lyrical phrases you’re looking for, but your melodies will drastically benefit from this approach.

 

About Anthony Ceseri

AnthonyCeseri.jpg

Anthony Ceseri is a songwriter and performer who has traveled the country in pursuit of the best songwriting advice and information available. From classes and workshops at Berklee College of Music in Boston, to Taxi’s Road Rally in Los Angeles, Anthony has learned from the most well-respected professional songwriters, producers and performers in the industry.

For much more information on improving your lyric writing (especially if your audiences aren't consistently emotionally connecting to your songs), download our 2 free lyric writing cheat sheets here, while they’re still available: http://successforyoursongs.com/go/writing-lyrics/

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, Verse, songwrite, song demo, writing lyrics, bridge, Co-Writing Songs, Songwriting Process, Lyric Writing Mistakes

5 Innovative Ways to Change Up Your Songwriting Process

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 22, 2017 @08:00 AM

[EXPERT ADVICE] 5 Innovative Ways to Change Up Your Songwriting Process
by Gary Ewer
 Innovative-Songwriting-Process.jpg
One of the main reasons songwriters get stuck in a creative rut is an overused songwriting process. If you find that you’re always approaching songwriting the same old way, and using the same structural design and chords over and over again, just changing how you approach writing can quickly break you out of a creative block.

Here are 5 ways you can change up your songwriting process, and the results may put your sense of creativity back on the fast track:

    1. Break out of the same old verse-chorus-bridge design. If every song you write starts with an intro, then moves on to a couple of verse-chorus sections, followed by a bridge and ending with a couple of chorus repeats… no wonder you feel devoid of creativity. What else can you try? How about starting with the chorus, like this: Chorus-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-verse-chorus. Or how about: Solo-verse-solo-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus.
    
    2. Change rooms. Songwriters are creatures of habit, and we all usually like to do our writing in the same location. So change it up once in a while. Ever try writing in the park? On a bus? In the attic of your house? It will surprise you what a new location does for your musical imagination. So grab your smartphone or digital recording device, and get creative.
    
    3. Change genres. You may not like, let’s say, country music. But have you ever tried writing it? You’ll find that early in the process of writing your first country tune, you’ll gain an appreciation and respect for it. You’ll find that you tap into a different part of your creative soul every time you change genres. The payoff often comes when you switch back to your favourite genre. You find that you’ve got a new vocabulary of musical ideas that you can use, ideas that make your songs unique and fresh.
    
    4. Try a melody-first songwriting process. You may think that creating melodies without a chord progression underneath might be difficult, but it’s likely easier than you think. Try this process: Take your smartphone and go for a walk. Start singing random melodies into your phone. You’ll find that your ability to improvise melodies in this way is better than you think. Get as much of a melody working as you can this way. Don’t worry about lyrics yet. When you get home, create a chord progression that can accompany the tune you’ve written. Even if all you have is 4 bars to show for your efforts, it will serve as the idea for the rest of the song’s melodies.
    
    5. Write a song on an instrument you’ve never (or rarely) played before. You don’t need too be very good on an instrument to use it in this way. If you play guitar, you’ll find that many of your songs tend toward a “sameness.” So even if you don’t play keyboards, sit down at a piano and plunk out a tune or find some chords. The benefit of playing a different instrument when you write is that you don’t succumb to “muscle memory.” You’ll find that the melodic shapes you find will differ from the ones you tend to always default to on your normal instrument of choice.

The moral of the story here is this: the sooner in your songwriting process you change things up, the greater the chance that your song will sound innovative and fresh. The more you change things up, the more creative you’ll feel.
 
Read more in Gary Ewer’s book, Beating Songwriter’s Block. Visit beatingsongwritersblock.halleonardbooks.com and enter the discount code AP2 at checkout to receive 20% off the list price and free domestic shipping (least expensive method)!

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Chorus, Songwriting, Verse, Melody, songwrite, song demo, writing lyrics, bridge, Co-Writing Songs, Songwriting Process

Focus On Your Own Strengths

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, May 18, 2017 @03:56 PM

[Expert Songwriting Advice] Focus On Your Own Strengths

by Ralph Murphy

 FocusOnYourStrengths.jpg

Ralph Murphy is a professional songwriter who has written songs that hit the charts such as "Half The Way" by Crystal Gayle. It has become very clear now that the most successful songwriters today are those who have learned how to focus on and leverage their unique strengths. A great example is Elton John - he focus on his music composition ability (writing melodies and chord progressions) and not writing lyrics, he leaves the lyric writing to his co-writing partner Bernie Taupin. Lesson to be learnt here: if you are currently great in writing music but average in writing lyrics, find someone who is great in writing lyrics!

 

“If you spend too much time working on your weaknesses, all you end up with is a lot of strong weaknesses”…Dan Sullivan

 

One of the top ten questions I get asked by newcomers to the industry is, "How do I get heard in the music business?" Before I can answer that, I have to know exactly what they want to be "heard." When I ask them about their goals -- whether they want to be songwriters or recording artists -- the most common response is, "Both."

 

Listen to the truth

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that, while many of the newcomers I counsel may be gifted as songwriters or as singers, very, very few are equally blessed with both talents. While one ability may come rather naturally, the other often needs significant honing.

 

The problem is, not everyone wants to hear the truth. Some great singers (who are average songwriters) can make the really average songs they've written shine through the sheer power of their vocal ability. They make the phrase "I love you" sound so good that you almost believe they invented it. In equal numbers come the great songwriters (who are average singers) who have been told by family, friends, lovers, and late-night adoring coffeehouse/honky-tonk buffoons that, despite the fact that their tempo, pitch and teeth are bad, they have star quality. And no matter how badly they sing, their songs are still strong enough to survive a mediocre vocal performance and sound like hits. (This is the only reason karaoke manufacturers are not hunted for sport!)

 

Check your ego at the door

The bottom line is: lose your ego. It's called "absenting of self." The person most likely to come between you and your career goal is you. Don't make the best of your talent a donkey for the least of your talent. Get some unbiased feedback from industry pros (available through a variety of NSAI programs), and if you are indeed weaker in one area, focus on your strength.

 

If you're a great singer -- but an average writer -- don't be upset if someone loves your voice but wants you to sing someone else's songs. Go find those great songs while you learn to become a better writer. By the same token, if you're a great songwriter -- but an average singer -- don't be upset if someone wants to record your songs but passes on you as an artist. Remember, this is called the music "business," and the business end of our industry knows that the majority of the G.A.P. (Great American Public) just wants to hear great records. They don't lie awake nights wondering who wrote and/or sang the songs they like on the radio.

 

Be smart

If you have a sneaking suspicion that the preceding law even remotely applies to you, then do yourself this favor: picture the music industry as a large building with an entrance for singers on one side, and an entrance for songwriters on the other. Maybe you can't go through both doors at the same time, but you can concentrate on getting inside through the door that opens the most easily for you. Who knows? Once you're inside, you can end up just about anywhere.

Write a hit!

 

Murphy's Laws of SongwritingRalph Murphy, hit songwriter

Ralph Murphy, hit songwriter and expert, has been successful for five decades. He wrote huge hit songs such as Crystal Gayle's "Talking in Your Sleep" and "Half the Way". Consistently charting songs in an ever-changing musical environment makes him a member of that very small group of professionals who make a living ding what they love to do. Add to that the platinum records as a producer, his success as the publisher and co-owner of the extremely successful Picalic Group of Companies and you see a pattern of achievement based on more than luck. Achieving "hit writer" status has always been a formidable goal for any songwriter. *His new book Murphy's Laws of Songwriting "The Book" arms the songwriter for success by demystifying the process and opening the door to serious professional songwriting. Hall of fame songwriter Paul Williams said in his review of the book "If there was a hit songwriters secret handshake "Da Murphy" would probably have included it. To buy his book, please click here: http://www.songwriting.net/ralph-murphy-book

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Ralph Murphy, Crystal Gayle, song demo, writing lyrics, Co-Writing Songs, positive songwriting, strengths, singing

How to Stay Positive About Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 10, 2017 @05:48 PM

[Expert Songwriting Advice] How to Stay Positive About Songwriting

by Jason Bume


PositiveSongwriting.jpg

The road to songwriting success is almost always a long and bumpy one, paved with frustration and disappointment. There are far more stories of successes that took many years, or even decades, to materialize than tales of overnight success. Some of my songwriting students navigate that road with smiles on their faces and hope, enthusiasm, and determination in their hearts. Others become bitter and disillusioned, spouting a steady stream of everything that’s wrong with today’s music and music business. While there might be some temporary satisfaction gained from blaming and complaining, it rarely leads to success unless it serves as a motivator to take the actions that can propel your career.

I understand frustration. For eleven years I took every songwriting class and workshop, read every book, and devoted every spare hour to studying my craft and furthering my career before I was able to earn a meager living as a songwriter. Five additional years passed before I had hits on the charts. During many of those years I worked long hours at miserable temp jobs and day jobs I loathed. So I understand the exasperation of feeling that despite my best efforts my dreams stayed just beyond my reach. But I also understand the power of determination, believing in ourselves, and perseverance, and I know that pessimism is not conducive to achieving our goals.

For some lucky people, a sunny attitude comes naturally. But some of us have to cultivate optimism. I asked my songwriting students and social media friends to share the tools that help them remain upbeat and optimistic on their songwriting journey.

The most consistent suggestion I received was to derive rewards from the process of writing, as opposed to waiting until some tangible aspect of success (such as having a hit single, signing a publishing deal, or securing a record deal) occurs in the future. These successes might—or might not—occur. But those who are motivated by a passion for creating music add richness to their lives every time they put pen to paper or compose a melody. Any accolades or successes their songs might achieve are a bonus.

Many songwriters who responded to my query expressed the importance of surrounding themselves with people who believe in their talent and encourage their creativity. These might be family and friends or they might be members of a songwriters’ organization. They also stressed the importance of interacting and networking with others who share their goals and enthusiasm.

Those who radiate a positive attitude tend to attract others like themselves who bolster and support each other, exchanging contacts and resources as they work to attain their mutual goals. Conversely, writers who spew negativity tend to be avoided by those who are focused on success.

Viewing their journey through a lens of gratitude is a common thread among writers who celebrate their creativity. Many of the respondents stated they maintain a positive attitude because they are grateful to have dreams and goals to pursue, regardless of any success that might or might not develop. They also felt gratitude for the gift of being able to express themselves through lyrics and music, the challenges of improving their craft, and the creative people with whom they share their journey.

Celebrating the “little” successes, such as finishing a song you love, recording a demo, receiving positive feedback, or winning a contest can all serve as validation that we are on the right road.

I’m positive that staying positive makes us happier and more desirable to work with, and that positively gives us a better shot at accomplishing what we hope for. So seek ways to let your writing be its own reward; surround yourself with those who believe in you, and with optimistic people who are on similar journeys; remain grateful for the gifts and the dreams you’ve been given, and for every success along the way; and as the Carter Family sang, “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

Permisson Reprint by BMI

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, This Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (Billboard Books). His songs are on three Grammy-nominated albums and have sold more than 50,000,000 copies. www.jasonblume.com

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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A Cure for Writer's Block in Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 @08:00 AM

A Cure for Writer's Block in Songwriting

AnthonyCeseri-1.png

by Anthony Ceseri


There are a number of ways you can draw inspiration for a song idea by listening to other songs. Lyrics are copyrightable, so you obviously can’t take something someone says and use it in your own music, but you can draw inspiration from stories you love. Especially if those stories are already popular.

Start by listing a few songs with lyrics you really like. Think big picture here. Think about lyrics that tell a story you enjoy, as opposed to songs that simply have a line or two you think is great. It’ll be more appropriate for this exercise. It’s the message that’s important at this point, as opposed to how it’s being said.

I have a couple of examples of my own we could start with. Two songs with ideas I like that came to mind for me were “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield and “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay. You can do an internet search for those lyrics, if you’d like, but like I said, this part is more about the story, and jotting down what the big ideas of these songs are to you.

With that in mind, the lyrics to “Unwritten” are about having a future that is completely within your control. It’s about being able to do whatever you want, and it delivers this message in a positive way.

Conversely, “Viva La Vida” has a pretty negative message, and is mainly about being stuck in the past. It’s about once having had it all, then losing it and being left to look back to wonder how it all went wrong.

I could easily use either of those ideas as a starting point for a song of my own. If my music is more upbeat and I’m inspired by the positive message in “Unwritten,” my big idea could be about all the possibilities the future holds. If I decide to write music that’s more of a downer, and I want my lyrics to reflect that, I could write a song inspired by the story in “Viva La Vida,” which discusses all of my losses.

So just by flipping through some old favorites, I’ve already got a couple of overall ideas that could be the basis for a new song. These two ideas are opposites so I’ve got a whole range of stuff in between them that’s available to me as well.

When you write a list of songs or other stories you like, don’t just limit yourself to two. Instead,write down as many as you can. The more big ideas you have, the easier it’ll be for you to write lyrics of your own, since you’ll have options. Plus, writing down many ideas can only offer you more choices later.

 

Altered Perspective Inspiration
What we just saw was a pretty general way of getting ideas. But we can get more specific than that. A technique I learned from Shane Adams, who’s a teacher at Berklee College of Music’s online extension school, is to look at an existing song from a different perspective than it currently does.

Let’s try it, by going back to “Unwritten.” That song is sung in the first person. It’s about someone with possibilities before her. She can do whatever she wants.

What if we wanted to write a song where we were looking at a second or third person perspective? What if the perspective was from the mother of the character in “Unwritten”? She’s watching her daughter grow up to realize her full potential. We could then talk about the joy we felt, as the mother, seeing her daughter come into her own to discovering the limitless possibilities in her future.

We could even talk about how we once had those same feelings of limitless possibilities when we were younger too. And now our own limitless possibilities and hopes for the future have been realized in our daughter, who has just come to terms with the same possibilities. The daughter is keeping the cycle moving.

That’s just an idea. I’m riffing. It doesn’t have to be that. Another thought would be to look at “Unwritten” from the perspective of the current narrator’s arch rival. You can write lyrics from the perspective of someone who’s competitive. This person would see Natasha Bedingfield’s character in “Unwritten” reaching for dreams and aspirations, and it would drive her crazy. In this perspective we’d be able to look at why it wouldn’t be good if Natasha Bedingfield’s character achieved her wildest dreams. That’s starting to put a negative twist on our originally positive idea, but that’s okay. We’re open to practically anything at this point.

If we choose either of these ideas, they’re definitely a departure from the original song’s idea. So, it’s not like we’re just copying the main idea from “Unwritten,” although that would be fine too, as mentioned previously.

Now let’s see what a different perspective can do for us when looking at “Viva La Vida” by Cold Play. In this song, Chris Martin’s character talks about how he once was king, and now he’s fallen. We could write a song from the point of view of one of the king’s servants who has witnessed the king’s decline. Did we enjoy this fall, or were we on good terms with the king, and were saddened when it happened? What happened to our family now that’s there’s a new ruler? Are we left poor? Or maybe we were part of the movement that overthrew the king.

You don’t have to stop there. If you really want a departure from what the original song was about, or you just want to keep pushing it to see how many ideas you can come up with, you can. For example, now we have this idea about a guy who helped to overthrow a kingdom. What if we took the perspective of the wife of the man who helped overthrow the kingdom? What did she witness while seeing that all go down? If you keep pushing these thoughts, the possibilities you can come up with are endless.

When you change the perspective of the song and decide who the speaker will be, you also have options of who you want to be speaking to. If we were Natasha Bedingfield’s character’s mother, would we be talking back to Natasha Bedingfield’s character? Or would we be talking to our husband, who’s the father? Or maybe it would be more of a narration, where’s she’s just speaking to herself as she watches her daughter grow up through the years. Thinking about who is being spoken to, and changing that from the original reference song will also help give you new ideas to use.

  
For 3 more fail-proof songwriting methods you can use today to make listeners want to own your songs, click here to download our free songwriting EBook: http://successforyoursongs.com/freeoffer/
 
 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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2017 Songwriters Radio Podcast

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @02:21 PM

WillieNelson.jpg

Listen to the latest edition of our Songwriters Radio Podcast, featuring current and past winners of the USA Songwriting Competition: Willie Nelson, American Authors, Kate Voegele, Jerad Finck, Due West, Jesse Blaze Snider, Gail Swanson,  Terry Fator, Trev Lukather & Frank Raknes Schonberg. Click here to listen to the mp3 player:

 
 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Kate Voegele, songwrite, song demo, writing lyrics, Co-Writing Songs, Songwriters Radio, American Authors, Jerad Finck, Jesse Blaze Snider, Gail Swanson, Terry Fator, Songwriters Radio Podcast, Songwriters Podcast, Willie Nelson, Due West, Trev Lukather, Frank Raknes Schonberg