What a buzz song writing is huh! There are some days when songs are written through you, like the universe has shared it’s magic via the vessel that is you. Pharrell Williams speaks of this with his song ‘happy’. It flowed straight through him. When that happens, be open to it happening more often, and free yourself from the constraints of your own mind. Let it flow.
Getting traction on songs and hearing others sing them is a feeling like no other. But what do you do when your songs don’t get the attention you think they deserve? They were sprinkled with magic universe dust after all.
Don’t take it personally
Is the first rule of thumb. You can really love a song that is about something big in your life, and others won’t connect with it. It means so much to you – but it’s not to be taken as an insult if it doesn’t mean much to the audience. Perhaps they haven’t experienced what you are singing about and therefore can’t relate. The important thing is that they aren’t having a go at you, the human. It’s about the song. Conversely if people love the song, they’re not in love with you the human…it’s about the song.
Keep writing and writing. Come up with ways to write songs that a broader audience can relate to. Play with lyrics and expand the way you convey them with metaphor. For example, instead of ‘Mary had a little lamb’ you might say ‘it’s forever with me, wherever I go’. You could sing that line to 5 people and they would each think of different scenarios they can relate it to in their own lives.
That being said, don’t feel pressured to write songs you don’t like in order to get fans.
Dianne Warren writes a song a day (Her favourite word is also the ‘C’ bomb.) That aside, she has a schedule. You can be specific with the amount of songs you will write per week, per month, or give yourself a number range. A lot of creatives write when inspiration hits – and the thought of a schedule makes us queasy.
They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master something, they also say practice makes perfect. Pick a number or a range of songs you want to write in a time period. Then a strange thing will probably happen. You will find inspiration to write the amount of songs you set for yourself. A great way to do this is to have a writing partner, or producer, or someone else that is helping you in some way. If you have someone else you have to show your work to, you will be motivated as you’ll be held accountable. Choose someone who is energetic – no lazy people allowed.
Now you have a writing schedule, set goals for your career. What will you do with the songs you write? How many will be released? Do you want to do an album or release a single, or aim for syncing deal, or get signed as an artist – which by the way, you can do with Spinnup. We’re a part of Universal Music Group and they’re watching Spinnup artists for the next ones to sign. You can put out your next project here.
Listen to artists from all genres.
Really listen. Find bands that sing in other languages, and singers that mix seemingly opposing genres. How are they phrasing the song, and what syllables are being accentuated and why? Where is the bass frequency sitting in the mix in relation to the kick? How does the song have so much space sonically yet packs a punch?
Producers are your friends when it comes to these questions. This is not to say you need to write like the artists you listen to, but listening will improve your musical palate. You’ll have much more to draw from. No one gets by just eating celery.
Legendary producer Rick Rubin, known for creating some of the most iconic hip hop tracks ever, started as a metal head.
Play often to test songs
Come up with a set list and play gigs. Open mics, festivals, at a friends party – whatever you can get. Pay attention to the reaction of the audience during each song, and make mental notes. Eventually you will see a pattern emerge and it will become apparent which songs do better, and which songs are ‘meh’.
Scrap the dud ones and add new ones to test, keeping the favourites in the set. Comedians do this all the time. They test material at open mics and residencies and you’ll see them makes notes when a joke bombs, and when a joke works. They will test the same joke a few times, in different ways, as a single audience is not representative of the broader tribe.
You can do that too, and you should. Test a song a handful of times (unless you get deathly silence after the first play), and rework it if you can make it better. Sometimes the song requires a few tweaks before it can be great. And if the amendments don’t work, boot that song from the set.
Work with different people
It’s easy to fall into comfort after working with the same people for a while. Go out and find someone new to bounce ideas with. There’s nothing like wanting to make a good impression to drive us to excellence. You don’t have to release every song you write, but at least write something with new people. If you’re a singer, find a hip hop producer and a rapper and collab. Rappers have singers on the chorus all the time.
This is simply a suggestion, but you see where I’m going. New people will bring songs out of you that you didn’t know you had the capacity to write. Celebrate it! This is the universe kicking in with its own magical dust.
However you choose to run at this, keep writing and find people to hold you accountable in some way. We want to hear your songs that you have yet to write. The world always needs music. And the magic dust spoken about earlier.