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8 Tips for Songwriters

09th February 2023

Hello there, songwriters! Whether you’re a budding, aspiring, established or washed-up songwriter, welcome! These days, the most popular songs are carefully crafted, not just by songwriters but by musicologists who analyse how listeners’ brains work. They figure out where people expect a melody to go and find the most satisfying way to complete it. Certainly in pop music, every element of a track is thought through to make sure it itches the brain in the best way possible. In my opinion - which is humble at best, I think finding a balance between expressing the themes of your song and brain-itchiness is the best way to go. So here are a few tips on writing songs:


Listen to music! The simplest of tips for you there. Your musical taste was set long ago, most likely by the radio station your parents used to make you listen to or the tapes, or CDs they’d buy as gifts - but you can listen around to songs, make a playlist of tracks that inspire you or have a certain sound that you like and want to emulate. It’s always good to have a bank of songs to which you can refer. 


The more specific your theme is, the better. If you have a really clear idea of what you want to write about, it makes the songwriting process so much easier. Perhaps you already have one in mind; there might have been an event which recently occurred and you need to get it on paper? If not then, take your time. You don’t have to rush into it - carefully think through how you’ll tackle your theme to make sure you get it right. 

But not too much…

Like I said in the intro, pop writers these days really think about where a melody is headed and make sure that it’s as scientifically satisfying as it can be. If you do this and it works for you, then great! But don’t lose sight of why you’re writing music - don’t let your theme or message get lost. Remember that lyrics do express the majority of the feeling, but the music can do more than you know in terms of portraying emotions - so don’t neglect it. 


You don’t have to be a master of your instrument to write songs. But having the ability to improvise a little and try things out will certainly help. Playing chords is all very well and good but if you can try other techniques then this might unlock something melodically or lyrically. So have a play around, don’t rush into anything - just find something you really love and then go for it. A good knowledge of music theory will certainly help you as you can understand the chords you’re playing and where they can lead. I used to get so frustrated watching people at college trying to find the next chord in the sequence but they had no idea which chords were in the right key.

Of course, when you’re coming up with these ideas, record them on your phone. There’s nothing quite like the agonising feeling of coming up with something you love and then losing it because you didn’t record it and you’ve forgotten what it was. So avoid this misery and just record a voice memo whenever you have a good idea.


Don't be afraid to try stuff! The worst that can happen is you don't like it and you do something else. Changing just one word or one chord can blow the song wide open!


You may not be the world’s best producer; don’t worry, you don’t have to be. But knowing enough about production to make a decent demo is essential for songwriting these days. Additionally, producing a song a little could make it easier to write it. Some people prefer to write lyrics to a fully produced demo rather than just on their instrument - it really depends on the writer. But having a fully formed demo makes it so much easier when you come to producing the song for real. Producers can be so much more creative if they have a clear idea of what you want before you even set foot in the studio. 


Don’t get hung up on one idea. I’ve been writing with people before and we’ve become obsessed with making the first idea work. Eventually another idea cropped up and a new song manifested itself which was somehow so much easier to write. It’s okay to abandon ideas when they’re not working well. Equally, you might have come up with a great line that you really love - don’t fall into the trap of shoe-horning it in there even where it doesn’t fit. Keep it, make a note of it and perhaps you can use it in a future song. 


Send your demos to friends and be open to feedback. Hopefully they’re not too harsh and if they have anything to say about it, they’ll say it in a constructive way. But getting other sets of ears on the track can often be the best thing because they can be far more objective about your song as they don’t have the emotional connection to it that you have.

I can’t promise you that if you take these tips on board that you will be Grammy nominated next year, but hopefully there’s something useful for you to get started. The great thing about creative pursuits is that there are no wrong answers, you express yourself in a way that makes sense to you. 

When you’re done with producing your next track, why not promote it with SyncVault? 

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