Writing Better Songs by Jake Bryant of PLATINUM AUDIO
Steps to Great Songwriting
As a producer, one of my many jobs is to tell someone whether or not they have a good song and (if possible) how to make it better. This can be difficult because art, by definition, is completely subjective. There are, however, some basic steps that can be taken to really help captivate your audience and make a closer connection with your fans.
Write with meaning
This is rule number one. No amount of producer magic can replace passion in a song. If the emotion isn’t there from the very beginning, everything that follows will only be mediocre. So, when you’re writing, make sure you dig deep into how you’re feeling. Write about something that actually matters to you, whether it be positive, negative, or somewhere in between, because out of the 7.1 billion people on the planet, it’s very likely that many of them feel strongly about it too. Remember, touching someone’s heart and making them feel like they’re understood is the surest way to make a lifelong fan.
Steal like an artist
“Art is theft.” – Pablo Picasso
The truth is that nothing is original. Pick your favorite band that you think started a genre and ask them their influences, you will find that they took those bands, remixed them, and called it their own, so don’t try so hard to be different. Don’t waste time trying to write a song that has never been written, because that is an impossible task. Nothing comes from nowhere. Instead, take what you like and make it your own. Find a song that has the same general feel as what you’re trying to communicate; listen to how the artist used melody, harmony, and structure to accomplish this, and use it as your starting point. Then begin infusing your own influences into the material. This is what defines your creative style; how you selectively apply your influences to create new possibilities. This tip is based off of a book with the same title written by Austin Kleon. I keep a copy of it on an end table for clients to read while recording, because it is that important. I highly recommend everyone read it!
“If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and embrace influence instead of running away from it” – Austin Kleon
Demo as you write
This alone made my songwriting 10x better. There is something special about being able to hear your music play, disconnected from you playing it. It gives you the opportunity to really focus on how your music sounds, without the technical distraction of trying to hit the right notes and stay on time. It also gives you the ability to not only remember the song, but also critique, rearrange, and layer in a way that you couldn’t otherwise. Get a laptop , get a daw (guitar pro is also great for songwriting on the go) and start demoing out your songs. Most of all, always go back to rule number one. Make music that you are passionate about and you’ll not only create more fans, you’ll also enjoy yourself a lot more!