How do I improve my songwriting?

The best way is to constantly and persistently study what hit songwriters do. Learn from the best. Listen to the radio and take notes on what hit songs have in common. What is their structure like? Do they end verses on major or minor chords? Do they have a bridge? How many bars are in the intro?

The best novelists are people who constantly read, and the same just might be true of songwriters. Reading helps develop a writer’s sense of worldliness. The more things you know about and understand, the more you can write about. Reading books about songwriting will also put you at a tremendous advantage.

Become obsessed. Study and write every day. You couldn’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL without spending years in training. The same is true of great songwriters. They are rarely, if ever born into this world as great songwriters. They become great by learning from the great writers who came before them.

Hint: Stay current. Don’t write songs that could have been hits when you were twenty-one (unless you are twenty-one). Write songs that will appeal to today’s audience.

Remember that you aren’t competing with your friends and peers. To really be in the music business and get your songs cut, you need to be competitive with the top writers of the day.

What if I just write lyrics?

Frankly, it’s exceptionally rare that someone in the music business asks, “Can you find me a lyricist – quick?!” Not to say that somebody who is strong with melodies might not look for a collaborator whose strength is lyrics. But it is very rare that a record label would hunt down somebody who just writes lyrics.

Could working with another songwriter improve my chances of success?

Yes, in at least two ways.

Number one: Two heads are often better than one. You just might write a better song with a collaborator.

Number two: If you’re really lucky, the person you co-write with may be more advanced and/or better connected than you are, giving you a leg up on getting your songs cut.

Reprinted with permission from TAXI: the world’s leading independent A&R company helping unsigned bands, artists and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placement in films and TV shows.

© 2002 TAXI. All rights reserved.


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