Becoming a Professional Songwriter
Music is one of those great art forms that can really touch your soul. Unlike visual art, just about everybody can appreciate music. There is a genre for everyone. If you don’t like what you are listening to, just change the station. Plus, everybody has a favorite song or two. You know, that song that when you hear it you just wish everybody would stop talking so you could listen. Those wonderful musical lyrics are the work of songwriters. Songwriters are responsible for writing music and creating lyrics for many top performers. After all, not every performer writes their own material. In fact, few of those popular pop stars actually do. They have achieved success because of songwriters. Sure, anybody can put down some notes and make up rhyming words to match a melody. But it takes real talent to write a hit song that has substance and audience appeal. If you think you have what it takes and want to know how to become a songwriter, check out some of these tips.
The first step in becoming a songwriter is you have to be able to read and write music. You cannot be a songwriter by just creating music solely by ear. Some people begin music lessons at an early age while others may not learn music until high school or college. If you do not know music already, take lessons. It may take you a few months before you can read and write proficiently. The hard part, however, is not in learning to read music. It is in creating a good melody coupled with outstanding lyrics that people can relate to.
Besides knowing how to read and write music, you need to understand it and have a love for music. Music is emotional and a good songwriter is capable of tapping into those emotions and figuring out the best way to put music together. If you do not love music, then songwriting is not for you.
A lot of musicians are good at putting together a melody but stumble when it comes to writing lyrics. Melody is only half of a good song. To understand how to write lyrics, you should try studying poetry. Read up on as much as you can to figure out how other authors and poets combine words or use them in descriptions. It is a lot more than just rhyming and some songs do not necessarily rhyme all the way through. Plus, a song is meant to be sung, not just read. So it must work well with the accompanying music.
Figure Out What You Are Good At
Not every songwriter can write any type of song. Sometimes there are certain genres that you are really good at. It is in your best interests to figure out what you are best at and pursue that field. Don’t start out trying to do everything from rock to pop to country. In fact, the biggest music genres are going to be the ones with the most competition as far as songwriters go. There are some genres that may not be as wide and popular but they are going to have the least competition. If you happen to be really good at writing songs for some of these other genres then that is what you should do because you have a better chance of becoming successful. But if you are good at rock or pop, then go for it.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You are not going to be able to sit down and the first song you ever write is going to be your best. Writing good songs takes practice and the more you do it, the better you will become. You should try to write at least one song a week. Many songwriters keep a journal and write down notes and lyrics as they come to them. Being creative can happen at any time. You might come up with a lyric that doesn’t work with the current song you are writing but you may be able to use it in a later song. The same thing goes for melodies. Whether you play the guitar, piano, or oboe, practice as much as possible to come up with different combinations. Keep them written down on sheet music so that you will remember them.
Treat It As A Business
Songwriting is a business and if you do not treat it as such, you will never be taken seriously or be successful. You have to want it in order to make a career out of it. Most songwriters never have a hit song but still make a decent living. Try to think of yourself as a product, like an athlete or famous entertainer, and market yourself accordingly. Think of your image and reputation. If someone asks you to write a song, then do it in a reliable and timely fashion. Another point is that you should consider copyrighting the songs that you write. Theft of material does occur in the music industry and if someone rips off your non-copyrighted song, you lose not just the money for the song but the credit as well.
Music is an art form and like anything that is subjective, it is prone to criticism. It does not necessarily mean you are a terrible songwriter if someone does not like your song. It just means that it may need some more work. To better your skills as a songwriter, you should be receptive of constructive criticism. You will end up receiving it anyway (there is always someone who will criticize) so you might as well try to learn from it. Listen to what people have to say and make changes accordingly. This is your audience, after all. If you can’t please your audience, you will not be a very successful songwriter.
Just because you receive criticism is no excuse to give up. The music industry is full of criticism and rejection. Many a talented artist has filed their songs away because they could not take the rejection. A key to this is having an iron will and a thick skin. It may take awhile before you land your first big job and you won’t get there if you give up.
Cut A Demo
Eventually when you get enough material written and think that you have a solid portfolio of work, you should cut a demo. This is just a sample recording of some of your music that you can pass out. Talent scouts and studio execs are very busy people. They are not going to sit down and listen to you play a few bars of a song you wrote. They need to listen to it when they have the time. A demo is the best tool for that. When it comes to recording a demo, you need to look up a quality (but affordable) recording studio. Ask to listen to some samples of their work. Remember, this demo represents you and your work so if the sound quality is bad, it will make you look bad.
Advertise And Network
After you get a demo cut, you need to get out there and advertise yourself. Stop by music labels companies and drop off your demo. Set up a website and network online on all of the social sites. This is a great way to develop a following. You can also try to get some local bands to play one or two of your songs. A good place to network is at all-day concerts and music festivals. These are places where music scouts, agents, and anyone in the business hangs out to discover new talent. You can also meet bands and performers who might be interested in your work. The more effort you put into it, the better your chances of being successful.
For more information about how to become a songwriter, read some of the following: