Many new songwriters often make the mistake of simply trying to mimic songs that have already enjoyed chart success, instead of trying to add distinctive elements of their own to create something fresh.
Pharrell Williams firmly believes in the importance of not just imitating what’s already happening: “I feel like when you copy, you blend in, and when you blend in, you get lost,” he recently told Collider.com.
“If someone asks me what inspires me, I always say ‘That which is missing’ because I don’t want to copy everything that’s already happening,” he said. “When I make music, I try to make something you’ve never heard before.”
For new writers, though, it is equally important to make sure that your songs are not TOO different—otherwise you could end up writing in a form that many listeners just can’t understand. You have to strike a balance.
This is because there are specific conventions that are consistently found in the chord progressions, melodies, lyrics, rhymes and construction of all hit songs. Over the past 50 years in particular, listeners have subconsciously come to expect to hear these elements in all new songs.
To be sure of finding receptive ears in the music industry (and amongst record buyers), your songs therefore need to sound familiar—but not similar.
Previously unheard songs have to be easy enough on the listener’s ear to be commercial and marketable (which, at the end of the day, is all that record companies and music publishers are interested in). But instead of simply copying stuff that is happening, focus on taking what is already out there to a new level—whilst being careful not to make too big a leap that could leave a huge gap between you and your audience.
When someone once asked the legendary trumpet player Clark Terry what steps he felt newcomers should take to achieve success, he famously replied: “Imitate, assimilate, and innovate”.
In other words, listen to what’s being played on the radio and on streaming services, analyze the latest trends, absorb the key elements of current hit songs and emulate them—but carve your own niche by innovating and adding something new of your own.
As Pharrell Williams says: “Try to find that which is missing”…
“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.
“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE SONGS IN THE STREAMING AGE – 40 MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT TO GET MORE STREAMS” - This book shows how the dominance of music streaming is having a profound impact on songwriting and the structure of songs. Songs that connect in the streaming world are no longer the same as songs that work on traditional media, like radio. Successful streaming now requires a different type of song. This means songwriters who want more plays on streaming platforms need to rethink their songwriting approach in order to meet the specific needs of streaming audiences. This book aims to provide a better understanding of the new building blocks of song structure in the streaming age. It examines essential elements found in the construction, melodies and lyrics of the biggest streaming hits – and highlights the most common errors made when these key components are built into a song. To help new songwriters avoid such mistakes in their own songs, the book provides 40 insightful tips and a comprehensive Checklist for creating more streaming-friendly songs. The book is now available from Amazon as a paperback and eBook, and also from leading eBook retailers like Apple Books, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
‘HOW (NOT) TO WRITE A HIT SONG! – 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS’
With a 5-star rating at Amazon, this book takes a close look at the essential elements that are consistently found in the structure, melodies and lyrics of all hit songs.
It highlights the most common errors that are made when these key components are built into a song, so that new writers can try to avoid such mistakes in their own songs.
Most writers have had to endure the disappointment of having their songs rejected, and ended up asking: “Could I have done more to make my songs better?”.
“How [Not] To Write A Hit Song!” aims to help writers recognize weaknesses in their songs, so they can re-work them, make them stronger, and hopefully achieve the breakthrough they’re striving for.
The book includes a detailed checklist of 101 common mistakes that writers can measure their own songs against.
“HOW (NOT) TO WRITE GREAT LYRICS! 40 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN WRITING LYRICS FOR YOUR SONGS”
The 40 most common lyric writing mistakes are exposed in this new book by experienced music publisher and music consultant Brian Oliver.
Written in an easy, non-technical style, the book identifies the most frequent causes of lyric writing problems and aims to help aspiring songwriters steer clear of the many traps that they can easily fall into when writing lyrics for their songs.
“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” gives new writers a wide range of valuable advice – from how to prevent common errors in the basic construction of their song lyrics … through to the perils of making bad choices when it comes to titles, opening lines, lyrical hooks, verb selection, clichés, rhyming patterns, and many other issues.
The book includes a comprehensive checklist of more than 100 potential hazards that writers can measure their own lyrics against.
“SURPRISING RHYMING FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS -THE ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY”
With more new songs being written than ever before, songwriters are finding it harder to sound original and craft rhymes that have not already been used. “SURPRISING RHYMING” is a new kind of rhyming dictionary that aims to make it easier for writers to avoid clichés and create rhymes people may not have heard before.
Based on an in-depth study of the ingenious rhymes used by some of the world’s greatest songwriters and lyricists, this book offers an astonishing array of thousands of alternative rhyme options. It contains rhyme types much broader than those found in traditional rhyming dictionaries which tend to stick to ‘perfect’ rhymes. Instead, it focuses on ‘imperfect’ rhymes that are less predictable than ‘pure’ rhymes—and are therefore more likely to surprise an audience. The book also includes many new words that have been added to standard dictionaries in recent years.
With 624 pages, the book is laid out clearly to make it quick and easy to find the perfect word to achieve a memorable rhyme. There are separate sections for one-, two- and three-syllable rhymes, along with many useful tips on rhyming.
“SURPRISING RHYMING” is available from Amazon as a paperback and an eBook. It’s also available as an eBook from Apple’s iTunes Store, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.