SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

Category Archives: Music streaming

Photo by Raphael Pour-Hashemi

“If I can sit down and write an amazing song with my guitar about what’s going on in life, then that’s the greatest therapy for me,” Miley Cyrus once remarked. As if to prove it, her new single ‘Flowers’ has just broken the Spotify record for most streams in a single week.

Written by Miley Cyrus, Gregory Aldae Hein and Michael Pollack, ‘Flowers’ has set a new record by gaining over 101 million streams on Spotify within the first week of release. It is set to become one of the biggest hits of Cyrus’s career.

‘Flowers’ is a powerful anthem about finding your strength after a breakup. Like other massive streaming hits cited in the new book How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age, ‘Flowers’ features many of the new songwriting components that are emerging in the algorithm-driven streaming market. For example, ‘Flowers’ gets straight to the point with only a 5-second intro, an infectious post-chorus, and no fade-out at the end.

The song has clear disco and funk influences and some observers have suggested that it interpolates features from Gloria Gaynor’s 1978 song ‘I Will Survive’ (which has a similar message about self-empowerment).

In the song, which many people see as a response to the break-up of her relationship with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus celebrates her freedom and herself, letting the world know that she can love herself better than anyone else can. “I can buy myself flowers…,” she sings.

Streams of ‘Flowers’ grew each day during its first week on Spotify. On the day it was released, the song had 7.71 million streams. By its third day, it had passed 10 million. On the fourth day, the song exceeded 15 million streams and it has had over 17 million every day since then, leading to a peak of almost 18 million streams in a single day.

The song is expected to be Cyrus’s first Top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 since 2017’s ‘Malibu’ – and her first number-one since ‘Wrecking Ball’ in 2013.

‘Flowers’ will be featured on Miley Cyrus’s upcoming album Endless Summer Vacation, which is out on March 10.

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“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, a Canada paperback, an Australia paperback, and across Europe.

It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and across Europe—as well as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE SAMPLE of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)HERE (CANADA)… and HERE (AUSTRALIA).

SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) … HERE (UK) … HERE (CANADA).

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.A 5-star rated book at Amazon, 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, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

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Joni Mitchell is this year’s winner of the prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress. The award will be presented to her during a televised tribute concert on March 1 in Washington, DC.

She is the third woman to be recognized with the award, after Carole King in 2013 and Gloria Estefan in 2019.

Joni Mitchell got her start performing in coffee shops and nightclubs in her native Canada nearly 60 years ago. She went on to set a new standard for marrying music and lyrics – with songs such as ‘Both Sides Now’, ‘Chelsea Morning’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘Woodstock and ‘The Circle Game’, and classic albums like Blue, Clouds and Ladies of the Canyon.

“Joni Mitchell’s music and artistry have left a distinct impression on American culture and internationally, crossing from folk music with a distinctive voice whose songs will stay with us for the ages,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Joni Mitchell’s music has so many artists and music lovers all singing her tunes. We are honored to present the Gershwin Prize to this musical genius.”

While Mitchell’s early music is often categorized as ‘folk’, her sound draws as much from jazz, classical and rock as she crossed various musical genres. Her music often encompasses bespoke tunings and song structures that defy categorization. As a lyricist, she delves deeply into both the personal and political, unafraid to explore the raw reality of living underneath societal norms and time-worn traditions.

Bestowed in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is the United States’ highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music. The honoree is selected by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a board of scholars, producers, performers, songwriters and other music specialists.

Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, and Lionel Richie.

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“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, a Canada paperback, an Australia paperback, and across Europe.

It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and across Europe—as well as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE SAMPLE of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)HERE (CANADA)… and HERE (AUSTRALIA).

SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) … HERE (UK) … HERE (CANADA).

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.A 5-star rated book at Amazon, 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, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


The Brill Building … an early songwriting camp?

The unsung contribution that songwriters make to some of the biggest hits by global superstars is the focus of a new project involving academics from the University of Huddersfield and Birmingham City University in England and the University of Lüneburg in Germany.

The three-year project, Songwriting Camps in the 21st Century, is being led by musicologist Dr Jan Herbst, a Reader in Music Production at the University of Huddersfield. He will work closely with partners Professor Michael Ahlers, from the University of Lüneburg, and Birmingham City’s Dr Simon Barber, who co-hosts the popular songwriting podcast Sodajerker.

The study is being funded with grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Songwriting camps tend to be two to five-day meetings, sometimes held in remote locations to foster collaboration without distractions. The camps often see songwriters join with other figures from the music industry – such as producers and engineers – to exchange ideas and collaborate on writing new songs.

Some of the ideas can lead to songwriters linking up with the world’s biggest acts, but there are concerns that fledgling songwriters often don’t receive the same co-writing credits as established names.

These major artists write many of their own songs, but some of the help they receive from other songwriters to create their ‘sound’ is often unheralded. This has prompted Dr Herbst and his partners to look into how songwriting camps work.

“Historically we know a lot about Tin Pan Alley, the Brill Building, Leiber and Stoller, and Lennon and McCartney – real teams that wrote together almost in factory-like environments,” says Dr Herbst. But the career benefits of songwriting camps have never been thoroughly researched so far, he says.

“We aim for a holistic overview of the phenomenon,” he says. “We want the views of all stakeholders – from the publishers to the record labels to songwriters, looking at the creative, legal, and financial aspects. We are looking at it from all different perspectives to understand it.”

Dr Herbst acknowledges that songwriting is a precarious profession: “It is easy to exploit songwriters. Artists who write with them are empowered, because they can pay the songwriter a one-off fee or pay them very low royalty rates. And to keep the impression of authenticity, there cannot be any outside contributors, and so songwriters can be bought out rather than appear in the credits.”

He says: “There are legal and copyright issues at play, and the record labels and publishing companies also come into it with their own interests. It can become complicated, and it has implications for how songwriters are evaluated or invited to work with others.”

Dr Herbst adds: “We also want to assess diversity among songwriters. Is it promoted at all? We’d assume that higher diversity contributes to creativity, but there might be reasons that prevent this.”

Songwriters seem to have mixed views on the value of songwriting camps. Noel Gallagher – formerly chief songwriter with Oasis and now with his own band, High Flying Birds – told Music Week: “I don’t get it… Two guys do the beats, another one does the topline, another does this, that and the other. Five people to write a song? If five people write a song, they should be in a band together.”

However, Susan Cattaneo, a songwriting professor at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, says: “Co-writing is a great way to get more of you out there as a songwriter. The more songs you have out there, the more chances you have of being heard.”

And Grammy award winner Evan Bogart insists: “The energy in the room writes the song. In my experience, it’s not any sort of ability you bring to the session, it’s about the combination of the energy in the room. You never know where or who the brilliant line, melody or musical idea is going to come from.”

Take a look at how one songwriting camp in Berlin functioned:

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“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, a Canada paperback, an Australia paperback, and across Europe.

It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and across Europe—as well as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE SAMPLE of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)HERE (CANADA)… and HERE (AUSTRALIA).

 

SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) … HERE (UK) … HERE (CANADA).

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.A 5-star rated book at Amazon, 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, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


Photo by Brian Ziff

The Weeknd’s 80s-inspired hit song ‘Blinding Lights’ has become the most-streamed song on music-streaming platform Spotify.

‘Blinding Lights’ has attracted over 3.336 billion streams on Spotify since its release in November 2019, beating the record previously set by Ed Sheeran’s 2017 hit ‘Shape Of You’ which now has 3.334 billion streams.

The Weeknd—whose real name is Abel Tesfaye—co-wrote and co-produced ‘Blinding Lights’ with Swedish ‘hit machine’ Max Martin, along with co-writers Ahmad Balshe, Jason Quenneville and Oscar Holter.

The total number of streams of ‘Blinding Lights’ has been boosted by the song’s three official remixes: one by electronic band Chromatics, one by electronic dance music group Major Lazer, and one featuring singer-songwriter Rosalía.

In an Esquire interview, The Weeknd explained: “‘Blinding Lights’ is about how you want to see someone at night, and you’re intoxicated, and you’re driving to this person and you’re just blinded by streetlights. But nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person because you’re so lonely. I don’t want to ever promote drunk driving, but that’s what the dark undertone is.”

The song is written in the key of F Dorian with a tempo of 171 BPM. The F Dorian scale has a key signature of three flats (B♭, E♭, and A♭). It is similar to the Fm scale except its 6th note is a half-step higher (D). Chord progressions in the Dorian mode also have a characteristic dreamy sound due to the quality of the chord built on the 4th scale degree.

‘Blinding Lights’ has a distinct 80s synth-pop vibe and leans on Max Martin’s highly successful “melodic math” approach to song construction.

In a Billboard interview, The Weeknd expressed his appreciation for music of the 1980s: “I’ve always had an admiration for the era before I was born,” he revealed. “The 80s play such a huge role in my sound. Sometimes it helps me create a new sound and sometimes it’s just obvious. I’m just glad the world’s into it now.”

“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, a Canada paperback, an Australia paperback, and across Europe.

It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and across Europe—as well as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE SAMPLE of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)HERE (CANADA)… and HERE (AUSTRALIA).

SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS

“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe, as well as Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) … HERE (UK) … HERE (CANADA).


How music streaming is having a profound impact on songwriting and song structure

Songwriters who want to get more plays on Spotify and other streaming platforms need to rethink their approach to songwriting and song structure to meet the needs of streaming audiences. Streaming listeners who are spoiled for choice are increasingly likely to ‘click and skip’ to the next track if a song doesn’t grab them in the first 20 seconds.

These are two of the key messages from a new book titled: “How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams”. The book aims to help new songwriters create more streaming-friendly songs.

“Successful streaming now requires a different type of song,” says the book’s author Brian Oliver, an experienced music publisher. “Streaming has not only revolutionized the way people consume music, it is also transforming the way songs are being written and recorded. Streaming is changing the whole methodology of songwriting.”

“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age” shows how the global dominance of music streaming is having a far-reaching impact on songwriting and the structure of songs. It reveals how songs that connect in the streaming world are no longer the same as songs that work on traditional media, such as radio.

“Songwriters are facing a period of great change,” Oliver warns. “To succeed in the highly competitive streaming marketplace, creators need to adapt to the new songwriting conventions that are emerging in this algorithm-driven musical environment.”

Oliver says song structures that have been at the heart of hit songs for over 60 years are now being replaced by a song form that has one overriding objective: Keep streaming audiences listening for at least the first 30 seconds—otherwise a play won’t count as a stream…. the song may be downgraded on the streaming service’s database….and nobody gets paid.

With more songs now being designed to please the streaming companies’ algorithms, “How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age” aims to help provide a better understanding of the changing building blocks of song structure in the streaming age. It’s an era in which the verse has gained a new importance because ‘click and skip’ streaming listeners don’t always stick around for the chorus.

The book examines the essential elements that are consistently found in the construction, melodies and lyrics of the biggest streaming hits. Crucially, it highlights the most common errors made when these key components are built into a song. In doing so, it aims to help new and aspiring songwriters avoid such mistakes in their own songs.

The book provides 40 insightful tips and essential advice. It also includes a comprehensive Checklist designed to help new songwriters overcome the most frequent mistakes that are made when trying to write streaming-friendly songs.

“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is now available from Amazon as a paperback and eBook in all territories, and also from leading eBook retailers such as Apple Books, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.

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“How [Not] to Write Songs in the Streaming Age – 40 Mistakes to Avoid If You Want to Get More Streams” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, a Canada paperback, an Australia paperback, and across Europe.

It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and across Europe—as well as Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE SAMPLE of the book HERE (USA)HERE (UK)HERE (CANADA)… and HERE (AUSTRALIA).

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