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

Category Archives: Songwriting News

 

Lionel Richie

“I didn’t know I was a writer. I thought you had to be able to read and write music and understand theory before you could write songs. Then as I got into Motown, I realized probably half of the great writers there couldn’t read or write music …

“It set me free from the standpoint of technically trying to write the notes down … I think by not knowing much theory, it set me free from the rules.”

—Lionel Richie (in an interview with Billboard magazine)

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“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 Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

 

 


Damon Albarn - 2010 - by Bill Ebbesen

“What is songwriting? What is it all about? … True songwriters are people who are able to release themselves from something that’s really affected them by writing a song about it.

“Some of us see it as going to church, some of us see it as going to work, but at the end of the day, if you’re not connecting to the spirit you’re not making true music.”

— Damon Albarn (on receiving his Lifetime Achievement award at the Ivor Novello Awards 2016).

(Photo: Bill Ebbesen)

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“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, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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

 


Pixie_Lott_2014_(cropped) - Photo - Walterlan Papetti

Pixie Lott (Photo: Walterlan Papetti)

UK music business training organisation, The Songwriting Academy, has teamed up with coffee house chain Caffè Nero to launch a songwriting competition to find the best unsigned songwriter in the UK—and raise £50,000 for charity.

According to the organisers, this is the first time a live, event-based songwriting competition has been launched in the UK where the song is the star, not the singer.

The songwriter with the strongest songs will be the winner. Songwriters who are not singers will be allowed to use session singers and musicians.

The first prize includes a 12-month development programme with The Songwriting Academy, plus promotion and exposure via Caffè Nero outlets, and support from Yamaha Instruments.

Songwriters can enter their songs online HERE before 1st September, 2016.

The top songwriters will be selected to showcase their songs at live regional heats across the UK in Caffè Nero stores from 26 September 2016, culminating in a star-studded Gala Final in London on 30 October 2016.

In addition, top celebrities and multi-million selling songwriters are all coming together to help the competition raise money for the Stand Up To Cancer campaign and music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. The two charities will share all profits.

English singer-songwriter Pixie Lott (pictured above) said: “What an amazing way to raise money for a great cause. Every unsigned songwriter in the country should get writing for this competition!”

Jack SavorettiSinger-songwriter Jack Savoretti (left) added: “This is a great opportunity for up and coming songwriters … which are hard to come by. It is also for a great cause.”

The Songwriting Academy is a UK-based songwriting, production and music business training organisation. It aims to help songwriters succeed in today’s competitive music business through the support of a team of leading songwriters, producers and industry experts.

Caffè Nero has supported talented grass-root musicians for many years. It was instrumental in supporting the early careers of artists such as Jack Savoretti and Passenger through live performances in many of its 600 UK stores and airplay on Caffè Nero’s in-store playlist.

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“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, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and KoboBooks.

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


Lionel Ritchie - Mar2011 - Photo by Eva Rinaldi

Lionel Richie is set to receive the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at this June’s Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The award is the Hall’s highest honour and is only awarded to past inductees. Richie has been a Hall of Fame member since 1994.

“In our view, Lionel is more than well deserving of this honour as one the greatest and most prolific songwriters and identifiable music voices in our century,” said the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s co-chairmen Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. “As a songwriter, Lionel’s songs made you love and dance and will last forever in American culture. But he truly demonstrated the power of songwriting with his masterful co-writing of the global song ‘We Are The World’ with Michael Jackson.”

Richie’s songwriting credits include ‘Three Times A Lady’ and ‘Easy’ with The Commodores, and solo hits such as ‘Endless Love’, ‘All Night Long (All Night)’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Say You, Say Me’.

Previous recipients of the Johnny Mercer Award have included Van Morrison, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Phil Collins, Paul Anka, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Stephen Sondheim, among others.

Set to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at this year’s event are: Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Chip Taylor, Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards (who died in 1996), and the late Marvin Gaye. Sire Records co-founder and chairman Seymour Stein will receive the Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award.

(Photo: Eva Rinaldi)

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“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.
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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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

 


American Authors, winner of the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition

This year’s USA Songwriting Competition is now open for entries and is offering a top prize of $50,000 (£35,000) in cash, plus music gear and US radio airplay.

Songwriters from around the world are urged to enter before the closing date of 27 May 2016. The cost is US$35.00 per entry.

Original songs – which can be written in any language – may be entered in 15 diverse genre categories including: Pop, Rock/Alternative, Country, R&B, Gospel/Inspirational, Folk, Latin, Instrumental, Jazz, Hip-Hop/Rap, Children, World, Dance/Electronica, Novelty/Comedy, and Lyrics Only.

Winners will be selected by a committee of music industry judges, including music publishers and record label A&R execs from Universal Music, Warner Music and Sony.

Songwriters will retain all rights to all of their songs.

The USA Songwriting Competition is an international songwriting event which has been honouring songwriters, composers, bands and recording artists from all over the world since 1995. Past winners have come from Australia, Japan, Canada, UK, Germany, Brazil and South Africa, as well as from the USA.

“This is not American Idol,” say the organisers. “This is the professional songwriting competition that offers winners the clout that it takes to really make it.”

The winner of the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition—’Believer’ by US rock band American Authors (pictured)—went on to achieve Platinum sales. It topped the Billboard Adult Pop Song Charts and reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. The song—which was written by Zac Barnett, Dave Rublin, Matt Sanchez, James Adam Shelley, Aaron Accetta and Shep Goodman—was also featured in the hit movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

You can enter the competition online HERE …

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“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.
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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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


Marvin_Gaye_in_1973

Marvin Gaye, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards are among the music legends who will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at an awards ceremony in New York in June.

The 2016 inductees also include Chip Taylor who wrote the classic songs ‘Angel of the Morning’ and The Troggs’ ‘Wild Thing’.

The inductees will follow more than 400 artists and songwriters who have already been enshrined in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees were chosen from a long list of nominees in three categories: Performing Songwriters, Non-Performing Songwriters and Deceased Songwriters. The nominees included Madonna, John Mellencamp, Sly Stone, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, and one-man Swedish hit factory Max Martin who has been responsible for twenty-one No. 1 Billboard hits since 1998.

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, co-chairmen of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, said they were excited about “the quality and diversity” of the songs and songwriters that will be honoured this year. “The 2016 roster of Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees is a beautiful mosaic of the best of late 20th Century popular music,” said Gamble & Huff in a statement. “With creators of Rock & Roll, Soul/R&B, Country and Funk/Dance represented, we are looking forward to an unforgettable and extremely exciting event.”

Founded in 1969 by songwriter Johnny Mercer and music publishers Abe Olman and Howie Richmond, the Songwriters Hall of Fame provides a bridge between music’s past and future – with musical pioneers celebrated and enshrined, while the organization’s outreach to the music community grooms the next generation of songwriters.

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“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.

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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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

 


MEP 14

Max Martin, one of the most successful songwriters of the last 20 years, is set to receive this year’s Polar Music Prize Laureate when the Stockholm-based event celebrates its 25th anniversary in June 2016. The award will be presented by Sweden’s King Carl XVI.

Previous winners include Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Burt Bacharach.

Stockholm-born Max Martin (real name Martin Sandberg) said: “If you can somehow influence popular culture, shape it in some way, when something becomes bigger than just a song, that’s the greatest thing for me… this is what I love about music. You can reach so many people.”

Things really took off for him in 1995, when he started working with the Backstreet Boys, receiving a writing credit on the boy band’s platinum single ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’. He followed that success with Robyn’s ‘Show Me Love’ and ‘Do You Know (What it Takes)’, both of which also charted.

Since 1999, Martin has written or co-written 21 US Number One hits (most of which he also produced or co-produced) – including Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ (2008), Pink’s ‘So What’ (2008), ‘Hold It Against Me’ by Britney Spears (2011), Maroon 5’s ‘One More Night’ (2012), and Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ (2014).

Martin is the songwriter with the third-most Number One chart single credits – behind only Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Many of the stars who have achieved chart success with Martin’s songs have already started paying tribute to him. “He sets the scene to be really creative,” said Katy Perry.

Britney Spears – for whom Martin wrote ‘Baby One More Time’ – said: “I think you are a genius; you’ve been a part of my career from my beginning.”

Pink said: “You blow my mind and I’m really proud of you,” while Justin Bieber added: “No one deserves it more, you are a master.”

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, who was the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA. The name of the prize stems from Anderson’s legendary Swedish record label, Polar Music.

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“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.

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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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


Take That -2015Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) – the UK-based organization which licenses recorded music that is broadcast or played in public – has released an official chart of the ‘Most Played Love Songs of the 21st Century’.

Based on PPL’s exclusive UK airplay data, the chart collates songs about love, longing and adoration played on UK radio stations between 2000 and 2015.

Snow Patrol’s 2006 Grammy-winning song ‘Chasing Cars’ tops the list, followed by ‘Rule the World’ by Take That (pictured) in second place and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ by Kylie Minogue at number three. Power ballads, romantic film soundtracks and up-tempo dance tunes all feature on the list.

Here’s the full list of PPL’s ‘Most Played Love Songs of the 21st Century’:

1. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
2. Rule The World – Take That
3. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue
4. Crazy In Love – Beyoncé Feat. Jay-Z
5. I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – Aerosmith
6. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
7. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
8. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
9. Rather Be (Feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
10. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
11. There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) – Eurythmics
12. (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
13. Haven’t Met You Yet – Michael Bublé
14. Drive By – Train
15. Someone Like You – Adele
16. Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
17. Lady (Hear Me Tonight) – Modjo
18. Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
19. Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
20. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
21. Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s
22. Can’t Fight The Moonlight – Leann Rimes
23. Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) – Spiller
24. She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5
25. You To Me Are Everything – The Real Thing
26. True – Spandau Ballet
27. You’re Beautiful – James Blunt
28. It Must Be Love – Madness
29. She Moves In Her Own Way – Kooks
30. Stars – Simply Red
31. I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
32. Wherever You Will Go – The Calling
33. The Power Of Love – Huey Lewis And The News
34. If You’re Not The One – Daniel Bedingfield
35. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart – Elton John & Kiki Dee
36. Stand By Me – Ben E King
37. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel
38. With Or Without – You U2
39. We Found Love – Rihanna Feat. Calvin Harris
40. When You Say Nothing At All – Ronan Keating
41. Hero – Enrique Iglesias
42. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic – Police
43. You Give Me Something – James Morrison
44. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin & George Michael
45. You Can’t Hurry Love – Phil Collins
46. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
47. When You’re Gone – Bryan Adams
48. Life Is A Rollercoaster – Ronan Keating
49. Take My Breath Away – Berlin
50. Everlasting Love – Love Affair
51. Son Of A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
52. Dreams – Gabrielle
53. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus & Chaka Khan
54. Never Too Much – Luther Vandross
55. Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
56. She’s The One – Robbie Williams
57. If There’s Any Justice – Lemar
58. Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
59. Love Is All Around – Wet Wet Wet
60. Halo – Beyoncé
61. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
62. Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
63. Fill My Little World – The Feeling
64. Yellow – Coldplay
65. Lovely Day – Bill Withers
66. Dilemma – Nelly
67. Grenade – Bruno Mars
68. Thank You – Dido
69. Kiss From A Rose – Seal
70. I Wanna Be The Only One – Eternal Feat. Bebe Winans
71. Best Of My Love – The Emotions
72. Run To You – Bryan Adams
73. Lego House – Ed Sheeran.

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“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.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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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


apple-music-memo-lead-582x402An all-new app from Apple called Music Memos will allow songwriters to quickly capture, organize and develop musical ideas on their iPhone. At the same time, a major update to Apple’s GarageBand for iOS on iPhone or iPad has introduced several new features, including Live Loops.

Many musicians and songwriters already use the Voice Memos app on their iPhone to quickly record ideas. According to Apple, the new Music Memos app is inspired by Voice Memos and takes the functionality even further by adding musician-friendly features designed specifically for songwriting and developing musical ideas.

With Music Memos, says Apple, you can record any musical instrument through the iPhone’s built-in microphone in a high-quality, uncompressed format, then name, tag and rate it to start building a library of your ideas. The app can analyse rhythm and chords of acoustic guitar and piano recordings, and instantly add drums and a bass line to provide a virtual, customizable backing band that plays along to match the feel of your song.

Apple says Music Memos can even provide basic notation that displays the chords that were played. With iCloud, Music Memos will automatically be available across all of a songwriter’s Apple devices – so the memos can be opened in GarageBand or Logic Pro X to further develop new songs.

“The innovative new Music Memos app will help musicians quickly capture their ideas on iPhone and iPad whenever inspiration strikes,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “GarageBand is the most popular music creation app in the world, and this update helps everyone easily tap into their musical talent with the powerful new Live Loops and Drummer features, and adds support for the larger iPad Pro screen and 3D Touch on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.”

Ryan AdamsSinger-songwriter Ryan Adams (pictured) says he is already a big fan of the new Music Memos app. “Sometimes ideas come faster than I can get them into my notebook so I’ve used Voice Memos and Notes to quickly capture songs before they’re lost. Music Memos is like if those two apps came together to form some kind of superpower for songs.”

He added: “It quite literally blew my mind how Music Memos could transform a single guitar idea into a whole composition with a virtual drummer loose enough that it felt like you were having your mind read by some A.I. musician and a choice of stand-up or electric bass accompaniments.”

Music Memos is available for free on the App Store and is compatible with iPhone 4s and later, and iPad 2 and later.

For more information about the new Music Memos app, visit: http://www.apple.com/music-memos.

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“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.
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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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

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HOW MANY SONGWRITERS

“I write the songs that make the whole world sing” wrote Beach Boy Bruce Johnston in his award-winning 1975 song which became a global hit for Barry Manilow. Today, the lyric would probably have to be reworked as: “WE write the songs …”.

That’s because the number of chart songs written by solo songwriters has fallen dramatically since Johnston created ‘I Write the Songs’. Back in 1975, 51 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 were credited to a single writer. The figure had fallen to 32 by 1995, just 14 in 2005, and only a handful in 2015 — most notably Fetty Wap’s ‘Trap Queen’ (written solely by Fetty Wap, aka Willie Maxwell) and ‘Take Me To Church’ by Hozier.

There has been an increasing shift to ‘music-by-committee’ in recent years. Today, many producers of artists who don’t write their own songs are finding that the best way to consistently generate hits is to use the American TV ‘writers room’ model — with large numbers of pop writers working in teams.

Of course, songs created by more than one writer have been around since the dawn of Tin Pan Alley. Historically (with the exception of Holland-Dozier-Holland), hit songwriting teams have mostly been duos — with one partner responsible for composing the melody and the other charged with writing the lyrics.

Words-and-music duos have been responsible for some of the greatest songs of the past 100 years: Richard Rodgers and lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II, George and Ira Gershwin, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and many more.

The  increase in the number of writers attached to a hit song  — especially in the pop genre — is particularly evident with the so-called track-and-hook approach to song creation. This basically involves a split between the writing of the beat (track) and the hooks (melodies) instead of the traditional ‘words and music’ delineation.

Today, songwriting partnerships can be almost as large as a soccer team. In fact, ‘Uptown Funk’ — the Mark Ronson hit assembled from a variety of sources — has eleven different writers attached to its credits.

Britney_Spears_2013English boy band One Direction had an average of five songwriters per track on their hit album Take Me Home. Britney Spears went two better with her track ‘Ooh La La’ which was featured in the Smurfs movie, The Smurfs 2. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ‘Ooh La La’ was the result of a seven-way collaboration between Lukasz Gottwald, Joshua Coleman, Henry Walter, Bonnie McKee, Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Lola Blanc and Fransisca Hall.

As a result of this trend, there have been calls for limits to be imposed on the number of writers who can legitimately claim to be responsible for a hit — especially when it comes to submitting songs for awards. The British Academy of Songwriters Composers & Authors (Basca), for example, wants to restrict the number of writers allowed on works submitted for its annual Ivor Novello Awards to six.

Leading British songwriter Graham Gouldman — whose many hits include ‘I’m Not in Love’ (10cc), ‘Bus Stop’ (The Hollies) and ‘For Your Love’ and ‘Heart Full of Soul’ (The Yardbirds) — believes the current situation has become “ridiculous”.

“Historically, songwriting partnerships have been between two people,” Gouldman recently told The Independent newspaper. “Now the drum programmer wants to get a credit for creating the drum part. There are bands I know who divide each song into bars and someone says, ‘I created five bars and they are repeated three times so that’s 15 bars’. Someone might say that their 10 per cent is the most hooky part of the song. It’s impossible to quantify these contributions.”

John Seabrook, author of the excellent book The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, believes the TV ‘writers room’ approach can be traced back to Sweden in 1994 … to the hit-factory model created by Cheiron Studios co-founder Denniz Pop (Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys) and his protégé Max Martin (pictured below).

According to Seabrook, an important part of Denniz PoP’s vision for Cheiron was that songwriting should be a collaborative effort – with songwriters assigned different parts of a song, such as the central chord progression or riff, the chorus, the bridge and the hook. The teams of writers were then expected to willingly share credit.

MEP 14“The track-and-hook method of songwriting is at the basis of a lot of these changes,” says Seabrook. “A track is almost a canvas with some background painted into it, and different people add hooks and a bridge and a chorus and slowly it becomes a song, rather than springing fully formed from the imagination of a Burt Bacharach, sitting at the piano.”

This development is also changing the traditional method of trying to get an artist to cover songs. Instead of pitching songs on spec to a producer or an A&R exec, major labels now often convene so-called ‘writing camps’ for their biggest artists. These communal songwriting sessions typically involve an array of musicians from different genres — all with the same aim of trying to get a piece of a song on the limited track listing for a top-tier album.

So what is the optimum number of writers required to create a hit song in 2016?

At least four … and possibly half a dozen. That’s according to research conducted by Hit Songs Deconstructed, which specialises in analysing the craft and trends that shape today’s chart-topping hits.

Hit Songs Deconstructed found that about half of the Top 10 hits in Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2015 were written by teams consisting of five or more songwriters, compared with teams of at least four writers in 2014. Its research showed that 199 credited songwriters were responsible for crafting the 59 songs that charted within the Hot 100 Top 10 in 2014.

“If you plan on writing a hit song, you’d better find a writing partner,” suggests Hit Songs Deconstructed’s founder David Penn.

(Main photo: KidBilly Music)

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“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.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), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

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