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

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When Radio.com’s Annie Reuter asked some of country music’s most successful songwriters for their advice for new writers, her interviews produced these Top Tips from leading writers such as Steve Wariner, Clint Black, Suzy Bogguss, Lady Antebellum (pictured), Kip Moore, Big & Rich, Brett Eldredge, Kacey Musgraves, Jerrod Niemann, Charlie Worsham and Josh Thompson …

1. Be totally focused on your writing

Most of these writers agreed that you have to be totally committed to your writing. Songwriting has to drive everything in you. It has to be a switch you can’t turn off. As Kip Moore explained: “I always tell people to chase their passion. But that ‘chase’ also comes with a warning … Trying to do it for a career, it has to be all or nothing.”

2. There’s no set way to write a song – just write about something you’ve experienced first-hand.

“The best songs for me come from things that I have actually experienced or have some kind of insight on,” said Kacey Musgraves. “It all has to resonate somewhere within me. It can’t be completely fabricated.”

3. Always pay attention to your surroundings in case you overhear a great idea for a phrase or a title.

“Songs are everywhere,” said Steve Wariner. “As a writer, you must always be paying attention so you’re ready for that inspiration to strike. I’ve been in a restaurant where I’m trying to not eavesdrop but you hear a great phrase at the next table and you’re like, ‘That’s a great song title’.”

4. Be a student of songs – always be prepared to learn.

“Study writing,” urged Westin Davis. “Don’t just study songwriting. Study writing period. Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, go all over the place. Study lyrical geniuses too.”

Kip Moore takes a similar approach: “I just studied my butt off with great music,” he said. “I just did it over and over until I figured it out. I can remember how discouraging the whole process was for me … It was such a tough road. But it was all I wanted to do, that’s what kept me going.”

5. Write from the heart and don’t try to fake it.

“I write my best stuff when it’s coming from the heart and it’s exactly what I want to be writing,” said Erik Dylan. “Write what you know and write from the heart … The listener will understand the emotion in the song. If it’s fabricated they’re going to know it’s fake. If it’s real and from the heart people notice that. They believe it.”

6. Get into the habit of writing something every day.

“You want to be a songwriter? Write every day,” urged Dierks Bentley. “Don’t type them up on a nice sheet of paper and put ’em in a three ring binder. Just write ’em up, then go on to the next one. Keep writing.”

You can find out more about these successful writers’ top songwriting tips by watching these three great videos …

 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 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).

 

“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).

 

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A new book titled “How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” aims to help aspiring songwriters steer clear of the many traps they can easily fall into when writing lyrics for their songs.

Written by experienced music publisher and music consultant Brian Oliver, the book takes a close look at the essential lyrical elements that are consistently found in the structure of all hit songs.

It highlights the most common errors that are made when these key components are built into a song, and shows writers who are just starting out how to avoid such mistakes in their own lyrics.

This new book is the follow-up to Brian Oliver’s five-star rated title: “How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success”.

Written in an easy, non-technical style, “How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” identifies many frequent causes of lyrical shortcomings—from common mistakes in the basic construction of song lyrics … to making flawed choices with titles, opening lines, lyrical hooks, verb selection, rhyming patterns, and more.

The book also highlights other causes of lyric writing problems—such as having the wrong mental attitude, not paying enough attention to ‘creative preparation’, and not taking steps to avoid writer’s block.

“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics!” includes important tips on fixing and strengthening lyrics, along with a comprehensive checklist of more than 100 potential hazards that writers can measure their own lyrics against—no matter how ‘finished’ they think their songs are.

Most songwriters have, at some stage, had to endure the disappointment of having their songs rejected and ended up asking: “Could I have done more to make my songs better?”. This book aims to help writers recognise weaknesses in their lyrics, so that they can re-work them, make them stronger, and hopefully achieve the breakthrough they’re striving for.

The book’s author Brian Oliver—who has worked with legendary songwriters such as Neil Diamond, Janis Ian, Albert Hammond and Gilbert O’Sullivan—warns that aspiring writers’ chances of success could be hampered if they fail to spend enough time polishing and editing their lyrics and eradicating weaknesses.

Says Oliver: “When a new lyric idea suddenly hits you – and everything comes together so quickly that the song almost writes itself – it’s very easy to fall into the trap of rushing straight into a studio and recording a demo. You then confidently submit the song to a music company believing it’s the best thing you’ve ever written – only to suffer the agony of having the song rejected.

“Sometimes it’s better just to slow down, take a step back, and re-examine each element of your new lyrics,” he says. “If you don’t spend a little more time polishing your lyrics, there is a danger that they may still contain weaknesses that you failed to spot first time around.”

“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other good book stores as a paperback, or as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Kobo Books.

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

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Dolly_Parton_in_Nashville_2 (1)

“If I had to give up everything else, if people said you can only do one thing, I’d just write. I’d say, ‘Well then, I’ll just be a songwriter.’ Because that’s how I express myself. That’s my time with God.

“My guitar is like my best friend, and my songs are like my therapy … Some days I’ll write four or five songs. Some days I’ll just write one. They’re almost always spinning in my head.

“It’s so fulfilling to think that I could actually leave something in the world today that wasn’t there yesterday.”

—Dolly Parton (in an interview with Alison Bonaguro of CMT.com)

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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).

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 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).

 


Nick_Jonas_-_Kingdom_Premiere_Oct_2014_(cropped)_(cropped)

“The beauty of songwriting is that we have the ability to tell our stories, and it means something to us. But then you open it up to other people, and their experience and how it affects their lives.

“That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a songwriter in an 11,12-year career. You have to write about things that are real to you and relevant to you. And it doesn’t always have to be emotional and heavy, it can be just about whatever it is, but it has to connect. But it can’t be hyper-specific or it’s going to alienate some people.

“People like Taylor [Swift] and Drake do that very well. They’re able to kind of create something that means something to them but also everyone can connect to it in their own way.”

—Nick Jonas  (in an interview with Bustle Magazine)

(Photo: Mingle Media TV)

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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).


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In its latest All Songs +1 podcast, America’s National Public Radio network (NPR) talks to Paul McCartney about his songwriting process and how he manages to stay inspired despite having written some 30 albums worth of songs over the past five decades.

The intriguing 40-minute discussion shows how McCartney, at the age of 73, is still in love with making music, and still feels a spark of enthusiasm in the way he approaches songwriting.

“If I was to sit down and write a song now,” he tells NPR’s Robin Hilton and Bob Boilen, “I’d use my usual method: I’d either sit down with a guitar or at the piano and just look for melodies, chord shapes, musical phrases, some words, a thought, just to get started. And then I just sit with it to work it out, like I’m writing an essay or doing a crossword puzzle. That’s the system I’ve always used, that John [Lennon] and I started with. I’ve really never found a better system …”

You can listen to the full NPR podcast here …

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/481256944/481471157

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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).

 


 

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).


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).


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If you try to force too many messages into one song, you could end up being overloaded with verses, warns former Buffalo Springfield and CSN star Stephen Stills who wrote the rock classics ‘For What It’s Worth’ and ‘Love the One You’re With’.

Stills believes writers should never be afraid to take a pair of scissors to their songs. “If I’ve got too many verses,” he says, “I’ll cut out two verses and then take the meaning of the song and condense it.”

Unfortunately, many new writers tend to try too hard and end up cramming too much into a song—making it way too long and unnecessarily complicated … and leaving the listener feeling confused.

That’s why it’s so important to avoid over-thinking or over-writing your songs. Sometimes, the chords, melodies and lyrics that come to you instinctively are the right ones, so don’t spend forever searching for the perfect melody or words. In other words, know when to quit.

That’s something that Dave Matthews – lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with the Dave Matthews Band – admits he finds hard to do. “I take it too far sometimes,” he once told Rolling Stone magazine. “When I listen to my favorite songwriters, they have such simple melodies and chords. I occasionally manage to stop at the right time, but all too often I keep on going until I have way too many notes and words.”

These days, a hit song tends to comprise just one story told from one point of view. So stay focused. If you have several unrelated points that you want to get across to listeners, try putting them in separate songs.

And don’t try to be too tricky with your chord progressions. Just concentrate on creating music and lyrics that can hold the listener’s attention … and write a melody that is easy for them to remember.

In short, don’t sabotage your songs by being too smart for your own good.

Here’s Stephen Stills with a perfect three verses-plus-chorus classic ….

Stephen Stills photo: SolarScott

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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).