What is your favorite song of all time? What do you remember about that song? How long did it take you to memorize all the words? Can you play it back in your head?
Chances are that favorite song of yours has elements you want to emulate or achieve through your own writing. It probably has a strong hook and some clever lyrics – and isn’t that the reason you remember it, the reason you love it? As a musician, you have to wonder: How do I create the same lyrical and catchy content in my own music?
Some musicians are blessed with the ability to write. Certain singers can pour out poetry and melody like it’s nothing. There are guitarists who can come up with a catchy riff – and hundreds more – out of nowhere.
Song writing is a very specialist skill. To be successful, song writers need a special ‘gift’ to understand what makes a song memorial and connects with a wide range of people. Song writing takes practice, experimentation, experience, and natural talent. While you can learn tricks and tips, literary devices, and invest in all sorts of rhyming dictionaries or other songwriting aids, some people will never become proficient at song writing. This in no way reflects on a person as a musician and/or talented singer. Again, song writing is a very specialized talent and it is a different skill than being a musician or singer.
This isn’t meant to discourage you! For musicians who can’t or don’t want to write songs, their talents can still be excellent and well appreciated without a writing credit. Here is a quick tip for finding a natural song writer to help you both with your musical career and/or crafting your own song writing skill: If you hear a song you love from another local artist, ask them if you can add it to your repertoire. Maybe talk to them about giving a listen to songs you are working on. Just remember: When you ask for a song writers opinion be prepared for both positive and negative opinions. Whether positive or negative, take some time to reflect on what advice you received.
If that a particular artist’s musical material is very exciting then consider asking them to co-write with you. Most serious writers will jump at the chance to work with a band or performer who doesn’t have their own material – after all, it benefits their career, too. As a musician you may find you can contribute a good deal musically. Keep in mind that many song writers are looking for skilled musicians to fill in the musical side of a composition.
Working with a song writer who is more established and experienced in the craft has another added benefit: It is an invaluable lesson in learning to write your own songs. Writing hand in hand with someone who is well versed in creating hooks, melodies, riffs and lyrics can exponentially increase your ability to master songwriting yourself.
Sometimes musicians tend to look down upon people who don’t write their own material based and feel at particular pop stars are ‘manufactured’ by the contemporary music industry. These types of artists seem to be made famous primarily for their appearance and marketability as opposed to their musical talent. This prejudice is unfair to musical artist who do not necessarily write their own music but nevertheless are fantastic singers and/or musicians such as Neil Diamond, the early Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Even Alicia Keys and Usher have been known to utilize professional, talented song writers to assist them in developing songs. The song writing collaboration of Elton John and Bernie Taupin is legendary.
It is unfortunate this prejudice that you are not a serious singer or musician unless you write your own material persists. Many top song writers and lyricist may not necessarily perform their own material well. But, with the right musician and/or singer, a song can come to life and become a hit that millions enjoy. In terms of enjoyment and appreciation, who cares if the artist actually wrote the material?
Working with a songwriter is a middle ground that can help amplify the talents of everyone involved in creating, producing and releasing a song. There is no shame in working with someone that specializes in song construction to further both the musical careers of everyone. Some other well respected artists who have worked with and performed songs by song writers are Aerosmith, Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, Patti LaBelle. The list of top performing artist who have worked with song writers and lyricists is endless.
If your songs aren’t up to the standard you want, if creating a hit song is really what you are after, consider seeking out song writers who have a ‘knack’ for creating a catchy, well crafted song.