No matter who you are and what sort of music you make, learning basic music theory is something that can absolutely change the way you think about songwriting for the better. Sheer songwriting talent, solid instruments, and compositional technology can certainly help you write great music, but nothing can replace music theory knowledge as being the best tool for explaining what music literally is and how it works. Rather than explain what basic music theory is––I already did that in a two-part series you can read here––in this article, I’m making the case for why every songwriter should take the time to master music theory basics.
With a constant stream of analytic information measured in song plays, likes, views, and other stats, it can be tempting to play the comparison game in music. Because this constantly updated information is an important indicator of an artist’s success, it could lead some musicians to constantly compare their numbers to other artists. But while some helpful insights could be gleaned by seeing how well your contemporaries are faring in today’s tumultuous music climate, it’s a bad habit to be constantly sizing yourself up against other artists. Here’s why.
Lots of potentially phenomenal songwriters often fantasize about writing music but can’t bring themselves to write a song. For some, the problem is rooted in a lack of confidence and the paralyzing fear of being made vulnerable through music. But for other musicians, a complete lack of knowing what to write about is the culprit.
Knowing what to write songs about can be a challenge even for experienced songwriters, so this is a problem that plagues most writers eventually. Here’s five tips designed to help get you thinking about what to write about in your music:
Ah, the dreaded bad review. Even the most talented and successful songwriters often question themselves after reading a negative write-up about their music, but negative reviews are especially potent when they’re aimed at new and up-and-coming bands. No matter who you are and what kind of music you make, bad reviews and harsh opinions about what you’re doing are an inevitability, and crafting your music a specific way to please critics will only make your music worse. So, what do you do when a bad review comes along?
Whether songwriters like it or not, critics and tastemakers representing blogs and media outlets are a major part of how music is vetted, marketed and sold, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. With how important music criticism is to the success and longevity of a release, it can be tempting for writers to try and make their music sound like something they think will please critics, but they shouldn’t. Here are three reasons why:
How many half-finished songs or killer ideas do you have collecting digital dust on a hard drive?
Getting started on a new song or project is easy. Finishing it and setting it into the world is much harder.
When inspiration comes it’s magical. But all too often it takes months or years from that first moment to reach a release-ready master. In some cases, it’s taken me so long that just the thought of that session file made me anxious.
The creative process is a constant battle between too many good ideas and not enough resources and motivation to see them through the finish line. Ironically, the more songs you actually finish, the better your songwriting or production will become.
SoundBetter, a member of the ReverbNation marketplace, has helped tens of thousands of artists finish their tracks and albums by connecting them with the best music production talent in the world that work with them to create amazing-sounding songs.
Here are 10 tips on getting your song to the finish line:
Whether you’re completely new to songwriting or have been making music for years, working in a space that’s conducive for creativity is essential if you’re taking your craft seriously. But musicians often have a bad reputation for not taking care of themselves, and sometimes this neglect can seep its way into the songwriting process and stifle the atmosphere that surrounds the unique way we write songs. Are you one of those people with the uncanny ability to work creatively in any space? Well, that’s awesome, but the rest of us will have to invest thought and energy into creating a comfortable space to make music in.
Arguably the most prolific pop songwriting duo of the 20th century, John Lennon and Paul McCartney crafted some of the best known and most beloved tracks of all time as the major powerhouses behind the Beatles. Although each would go onto have successful solo careers — McCartney with Wings in the ‘70s and largely by himself thereafter and Lennon, along with wife Yoko Ono, helming politically charged outfits during his tragically short post-Beatles career — many insist they were never as good apart as they were together.
When boiled down to the basic status of “co-writers,” however, Lennon and McCartney aren’t so different from you and your writing partners. They dealt with many similar issues that, hopefully, won’t crop up too often in your own career, including copyright disputes, claims over who wrote what, and the public deifying one half over the other. It’s indisputable, however, that their combined power created a musical benchmark few other have risen to.
Although there are many, many lessons to learn from Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting partnership, here are three key takeaways that will get you and your present and future co-writers on the right track to crafting musical masterpieces.