5 Songwriting Tips for Independent Artists
For many independent artists, songwriting is a skill set that they in most cases, simply can not function without. It is the one thing that connects the artists to the audience in its purest form. There is nothing like listening to and experiencing the emotions of a singer/songwriter . Artists like Prince, Alicia Keys, and Stevie Wonder have a special connection with the music that they’ve written. It is a connection that we all are able to identify with when they sing their songs. Obviously, this is a God-given talent, but you can bet your bottom dollar tha it also took lots of practice to sharpen the skills that made all of these artists great. As a singer songwriter myself, I’ve learned to pour myself in to my songs emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, however there are some specific areas one should focus on while writing.
First and foremost, “what” you write about is very important. Pay attention to your surroundings, your personal experiences, and the experiences of those close to you. Writing from the experiences you know about or can identify with is much easier than trying to write something you don’t. Trust me, your audience will notice. Don’t get me wrong. It is OK to fantasize and use your imagination while writing as well, but try to stay away from subject matter that you have no clue about. Also, don’t be afraid to write songs in the same manner that you speak. It’s OK to use the latest catch phrases, slang, and the latest lingo in your music. Sometimes it just fits better. Remember you are writing a song, not a term paper. As long as your audience understands what you are trying to say, you can do no wrong. Lastly, keeps it coming. Don’t be afraid to write multiple songs about the same or similar subject. If you are in a writing mood and all week long all you seem to be writing is “break up “songs. Don’t shy away from that. Keep writing. Sometimes you just to get it all out of your system. The next week you may only write love songs. It all depends on your mood, and emotional state. The important thing is that you keep writing. You can always shop your music to other artists, license them out to others or you could use them for later projects. The possibilities are endless.
Of course we know that not all songs have to rhyme, however many of them do. If you do it right it can really make a song stand out among the rest. Songwriting is very similar to poetry in the sense that there are many different ways to rhyming. Simple rhymes are good but they often times don’t leave much room for the imagination. They often are words in which the last syllable rhymes with one of the last syllables of another word in the following line or bar. I encourage you to step out of the box a little more and try some internal rhyme schemes, or to match words with two or more syllables. This gives you a better variety of words and should make you’re writing more versatile. I’ve also noticed that some people have the ability to rhyme words together that may not necessarily rhyme at all in a normal conversation. This depends on how you say the word. We all have different accents depending on where we were born and raised, what region, or city. I strongly encourage you to let you accent a shine. Don’t shy away from enunciating words in your own waywhen rhyming.
Perhaps one of the most important components of songwriting is the structure. It is the framework of your skill. Having a distinct blue print of how your song is mapped out is imperative if you want your audience to connect and follow along with the song. It needs to be somewhat predictable. The audience should be able to anticipate when the hook, or chorus is approaching. They should also know when the verses are approaching. These predictable moments are what make a song “a song”. The only pieces of the song that should be a surprise to the listener should be the bridge or breakdown. Other than that everything should be in the pocket especially for an up tempo joint where rhythm is key.
A catchy melody is not always an easy thing to come up with. Without it can be almost impossible to write anything at all. I personally believe that majority of the cases of writer’s block is a direct result of the writer not having a strong melody developed. If you find yourself in a slump and the lyrics aren’t flowing like you hope they would, then try to create a strong melody first. Don’t be afraid to hum along to the music until a melody sticks. Once you have a solid melody, you’ll find that it is easier to put words to it like a puzzle.
This is another important component to writing lyrics. Rhythm is the heartbeat of the song. It is what keeps everything on beat and is especially important thing to consider while writing. You can‘t write a song without the rhythm. Whether a fast paced rhythm or a ballad like rhythm, it is important to find one. This usually shows up simultaneously with the melody. You can create a rhythm without a melody, but in most cases you can’t create a melody without a rhythm.
In conclusion, I hope this information was a bit helpful to you. Just remember to have fun and to always keep writing. You never know the lives you may touch with the songs you create.