What came first the chicken or the egg? This is a question many ponder on and have their opinions about, and it is similar to when you ask what is better, writing the songs you want to produce and then finding a producer or finding a producer and then writing the songs.
In my opinion It is good to have a personal demo of an original song that can show your vocal range and how you perform in general, if a producer likes it but does not like the song he will then get a professional songwriter to sit down with you and write a great song or he will ask you to show him more of your originals until he finds one he likes and considers can be a potential hit.
If there is one thing you can learn from this blog post is that in music it’s about one primary thing 1.THE SONG, 2.THE SONG, 3.THE SONG and then comes all the rest…
I have heard it from several famous producers, if you go out to bars and weddings you will hear singers that are better than many of the ones who have been in reality TV singing shows, you see them perform once and never see again, Why is that, why are those awesome singers not famous ? In many cases it’s because they are singing other peoples songs and not an original, Because if there is one thing that can propel your career to a high place it’s not only the fact that you can sing, it’s the strength of the songs you are singing. Not that vocals are not important, they are, but trust me there are many outstanding talented singers out there. As one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry Jeff Young once said to me “ A Good artist with a Great song can go a long way, but a great artist with an ok song will probably go nowhere”
So if you have already heard you have the talent and you trust yourself and your ability to sing, then your next main focus is to find the diamond in the rough, the song that you will not get tired of singing
That’s why you first want to work as hard as possible in finding a great song, a song that you would want to sing in the shower, that you can listen to a thousand times and you feel you only like it more. This is what songwriters strive to accomplish, the creation of musically rich songs with something people can connect with, which in turn has the elements and potential of become a hit.
Another important aspect is that a great hit song will open doors for you more than anything else, because when people hear a song that they like or dj ‘s hear something they can play on their station, then the path to negotiations is set and can be much easier versus a song that doesn’t say anything.
How do you know a song is a hit, that is something very hard to say but what you can know is when a song is definitely not a hit. One of the best producers in the world and one of my mentor’s Rudy Perez once told us in a class that a song has to be made so if a person has his two last dollars for coffee and hears your song, he will prefer to buy your song and listen to it again and again instead of buying his coffee, same goes with an album.
There is no fixed formula for songwriting, when embarking on the musical path and when you begin a project it is always good to sit down and write with different songwriters, hopefully successful ones, in this way you will have the opportunity to learn from them and your songwriting potential can make a leap.
The first recommendation and one of the most important steps when sitting down to write with someone is to have a clear discussion about the song splits, what percentage of the song are each of you going to own and once you have it clear leave it in paper signed by both parties.
Some songwriters have hundreds of songs to pick and choose from and if they see you are on a serious project they will sit and write with you a new song or they will have you listen to some of the songs they find are down your aisle, some may charge for writing songs with or for you, some may not, cases vary.
Songwriting has to be looked at like going to the gym, its an activity that refines itself with time, so if you do not have the songwriting muscle built sitting down with someone who does will help you a lot.
But this doesn’t mean it is necessary to sit down with professional songwriters, sometimes just your close friends can give you good ideas on lyrics for song or you own internal process may be the exact thing you want to share with the world.
Even though a hit song is very much defined by the public, there are some things that can be indications that a song has hit potential but nothing is written in stone, these are just some things I like to keep in mind:
– Structure: Songs that have structure are easier to relate to and what is that structure? Intro, verse, pre- chorus, chorus, outro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, instrumentals, chorus, vemp.
Some songs skip the pre-chorus and go straight to the chorus, others begin with the verse immediately, there are many variations but what I do think is important is that you are able to clearly hear a differentiation of the parts of your song.
– Try to have consistent melodies in the verses, pre chorus, chorus, this way people will grab on to the song better.
– Show with words what you mean: Some of us get carried away spilling our hearts out when we write and we express feelings and abstract sensations, and that is fine but its good to use places and good imagery where people can imagine what you are saying. Example “Take me into your loving arms, Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars” – Ed Shereen- versus “I want to be with you” in one you can see a clear picture in the other its just a feeling.
– Use self contained phrases: Example “The road is a lonely place where drifters fall everyday” you can also say “The road is a lonely place, drifters fall every day” you do not need the articulation “where” to deliver the same Idea, and each phrase is powerful in itself but together they form a clear idea. So this is something good to keep in mind when we use “and, because, etc.” to much the listener may get distracted quickly and not get a quick clear picture of your message
– The famous HOOK: The main Idea you want people to get should be heard enough times so that it keeps singing in their heads even when the song is not playing, that is why people say “oh its such a catchy song”. The ear gets used to what it hears over and over again and again, and if by the time the song is done someone cannot sing the chorus, you may want to check the song out again.
The hook is not always a vocal part of the song, in many cases a piano, keyboard or other instrument may be playing the part of the hook, I repeat its not something written in stone nor does it have a formula, what I am trying to deliver is that a song, specially if you want it to reach a lot of people, needs something that the listener can grab on to an hold on to.
– Don’t procrastinate, cut to the chorus: Some producers or most producers will only hear your material or song for the first minute and a half and if by then they are not captured they will switch the song off to the next, so if you have a good song it better be good before minute 1:30.
In turn a great song will sound and capture you and others when you play it in the simplest form , with an instrument and your voice, that’s why many producers like to receive songs with just that , the voice and the instrument, because if the song is great in that format, it will only get better in production, as where a song that does not sound good with just an instrument can improve with production but it will still lack the core strength it needs to stand out from the crowd.
At the end of the day sing what you love, but keep in mind these tips when writing, they may help you write that hit song and save you time and studio money when sitting down with a producer.
If you want to check out some of my songs just click here, I would like to hear your comments.
All The best !