Becoming a professional songwriter is not one of the easiest jobs in the music industry, although it’s a lifetime dream for many talented musicians around the world.
The main difference between a songwriter and a lyricist or a composer (music producer), is the fact that the songwriter writes both the lyrics and the music of a song, whereas the lyricists focuses only on writing the lyrics and the music producer the composition of the song.
How to become a songwriter professionally
Since the songwriter is multitasking when it comes to songs, he has the ability to have a much bigger percentage of control over the final result of his songs, and not only be a part of them.
On the other hand, his job is much more difficult as he has many tasks to accomplish, which means that songwriting is a hobby or an occupation for very talented and hard-working people, who are willing to sacrifice huge amounts of their time in order to be successful.
If you are one of those people, let us help you by providing some expert tips on how to take the matter on your own hands and begin as a songwriter who works professionally.
Determine your influences
One of the main things that every artist, in or outside of the music industry can’t avoid, is his influences. And that is a privilege. Knowing the artists that have influenced your music over the years and the reasons why this happened, is one key factor to help you find yourself in your music.
According to which music albums and individual songs you used to listen to countless hours a day, you can determine what kind of artist you are, what are the fields you want to succeed and what of audience you want to engage and be followed by.
Find your source of inspiration
The source of inspiration is very different for every artist and especially for songwriters. This is due to the fact that all people are unique individuals with their own concerns and ambitions, so what may move or motivate a person can’t be expected to have the same impact on another one too.
You as an artist, need to search and find out what are the thing, situations, people or occupations that interest you more and try to embrace them. Sometimes it is very difficult for people to accept that something is of much importance to them, and that is something you have to avoid when being a songwriter.
Adjust your lifestyle
Being a songwriter is not a simple activity. It requires devotion and long hours of practice and study. A songwriter when in the beginning should listen to the work of other artists, focus on their techniques and methods they use when they write lyrics and compose their music, and try to apply those methods on their own creations.
Every successful artist has become successful for a number of reasons, and you being able to study those reasons will be an important benefit for your music, and a great opportunity for you to evolve as a songwriter.
In addition to this, you can learn from the mistakes of famous characters of the music industry, avoid them and become better in the fields that others failed to do so. You need to pay attention to the details.
Search among instruments
There is a huge list of instruments available for you to study and learn how to play. Below we have collected a list of the most common music instrument categories:
- Stringed instruments are the musical instruments that produce a sound or series of sounds from vibrating strings when played. Such instruments are the guitar, the violin, the banjo etc.
- Wind instruments are the musical instruments that produce sound through vibrating air. Such instruments are the saxophone, the trumpet, the flute etc.
- Percussion instruments are the musical instruments that produce sound when being struck by the percussionists. Such instruments are the bass drums, the bongos, the bells etc.
- Electronic instruments are the musical instruments that produce sound through electricity. Such instruments are the synthesizer, the electric guitar, the electric bass etc.
What you should do is listen to lots of music, define which instruments draw your attention in the songs you listen to, and decide on an instrument you would like to learn to play as a beginner.
Learn to play the instrument you selected
Next step is to start learning how to play the instrument of your choice. After you have decided on the instrument you prefer, it is time to find the appropriate teacher. There is a variety of music schools for you to choose from according to your region.
Some things you need to consider is to find experienced teachers, especially if you desire to practice on a specific music genre. Of course all classes start with the basics, but it would be nice to schedule your music progress from the beginning, so that you can avoid talking a music path that you don’t want.
Aside the music schools and teachers, you can also practice alone. There are plenty music instrument tutorials available online. You can search Youtube thoroughly and you can find many experts’ online classes for free so that you can be able to practice at home.
What is more, if you have the appropriate budget, you can attend private classes and courses if you wish to gain more expert and professional knowledge on the instrument, or one-to-one lesson to maximize your potentials on mastering the instrument.
Learn to sing
Another skill you should consider developing is singing. Practicing on singing not only will help you determine if you have the appropriate capabilities to sing, it will also help you make sure you demonstrate correctly the song you wrote, to an artist that you want to give it to.
For example, you can teach him the right way to match his voice’s tonality on the music, or where and how to change it during the performance of a song. That way you can make it much easier for an artist to designate the best parts of your song, and make it more loveable to the listeners.
What is more, singing can make it easier for a songwriter to build the chord progression of a song, and that way he becomes able to develop its structure in several interesting ways along the process.
Although there are no rules in songwriting, education and training are certainly two things that will help you evolve as a songwriter. They are the tools that can upscale the level of your inspiration and creativity, and can motivate you to improve your methods and techniques.
Some fields you may lack of education can be the song structure, the chord progression, composition or how to write lyrics in the early stages. It is strongly advised that you reach out to experts and teachers and ask them for lessons, or you can read relevant books and watch tutorial videos online.
Write down your ideas
Remember to write down your ideas every moment of the day. Ideas come and come and it would be shame to forget them in an instant. Do not filter or think too much when your ideas make their appearance, just note them down and read them carefully when you have time. You never know!
To avoid losing or forgetting your ideas, try to keep with you a small notepad and a pen, so that you are able to write them down everywhere, any moment. Another great solution is your cellphone. All cellphones have notepads, so every time you find yourself full of inspiration, grab your phone and write your ideas.
You would be surprised by how easily those littles pieces of ideas can add up and provide you with song titles, structure plans, lyrics or melodies to create new songs, or even entire albums or projects. Make this process your daily routine, and enjoy the benefits.
Practice makes you better. Practice makes every artist better. No one was born with the ability to sing or play an instrument perfectly since day one. Hard work was involved for every to make their passion reach closer to perfection. So should you.
Adjust your everyday program so that you can fit in it as many hours of practice as you can. Two or three hours a day is the minimum suggested amount of time you need to invest in your occupation. If you have the ability to add some more time, do so.
Do not neglect one skill over another one. All of them will benefit your music and lyric writing abilities so make sure you devote a portion of your time for each one. Being a songwriter means you are able to successfully multitask in music.
Remember to also save some hours of the week to relax, and enjoy the company of your friends or a nice trip. Being able to rest and recharge your batteries is a key factor to sustain a stable practice routine.
Complete your lyrics
Another very important thing to consider, is to never leave your lyrics half. This makes you always want to move to new projects, leaving the older ones behind which may include of amazing ideas. Make sure that you at least give them a try before you move on.
Think of your lyrics as movies. No one wants to watch movie without an ending. Same goes for your lyrics. You should always try to finish your lyrics’ structure, in order to get a better view of the work you have done. Sometimes it is difficult for artists to determine whether their song is worth taking it to the next level, if they don’t finish the main structure first.
Make sure you revisit your lyrics, correct the mistakes, avoid the cliché ideas, and add interesting parts, words and maintain a substantial vocabulary to make them intriguing for your audience.
Structure your songs
One key factor for a successful song that the listeners are going to adore, is the ability of the songwriter to visualize a great plan for it and structure it gracefully.
Sit down in a comfortable place and try to visualize your song. Think of the needs of such a song and keep notes about the number of the verses, the choruses and the ways you are able to combine them in order to create an interesting and original song.
You can use examples and references from other similar songs and artists, but it strongly advised that you end up with an authentic piece of work, so that you are able to earn the respect even of the most experienced audiences.
The competitiveness of the music industry is fierce and you should always come up with new ways and techniques to impress your listeners and acquire new ones.
Match your lyrics to the music
Make sure you match your lyrics to the music. This is important because you want to make the listener understand the meaning of the lyrics according to the feeling that the music provides.
For example, you do not want to create an epic style music production, and match it with lyrics that about your lost loves or your childhood problems etc. Lyrics must be accompanied by the appropriate music tone, that will guide the listener and transfer to him all the initial thoughts of the creator.
Listen carefully to the music you created and focus on the pauses, the bridges or the tonality changes, so that you can adjust your lyrics and structure them accordingly. Avoid using the same phrases and words over and over again and experiment in new ways of presenting your lyrics.
Record your songs
When the times and you feel ready, it is time to record your songs. Prepare your sheets, practice the lyrics as many times as possible and get ready to record.
You can either record your songs at home, and keep them as demos so you can showcase them to other artists that may be interested in your work, or you can search and find professional studios with experienced sound engineers to do it for you.
It strongly recommended that you follow the second way because of the number of the advantages a professional recording studio has to offer. For instance, they can help you find session musician to form a band in order to complete the music part of your song, or they can offer advanced mixing and mastering services.
This way you get a high quality recorder song, and become more competitive towards other songwriters when it comes to showcasing your work.
The best way to shape a better view about your music, is to ask for feedback. You can gather your friends or family and present them your work. After you finish, ask them for their honest opinion, and let them tell you in detail what they like and what they did not.
Furthermore, if you have a friend that works as a DJ, you can ask him to play your song at his place of work and watch for the peoples’ reactions. That way, you get a broader perspective of your songs’ potentials, and you are able to improve them in countless ways.
Third option is to post your demo song through your Facebook profile, and ask for friends and people close to you to listen to it and share their opinion. Stay open to suggestions, and try to understand what people are expecting from in order to be able to satisfy them.
Make live performances
One thing you need to consider, is making your first live performances. It is usually the one thing most beginner artists or songwriters fear. This happens due to live performances being the most direct way of artists to connect with their audience.
On the bright side, when you overcome this fear (most artists eventually do), you can see that it is the most powerful tool to gather insights about you and your music in general. You can watch the reaction of the audience, and let them approach you to talk you about your music.
This is the most effective way to understand your listeners’ expectation and what they need to hear from you, and try to work that way. Keeping your audience satisfied is the ultimate challenge for every songwriter.
As a starting songwriter, you should be constantly trying to approach artists and showcase them your work. But for your first job, it would be wise not to set your expectations too high.
Money shouldn’t matter at all, although first time jobs usually do not pay well. But you gain experience, which is much more valuable and will help you get ready for your next, more promising job opportunities in the future.
You have to be patient, and work hard even though not always under the ideal circumstances, in order to build your portfolio and make connections.
Market your music
Music industry being such a competitive field, you should market your brand name and your music in every chance you get. There are countless other artists with similar goals and ambitions out there and it will be much more difficult for you if you don’t try hard enough.
You can distribute and promote your music through:
- Social media platforms
- Music libraries
- Local music shops
- Live performances
- Influential people
- Friendly gatherings
All those mentioned above are great opportunities to promote your songs, although you should try not to become tedious to other peoples’ eyes. The right way to do it is to suggest your music to them, but not be pressing and impatient.
Let them take their time and check out your music in their own convenience. Furthermore, some of them may not even be interested at all, and that is cool. Not every music genre and style is for everyone.
Collaborate with other artists
Another great way to promote your music and make it known to broader audiences, is to collaborate with other artists. Try to approach artists, singers, rappers, songwriters and lyricists of every style and genre of music, and experiment in creating music together.
Both sides may learn how to work on something they had never worked on before, and may even acquire new skills that will be benefit on their music careers.
In addition to this, both artists will have the opportunity to expand to new audiences, and maybe become likeable from a portion of people that had never heard of them, or was unfamiliar to their work. So it is a win-win situation!
Write songs for others
Many successful artists hire beginner songwriters to write songs for them. There are numberless opportunities out there and you should be always ready to showcase your portfolio when it is the right time.
What is more, you can approach other artists and ask them if they want to write songs for them, even without getting paid. When you are in the beginning making your name known in the circles of fellow artists of your music genre is more important than anything else.
Work hard and try to create the best songs possible for every artist that decides to work with you. Building trust is the key to creating stable relationships, which will finally lead to being heard by major personalities of your field.
Keep improving your skills
No matter the level of your songwriting skills, you should always focus on improving them in any way possible. Constant development as an artist will help you make better songs, better live performances and become more widely acceptable.
Hard work, humbleness and creativity are virtues that will always help you earn the respect of new audiences and keep rising among other major names of the music industry.
Remind yourself to practice and always try to find new ways to impress your listeners, because being competitive and fresh will help you stand out.
Enjoy yourselves. Become a songwriter today!