All About Songwriting

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Month: February 2018

Don’t Worry About Writing “Hits,” Just Concentrate On Writing “Songs”

I reckon I’m going to open a can of worms with this next statement but, I think that as songwriters we can’t really determine with 100% accuracy whether a song we write is a hit or not.

I mean, isn’t determining whether a song is a hit or not the job of the listening public?

We can have all of the right components in place, a catchy melody, a good story, a tasteful musical arrangement, a flowing rhythm and a song form that makes sense but, if there’s no-one around to listen to your song…

As songwriters, our job is to keep on writing songs and that we are true to ourselves and our songwriting process at the same time. No matter what happens around us.

A song, like the human soul, is an intangible commodity. You can’t see it and you can’t touch it, so how then can anyone say that they can manipulate their songwriting process to achieve a predetermined result, such as reaching the top ten for example?

No-one can predict an outcome like that.

Personally, I think that any songwriter has the opportunity to get their song out into the real world however, some songwriters are more skilled at getting their songs noticed than others.

There are songwriters that seem to have the Midas touch such as Diane Warren for example, but I reckon that for every hit that she has written there are many, many other songs that haven’t seen the light of day.

For songwriters like Diane Warren, writing songs is a numbers game. The more songs she writes, the more songs of hers get picked up by other artists or placed in films and TV..

Think about it, for a song to be heard on radio or put onto CD there are so many other steps in the song marketing process that need to take place. As a songwriter, our sphere of influence is pretty much limited to the beginning of the song marketing process.

Granted, Ms Warren has an amazing reputation so her influence is much, much greater however, she still writes every day with the knowledge that the process of writing songs is more important than anything else.

The next song that you write maybe the best song ever written, but if your song is not recorded, picked up by an artist, packaged and marketed, played on the radio, distributed in a retail environment, advertised through the media and purchased by the general public then how can you or anyone else claim that your song is a hit?

Forget about writing hits and just concentrate on writing songs. If you want to write for the commercial environment make it your goal to learn as much as you possibly can about it.

Another thing to remember, Diane Warren, for all of her successes had to start somewhere.

Where you are now is where she was at one stage in her life. Therefore, where you go from here is up to you and you can be 100% certain of that.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Process: Oblique Strategies With Brian Eno

Here is a very interesting video I found recently of one of my favourite musicians and sound artists of all time, Brian Eno being interviewed by Jools Holland in 2001.

In the video, Eno talks about the concept of his Oblique Strategies cards and how they can be of immense help to songwriters, performers, studio musicians and even brain surgeons.

Speaking about brain surgeons check out what happens at around the two minute mark. It’s very, very funny and a great example of how Oblique Strategies works.

Would you use these cards as part of your songwriting process? I would give them a go.

I did a quick Google search and here are some places online where you can find and use Eno’s oblique strategies…

Enjoy the video…

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Importance Of Always Recording Your Songwriting Ideas

As a songwriter, there are going to be times in your career where you’ll be so inspired, writing a complete song from start to finish in one go will seem like the easiest thing in the world.

For the rest of the time however, it’ll seem like that all you’re doing is constantly finding that next songwriting idea.

You don’t necessarily need to have a fully set up home recording studio to capture your ideas (although I do suggest you seriously consider moving in that direction) but having access to some sort of basic audio recording device is essential.

Personally, I always like to give the voice recording function on my smartphone a really good workout.

It never ceases to amaze me though, how many songwriters out there are still relying on their memory alone and not recording their songwriting ideas.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of my years of writing songs it’s this… When it comes to your song ideas, never, ever trust your memory.

A good songwriting exercise and an example of how I record my ideas is this…

If you’re like me and writing songs on guitar is your thing, I imagine you try to set aside some time each day to pick up the guitar and play whatever comes to mind.

Next time you do this make sure you have some sort of recording device near by ready to go. When a hint of an idea develops simply press record and commit that idea to “tape” for future reference.

Once the idea is recorded you then have the choice of either developing the idea a bit more or, go on to finding where the next song idea will come from.

The beauty about this exercise is that you’re not under any pressure to remember the little snippets of possibility that you’ve seemingly conjured up from nowhere. It’s all down on “tape” ready to be referenced ion the future.

Just remember, the whole purpose of the exercise is to simply record what comes out of you.

Another thing I like to do while noodling on the guitar is make nonsensical sounds and rhythms with my voice at the same time, singing whatever comes into my head. It’s quite okay to babble rubbish into a voice recorder or smartphone and not feel bad about it.

When I’m lyrically noodling, I take particular interest in the melodies and the rhythms I produce at the time. The lyrics can come later.

When doing this exercise, don’t even look at finish a song, just gather ideas, phrases, riffs and melodies and get them recorded in some way. After a while you’ll develop quite a collection of them.

This will become your comprehensive songwriting ideas archive.

Be warned though, your inner critic is going to have a wonderful time telling you how bad all of your ideas sound and how awful all the lyrics are. You just have to ignore it and look at all of your ideas in your archive as works in progress that aren’t yet completed.

Once you’ve been doing this as consistently as you can for between two weeks to a month, it’s time to listen back on what you’ve done. You’ll be amazed at how many of the songwriting ideas you’ve forgotten.

This is the part of the process always makes me feel like I’m hearing my song ideas for the very first time and it’s from this perspective that my songs get finished.

Just think, with your ever growing list of possible song titles at your disposal and your musical and lyrical noodles committed to “tape,” imagine how many more songs you are going to write and complete.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Writing Songs – It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start, As Long As You Start Somewhere

Sometimes writing songs is a linear experience.

You come across a possible song title that jumps out at you and after writing the first line of the first verse, a first draft is suddenly completed from start to finish.

Sometimes writing songs is a puzzle solving exercise.

You take a piece here, a song title there, a bit of a verse here and a half written phrase there and, after discovering the common thread that connects everything, a song is eventually completed.

Sometimes writing songs is like incubating an egg.

You finish writing a chorus but find you can’t go any further however, after leaving the half finished song for a period of time something triggers in your mind and the song magically completes itself.

Sometimes you start writing from the beginning and work forwards, sometimes you start from the middle and work outwards and sometimes you start at the end and work backwards.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you start somewhere.

What do you think?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

FAWM 2018 Songwriting Challenge Starts Today – Are You In?

Today is February 1st which means that FAWM 2018 has kicked off for another year.

“What is FAWM 2018?” I hear you ask… Well, FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month and this songwriting challenge dares its participants to write 14 songs (an albums worth of material) in 28 days.

Personally, this is my 10th FAWM that I’ve been involved in but I’ve managed to fully complete the challenge only once, in 2017. It’s definitely a challenge even for an experienced songwriter like myself.

For me, FAWM is one of the best ways that I know to supercharge your songwriting process and to keep the creative momentum going.

By joining the FAWM community you tap into an extremely positive, interactive, vibrant and encouraging group of songwriters whose only goal is to help each other (as well as themselves) write as many songs as they can within the timeframe allowed.

I’m going to be tracking my FAWM progress on Corey Stewart Online (my personal website) however, on this blog, All About Songwriting, I’m going to be uploading relevant content designed to encourage, inspire and greatly help you in your quest to write songs. If you are thinking of joining FAWM for this year then click on this link.

Now, to kick things off, here is a link to an earlier post I made which is a essentially a BIG list of songwriting prompts and lyric generators.

Songwriting prompts and lyric generators are very handy tools for challenges like FAWM because they allow you to start things off without having to think about how to start things off and of course, overthinking things is one of the great ways to create a songwriters block for yourself.

Go to my previous post “The BIG List Of Songwriting Prompts And Lyric Generators” and check out the links provided to see if they do anything for you. If you have found them to be helpful to you please let me know… I’d love to hear about it.

I wish everyone who is participating in this years FAWM all the very best.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting