All About Songwriting

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Songwriting Tips – 10 Of The Best From David Foster

When accepting his BMI Icon award in 2010, songwriter David Foster gave a speech which was more like a ten commandments for all songwriters to live by.

Here are those ten tips in a nutshell:

  1. Save your money
  2. Don’t get married
  3. Learn an instrument
  4. Don’t be too precious about your songs
  5. Be genuinely happy for someone else’s success
  6. Phone people back
  7. Give your career everything that you have
  8. Be on time
  9. Make every creative decision as if you have a million dollars in the bank
  10. Save your money

Enjoy 🙂

I especially liked numbers 3, 4 and 9 on the list. Which one(s) resonated with you?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

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

Why You Should Collaborate With Other Songwriters

Here’s a songwriting tip for you all… Sometimes, two (or more) heads are better than one when writing a song.

Songwriting doesn’t have to be something that you have to do by yourself. Some of the greatest songs ever were written by two or more people.

Examples of these great songwriting teams are:

  • Elton John/Bernie Taupin
  • Hal David/Burt Bacharach
  • Mick Jagger/Keith Richards
  • John Lennon/Paul McCartney

Working in collaboration with another songwriter can be the most rewarding thing that you can do for your songwriting process and there are a few reasons for this.

1. You can be challenged by somebody else
Some people relish the opportunity to work alone but for the most part it can be pretty lonely and un-motivating working by yourself.

Working with others keeps us honest and there is a joy in being spurred on by someone else to be your best.

2. You can cover more strengths
Maybe you are strong with lyrics and not so strong with melody or arrangements. If you choose a collaborator that has strengths in other areas then imagine what songs you can come up with?

I bet you they will be songs that you will both be happy with.

3. Brainstorming is much more fun with a collaborator
The concept of brainstorming for songwriting ideas is most effective when there are more than one songwriter participating. When you have someone else to bounce ideas off of the songwriting process seems to run more smoothly.

4. You can double the experience that you can write about
You and your collaborator are both individuals with different experiences. The amount of scope you have to write about expands.

5. You get exposed to new songwriting ideas
Working with someone else can be very eye opening. I can guarantee you that you will learn something new every time you and your collaborator get together.

6. It’s a great way to network and meet new people
You can collaborate with people that you know or you can seek a collaborator by looking on different songwriting forums, websites and organisations from all over the world.

They don’t even have to be in the same room, even in the same town or even country because you can use services like Skype to write songs. I’ve done this in the past and some songs I’m proud of have been written this way.

One of the most important thing about working with a collaborator is to have open and honest communication with each other especially after the song is written and it’s time to work out the songwriting percentages because there’s nothing that destroys a songwriting team faster than the feeling that credit is not being given where it’s due.

If you are feeling like your songwriting is in a bit of a rut, go and write with other people for a while, you wont regret it.

As a matter of fact, I’m up for a bit of song collaboration so contact me and see what we can do together.

Until next time, keep on writing

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

What Are YOUR Songwriting Goals?

In my quest to have the best songwriting year to date I decided to start working out what my songwriting goals would be for this year and then share them with you all to remain accountable.

In doing this exercise I also wanted to throw the question open to you.

“What Are YOUR Songwriting Goals?”

A good place to start working out your songwriting goals is a recent Robin Frederick article that I came across on her My Song Coach blog called “Set Your Songwriting Goals” in which she outlines four main goals to aspire to.

  1. Give yourself time and place to be a songwriter
  2. Study success to be successful
  3. Collaborate
  4. Challenge old habits

Robin also gives us some handy tips on how to write down your goals. One of the best tips I found in her article was that we should…

“…pick goals that are achievable. Make sure they’re something YOU have control over.  Avoid vague goals like “I’m going to write a hit song.” Instead, make them specific, break them down into small steps and create a timeline.”

In general people tend to start a brand new year with a series of non-specific resolutions and goals for all facets of their lives (health, work, relationships, money etc) and this tends to overwhelm the individual so making sure your songwriting goals are specific and broken down into bite sized chunks is very, very important.

As I’m still formulating my own songwriting goals, I don’t have much to show you at this stage but thanks to Robin Frederick and her “Set Your Songwriting Goals” article I certainly have been given a good foundation to start from.

Now, that question again for you… “What Are YOUR Songwriting Goals?”

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Four Worthwhile Songwriting Goals For This Year

I know that we’re almost halfway through January already and chances are that any new years resolution that you’ve made for yourself has already been broken, but here are four very worthwhile songwriting goals from Cliff Goldmacher who runs one of my favourite songwriting websites Educated Songwriter.

In his article “4 New Years Resolutions For Songwriters” Cliff says that “…there are so many facets to life as a songwriter that there’s always something we can do to move the ball forward” and in a nutshell the four songwriting goals that will move all of us songwriters forward in 2013 are:

  • Write down a song title every day
  • Find a new (or your first) co-writer
  • Write a song in a genre that’s new to you
  • Don’t give up

Personally, I can relate to all four goals and will be making a huge effort this year to

  • Expand on my possible song titles list daily
  • Find some more songwriting collaborators
  • Write some more piano songs
  • Keep up the positive attitude towards my own songwriting.

Have a read of the full article here and while you’re doing that, have a go at working out what your songwriting goals for this new year are going to be. You’ll be glad you did.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Miles Copeland – The Importance Of Hooks In Songwriting

Well, it’s the last day of 2013 and I just want to say a big THANKYOU for all of you who have supported, tuned in and frequented this young but up-and-coming songwriting blog of mine.

I sincerely hope you all have wonderful New Years celebrations and that 2013 will be the year you want it to be. I know it will be for me as big plans are afoot.

Watch this space…

I think the last word on writing songs for 2012 should go to Miles Copeland, founder of IRS Records, Stewart Copeland’s brother, Sting‘s manager for a time and fearless music industry executive who, when it comes to having an opinion on anything, is not backwards in coming forwards.

In this video Miles makes a number of good points about the importance of hooks in songwriting, how dealing with Sting can be difficult and he eloquently explains what a good hook/chorus means from a listener’s point of view.

I love the quote at the end of the video which sums up the whole premise of what this video is all about.

“Don’t let the chorus be a mystery, make sure it comes in like a GARLIC MILKSHAKE

Mmmm, yummy… I’ll see if I can find the recipe for you all.

Until next year, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Importance Of Making Time For Your Songwriting

As a songwriter, have you ever finished your day saying to yourself “Man, where did that day go?”

Did you ever feel that you always run out of time to spend it writing songs?

Well Gary Ewer from the “Essential Secrets Of Songwriting” blog may have the answer.

He suggests that you actually build in songwriting time into your day rather than try to find time after the fact. In one of his latest blog post titled “The Importance Of A Songwriting Schedule” Gary mentions that…

“…many songwriters treat the writing of music with the same level of importance that they treat picking up a chocolate bar. If you find yourself frequently suffering from writer’s block, the lack of a daily schedule is probably one of the most likely causes.”

He then says (and this is the important part)…

“…when your day is done and you’re crawling into bed, do you usually know when you’re going to be doing songwriting the next day? If not, you should.”

Reading this post really made me think about how much more attention I should be paying to my own songwriting schedule. I’m sure that it will make you think about how much more songwriting you could do too.

You can find the original blog post here

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Words Of Wisdom From Steve Vai

Below is a video I came across recently of Steve Vai at one of his private sessions guitar events answering the age old question… “How Do You Become Successful?”

What struck me about this video was how eloquently Steve constructed his answer. He certainly had put a lot of thought into what he was going to say and, it showed.

For me, the best line of the video was when Steve said that “…the level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it.”

I was very, very impressed… Here’s the video for your enjoyment.

What do you think about what Steve Vai talks about in this video? What is your definition of success? Let me know because the definition of success is as many and varied the people who are defining it.