This post was directly inspired by a recent Bobby Owsinski article called “Six Traits Of A Badly Written Song.”

The six traits that constitutes a “badly written song” that Bobby outlines in his article are as follows:

  • The song is too long
  • The song has no focus
  • The song has a weak chorus
  • The song has no bridge
  • The song suffers from a poor arrangement
  • The song has no intro/outro hook

Now, I wanted to do something a little different and write the opposite to what Bobby wrote about in his article and from that premise, “Six Ways To Improve Your Song” was born.

Here are my six ways to improve your song (based on Bobby Owsinski’s article):

1. Shorten your song
There is nothing worse for a listener than to have to sit through an extended intro, outro, guitar solo or, overly repeated choruses that go nowhere.

Unless the length of the song is part of the context or story of it, consider cutting some of the padding out.

2. Create some focus for your song
Nothing confuses a listener more than a song that tries to do far too much with the limited amount of time it has at its disposal.

If you can maintain a “one song, one idea” principle to your songwriting then you’re winning half the battle.

3. Enable your chorus to be strong and proud
The part of the song that underpins everything is the chorus. It’s what listeners remember most about your song and it’s almost always the part of the song that the listener relates to the most.

Your chorus needs to be as strong as it can be to maintain the listeners attention.

4. Consider adding a bridge to your song
This was probably the only point in Bobby Owsinski’s article that I didn’t agree with. Not all songs need a bridge in them however I do concede that there is a trend to include a bridge to facilitate some point of difference in the song.

If you feel that your song is sounding a little repetitive then perhaps a bridge is the answer. A really good example of a songwriter who uses the bridge to perfection is Sting.

5. Make your arrangement work for the song, not against it
When you take your song further from the simple demo stage you’ll need to take into consideration the overall “song arrangement” meaning the incorporation of other instruments and production layer to your song.

When recording a full song arrangement, don’t let lost in all of the technology and the temptation to include all of the bells and whistles in your recording.

Always keep the simple essence of your song in mind and work from that.

6. Include an intro/outro hook
A intro hook (whether it be a riff or a unique sound/chordal sequence) enables the listener to have something to grab onto.

A perfect example of this is “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. As soon as you hear the opening riff you know what song it is and this is what makes this song a timeless work of pop art.

What do you think improves or detracts from a song? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and while you’re at it, go to the original article “6 Traits Of A Badly Written Song.”

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting