what is up you guys it’s Emma and today
I’m giving you my top ten tips of what not to do when it comes to songwriting if you guys have any questions leave
them in the comments below let’s get started
don’t always be a lone wolf it’s easy to hide ourselves away when we’re trying to
write or create something a lot of us find comfort in working alone and that’s
totally okay some of us when we are alone are at our most creative but not
always in fact locking yourself in to this
isolated routine day after day can almost desensitize you to what you’re
writing just think about it you are the only person who has read the lyrics that
you’ve written or heard the melodies that you’ve recorded and any criticism
you give to yourself at this stage it might be a little bias what you need
here is honest feedback you need somebody who is not afraid to tell you
if something sucks or if it doesn’t but who should you go to recruit a listening
party pull together a group of friends colleagues or even your family and do a
little focus group show them what you’ve created and then ask them for honest
feedback remember you are not looking for somebody who’s going to shower you
with compliments here so pick your people wisely a co-writer if you work
closely with somebody when you’re writing you guys have constant contact
and can always bounce ideas back off one another some of your favorite songs
would have been written by a team of songwriters and not just the artists
that you’re so used to just hearing on the radio up until 2015 the Smeezingtons
who were a writing and production team were responsible for the majority of
Bruno Mars’s biggest hits Bruno himself was a part of the team
after they split Bruno formed a new team called shampoo Press & Co who are now
responsible for the biggest tracks on the album
24k magic that’s just one example of a songwriting team that you may not have
known about it’s no secret that a lot of the artists in the charts don’t
necessarily always write their own music also you may not have known that some of
your favorite artists the charts are actually some writers for
other people in the charts – for example SIA SIA has written for a vast majority
of records over the years for artists such as Beyonce Katy Perry Rihanna Kylie
Minogue not to mention herself to the point here
is to not be afraid to share the responsibility of your songwriting
recruit some co-writers it will be easier to iron out the bumps and
mistakes together you may miss them if you work alone don’t take things to
heart we sometimes treat the songs that we write as our babies and we will
protect them at any cost let’s face it songwriting for a lot of
us is a cathartic process maybe you write songs as a release maybe you clash
your songs as diary entries and it’s because it can be therapeutic if you’re
interested in the therapeutic benefits of music check out this video that I did
with the lovely Kati Morton where we talk about exactly that I’ll leave a
card above taking things too much to heart will hold you back in fact it will
discourage you from writing anything at all so don’t let this be the case we’re
all only human so it’s kind of expected that we take things to heart every now
and again instead though try and focus on taking people’s feedback and working
out whether it can help you in any way so how do we differentiate between what
is good feedback and what is useless feedback or in other words constructive
criticism and destructive criticism first of all what the fudge do either of
these things mean destructive criticism is a deliberate attack on someone’s
creation and self-esteem if I say the word troll to you that is a classic
example of a destructive critic they might say your voice is all wrong just
stop stick to your day job my grandma she could write a better song than that
nice constructive criticism is where someone might suggest how you can
improve on something constructive criticism is always intended to help you
a constructive critic might say something like the chorus is great but
maybe it could be catchy er it seems a little jumbled maybe you could revisit
it I can quite understand the lyrics there don’t mistake constructive
criticism like this as personal attacks on your work people aren’t
attacking you they’re giving you a valuable insight as for the destructive
criticism you receive disregard it is of no use to you feedback is the most
valuable thing you can get as a songwriter so go and build up a thick
skin get your work out there and be ready and willing to take on any
feedback that might come your way don’t be afraid to invest in yourself if some
writing is a true passion of yours if it brings you joy if it’s something that
you want to build up into a career you need to invest in yourself firstly
invest the time where the songwriting right now for you is a hobby or you’re
building up into a career either way you need to invest time to set schedules and
to get stuff done do something that is going to structure your day your week
your month around completing your project here is an example of how I time
manage one of my own projects recently for the upcoming album just so you can
see how you might be able to do this yourself so here’s the timeline I had a
couple of weeks ago my deadline was on Sunday so I had the whole week to finish
everything on Monday I focused on finalizing my lyrics I said Tuesday as
my day for working on the songs arrangement and backing track I also
recorded some draft vocals on this day come Wednesday we brought some
session players in did a rough mix and revisited any melodies or lyrics I
wasn’t sure of on Thursday it was focus group time I showed off my initial ideas
to a co-writer took their feedback and made all the right changes come Friday
and Saturday it was time for the final mix and master of the track job done
try send yourself a similar timeline for your next project to see if this method
is effective for you invest in equipment too don’t be scared to spend a little
when it comes to equipment you don’t have to have the best of the best but
there are some tools out there that you might want to get when it comes to
songwriting whether it’s a guitar or a microphone upgrade maybe you even want
to upgrade from singing melodies into your phone all the time and get an
actual field recorder for that by the way I would recommend the h2n handy
recorder by zoom I’ll talk about it a little further on a future video for now
I’ll leave a link in the description if you guys want to check it out
when you invest in equipment you’ll just make
things easier for yourself and you’ll become way more creative and productive
too I’ll talk about the equipment that I use for songwriting in a future video
but what if you don’t have a budget to spend well there’s no harm in working
with what you already have to a certain extent I would say it would push you to
be more creative working with what you’ve got
you can always plan ahead for equipment you want to get for the future go ahead
make a wish list don’t write a free act play this tip
will apply to some and not others we all have different purposes and visions for
the songs that we write however if your intentions are to appeal to a wider
audience and get your song maybe played on the radio whether it be local
national or even online then don’t write a free act play in other words don’t
write a five six seven minutes song in fact three minutes thirty should be your
ceiling don’t go past that so why well most radio stations will only play
songs that are three minutes 30 or less a lot of artists have two versions of
their songs the full version that you’ll likely hear
on the album and the radio edit a version which is solely edited down for
the purpose of being played on the radio it’s not in the interest of the radio
station to play a five six seven minute song because it could sway too much into
their programming time and in some cases it actually costs them more money aside
from radio play another reason to keep things short and sweet is for the sake
of your listeners typically audiences don’t always have five or six minutes
they’re in their day too intricately listened to every detail in your song
they might channel hop or get distracted if they’re not hooked in the first 10
seconds of the song you might lose them for the rest of it however
capture their attention in the first 10 seconds more than likely they’ll be with
you to the very end now as the writer you may be sat there
thinking whoa that’s a lot of pressure like the first 10 seconds I’ve been
putting more work into my chorus than the intro well there’s plenty of ways
you can do this try including the overarching melody the catchiest part of
your song in the intro or maybe it’s down to the quality or the production of
the vocal at the very started a song that just captivates
the audience and keeps them listening just something to think about you want
something that’s going to be memorable so the next time that person hears your
song they know exactly what it is don’t forget to write for your audience this
goes back to when we talked about songs being like diary entries they can carry
a lot of sentiment because they’re so personal to us whenever we hear them or
perform them it anchors us down to that memory of an
event or a person that we met or whatever the song is about with this in
mind it’s always a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself whether the
audience are taking anything away from the song themselves the song is
sentimental to you it is your memory are they able to easily relate to what
you’re writing about my point here is to write universally use language and
subject matter that is universally recognizable for example every single
person experiences love or at least has a concept of it love is the most
commonly used theme in songs because it’s the most instantly recognizable
subject matter universally love is something that everyone wants you don’t
have to write so specifically be profound in a way that listeners can
interpret your song in their own way by all means write from personal
memories and experience but ensure that there’s an angle somewhere where your
audience will be able to relate don’t ever doubt yourself doubting yourself is
easy to do giving up is even easier doubt can sprout
from different places maybe it’s triggered by a comment somebody made on
the song you wrote maybe it’s because we lack knowledge in certain areas and
we’re not sure where to turn or maybe it’s because we’ve been sat in the same
place for days at a time and nothing is flowing from here onto paper if this is
the case try some alternative writing methods you can find loads of these in
my previous songwriting tips videos and also in my book that I released last
year the songwriters handbook for beginners you can find it on Amazon
there is always a way around doubt just act on bettering yourself and you’re
already doing that right now by watching this video you’ve actively
one out there to search for resources that can help you so first of all well
done keep watching and secondly know that every writer goes through this at
some stage every writer says to themselves I am NOT good enough but that
moment will come and it will go and I promise you that if you keep writing
regularly that every moment that you begin to doubt yourself a hundred more
moments will come where you experience new inspiration and creativity don’t use
the same methods when I started out I would write all of my songs on an
acoustic guitar it became my go-to method for writing
and there was nothing wrong with it it was a method that worked for me now I’ve
learned to live and write by a new rule write with what’s around you there’ll be
plenty of times where you don’t have your guitar or your piano to hand or
maybe even a pen and paper so you have to get creative here and step away from
your go-to method take a second right now in this moment to look around the
room you’re in lies around you that you could use to write a song and what
should you be looking for instruments or items you could use as instruments
remember be creative here and remember your voice is an instrument to
documentation a way to document your work whether it’s a pen and paper or a
laptop or even your phone don’t rely on this thing to remember everything that
you do inspiration what inspiration is around you maybe there’s a magazine on
the table or a book on the shelf or a painting on the wall calling out to you
with all of these fresh song ideas take everything around you into consideration
if you’re up to the challenge try writing something right now with what’s
around you it doesn’t have to be a fully fleshed-out song at this point it could
be a verse or a riff or a rhythm pause the video and do it for 10 minutes don’t
settle for less so you’re relieved it’s taken you days
to finish off this song and you think you’re finally there so it’s time to
sign off on this bad boy and squeeze in some downtime wrong you may
think you’re done but there’s more work to do my friend now you need to revisit
refine and improve on the work you thought you finished
you might feel super happy with what you’ve written at this point
and so you should if you spent a lot of time on it but you can go the extra mile
here it’s time for the idiot check the idiot check is actually something me and
the band do at the end of a gig or a show after we’ve packed all of the
equipment down and loaded it into the van just when we think we’ve loaded out
everything the entire band will go back into the room to do what’s called the
idiot check a final sweep of the room just in case we missed anything
the idiot check can be applied to your songwriting just when you think you’re
done revisit it and ask yourself if you’ve missed anything while it takes
more time to revisit refine and improve ultimately you’ll just be glad that you
didn’t settle for less don’t be a statue don’t stay in one place travel now I’m
not saying you have to travel to the other side of the world to get
inspiration to your next song hey a 20-minute walk around the block might
just do the trick sure yourself at home may be cosy and
comfortable and maybe you’ve just got the best equipment and you’re ready to
go at any given moment but the point here is to experience a new environment
to write in a way from the constraints of your home and your work life away
from the usual distractions instead what we’re looking for here are brand new
distractions whether you set up shop on a picnic blanket in the middle of a park
or whether you just go outside to get a clear mind it doesn’t necessarily have
to be in a quiet atmosphere either let the hustle and the bustle of the city
and its loud noises inspire some new song ideas in you and then write those
ideas down in the cab ride to your next location you need to live in and
experience the world around you for yourself and for your song writing it
will reflect so well in the songs you write I love giving you reason to book
those tickets to Hawaii don’t be anyone but yourself this tip is
specifically aimed at artists and songwriters who write for themselves
we don’t do ourselves any favors trying to be the next somebody else the next ed
Sheeran or the next Taylor Swift those people and their songs already exists
there’s no room for duplicates the world has already heard it we all have
inspirational artists who we’ve always looked up to and strive to be like
one day a younger you might have said I want to be like this person when I’m
older and what you probably meant by that was I wish I had their voice I wish
I had their hair I wish I could live out the story in their latest music video
now present day you in this moment right now might say the same thing I
want to be like this person but what you should mean when you say this is that
you want to get to where they’re at you want to achieve the same level of
success that they have but you want to do it in your own way developing your
own songwriting style will take a long time and it’s all dependent on your own
comforts and what and how you write as an individual oh and by the way your
writing style will change and evolve over time you know when your favorite
artist releases their new album and it’s nothing like the first album and it’s
everything that you never expected that’s their style evolving embrace it
all so when you hear ed Sheeran on the radio even if you’ve never heard the
song itself before within the first 15 seconds the majority of people know that
it’s ed Sheeran because his voice his lyrics his guitar style are so defined
and recognizable he’s a household name now because of his style and his brand
so if you are an artist and you write for yourself you need to ask yourself
some questions what is unique about my voice and my music what qualities in my
lyrics do people notice the most what are my strengths what are my weaknesses
why do I write the songs I write so be conscious of your style as a songwriter
and be true to that once you’ve developed your style keep it consistent
and don’t be scared to do things differently because it’s your unique
styles that will set you apart from the rest thanks so much for watching like
comment and subscribe and if you have any questions about songwriting and what
not to do leave them in the comments below I’ll now be uploading a new
songwriting video every single Saturday next week we’re going to be taking an
even closer look at more songwriting apps that you can use on iPhone and
Android