Don't Do's for Songwriting

My "Don't Do" List for Success in Songwriting, learned by experience...

- If you want to be successful, don't presume you have nothing to learn & do not ignore the feedback of the screeners / gatekeepers.

- If you want to learn what makes the grade, don't be emotionally attached to your work, be willing to listen & re-write, or listen & carry forward into your next piece.

- Don't send in a song submission without reading the details of what they want closely, listening to the a la's, reading the lyrics of the a la's, listening to the production elements of the a la's.

- Don't write lyrics that don't answer the basic questions of songwriting. Do read books like Jason Blume's "6 Steps to Songwriting Success" & Pat Pattison's "Writing Better Lyrics".

- Don't write lyrics without good form - contrast between sections, strong hook, interesting rhyme scheme, that tells a unique story in a universally relatable way, singable lyrics that are meant to be understood when sung.

- Don't write melodies without good form - contrast between sections, strong hook, catchy chorus. Don't write too many ballads - there are fewer calls for them.

- Don't ignore words like "contemporary" or "classic" or "modern", research them and find out what they mean

- Don't send in badly recorded worktapes of songs, even for song pitches. Do submit clean recordings.

- Don't sing your own demos unless you can sing, and can sing in the style of the a la's. On any song pitch, the vocals sell the song. Use the best 'a la' singer you can find.

- Don't send in a male vocal for a female song pitch & vice versea.

- Don't sent in any demo that has any out of tune instrument.

- Don't use excessive reverb on vocals.

- Don't assume you have to have full production on a demo, but do presume that you need to have the best vocal and the best playing of piano or guitar.

- Don't pay for full production on a song without professional evaluation (Taxi custom critique, NSAI, John Braheny, Jason Blume, Pete & Pat Luboff, etc), it's a waste of money.

- Don't use out of date or cheap plug-ins.

- Don't copy & paste one sequence of midi notes to another section. Play it again, so it's human.

- Don't ignore controllers when sequencing a piece. Edit velocities.

- Don't make an instrument play something with midi that it wouldn't play if played by a real person.

- Don't use drum loops unless you edit them so they sound like they are live / played by a real person.

- Don't not go to music conferences.

- Don't assume the screener, or the industry, is the one holding you back from success. They set the standard, because their jobs are on the line. They need your music and they want you to be successful. Give them every opportunity to give you a deal.

- Don't presume that attitude doesn't count. Be professional in all your dealings with the industry, even when your music is being rejected. It happens to the best of us.

- Don't give up. Keep an open mind, be willing to learn, take your lumps. Other people are successful, they had to go through the same learning process as you in order to be successful.

- Don't presume this list is exhaustive :)

1 comment:

Jannie Funster said...

And don't not keep reading Vikki's blog!