I know that writing a song can be a daunting task, and I remember back when I was a beginner, one of my main questions was how long will it take to become good at writing songs. Today I decided to answer this popular question for you.
It takes between one and two years to become good at writing songs considering you study one-two hours a day, five days a week, and up to five years to become a songwriting master.
Of course, several factors contribute to your journey as a songwriter. I will discuss below the tools you need and further explain why we often see a big difference in results amongst songwriters.
Let’s Define What “Good” at Writing Songs Means
Being good at songwriting is somewhat subjective, I know songwriters that have excellent knowledge of music theory, but they write average songs and others that understand JUST the basics but can create outstanding music!
In my opinion, you are good at writing music (and songs) when you can re-create melodically, thematically, structurally, and lyrically music that is in your head. Ultimately it’s all about captivating the listener’s attention and make them want to keep the song on repeat. That is what I aim for when I write music.
Why Does It Take so Long to Become Good at Writing Songs?
As with everything in life, practice makes good; the same rule also applies when writing music, and since writing music has so many stages, it simply takes a large amount of time to master them all.
If you focus just on one aspect of songwriting, chances are you will accelerate your growth since your focus is directed towards one element. It’s not uncommon to come across musicians which their forte lies in crafting melodies (top line writers), in lyrics or music production, but most musicians I know bring to the table a mix of the above skills.
However, since you are probably new to the songwriting game, I suggest you engage in the WHOLE process of writing music and decide later on if you want to niche down.
What Knowledge Do I Need to Become Good at Writing Songs?
I’ve created a list of all the elements you need to become good at writing songs. Keep in mind that I won’t touch upon matters such as sound design, mixing, and mastering since they are not essential to achieve our goal.
Become Good at Songwriting Faster:
1) Use Your Secret Music Power: Imagination
Something that is often overlooked in the skills of a songwriter is the need for a broad imagination. Think about all the songs that exist in the world; they were all created through the process of imagination.
You can spot the lack of imagination in a musician right away by examining his compositions, seeing if they are similar to other songs. You have to understand that re-creating a track is requires a different set of skills than creating a song that is fresh and unique, but STILL can be consumed by a large audience.
Paradoxically if you want to find your own voice, the fastest way to do that is, study other artists and understand the techniques they’re using.
2) Get Basic Music Theory Knowledge
Our next skill is the understanding of basic music theory, I don’t believe in-depth music theory is essential for writing good music, but you do need a basic set of tools.
And these tools are the following:
3) Know How to Create a Captivating Melody
In my opinion, the melody is the most essential part of a song. If you have doubts, try the following: try singing your favorite songs to someone without singing the melody line. How would you do that?
You can cite the lyrics, you can hum the baseline or beatbox-the-beat, but even if you do all three chances are the other person won’t recognize the song UNTILL you sing the melody line!
Also, I am almost positive that what initially drew your attention was the melody, not the lyrics or the beat of your favorite song.
BEWARE: There is no magic bullet that can show you how to craft the perfect melody, BUT there are guidelines, tips, and tricks that can help you create great melodic lines!
Be the First to Get My “CRAFT THE PERFECT POP SONG” Guide.
I have a secret I want to tell you. Soon I will launch an ebook that will teach all the knowledge and tricks you need to craft the perfect song, and I can guarantee that this guide will be a HUGE timesaver for you!
In the “Craft The Perfect Pop Song” guide you will find not only find techniques famous producers and musicians use such as (Max Martin, Abba, Prince, Michael Jackson, Pharrell Williams, and others) but you will also get a step by step process which you can implement on every song you create, and of course, much-much more!
If you want to be among the first to receive the “CRAFT THE PERFECT POP SONG” guide and get the book at a discounted price, send me a message here, and I promise I will add you to my VIP list! 🙂
4) Know How to Form Chords
It is not necessary to know how to form and play every chord, but you definitely must know how to create chord-triads. Chord triads are very simple to remember; they consist of the: first (1st), the major or minor third (3rd), and the fifth (5th) note of a chord.
As an example, the triad of the C major chord is as follows:
C-E-G. With the C-note being the first, the E-note being the third and the G-note being the fifth note of the chord.
And the C minor chord will look like this:
C-Eb-G. This time the third is found just a half step down, the famous minor third.
Chord progression combinations that work
if you’re not familiar with the power of chord progressions you should check out Axis of Awesome – 4 Four Chord Song these guys make a point by illustrating how many songs are written in the same chord progression, of course, there is an infinite number of chord progressions, but every genre of music has its favorite ones.
AXIS OF AWESOME
Here is a list with popular chord progressions
- I – V – vi – IV (A – E – Fm – D)
- vi – I – V – IV (F#m – A – E – D)
- I – IV – V – vi (A – D – E – F#m)
- I – V – IV – I (A – E – D – A)
6) Know How to Write Lyrics for a Song
It’s maybe the melody that grabs your attention when you first hear a track, but it’s the lyrics that will make you form a deeper connection with the song.
Contrary to what some people may think, crafting great lyrics is a difficult task. The most challenging part, in my opinion, is the ability to write lyrics that are both unique and associative on a large scale. In other words, lyrics that don’t sound cliché but what a wide audience can enjoy.
One great trick I learned is when you write your first verse, try being a general as possible so that the listener gets the general concept of the song but is curious enough to stay and find out what happens is the second and third verse!
7) Add the Right Energy Level to Every Song Section
This is a HUGE subject! Energy levels can literally make or break your composition. Adding too little tension will get the listener bored but add too much tension, and you won’t be able to tell the difference between each section.
Several elements contribute to the right energy level; some of them include:
- The volume level each instrument
- Introducing and removing sounds (when the moment is right)
- Vocal harmonies, (when to add them and why)
- The singer’s pitch (higher notes convey more tension)
- Silence (and knowing how to use it properly)
Because this is such a complex subject, I can’t include all of it in this post. Instead, I talk thoroughly about all the techniques you can use to increase or decrease a song’s energy levels in my “Craft The Perfect Pop Song” guide!
If you want to know more about the guide (and receive a discount when it’s out), send me a message through this contact form.
8) Know How to Use a DAW
Being able to use a DAW is not a must, picking perfectly right the song with just a recorder and an instrument, but if you know how to use at least the basic in a DAW, I guarantee, in the long run, it will save you loads of time!
If you don’t know which DAW to choose, I’d suggest you go either with Ableton Live 10 or FL Studio (click on the links to visit Amazon) They are both great options; however, if you want to record your songs (almost) for free, I would suggest Reaper (click on link to visit the sales page)
9) Learn to Play an Instrument
I learned to play the guitar when I was about 13 years old; it was mainly because my father was a professional musician; also, I didn’t know it at the time, but learning the guitar would benefit me greatly in the future.
Off the top of my head, because of my guitar skills, it’s way easier for me to:
1)Form chords and chord-structures right on the spot without the help of a DAW, something many producers lack.
2) Recognize chords, tones, and pitches a result of ear training, something you get, whether you like it or not through the process of learning the guitar.
3) I can tell instantly if someone is in tune or not
4) Understand how scales and chords interact with each other, a skill that has helped me a lot in my songwriting journey.
And much more..
10) Use the Right Equipment
As a songwriter, you will need equipment such as
- A sound card
- Studio monitors
- A lap-top
- A midi keyboard
Do your self a favor and visit my recommended gear page, where I have selected the best equipment for songwriting! There you will find a selection with the best professional home studio gear you’ll possibly need. This is NOT the most expensive equipment instead its equipment you can rely on for years and years to come. This is the stuff I use.
Avoid the Biggest Struggle I Had When Writing Music
Before, I mentioned that you are good at writing music when you can accurately re-create what is in your head.
I remember the first months as a songwriter my biggest struggle was that I had almost no control over the song itself. It was as if the song had a will on its own and could, at any point, decide it wanted to go in a different direction. It almost felt as if I was experimenting all the time.
But it’s okay to allow your imagination to be present when you write a song. In fact, it’s more than okay since imagining the result is a necessary tool you need as a songwriter. But the mistake I did was to let my imagination run wild and take me to all kinds of directions.
As a result, I often devoted four or five hours only to discover that the whole session was a complete mess and that there was little to none musical continuity as a whole.
In other words, I had stray so far away from the main idea I had, and the parts of my song did not match with each other.
The Solution That Gives Back Your Focus When Writing Songs
As I mentioned above, one of my biggest struggles was lack of focus and direction when writing music; I am pleased to announce I have created a solution that minimizes this hurdle!
Here it goes:
Before crafting a song, write down the direction you want to go, include all the information such as the style, genre, and length of the track, but also the chord structure, the scale you’re in, and the lyrical concept. In other words, you need a map that will guide you. I speak from experience when I say that I have wasted countless hours creating tracks that were all over the place.
If you work with a DAW, a trick that might help you is using markers before engaging in writing music. This technique involves setting markers that indicate each section’s length.
Here is an example of this technique:
- Intro 4 bars,
- Verse 8 bars,
- Pre-chorus 8 bars
- Chorus 16 bars.
PRO TIP: If you’re not sure how long each section should be, use another song in the same genre as a guideline.
This Is Why There Is a Big Difference in Results Amongst Musicians
For quite some time and was troubled by the fact that some songwriters would achieve leaps of progress, but in the same period, other musicians would be just halfway through. The reason why I thought about this issue thoroughly was because I didn’t want to replicate the same mistake, and then it hit me!
The main reason why a few musicians achieve bigger results faster than others has mainly to do with their mindset and lack of guidance! In other words, the issue lies within the way they approach writing/producing music.
I believe there is no reason to try and reinvent the wheel since there is so much information out there ( look at his blog, for example) that can teach you the dos and don’ts of your music journey. However, one problem I did face was the lack of continuity and structure; that’s why I invested in a real-life music teacher to understand the basics and purchased guides to learn and teach myself what he couldn’t.
However, knowledge doesn’t have to be expensive, but it isn’t cheap either, I guess it all boils down on how far you want to go and how great you want to be.
Writing a Good Song Is a Process Not a Single Action
One last thing I want to mention is that becoming great at songwriting and writing a good song is a process not a result of a single action. Try not to get overwhelmed by all the information that is out there, instead follow your journey step-by-step and one day at the time.
But I did early on was to seek out a music teacher that could provide me with tips and guidelines also, I invested a lot of money and time, consuming books, videos, and guides I found online.
And it’s because this tremendous amount of information is scattered all across the Internet I decided to start this blog and create guides organizing everything that I’ve learned through the years so that YOU can learn faster and better than I did 🙂
I wish you a great day!