How to write songs for artists (a practical guide)


Creating a song with a specific artist in mind can be a daunting task, that’s why today I decided to research the topic and combine my existing knowledge in order to create an informative guide and share my experiences thus far. If you want to write songs for artists and be successful at it you will have to:

  1. Do a quality check before sending the song
  2. Research their background and gather information
  3. Write something specific or something that is general, in any case, create a song the recording artist can relate to
  4. Ask the fans
  5. Combine elements from different genres
  6. Add something unexpected to the song
  7. Copyright your songs before submitting them
  8. What to do if you get no reaction back

Let’s dive into the specifics!

 

Quality check

Before pitching your upcoming no1 hit and open the musical doors of heaven, please make sure the song is as good as it can be! Do a quality check and be certain everything works well together, musically, lyrically and emotionally,

the last one (emotion) is the most important aspect to consider.

 

 

”No one is going to care if you used a B#minor seventh
instead of aB#minor
or if you used syncopation in the melody line,
what is ultimately going to matter is that the song
‘’ moves you’’
and that it elicits an emotional response”

 

 

 

A song can be well written, the melody may match exactly the underlying harmony, all the sections may have the correct length, the synth sounds can be up to date but if you don’t feel something when you listen to it, then it probably won’t make the cut.

 

Why is that?

Because us, humans we are emotional creatures, especially with things such as art we make decisions based on our feelings.

 

No one is going to care if you used a B#minor seventh instead of a B#minor or used syncopation in the melody line, what is ultimately going to matter is that the song ‘’ moves you’’ that it elicits an emotional response and that it got that “thing  going on”. If you feel it. the artist will feel it and so will his audience.

 

 

Be specific

If you want to Increase your chances of working with a specific artist do research the artist background, find out what they like, dislike, what they have experienced in their past, and use this information and write a song that personaly apply to them.

 

You could pay attention to things such as:

  1. Where they grew up
  2. Where they’re currently living
  3. Relatives or friends that have passed away
  4. If they have children
  5. Past relationships

 

By creating a tailor-made track for an artist you increase the chances of them liking your song plus their performance will feel more genuine and real when singing the song in front of an audience.

 

Now if later on for whatever reason you decide to pitch your song to someone else the only thing you’ll have to do is change the song title and lyrics thus use text that applies to the other singer.

 

 

Generalize

If you can’t find something specific to write about, try creating something more general, something that the artist is likely to associate with. A few ideas to consider are

  • Breaking up
  • Getting back together
  • Death
  • Partying
  • Having fun
  • Cheating

 

 

The F word!

Ahh yes, the old familiar F word… Of Course, I’m talking about FANS (what did u think I was talking about) 😋

 

One tip I personally found useful is to look online for social-media fan pages (Facebook, Instagram, etc) then all you have to do is present yourself as a fan, then aim to find more information about the singer.

 

What you also can do is first upload the track on SoundCloud or YouTube then post the link at the fan page and ask the fans for their opinion.

 

If they get all excited and give positive feedback changes are someone that’s close to the artist is going to notice.

 

 

Crème de la crème

Big artists are only interested in the best they can possibly get, that’s why you have to use only your best songs,

 

But how do you know which one are they?

 

Bellow, I share a few tips I find useful on how to determine the quality of a song:

 

    1. Give it some time. After finishing your track Allow for a couple of days to pass, this time is essential so that you can listen to your song with a fresh set of ears.
    2. Ask fellow producers and songwriters but request from them to be as honest and specific as possible.
      At this stage, you should not be seeking approval instead what you want is brutal honesty so that you can improve your craft.
    3. Ask friends to listen to it, but there is a catch!… Don’t listen to what they say instead look at their body language. Any movement is an indication you’re on the right track. Look for head bobbing, body swings or feet nodding gestures.
      Also, usually friends and family don’t want to hurt your feelings therefore what they say should be taken with a grain of salt.
    4. Isolate the chorus (hook) then listen to it many times in a row, as yourself if the hook is strong enough.

 

  • Now isolate the verse and do the same as above

 

Export your song, create a Playlist with similar tracks, add your song and turn on shuffle. See how it feels when your future hit plays amongst the current hits.

Remember that good song are songs people want to listen again and again, use this concept as an indicator.

 

 

Third-time lucky time

If possible pitch three songs instead of just one. Why? Simply because the artist may not be keen on the first two but adore the third one, also you show that you’re not a one hit wonder type of producer and that you can actually craft great music.

 

 

Use Something familiar

Listen analyze and listen some more to today’s hits, figure out what traits they share in common and implement some of them into your song.  Even more pay attention to the specific artist(s) you’re planning to pitch your songs to.

 

Every successful singer has a style they honor and which the fans love.

 

Make two lists:

 

one with the popular elements and style of today’s hits and

 

one list with the style of the artist in mind, Now all you have to do is blend the two together in order to create something popular and ad the same time unique!

 

 

And something new

Above we talked about implementing familiar and popular characteristics together in order to create something unique. Now I want to talk to you about introducing the element of ‘’new and unexpected ’’.

 

This step requires a bit more thought… The idea is to combine the above elements and create something that is new, fresh and yet fits the artist’s style.

 

A few ideas:

You could:

  • combine elements from two different genres,
  • add weird synth/drum sounds
  • try a chord structure from another genre.

 

These changes can elicit a new canvas of emotions and make you stand out of the crowd.

 

 

Copyright

Before proceeding any further I suggest you copyright your songs, no disrespect to the artist but you better be safe than sorry.

 

In the US you can copyright your song at www.copyright.gov if you want to save money submit your songs in a bulk and not individually make sure to contact the appropriate agency and submit the required info.

 

 

What if my song gets rejected or I don’t hear anything back?

There is always the scenario that your song gets rejected or you may simply not hear anything from the artist’s manager. If that happens don’t worry, you can always pitch your creation other to music publishers, record labels, music libraries, and recording artists.

 

If your song is good enough and musically relevant you will find someone else that is interested in performing it.

 

 

Why did my song got rejected?

First of all, don’t take it personally!

 

If your song didn’t make it through that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad track. Artists generally are picky, maybe there was an element present that did not apply to them, may they were about to release a similar song and therefore lost interest, or maybe you do have to work more on your track.

Whatever the case may be I’d most certainly pitch to other artists.

 

 

Conclusion

I  did my best to create a clear and useful guide on the subject of how to write songs for artists. You’re welcome to share any suggestions or simply leave a comment!

 

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