As a songwriter nothing is more important to you than writing a hit song. Being able to create a hit that the public will adore is literally your life line. It’s one thing to write a cute, personal song that no one will never hear. However, it’s another thing to write a song with the intention of the song being a hit and being available to the public. Whether you’re a mainstream or independent songwriter your livelihood depends on your ability to create a hot song. The reality is even the most amazing songwriters sometimes stumble during the process and get “writers’ block.” No matter how good of a songwriter you are sometimes you may just be stuck and not know where to start. Here are 5 amazing songwriting tips on how to write a hit song for songwriters.
1. Don’t try to be too fancy or mysterious
A lot of songwriters make the mistake of thinking the key to writing a perfect song is to be extremely fancy. A lot of songwriters believe they have to come up with big words and fancy phrases. Some even think writing a song with a mysterious vibe or meaning to it will create a hit. The reality is when it comes to writing a popular, hit song it’s actually the opposite. One of the most important songwriting tips to always remember is to NOT be too fancy or mysterious. Sure you want your lyrics to be creative and original. However, you have to learn how to find the balance of being original yet simple. The reason behind this is because you want your song and lyrics to be very relatable. The more mysterious and overly fancy your song is the more you get away from it having universal appeal. The thing that makes everyday people gravitate towards a song is the fact that it’s relatable or it seems to sing to a certain aspect of their life. The only way to achieve that is to be simple enough where you can reach a large audience of people. Whatever it is you want you song to say you have to make it plain. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Once again this doesn’t mean you don’t put any effort or creativity into making your song. It means the message of the song has to be simple, but the way you convey the message have to be original, creative, powerful and catchy.
2. Make your chorus/hook relatively short
One of the best songwriting advice I can give any inspiring or established songwriter is to make your chorus short and sweet. Some will argue the chorus is the life of your song. It’s actually a good argument. The chorus/hook is what grabs the listeners (which explains why the synonym for chorus is called hook, it “hooks” the listener). You want your entire song to be great but you want the part that the listener pays attention to the most to be spectacular. Since we live in a world where most people have a short attention span making your chorus short and sweet is an amazing way to pull the listener in. The chorus will ultimately become the most popular part of the song so why make it long and drawn out. You have to learn how to make the chorus short and sweet yet captivating. The chorus/ hook is the summary of the song. The verses tell the story and the chorus summarizes everything you are saying as a songwriter. To accomplish this make sure your chorus is 4 bars long, or if it is 8 bars long make sure that means the chorus is doubled (being repeated). Some of the most popular songs of all time have short yet amazing choruses. The artist doesn’t do a lot of explaining in the chorus. They simply summarize what the story is about and go on to the verses. Below are a list of mega-hit songs that hat really short or relatively short choruses. Make sure you take a listen to these songs.
- My Girl – The Temptations
- ABC – The Jackson 5
- I will always love you – Whitney Houston
- Dirty Diana – Michael Jackson
- Ooh Baby, Baby – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
- That’s the way love goes – Janet Jackson
- No ordinary love – Sade
- One in a million – Aaliyah
3. Draw from personal experiences
Another important factor to remember when writing songs is to draw from personal inspirational. No one can tell your story or express your emotions quite like you can. As cliche as it may sound but writing from an honest place is one of the best ways to create a masterpiece. Some of the most famous hit songs ever were written from the songwriters’ personal experience. If you feel like you’re too young to have many personal experiences or if you’ve been given a topic to write about that you haven’t gone through yet, what you can do is imagine what you would do in that situation. Meaning if you get a request to write about heartbreak but you have never experienced heartbreak you can always tap into your imagination and write the song based on how you believe you would react to heartbreak. This is actually a popular songwriting technique and tip to tap into your inner emotions. You’d be surprised how many songwriters wrote very personal sounding songs that he or she haven’t actually experienced.
4. Give people what they want
When you’re a songwriter and your intention is to have your songs actually sale them technically you’re in the field of customer service. You have customers, an audience you must appeal to. You have to know their needs and sale it. That’s the reality. With that being said one of the most important songwriting tips is to give the people what they want. That means you have to write songs that are up to date and for in with the latest style. This may be a hard songwriting tip for artist who pride themselves in being different or even having an old soul like myself. However, the reality is you have to give people what they want. This is not to encourage anyone to not be original or simply duplicate others melody, chords and musical ideals. This is to say you have to find a way to add your own style and original content to the modern sound. In other words you have to do your own thing but work with what’s working. If there’s a popular bell or snare in song patterns that’s helping to create the latest sound you may want to incorporate those elements into your song while still maintaining your own sound and vibe.
5. Get trusted feedback
Once again if you’re writing songs only for your own personal use and playing around with songwriting ideas then feedback isn’t important. However, if you want tour songs to be taken to the next level you’re going to need some sort of feedback. A lot of times when we create something whether it’s a song, painting, video, etc. it’s amazing to us. It’s our baby so of course we think the world of it. To make sure it doesn’t only sound good to you one of my biggest songwriting tips is to have 1-2 people give you feedback on your song. Keep in mind no more than 2 people. You don’t want a bunch of “chiefs” and “critics” reviewing your songs. There’s way too much negativity and hidden jealousy in the world to open yourself to an opportunity for others to “hate.” Make sure they 1 or 2 people you did get to review your song has a good music ear and is someone you can trust. Most important make sure they are comfortable with giving you positive and negative feedback. The same way you don’t want feedback from a hater, you don’t want feedback from a “yes man” either who only tells you what you want to hear.
These 5 creative songwriting tips and ideas are only the beginning to helping you create countless hit songs. There are many more tips and techniques you can follow. However, these tips are universal and effective so starting out with them is a great way to go. Ultimately you’ll end up forming your own regimen and formula you come up with that enables you to write hit songs.