Mistakes You Should Avoid

Songwriters make mistakes.  At every stage of their career.  Even the hitmakers, although the percentage is lower when you know how things work.

But for people just setting out in their careers, it can be hard to spot what you’re doing wrong. And if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, you keep making the same mistakes and eventually get stuck right?

Let’s talk about some things you can FIX immediately! 

Mistake – Don’t ramble or be all over the place!

Tell a Story – It Needs to Make Sense

Songs are stories. It’s that simple. Songwriters are storytellers who connect with other people through their words and music. And, in order for your song/story to connect with others, you must tell a story. Very quickly

All songs must have a beginning, a middle and an end.

So where does your song start? Where does it go ? And how does it end? That’s what you must clearly convey to the listener.

TIP:

  • Look at your songs and identify the beginning, the middle of each song.
  • Ask yourself, ‘is the transition clear? ‘Is it obvious to the listener that the song is moving forward’
  • Don’t ramble

Mistake – Not clear who’s speaking

Keep the narrator consistent – Don’t switch the voice arround

It’s extremely confusing to the listener if the point of view (narrator) is not constant.  The person telling the story must stay in the same tense.

If ‘you’ are doing the talking , i.e. “I’m a fool in love’, then you must stay in first person throughout the song.

TIP: 

  • Make sure you understand all the different types of song structure and components of a song. You can learn about these in Better Songwriting 101 as well as how to ultilize each.

Mistake – Can’t determine what song is about

Must Have a ‘Hook’ – Make it Memorable

Songs need a ‘hook’ – the memorable thing the listener remembers to identify the song.  Sometimes it’s the title, i.e. ‘Grenade’, ‘My Church’, ‘God’s Plan’ and sometimes it’s a phrase  i.e. ‘Tell Me Something Good’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ ‘Shake it Off’.  You get the idea.

Even if you’re not especially accomplished as a songwriter, the better you get at communicating a ‘catchy’ identifier (the hook), the more progress and success as a writer you will have.  People who listen to songs for a living are always listening for ‘the hook’- one that’s fresh and instantly recognizable. 

TIP:

  • Maren Morris’ ‘The Bones’ is a terrific example of this. If you’re not familiar with the song, Google the lyrics.  Basically the premise is ‘if the bones are good’, just like the bones of a house.

Mistake – Your song sounds dated and like a million others

Make your idea unique and fresh

Pay attention to what music sounds like today.  Unless you’re trying to create an old timey bluegrass song, or write a new polka, your lyrics and music should sound current.

Sounding dated and tired is the fastest way to get someone to STOP listening to your song, Besides, it clearly shows you are not paying attention to what people want to hear. Or are up on the biz.

TIP:

  • Make a list of your top 5 favorite songs right now.  Write down what the subject is about and how the singer is talking about it. Meaning what type of language or conversation are they using?  Does it sound like someone is talking to you?Do the words sound  like how people talk now?  What about the sonic quality?
  • Also note the length of the song. Songs are shorter today than 5 years ago.

Want more helpful advice? You can save alot of time and frustration learning how to do things the right way.  We’ve put it all together for you in our courses. So check them out at www.musicrow411.com/resources.