Written By Lindsey Batista, Rock the Dream
Until recently, getting a degree in songwriting was almost unheard of. Nowadays, most big music schools offer a songwriting program, or at least a few classes. While a degree doesn’t mean much in the music industry, it takes more than just talent to write real “hits”. Songwriting is a craft that can be learned and developed; and, thankfully, it doesn’t require paying tuition to master it.
There aren’t any secret formulas that a class or degree program will teach you, but there is one technique they all use – analyzing successful songs. Writing as many songs as you can is helpful for sure, but you also need to be listening to music critically to learn how to actually improve your writing.
All the biggest hits, even across genres and different kinds of artists, share certain similarities, which change with the times. Picking up on these and applying them to your songs is key to creating what people want to hear today.
The elements to look at are — well all of them. You want to listen to top songs for their structure, instrumentation, tempo, lyrics and meanings. Write out everything you notice, and do it again and again. Eventually, you start to see the elements that appear over and over again in hit songs.
But, isn’t songwriting all about originality, and creating something totally new? Of course you want your song to offer something new, but it also has to fit into the mainstream expectations of music. The art is in combining borrowed elements and your own creative touch.
If you’re serious about being a songwriter, then keep on writing, but start listening, too! Whatever your routine is, make analyzing hit songs a part of it. If you want to be the best, then you have to learn from the best.