Technically, anyone that has ever written a song can dub themselves a songwriter, but imposter syndrome doesn’t care for technicalities. Not even becoming a professional songwriter can put them to rest for some. Yet, not all hope is gone for the aspiring independent songwriter – especially now there’s a big market in songwriting.
This article will cover tips for beginner songwriters before moving on to establishing yourself in the music industry via promotion and collaboration and how you can open up a myriad of revenue streams with your songwriting talent.
How to Become a Songwriter & Shed Your Amateur Status
Don’t Avoid the Fundamentals
Before you set your sights on becoming a world-renowned songwriter, you will want to be able to answer yes to all of the following questions:
- Do you know how to compose a catchy melody?
- Can you create a memorable and catchy rhythm?
- Are you acquainted with the minor, major, diminished, and dominant chords?
- Are you familiar with how verses, choruses, bridges, and solos should flow?
Once you have understood the basics of songwriting, you can follow or break the rules like an artist. There should always be room for spontaneity and creativity when you start composing songs but don’t be afraid to keep it simple in the beginning. Some of the most popular songs ever recorded keep to the same chord progressions; there is no reason you can’t do the same while you are homing in on your songwriting talents.
Not all songwriters go down the music theory path – and it certainly isn’t a necessity. Yet, a few music theory teachings can take your compositions to the next level, such as knowing how chords in keys work, how keys move and how they transpose.
Get Comfortable with Co-Writing
One of the best ways for up-and-coming songwriters to get established is by writing songs for professional singers. Even if you plan on using your vocals in your tracks, there are very few better ways to get your name known in the industry. You may not stand much of a chance of writing for your idol while you are finding your feet, but there is no telling which collaboration will open the door for your career.
Demo Your Music
Demoing your songs doesn’t have to cost the earth, and it can be a great way to share your sound with A&R reps, record labels and promoters. Your demo doesn’t have to be a masterpiece; it just has to include some potential production moves, a few instrumental ideas and a beat. And just in case you are feeling like it isn’t worth demoing your music yet, take some motivation in the fact that demoing doesn’t only give you engineering skills and a better understanding of how to use your instrumental talents. Demoing also goes a long way in improving the songwriting skillset. No one truly knows how the final product will sound when they first think of a melody to put against some words. By seeing the process through, from start to finish, you will have a better idea of what needs to go into your sound the next time and what should be left out of it.
Learn the Art of Self-Promotion
So many unestablished indie artists create songs that easily rival the quality of chart-topping singles.
After pouring their heart out in verse and complementing their candour with melodies they choke in the musician’s marketplace. Getting over the uneasy feeling that hits whenever you try and garner some attention around your new releases is vital if you have set your sights on becoming a successful songwriter.
When you write and record a song that you are sure reflects the best of your talents, don’t be afraid to release it and promote it. To give your music the best chance of being heard, upload it across all major platforms, including Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Deezer and Tidal. Plenty of third-party distro sites can take all of the hassles out of this for you. However, before you randomly drop your music into the ether, work on establishing a fanbase by promoting yourself on social media, networking with other artists, and reaching out to blogs, DJs, playlisters, labels and promoters. If you have the finances for it and you are looking to make a real impression with your music, consider the help of songwriting promotion services. It could be a great investment for potential sales and exposure.
Creating Capital from Your Music
The number of independent artists making a living wage from streaming may be drastically low at 0.4%, but it is just one of the ways in 2022 that songwriters can receive sizeable royalties from their music.
The sale of downloads, CDs, vinyl records and merchandise can also drastically contribute to an independent artist’s income. As can getting your music played on a major radio station, playing live at festivals, gigs, and private events and pitching to influencers, YouTubers, and record labels.
Music is prevalent in many aspects of our culture outside Spotify and record stores. Every time you go into a department store or a supermarket, you are likely to hear music. Every time you head to the cinema, you will hear a film score. Every time there is an ad break, you will hear some jingles behind the sales pitch. All that music needs to come from somewhere, and the trick to getting your music heard in that way is by sync-licencing, placements, or signing a publishing deal.
Last but not least, one of the best ways to turn your songwriting into a lucrative deal is by signing a record label. Or, if you would prefer to keep hold of your indie status, you can always join the growing numbers of artists on crowd-funding platforms, such as Patreon. For the latter method, you will need a strong following of fans, but if you are just as connectable as your music in the public arena, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.