3 Tips Every Songwriter Must Know

David Maxey

From time to time we will have a guest author on the SHQ. My good friend, David Maxey is the creator of Home Music Studio 1, a blog about creating professional audio recording projects on any size budget. He has been a singer/songwriter now for over 2 decades. In this post, David shares three great tips that has made him a much better songwriter.


Discover Your Own Writing Style

I’m not referring to a style of music here but rather the method in which Songwriters often create a song. As a singer-songwriter and home recording coach, I’ve witnessed this process first hand many times throughout the years. I’ve discovered that there are many ways to write a song, all of which have merit.

Some songs are written as a solo effort, others as a collective of artists. Sometimes lyrics are first, other times the music. Sometimes a melody and then lyrics, other times just the opposite.

I often find myself writing a song with lyrics, a melody, and music at the same time. In any case there’s no wrong way to write a song. My challenge to you would be to discover a style that fits you best. I would also note that sometimes this can change from song to song and in different seasons of life.

Take Criticism Well

As songwriters we tend to be very passionate people. I’ve often referred to this truth as both a curse and a blessing, even in my own life. With this being the case it can also be difficult to take criticism well. However, this is the very thing a songwriter needs in order to improve at their skill. Learn to take input without being offended. Learn to listen to input not just from other musicians, but also from those who are fans of your music.

No matter how good of a songwriter we may see ourselves as being, we can and should always be learning how to write more impacting songs. I’ve written entire songs with melody’s, lyrics, and music in less than 15 minutes. Those same songs however required many hours of refining and fine-tuning before they were ready to most effectively communicate the message I intended. Receiving feedback well in this stage makes all the difference.

Don’t Be a Musical Bigot

If you’re going to be a great songwriter then you need to listen to a lot of songs. Not just songs in you’re favorite style but songs in as many styles as possible. Learn to appreciate the musical value from other musicians. Listen with an ear to discover how other songwriters are communicating their message.

One way to limit your creative ability is to shield yourself from the creativeness of others. Instead, go outside your personal preferences and learn to value the expression of others. Do you prefer Rock? then listen to some Jazz for a while. Are you a metal head? Spend a few minutes with some classical music.

Are you into Rap, R&B, Pop? Whatever your tastes don’t be a musical bigot. Learn to be a songwriter who ventures outside of your own personal comfort. You’ll be surprised how much more creativity you’ll bring back into your own projects.

How about you?

What writing method do you find most inspiring as a songwriter? How well do you take criticism? How often do you listen to music outside your preferred style? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Add them to the comments section below.

About David Maxey

David is a more than 15 year veteran of live and recorded audio. He is a consultant in his field, and conducts technical, musical, and creative arts conferences. He is the author of the audio podcast Home Music Studio 1, with more tens of thousands of downloads.

3 Responses to 3 Tips Every Songwriter Must Know

  1. tom swanick August 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    I pick up the guitar several times a day. Sometimes I will get a verse in my head and work off of that. As for listening outside my comfort zone…always! Having a college aged daughter helps with hearing new music.

    • David Maxey August 16, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      Thanks for commenting Tom. A college age daughter would keep your music varied for sure ;).

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