On my last blog I basically gave myself a “big ol pat on the back” with all the hard work I had put into writing and releasing an album. With all that went in, I thought it would be a good idea to document what I took from this research and share what I learnt with others - Im certainly not writing this blog claiming to be a successful songwriter; this is just what I gleaned from my research and what I found worked for me;
My Top 5 Tips for Songwriting
1. Write everything down! This advice seems to be universal across all platforms. Always have a pen and paper handy and write down whatever comes into your head at the time. Its so important to get it down there and then, otherwise you will lose the “gold” in that moment. I literally have reams of notes in books and I often go into them as my main source. Whilst technology is great - I find a good old fashioned pen and paper makes you connect to the words more.
2. Record everything! This is so easy nowadays due to technology being in our pockets. Barry Gibb of the “Bee-Gee’s” used to keep a dictaphone by his bed side and would usually record into it as soon as he woke up by humming the melody/riff etc. “Let it Be” was famously captured the following morning on a recording device by Paul McCartney also. (Again if you don’t capture it there and then it will be gone forever. I currently have 45 recordings/ideas on my phone to be reviewed)!
3. Don’t throw anything away. With your written notes and recordings its important to keep everything cause it can lead to taking future songs in a new direction or often is the case I've found - you can fuse songs together. U2 are a great example here - they actually didn’t like “With or Without You” and had to be convinced to release it. I think it done pretty good...
4. The good stuff will come - using the “dirty water” analogy from Ed Sheeran. This is from an article he did where he describes that writing songs to start with is like letting the dirty water run from a tap before you get the clean water i.e. the good stuff. Clean water meaning the hits! I have read to expect a ratio of 80/20 on song writing. My advice is to complete a song even if you don't think its going to be a hit... (example above)
5. “Elbow Grease!” - (From a documentary I watched) The band “The Eagles” lived above the famous singer/songwriter Jackson Browne, and it was from him that they learnt how to go about their business. All day everyday they would hear two sounds from his apartment below - the song he was doing that day over and over again and the whistle from his kettle when he would take frequent breaks in between. I will never forget one of “The Eagles” looking down the camera and saying “so thats how he does it… elbow grease!” Noel Gallagher compares songwriting to fishing, sometimes they bite and you can have one in five minutes but other times you have play the waiting game and put in a long shift. (The opening track “I Miss you” on our EP took me six months to complete! More on that another time).
There is it; Please share this note if it helped you or if you think it can help others to create and start this rewarding journey. I have a further five tips that I will post on my next blog and remember to use #askMASK should you have any questions for us. (We are getting through them).
The bands debut EP “The Truth” has been out a couple of weeks now and the feedback has been amazing. To receive daily messages from all over the world from people listening to our music is beyond our wildest dreams - so thank you.
H from MASK.