Songwriting. Put the word into Google and you will get lost in millions of results within seconds.
Alternatively, take a few minutes to help yourself with our 7 tips from someone who’s been there, to get you started.
Songwriting ain’t easy
Writing an unforgettable song with creative lyrics is a challenging task. Whether it’s dealing with writer’s block, lack of creativity or not having enough confidence in your craft, your work can always be improved.
We feel you. Content writers go through the same processes and emotions associated with our career choice. It’s not all doom and gloom though. If you’re new to songwriting, simply being aware of the pitfalls can be an effective way to get out or around them. In some cases, it’s worth following and studying the beaten path.
In light of this, we reach out to London-based songwriter and singer, Malissa Whitehouse.
MTV, Capital Radio and UK Talent Shows
Malissa is well-known within the industry, having worked for various media companies that include MTV and Capital Radio. She’s also written for artists from UK talent TV shows such as The Voice and X Factor.
It’s worth adding that she’s worked with Telstar Records which had a part in the launching platinum selling artists such as Craig David, Mis-Teeq and Conner Reeves. She’s currently developing scripts and soundtracks for a live action TV drama.
With this in mind, she is well-informed to take us through the songwriting process.
1. Honesty, patience and take a damn break
Isolating yourself can be the writer’s devil on the shoulder, but listen to the other side, get your ass up, get some fresh air and move your body. Keep your notebook or recorder close to hand and practice awareness, you never know where you might get the next hit of inspiration from.
“Always be honest with your creative process. Don’t fake a situation because you have a deadline or a pressure to deliver. Good songs take time”.
2. Write, write, write for songwriting success
Regardless of your state of mind, what you’re writing or where you are at any one time, aim to get that content written down somewhere. Don’t stress on getting verse after verse down just a few simple sentences will suffice. You never know that one or two sentences you jotted into your phone’s notepad whilst stuck in traffic could spurn inspiration that will flow into a complete song.
“The more material you have the more opportunities you will create for your works. This industry is competitive, and I’ve found my best opportunities have come along from the most bizarre of situations. With a variety of work you can learn to keep opportunities varied.”
3. Write the verse or chorus first
Everyone writes in different ways, so if it works for you don’t fix it. However, for Malissa she leans more towards progression and prefers to start first with the verse, then the bridge and finally the chorus, which helps keep the track flowing.
However, you wish to construct your song is entirely up to you, just make sure that all of the key elements are there. We’ve outlined them for you below.
The part where you need to capture the audience’s attention and keep them.
The part where you develop and advance the story/message. Remember the second verse needs to build on the first.
Optional and usually adds impact to the chorus or verse. Switch it up and get creative with more word play.
The chorus is the pinnacle of your song that brings all of your ideas together.
The bridge typically happens just once as the song comes to an end and usually between the second and third chorus. This part usually changes both musically and lyrically.
The outro should speak to the listener to tell them that the song is coming to an end.
“There is no right or wrong. Just as long as you have a finished song in the end that you’re happy and proud to share”.
“If you do decide to go this route, just make sure you always work out your cuts and ownership of the song to avoid any problems further down the line. In case the song is a success, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Two or three minds can (at times) be better than one. If you’re open to the idea, hook up with some friends or like-minded people, communicate what you’re struggling with and what you wish to achieve and see what the outcome is.
5. There is no time limit to songwriting
There’s no time limit unless you have a deadline to appeal to, of course. Like many writers, Malissa has written some of her best work in a few hours, sometimes even months or in a few cases years. Only you know when you’ve mastered your creation and when you’re ready to share it to the world.
If you’re a newbie, don’t stress it and just get started. You will soon figure out your time frames as you get better.
6. Follow your gut
You know that gut reaction? Well, that’s a factor and so is the initial reaction from the people close around you upon first hearing. Once the musicians or producer start playing with ideas you will see the building blocks of the track’s development.
“Sometimes I’m in the studio and will ask the producer if I can lay down a wild track of vocal ideas and by the end of the take the whole room is smiling.”
7. Grabbing the attention of A&R
Time is money and this couldn’t be truer in the music industry. You have around 30 seconds to grab the attention of A&R (Artist and Repertoire) executive. A&R is responsible for scouting new and promising talent for a record label or music publisher. The same goes with radio stations who have to deal with thousands of submissions on a daily basis.
“Get the vocals straight in and build it so they want to keep listening.”
“You need to be an individual. Be clever, be bold and stand out.” Competition is tough and there are so many artists vying for a few minutes of attention from the right people in the business that could help take your career to the next level.
Malissa Whitehouse releases new single
Malissa has just released her latest single Dear Diary, which is now available on all streaming platforms.