How To Become A Songwriter

Have you ever dreamed of hearing one of your songs on the radio or heard a tune and thought that you could do better? Many top artists use material written by others and a successful track will yield impressive financial returns but getting your music heard can be a major project. If you think you have the ability to write a hit then here is how to approach the task.

The Genre

Start out by deciding which genre of music to work with. Decide which type of music best suits your personal style and the instruments you play then listen to a selection of hits to see what they have in common. This will give you valuable clues as to what works. There is little point in going in blind as whilst this may be fine for your own performances it is unlikely to get your material noticed on the commercial market. Examine the structures of the successful songs to see how they make use of verses, choruses and bridges and think about the subject matter of the lyrics.


Common Factors

There are some factors which are common to most hit records regardless of genre and you must pay attention to these. The lyrics should be easy to comprehend and have meaning. Each verse should contain the same number of beats or won’t fit to a repeating melody. The tune must be within the compass of most singers’ ability to perform and the track is best constructed to last between three and four and half minutes. Various musical bodies like the Music Publishing Association offer tutorials and advice online to help you out.

Music and Lyrics

Every songwriter works in their own way. Some write the lyrics first and then construct the melody, others start with the music. You should start where you feel strongest and it could be that you need to work in partnership. Many great hits have been produced as the result of a collaboration. You can compose your tune using a single instrument, several instruments or even computer software. It is not vital to be able to read and write music as you can engage a pro to do this for you when you have created your piece.

Brushing Up

If you have created what you think could be a winner then keep playing and singing the piece and test it out on friends and family. Be self-critical and seek the opinions of those you can trust to be honest. Try to correct any issues the song may have before you attempt to market it. Be aware that one song will probably be difficult to sell on its own so build a collection of good material. Agencies and artists are more likely to pay attention if they think they have found someone who can consistently produce great work.


Once you believe you have a potentially winning catalogue of songs it is vital that you get them professionally recorded in a studio before approaching publishers. These people have to listen to a lot of material and may fail to see the potential of tracks which do not have instant impact. A recording of you humming and strumming your guitar just isn’t going to hack it!

Marketing Your Music

There are several ways you can promote your music. The simplest route is to try to publish it yourself. There are several operators who provide an online facility where you can upload your tracks in order to have them displayed on iTunes, Amazon and eMusic for consumers to hear. If any of your songs sell you can generate some income and will have evidence of their appeal to support your sales pitches.

Another option is to use platforms like, and who will take your tracks and either provide leads to publishers and artists or find deals for you. You could always approach publishers direct but this could result in a lot of time consuming work and many rejections before you make any headway.

Protecting Yourself

If you do receive offers to use your music then make sure that you protect your rights to the material and revenues. Take legal advice before you sign anything and become a member of BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters) or ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). These organisations will help you with legal problems, taxation and royalties.

Breaking Through

The music industry can be hard to crack but if you have the talent and the persistence there is no reason why you shouldn’t have some success. You will probably meet with frequent rejection and your first efforts may need to be improved but you could write a big hit and set yourself up for life.