BMI’s Creative teams are on the front lines with songwriters and composers, listening to their music, providing advice, making introductions and working with them from the start of their careers through their many successes. Now BMI’s industry leaders are sharing their experience by providing tips in The Weekly to help even more writers navigate the industry. This week’s subject is:
What can songwriters do to set themselves apart from others?
Barbara Cane, Vice President, Worldwide Creative and Advisor to the EVP of Creative & Licensing:
At BMI, we always say, it begins with the song. With power to inspire, unite and comfort, songs are impactful and transcendent. They can capture moments that become timeless memories.
I don’t believe great songs come from overthinking the creative process. I believe a songwriter should be open, honest and instinctive. Love the music you create. Songwriters know the essential elements of writing a hit song: concept, lyric, melody, structure, and production. Lyrics should be uncomplicated, sensible and distinct. Melodies should be catchy and infectious. But there is more to the art of writing a hit. It is important for a songwriter to believe in oneself, to focus energy on the pursuit of career rather than distractions by the success and activity by others. It is also important to identify individual writing strength and turn to others to collaborate when necessary. An undeniable asset of great songs is the heart that beats and speaks to anyone. While a songwriter should create from one’s heart and one’s personal and individual experiences, the writer must know how to take that personal experience and make it relatable and accessible to a wide audience. Songs need to resonate and connect with people. For me, when I listen to a song for the first time, I want to feel something. I want to be moved by it. I want it to grab me. I want that song to create an indelible memory that will always remind me of my very first listen.
Jody Williams, Vice President, Creative, Nashville:
To set yourself apart from other songwriters, turn left every chance you get. Stay out of the middle of the road. The current trend in music is usually dominated by two or three artists and a dozen writers or writer producers. Most everyone else is just trying to copy those music makers. The chances you have of coming up with something that will beat out their best songs is a low percentage venture. You should write music that no one else is writing. It can’t sound too different or esoteric. But it needs to be original at the risk of polarizing half your audience. The idea is for you to be your own franchise. If you want a song like “x” you must go to writer “x,” because he is the only one that can give you that special difference. The best songs are ones that illustrate a universal truth in a way no one has ever considered before. And another thing: Show up every day whether you want to or not, whether you are inspired or not. The daily discipline of walking in a writers room and seeing what falls out of the sky and comes through your pen and guitar has yielded some really meaningful copyrights.
Keep an eye out for more helpful info from BMI’s many thought leaders right here in The Weekly!