My Songwriting Story
Jackiem Joyner here. I’d like to talk about one of my favorite subjects. And that’s Commercial Songwriting! Before we jump into all the keys to writing commercial music, I’d like to give you my first run-in with composing songs.
Way back in 1997, probably before many of you were born, there was a store called Radio Shack. I know. Probably something you haven’t heard of! It was an old-school analog electronic store carrying devices and electronics that we clearly don’t need in the years 2021 and 2022!
But they also carried keyboards. One keyboard was the Casio electronic keyboard. This particular keyboard caught my attention because it could record your tracks, store them, and allow you to multi-track your original work. This was my first ever experience with multitracking and songwriting. And boy was I excited!
Several hours later I had recorded my own song! My first original work. Just before the clerk hit the power button and kicked me out! As sad as I was for losing something that might have been a hit song, or not, I discovered a passion for writing commercial music!
Years later I went on to write two consecutive billboard hit songs and several top-five singles! Goes to show that you don’t have to be in a master’s degree program in order to write good music!
7 keys to Commercial Songwriting.
The differences in Commercial Songwriting Techniques
This is an important key when blueprinting your song. Commercial means it’s meant to reach a vast audience, be on Film tv, or played on the radio. So it’s important to structure your song in a way that suits a commercial purpose. And sometimes, that might mean making the song shorter. Or getting to the main meat of the song, aka, the chorus, earlier.
The purpose of commercial music could be to help businesses sell products, promote events, or give people something to remember with your song. Additionally, commercial songs may need to fit a format on a popular radio station.
Know what type of music is trending in your Genre
Do you ever listen to the radio? Sometimes you keep hearing the same song over and over again. I know it probably drives you crazy! In the music business, you have to find a way to make your original songs become easy to listen to and easy to digest for the common, dare I say it, the simple listener. See if there’s a way you can merge your original work with the sound of the day. The sound people are listening to today.
Maintain your unique voice in the process. This can be a bit tricky. Because we don’t want you to sound just like anyone else. You want to still maintain your unique sound. But it will require a bit of compromise. Trust me I know. I was signed to major record labels in the past. And they’ll quickly tell you if your song is ready for the big audiences. If it’s commercial ready!
Know the song structure in commercial songwriting
Understanding the parts that make up a song is a key to good songwriting techniques. In basic music education, you’ve probably come across the parts that make up a song. Things like the Verse, the chorus, the bridge, or the vamp. Understanding the purpose of these parts could not be overstated.
You should know and understand the verse and what it means to your audience in the real world. And the chorus. The chorus is generally the main theme of the song. Use the chorus to give your listeners something to remember. They should be humming your song long after it’s finished playing on the radio!
When it comes to the bridge, use this part to take your audience to a higher level. They need to really feel what you’re trying to say with your song by the time they get to the bridge section.
Put Passion in your Songs!
Write songs that make you feel good! Quincy Jones once said that if you write a song that you really can feel a whole lot, then you have a chance to make others feel something too! If you can’t feel the passion in your song then how can someone else? Don’t be afraid to pour your heart and soul into your music. We want to feel it!
Get The Mixing Right
Imagine writing the perfect song only to have a bad mix? That’s crazy! It’s something I’m guilty of so don’t feel bad. I know what it’s like to turn out some bad mixes!
Give your songs the best chance at success by having a professional mixing engineer mix them properly. You’ve already done the hard work. And that’s writing a great song! Now it’s time to turn your songs over to a third party ear to listen to them objectively. If you do however decide to try your luck at mixing, be sure to check out the post Mixing With Reverb and Delay to get some ideas.
Team up with other songwriters
As a writer, we take our music very seriously. Sometimes too serious! And sometimes we don’t want anyone else to touch it after we’ve spent days, weeks, or even months writing the darn thing. But you’ll be surprised at how adding another writer or co-writing a song can bring out the magic in your music.
Sometimes it’s just a few ideas from another songwriter that makes the song what it needs to be. And the magic that happens in the recording studio when writers are writing together is a grand experience in itself.
So be sure to write with other songwriters and bounce ideas off of each other. The potential of any song can go father with the union of other musical minds! Try to remember that!
Making music shouldn’t be a stressful endevour. It’s your passion and it’s what you love to do. If you’re not having fun writing music then I’m pretty sure your listeners won’t either! Music is where we get to express the deepest emotions of our being. And writing songs should be a fun process. If you’re not having fun then maybe you need to try writing a different song! Just my opinion!
But whatever you do, don’t stop writing, and don’t stop making great music!