Songwriting

4 Questions To Ask Before You Write A Song (Aimed At Commercial Cuts)

by Marty Dodson
Mar 26, 2017

Who would want to say this?

An artist is a brand. If a song doesn’t fit their brand, they aren’t going to sing it, no matter how good the song might be. If you can come up with a handful of artists that might think your song fits their brand, you are on the right track. If you can’t, you probably aren’t writing a commercial idea. For instance, I once wrote an amazing song about a boy catching his father cheating on his mom. It was a GREAT song. The only problem was, no one wants to stand on a stage and call his or her father a cheater in front of 60,000 people every night. The audience would believe that it was true. That’s not going to happen. Asking myself “Who would want to say this” would have saved me some disappointment.

How does this make the artist look?

If you are not painting the artist in a positive light, you have almost no chance of getting a song recorded. Again, not many artists are interested in getting up every night on stage and singing about being a cheater, a drunk, a jerk in general or any negative thing. People buy less t-shirts from cheaters, drunks and jerks. The artists want the audience to think they are hip and cool people. Paint them any other way and your chances go down to almost zero.

What makes this song special?

What would make someone choose this song over the other thousand they will listen to before they record their record? Your song has to have something that makes it stand out above all of the rest. It can be a creative lyric, an amazing melody, a great track, or a very unique idea. But it has to have SOMETHING that elevates it above all of the other songs they will hear before they choose the ten for their record. If your song is average in any of those areas, it won’t likely get recorded.

Who cares?

I ask this every day. I try to be really honest with myself as I ask “Is an audience really going to care about this song, or does it kind of feel like watching someone’s home video of their vacation to Disneyworld?” If we aren’t careful, our songs can be very self-indulgent and self-absorbed. You have to make sure that the general public is going to care about your song if you want to get it cut. The song about your grandmother being miserable after your grandfather died may bring your family members to tears, but Keith Urban and Bruno Mars aren’t going to record it, EVER. Don’t ask me how I know.

Asking those four questions can change your writing life. At the very least, they will help you move your songwriting closer and closer to the success you crave.

Write on! Marty

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

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