by Marty Dodson
Jun 10, 2016

Songwriting is all about connection.

Whether you write for yourself, or you are writing for commercial purposes, the goal is still the same. It’s all about connection.

Even people who aren’t trying to get their songs recorded are generally interested in playing their songs for people and moving those people with their music. I don’t know anyone who truly writes ONLY for themselves.

So, if you write songs and only play them for yourself in your home, this article may not be for you. But, if you EVER play your music for other people, I’m talking to you.

One of the worst feelings as a writer is playing your song for someone and seeing that glassy stare that says “this isn’t doing anything for me”. When I’m playing my songs for people, I love to see a smile break out on their face, a tear roll down their cheek, or their foot tapping. Those signs let me know that I’m connecting with them. They are “pickin’ up what I’m putting’ down” as I like to say.

So, how do I take my story and connect it to other people? That’s the million dollar question. I believe these elements have to be a part of your song if you want to connect to someone else.

Touching human emotions.

The idea needs to touch basic human emotions in some way. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” touches that feeling of not being wanted by someone you want. “The House That Built Me” touches on that nostalgic feeling of being young and innocent and the loss of those things. “Margaritaville” touches on the human desire to kick back and be irresponsible. The story can be uniquely MY story, but it has to make people think of their own story if I’m going to connect.

Does your audience pull for the singer?

The listener needs to feel FOR and WITH the singer. You want them to feel like you’ve been reading their mail – that you KNOW what they’ve been through. If you do, they are “all in” with you on your three minute ride through your song.

Songs say what people can’t.

Your song needs to say what they want to say, but better than they could say it. To connect, you want the listener to think “Yes, that’s what I’ve been feeling and trying to say, but couldn’t find the words”!

Is your singer likable?

The character in your story needs to be relatable and likable. Even if the character messes up, we still need to LIKE or relate to his/her mess-ups. People disconnect if they don’t like the character in the song.

So, whether you are writing songs just to play for family and friends, or if you are trying to write songs for Katy Perry, Check your songs for these elements if you want to be sure people are able to connect to your music.

And, watch for those glassy stares that let you know if are missing the mark!

Write on!
Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 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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