Learning To Think Like A Pro Songwriter

by Marty Dodson
Feb 6, 2017

The difference between a pro songwriter and a person who just writes for their own enjoyment is a difference in thinking. Those two types of writers are coming at writing from vastly different perspectives. Here are the primary differences in thinking that enable pros to get songs recorded:

1) Pros realize that they are writing for someone else.

Just like a political speechwriter is trying to craft words that sound believable coming from their candidate, a pro songwriter is trying to craft a song that is going to cause audience members to think that the artist wrote it him/herself. Pros make choices when they write based on what their target audience will or will not say.

2) Pros understand branding.

Katy Perry is a brand. She sings songs that empower women. She doesn’t sing songs that make a woman look weak or pitiful. That’s not her brand. Kenny Chesney sings songs about lost love and nostalgic relationships from the past, but he doesn’t sing “I love you” songs in the present tense. Pros learn about the brands of their target artists and they write for those brands.

3) Pros know that the artist wants to look good and cool onstage.

Songs that make an artist look bad or weak are just not likely to be recorded. Artists want their audience to like them. So, if your song is about a guy that’s an alcoholic or that beats his wife, an artist is not likely to want to sing it. People believe what artists sing about. They assume that they are true. Would you want to stand in front of 68,000 people and sing about being a drunk? Probably not.

4) Pros understand what it means to write universal themes.

I enjoy metal detecting, but I understand that it’s not a common hobby. If I wrote a song about metal detecting, not many people would care. They wouldn’t connect to it because it’s outside of their experience. Pros write topics and themes that connect with LARGE groups of people, not small niches. Tapping into those universal themes and emotions is what gives pros the edge. If you connect to large groups, you have the potential for large sales, which is what artists and record labels want.

Learn to think like a pro and you increase your chances of BECOMING one increase dramatically!

Write on! ~Marty

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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