The life of a songwriter can be rather unpredictable but the promise of glorious uncertainty is enough motivation for many. This is a statement many songwriters, who have managed to find some level of success, can attest to.
For hit makers, such as Sia, Ester Dean, and even the great Bob Dylan, the keys to finding success are pretty similar. Here are a few of their success secrets:
- Write a Lot of Songs
In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan.com, Ester Dean (who has co-written songs for Usher, Lil Wayne, Christina Aguilera and Rihanna among others) noted that there is a high degree of rejection in the music industry. In fact, she said that she has written dozens of songs that have never seen the light of day and pointed out that for every song that gets published, there are probably a thousand others that are turned down. It points to the need for songwriters, who may have dreams of having their songs performed by accomplished artists or being placed in films, movies or ads, to have plenty of material on hand from which they can pitch from.
- You Have to Make Sacrifices
Most people will agree that for everything worth having in life, sacrifices are a must almost all the time. Back in 1991, Bob Dylan did an interview with Paul Zollo for his book, “Songwriters on Songwriting.” One of the key points that Dylan made was the fact that it takes many years to achieve any level of success in songwriting. He went on to state that it takes a whole lot of sacrifice to make it big as a songwriter. Coming from Bob Dylan, who is seen as royalty in the music business, this is pretty solid advice.
- Be Prepared to Handle Rejection
As mentioned before, Ester Dean handles rejection by having tons of material to choose from. However, in that same interview, she also said that when a song gets shut down, it can still be hurtful to the ego. Without a doubt, you will come across rejection on your own songwriting journey but there are several ways you can deal with it. For one, you need to keep going and maintaining a positive mindset, but you can also take inspiration from Sia’s approach. After having some of her songs rejected over the years by A-listers such as Shakira, Katy Perry and Adele, Sia kept them and eventually released an album filled with ‘rejected’ material. So far, This is Acting has been one of her most successful albums and has spawned her first Billboard number one song, “Cheap Thrills.”
- Work Hard to Improve Your Craft
Like a muscle, your songwriting skills will get stronger if you keep working on them. Many of the top songwriters have alluded to that fact in some way, with Christopher “Tricky” Stewart making mention of it in a 2010 interview. Stewart, a two-time Grammy winner, said he had to work hard to take his songwriting skills to another level that would allow him to craft mega-hits such as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” and “Baby” for Justin Bieber. No matter how good you think you already are, you should keep working hard to be better at what you do.
- Make Use of Technology
Technological advancements have not only helped to improve the quality of recordings, they have also allowed modern day songwriters to be more productive. Going back to Ester Dean, she talks about being able to record songs anywhere and anytime due to having a backpack studio, which consists of a laptop, headset, and a microphone. That’s just one example of making use of technology to be more efficient and productive. You can also use online recording studios, such as SongCat, to have your songs professionally produced, while in the comfort of your home.
Achieving your goals in songwriting, whatever they are, is not easy. But if you plan to be in it for the long haul, you can follow these tips to improve your chances.