THESE DAYS YOU CAN WRITE A SONG ON MONDAY AND PUT IT OUT ON TUESDAY.
BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD.
Why? Because Quality still wins out over Quantity. The amazing tools we have at our fingertips allow our creativity to go into overdrive... but listeners have more choices than ever — so you have to write songs they won't click away from. Polishing your skills makes all the difference.
WRITING A "GOOD" SONG IS EASY.
WRITING A KILLER SONG CAN SEEM IMPOSSIBLE.
Sometimes the lyrics come in a flash, but the music... EHHH. Or vice versa.
Other times you're SURE you nailed it, but your listeners start nodding off right around the 1-minute mark.
And yeah, sometimes what sounded so great the night before ends up in the trash the morning after.
It's time to BREAK THROUGH
and write your BEST SONGS... EVER!
I'm Alex Forbes — a professional songwriter with 30 years of hit songs, film & TV syncs, and releases under my belt.
I also coach committed songwriters — the kind who're willing to do whatever it takes to raise their music and lyrics to the next level — even if that means rewriting the same bloody song six times. Or tossing it out completely. (Yeah I know... ouch.)
Because your listeners demand excellence. And so do I.
MY MOTTO IS "WRITE MORE. WRITE BETTER. RIGHT NOW." YOU IN?
Many of the clients and students I've worked with have gone on to achieve great success, artistically and music biz-wise.
Then if you want to take it to the next level, I offer committed songwriters a Free 20-Minute Song Chat. This is a great opportunity to discuss your vision, and any roadblocks that stand in your way.
It's much harder to break through alone.
This way you don't have to.
Hands-On Tipsheet #1
10 HOT TIPS FOR GENERATING
Write From Real Life
Obvious? Perhaps... but still rare. What’s ACTUALLY going on for you, right now, today, and what is the boldest, bravest way you can convey it? Or, alternatively, mine your past for life-altering events that made you who you are. Courageously bare your truth, musically and lyrically, peeling the onion until you FEEL something, especially the scary bits. Explore relationships, triumphs and tragedies, people/places/things, and pivotal moments that MOVED you. Remember: fake don’t fly.
Use Songwriting as Therapy
Life goes through stages over time, and so will the Themes of your songs. The Universal lives within the Personal. Fearlessly reflect on your inner self, and express the Life Lessons you’ve gleaned, then weave those essential truths into song form. When you feel a song “coming through,” allow that mysterious, channelled rush of feeling to be fully expressed. While creating, refrain from criticizing.
Find the Personal in the Political
Look to what’s going on in the larger world: how does it personally affect YOU? How do you feel? The trick is to not get “preachy,” which usually means communicating a more direct, human-scale experience. Boil it down: how can you combine the macro and the micro, the political and the personal?
Seek out Collaborators and Partnerships
Co-write with others whose work you admire. Branch out fearlessly. Welcome inquiries and follow up on introductions. Kiss a lot of frogs until you find your prince or princess. Then pick THEIR brains, interview them to get THEIR stories. The process will automatically elevate you out of your comfort zone.
Create and Stick To Deadlines
If you don’t have one, make one up! The threat of public humiliation is powerful inspiration. Use Contests, Co-Writes, (these days Virtual) Open Mics and Gigs, Workshops, Who’s Looking Lists, Music Industry Events… whatever it takes to motivate you. Rise above and beyond what’s “normal” for you, and present something exceptional. Join a support group or community that expects excellence, then deliver it.
Write for Artists and Producers
Find a prominent or up-and-coming artist you truly LOVE — maybe it’s your own project — then write their next single. Even if your song doesn’t make the album, you’ll learn a lot by analyzing successful artists’ hits, and putting yourself in their shoes. How exactly did they manipulate you into loving their biggest songs? What would their perspective be on something YOU’VE experienced?
Explore Other Platforms: Film, TV, Games
If you’re inspired by a particular visual or interactive platform, or get a specific creative brief, delve into it and absorb the EMOTIONAL experience. Mood, tempo, visuals, and context will all impact the relevance of your material. In my most successful film placement, we got 2 rejections before the 3rd attempt was accepted. Never give up.
Put Breakthrough Songs Under a Microscope
What I call Breakthrough Songs are the ones the propel an artist or writer from "almost famous" to huge. Feel, but don’t steal... ever. Listen and learn from the best of the best — without ripping them off. Nobody should ever be able to pinpoint the exact song you referenced, but your song might fall into the same the genre/vibe/tempo.
Write to a Beat or a Track
When in doubt, go UPTEMPO, or at least midtempo. Why? Because most singles and platforms want to motivate people. If your natural tempo is slower or less rhythmical, experiment with writing at tempos above 90 BPM. If it moves you, physically as well as emotionally, it’ll probably move others! “Toplining,” or writing to a pre-existing track, is a popular way to collaborate these days, though it’s less organic than working on something together from scratch.
Pull the Rug Out From Under Yourself
Do whatever it takes to escape your comfort zone: write on an unfamiliar instrument, write a cappella (voice only), write lyrics or melodies first (whichever you usually DON’T do), collaborate, write in unfamiliar settings, write the Hook first, spew out dummy lyrics, break out of your usual rhyme schemes/tempos/rhythms/vocal range. Scare yourself!
Hands-On Tipsheet #2
6 DOWN 'N DIRTY WAYS TO PUT YOUR
Track 'Em, Tidy 'Em or Toss 'Em
At this point you probably have a truckload of half-baked songs lying around taking up mental space. Why not do a Spring Cleaning as you launch this next phase of your development? Do what Marie Kondo's best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up suggests: hold each song in your (metaphorical) hand and ask, “Does this song spark joy?” If it does, either record it, perform it, or strip it for parts. If not, buh-bye.
Invent Immovable Deadlines
The Threat of Public Humiliation is a helluva strong antidote to procrastination, so use that fear to your advantage. Invite a writer you admire to collaborate. Sign up for an open mic or schedule a gig. Throw a party and whip out your latest work-in-progress. Take a class, submit a song for critique, or find a mentor. Whatever you do, promise me (or someone else) that you won't sit on the couch wishing you were living the dream. Fill up your calendar and never look back.
Play To Your Strengths
We each have a vast array of gloriously brilliant strong suits, and uhhh… “areas that need improvement.” Sure, beef up your skills in those soft spots, but if you wanna kick your writing into high gear even faster, team up with people who are already brilliant in those areas. For example, if you’re a master lyricist cursed with mediocre musical or technical skills, don’t let that stop you. Actively seek out colleagues who have what you want, and want what you have. They’re out there!
Brainstorm on Big Ideas
We all get sidetracked by the minutia of our lives and our songs, but keep your eye on the ball: you’re here to make a contribution with your work, right? Try listing the Ten Songs You Won’t Go To Your Grave Without Writing. In my case, this list morphs on a daily basis, but that’s what keeps life interesting. Go ahead, write out some of your Big Ideas, then pick one to zero in on today, even in the back of your mind. Tap into the source of what makes you YOU, because the universal springs from the personal.
Don't Isolate, Participate!
Look, I’m as guilty as the next person of swan-diving headfirst into my computer and neglecting the world outside my window. But after a while the isolation can turn deadly. Expanding your songwriting community is the key to generating momentum. And most success in this business results not from clicks on impersonal pixels, but from friendships with warm-blooded humans. There’s always someone out there dying to hear your Next Great Song.
Find a Coach. (My Specialty!)
An effective Songwriting Coach focuses like a laser beam on your unique talents, pushing you to fulfill your vision as a songwriter. Coaching provides a valuable source of objectivity about your work… something that’s almost impossible to achieve in a vacuum. Committed songwriters who engage me for Song Critiques and One-On-One Coaching usually experience an exponential growth spurt, surpassing their own expectations. You can schedule a Free 20-minute Song Chat with me here to discuss the possibilities.
WANT TO Thrill your listeners
in 3 minutes flat?