Most beginning songwriters simply write for themselves. They write songs about themselves and their personal experiences. If the writer is an artist, this would seem appropriate … to put one’s own feelings or thoughts about life into a song that they can perform. However, I would challenge the songwriter, whether they are an artist or not, to try something different. To stretch yourself and grow as a writer, try writing a song for another artist. Start with friends and local artists. Or if you write Christian music, write a song that other local churches and worship leaders might want to sing. Get out of your comfort zone. Try writing from another person’s perspective. And make sure your lyric is something the artist, as well as the listener, can identify with.
In the professional songwriting world, writers sit down to craft songs everyday for specific artists. Tip sheets provide professional writers with details outlining which artists are about to start recording, and what they’re looking for – uptempo, ballad, lyric content, musical style, etc. Professional writers must do their homework to learn what type of song has worked well for that particular artist in the past and they write accordingly. They study current radio trends and the similarities between songs that become hits and songs that don’t.
Do your homework and see what kind of songs other artists around you are doing. Write something for them. It may simply be an exercise to help you hone your craft. But it may also lead to a cut by that artist. Even if you don’t know any local artists to write for, select one of your favorite radio artists and write a song for them – their style, their key and something they would like to say. You may not have the opportunity to ever get the song to them, but at least you can tell your friends you wrote something for Casting Crowns, The Black Eyed Peas or Lady Antebellum. 🙂