10 Songwriting Points from an ASCAP Executive

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A little while back one of my old bandmates went off to school in London, Ontario.  He took a course in music marketing management and music production at Fanshawe College.  While he was there he had a number of guest speakers come in.  One of which he decided to take some notes and share them with me. 

Below are the rough notes cleaned up from the single page both sides of notes taken.  Hopefully there are some insights here that will be of benefit to you. Sorry if there are some points out of context.

  1. You show people music, to share yourself, your thoughts, your beliefs and open the eyes and hearts of your listeners or peers.  This is the best way to connect, engage, and make a hit!
  2. You can expose yourself to death, but you need to get your songs into the hands or ears of some of the big wigs and people who matter.  
  3. Know the audiences expectations, humans expect things to happen a certain way, as a creator, you have to fulfill this expectation
  4. 120bpm is optimal dance song and walking pace
  5. The Bridge is the “what if” side of the story
  6. Its important to remember, you’re singing to women.  Studies and demographic tracking shows that women buy records, men don’t and therefore if you want a big hit, you should be writing with the female demographic in mind.  This may be why many, many love songs are big hits.
  7. All hit songs invite you in, give you the info, and lead you into the hook.
  8. Humor, Irony, & detail. These are three direct songwriting tips that will draw people in.  The pro-noun “you” also has huge power to invite people in. Once you use the “you” card, immediately connect with them emotionally.  Lastly, make sure you tell the WHOLE story, bring it full circle and close it out.

A few things to avoid

  1. Writer’s Assumption (You assume the audience knows what you’re talking about) The moment you do this, you exclude your audience.  Don’t force words to fit in (The Rule of Accessibility) Ex. Don’t fit a three-syllable word into a two-syllable spot
  2. You can change the rhyme scheme throughout verses to keep the listener interested, but things still need to stay somewhat repetitive. You don’t want things to change too much through out the song or the listener becomes confused

Thanks again for stopping by!

See ya next week!

Kevin