During a recent panel discussion on songwriting, host Tom Robinson asked everyone in the room who classed themselves as a songwriter to put their hands up and most of the room responded positively. He then asked how many hours on average they spent per week on songwriting and watched as a realisation spread across the gathered crowd. It was laid bare in that moment that there was actually very little creative output in a room full of people that professed to be songwriters. Tom’s solution – to aim for two songs every week. This would give a healthy number of songs to choose from for a yearly album release plus possibly provide additional material for placing with other artists.
In a world where we’re all busy, turning out two songs per week can sound like a daunting prospect but inspiration is all around us. Most of us have our phones with us constantly and can write down any inspirational words or quotes that we hear during a working day. With dictaphone and even mini studio apps being made available for free, we can also capture melody and chord ideas so that nothing is lost. Someone who is in the songwriter mindset will take inspiration from every conversation, news headline and story that they see and hear throughout their day and should come home with a host of ideas that can be developed.
One of the tricks to increasing your musical output is speed writing, a technique that journalists often use when coming up with and developing new article ideas. With your inspirational notes in front of you, give yourself some quiet time and type (or record) any new lyric ideas as they come into your head. It doesn’t matter what you’re typing and how random it is because you’re going to go back and edit your lyrics later in order to craft them into a polished song.
In fact for the songs that have potential, keep editing them until they are perfect. Do the same for the melody lines and the chord sequences. In our current musical climate, the money is in your songs so don’t record them until you have something that is of high quality and can compete on a world platform. Of course a lot of songs will get rejected or put on hold until a later date but this is the point of writing two per week, to have a large catalogue that you can draw upon so that you’re only releasing your very best work. This will ultimately increase your chances in a very competitive market.