As co-founders of SongTown, Clay Mills and I have had a lot of success as writers in the country genre. We pride ourselves on using techniques that work in songwriting in all styles.
Many people assume that we are “country songwriters” and that what we teach only applies to country music. This is a false assumption. (Watch “The Bad News Bears” for more info on assuming.) We have both had major successes in many other genres.
Our success in country has more to do with opportunity and proximity than anything. We are based in Nashville and most of our opportunities are in country music. We seize those opportunities, so we have had lots of success in country. However, we have both had major cuts and hits in numerous other genres from R&B to Country to Rock to Dance.
During this past week while in New York City working on music for a play that is being pitched to Broadway, I realized several things.
One of the biggest realizations – maybe more of a confirmation of what I already believed – was that, if you learn to write a great song, you can write one in ANY genre you choose.
That’s why we teach what we teach.
As we were doing the first reading of the play with actors, the book writer (the person who writes the dialogue for a play) turned to me and said “None of the plays that won Tonys for best musical this year had songs this memorable. You have written several songs here so strong that they could easily have a life in mainstream music outside of the play.”
I thanked him for the compliment, but the reason the songs stood out to him was very simple. I have learned to figure out exactly what I want or need to say. Once I know what I need to say, I have a framework that insures that I communicate precisely what I intended. There’s very little “Magic” that goes into it. Yes, I’ve also learned to be creative in HOW I say what I need to say, but that’s a learned skill as well. The songs said PRECISELY what he needed them to say – that’s why they stood out to him.
When you break it down, great songwriting is simply learning to communicate well. That goes for songwriting in all styles.
We can teach you how to define what you want to say. And we can teach you a framework to help you communicate that to your audience – in ANY genre. The basics of communication are the same in any style of music. A great book to level-up this aspect of your writing is Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing. If you perfect the ability to define what you want to say and then say it, you can write a great song in any genre. If you don’t learn those things, you’ll likely never write a great song in ANY genre.
SongTown can teach you to be a better communicator. If you practice and perfect those skills, you will increase your chances of connecting with your audience immensely, no matter what style of music you write.
Write on! MD
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Author: Marty Dodson