An important part of improving your songwriting skills is singing your songs for others to hear. Not doing this is like writing in a vacuum, and your artistic improvement will be slow and restricted.
Having someone else judge your music can be a very humbling and unnerving experience. It takes a lot of inner strength to have someone you care about, even someone you don’t really know, tell you what they think of your songs. But it’s a very important step to being a good songwriter.
So here is some advice:
- Don’t just ask Aunt Martha. Aunt Martha will always love your songs, because she loves you. So you need to get your songs out there, in coffee shops, variety shows, and other small venues, and perform for people who don’t mind giving good (hopefully respectful) advice.
- Log on to songwriting forums, and provide MP3s of your music. Ask people what they think. Most of the time, you’ll find that people are very willing to offer up exactly what they think.
- Don’t take criticism personally. People who write on forums don’t necessarily have the gift of tact (or even care to have the gift of tact). If someone writes to give you an opinion, but uses disrespectful terminology, try to condense any criticism into what the basic opinion is. My point is that even disrespectful people may have a point.
- Just because someone doesn’t like some aspect of your song doesn’t mean there’s a problem with it. But if many people mention the same thing (“The lyrics are too corny…”, “…too much guitar…”), etc., it’s worth considering their thoughts.
The songwriters who improve the most are the ones that listen to others, and get their songs out there for others to hear. And consider this one other important point:It’s important for you as a songwriter to listen to other people’s music. If you really want to know what’s going on, and want your songs to sound fresh and current, you’ve got to listen to what’s fresh and current.