A New Year's Resolution List: Ten Goals for Songwriters

Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.

New Years is a good time to set goals for yourself. As a songwriter, you really need to establish objectives if you want to improve and become the writer you’ve always wanted to be. But what kind of goals work for composers? “I resolve to write better music” doesn’t really work. Here’s a checklist for songwriters; see how many of these goals you can complete in the coming year.

  1. Set a regular almost-daily writing time. Establishing a time that you know is your time to write will increase productivity over time.
  2. Write one new song every week.
  3. Don’t use the same songwriting formula twice in a row.
  4. Collaborate with another songwriter at least once.
  5. Collaborate with a lyricist and set their words to music.
  6. Write at least three songs that use non-standard instrumentation. Standard instrumentation would be guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. Non-standard instruments include: french horn, string quartet, oboe, flute, solo trumpet, etc. Adding these instruments to the standard lineup does wonders for making your song stand out from the rest.
  7. Write a song for a loved one, record it, and give it to him/her as a gift.
  8. Perform your music at a live music event. Scout out performance opportunities in your local area. Best locations tend to be local bars, colleges, cafés and community events. If you can’t find one, create one. All you need is a small location, and a church hall and a few friends to collaborate with. You’ll find the costs are manageable and might even make a few bucks doing it.
  9. Record a five-song demo that you can use to shop your music around. Make sure it’s a good quality recording; find good players willing to help you out, and use good recording equipment (and find someone who really knows how to use it.)
  10. Find five new social media outlets that you can use to promote your music. You’re likely familiar with all the regular suspects: MySpace, Face Book, Twitter, etc. But others are coming up, and you don’t want to miss the boat. Check out Wikipedia’s List of Social Networking Websites here.

Remember that if you collaborate with another songwriter or lyricist, you need to work out an agreement with them regarding the performance and/or sale of your music.

And one other thing that really should be a resolution for everyone who writes: go to lots of concerts, and listen to music that you would not usually listen to. So no matter what genre you write in, get out to hear some good jazz, country, or rock. Go to a symphony orchestra concert. Listen to some Bluegrass, some Dixieland, some Hip hop, and/or folk music. Every time you expose your creative mind to a different side of the music business, you get better.

To each and every one of you, I wish you a happy, prosperous and creative New Year!

Gary Ewer is the author of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” suite of e-books. They cover every possible angle of what good music is, and how to get your songs really working! Click here to discover the secrets of great songwriting.

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