Musical tightrope

Leaning Without Losing Your Footing

Songwriting in the pop genres is, for the best songwriters out there, like walking a tightrope. Lean too much one way, and you’re giving your audiences exactly what they expected from you. No challenge, no getting them thinking outside whatever musical box they live in.

Lean too much the other way, and you’ve given them something that’s just too different, too challenging — too unlike what they thought they were going to get.

The best songwriters and producers know how to straddle that line. They know how to lean without losing their footing.

They know how to offer music that sounds enough like what their target audience was expecting, but with enough innovation and unpredictability that they feel intrigued and stimulated.

When you lean toward uniqueness in your songwriting, you’re taking a risk. It’s a crucial risk, however, if your aim is to build an audience base.

Keep writing the same kind of song, and the audience hears you writing the same song, over and over again: You’ve written three songs, and you just keep writing them, over and over. Different key, perhaps, and maybe different tempo. But merely different versions of the same song.

And when your writing is that predictable, you’ll lose old listeners as fast as you gain new ones. And why wouldn’t you? They’ve heard it all before.

For every song you write, ask yourself: Is there anything unique about this song? Have I given my loyal followers anything to challenge them? Have I nudged my creative approach in any direction?

Because if the word unique has nothing to do with what you’re doing, you’re just adding to the noise.

It’s time to break out and offer something unique to your audience. It takes courage. It’s risky. You’ll lose followers.

But as long as your songs are good, you’ll gain more over time than you lose.

So be courageous. Listen to the best music every day. Then pick up your pencil, and write the best music you’ve ever written.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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2 Comments

  1. That why I loved The Beatles, for their versatility in writing
    songs and performing them

    The starting chord of A Hard Days Night The intro of And I Love Her where after the talking intro the song changes up half a tone and so many more examples to many to mention all so memorable

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