Featured

‣ WRITE A SONG: A Step-by-Step Guide

LEARN…
Red Arrow✓ The best way to start a song
✓ How to develop a lyric from your title
✓ Secrets of song structure
✓ How to find the melody in your lyric
✓ Where to find co-writers & resources!
stickman-jump

JUMP RIGHT IN …


‣ SECRETS OF HIT SONGWRITING

  WHY STUDY HIT SONGS?
Red Arrow

  • It’s the quickest way to learn new songwriting skills! 
  • You’ll stay current with today’s music market. 
  • Learn how the pro’s write lyrics & melody. 
  • Begin using those techniques in your own songs.

HERE ARE SOME SONGS TO GET YOU GOING …


‣ 5 MAGIC SONGWRITING TIPS

Red ArrowUse these five essential songwriting tips to…

  • Give your songs lots of listener appeal
  • Add emotional impact and memorability
  • Increase your chances of success in the music industry!

READ THE TIPS …


‣ GET INTO THE FILM & TV SONG MARKET!

Red ArrowThree eye-opening tips to help you…

  • Find out what top TV series, films, and ads look for.
  • Give your songs  mood, atmosphere, & energy
  • Write a lyric that will work for hundreds of scenes

LEARN MORE…

A Note from Robin

Robin-smallDuring my 35 years in the music business as a songwriter, producer, author, record label exec, and recording artist, I’ve collected a lot of useful, no-nonsense info and I love to share it!

My books are used in some of the top universities and music schools in the U.S. to teach all levels of songwriting, from beginning to advanced. I hope you’ll enjoy your visit and find plenty of inspiration. And be sure to check out my SONGWRITING BLOG at MySongCoach.com – for the latest in songwriting craft and tools. ~ May your songs flow!

For permission to reprint a portion of any article with a link to the full article on this web site, please click here for more info.

Sound of Madness – Shinedown

ShinedownLet’s say you’re a hard rockin’ band out there working the club circuit. You’d like to get a record deal but can’t seem to interest a label. Your fans love you. You put on a killer live show and tour like crazy, so why won’t the the music industry sign you up?

You may have everything going for you except one thing — you need at least one or two songs that sound like they could get radio airplay either on the big commercial radio stations or on major college radio stations. Record labels know that getting radio airplay is the key to rapid career growth; it will be a key part of their marketing campaign for any group or artist.

So, what’s the difference between a good song that energizes fans at a live performance and a song that can get radio airplay? Let’s take a look at Shinedown’s hit “Sound of Madness,” a powerhouse of a rock song with huge radio appeal, a strong lyric theme, and an unusual but very memorable, contemporary melody.

Recorded by Shinedown
Written by Brent Smith, Dave Bassett
Read the lyrics here.

STRUCTURE
This song opens with three verses. The first one acts as a kind of intro. It’s sung an octave lower than the rest of the verses and sets up the situation in the song. After the intro, there are double verses before the first and second choruses. Here’s the structure:

VERSE 1 (intro) / VERSE 2 / VERSE 3 / CHORUS
VERSE 4 / VERSE 5 / CHORUS
INSTRUMENTAL BRIDGE / CHORUS / CHORUS

In genres like Pop and Country, Verse 3 and 5 would be pre-choruses. The Rock genre goes for a more straight ahead style that leans more on repetition to make its point.

LYRIC
The double verses in this song give the singer a chance to say what he wants to say. The lyrics are vivid, filled with powerful language and images. Continue reading

Classic – MKTO

mkto“Retro-Blend” is definitely the phrase du jour. Today’s Pop charts are sounding more and more like the music charts of long ago, from the Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks” to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” to Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.”

Retro-influenced songs like these evoke the best of yesterday blended with today’s melody, lyric, and production techniques.

Two of the latest hits to pay their respects to the oldies are Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and MKTO’s “Classic.” If you can remember dancing to Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5, then you’ve got a big head start on this style. But the commercial magic is in the blend of old and new. Today’s listeners want it ALL. So let’s a take a look at a Pop hit that delivers the best of yesterday and today. It’s “CLASSIC”!

Recorded by MKTO
Writers: Evan Bogart, Andrew Goldstein, Emanuel Kiriakou, Lindy Robbins

Read the lyrics here.

The Shortcut numbers below refer to chapters in my books “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” (“Hit”) and “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV” (“Film/TV”).

GENRE
The genre is retro-blend Pop. This track is obviously paying its respects to the Jackson 5’s  “I Want You Back.” The tempo is very close and the feel of the groove is similar. There are little sections of the melody that suggest the Jackson 5 original and touches in the arrangement, especially the rhythm electric guitar.

This is a perfect example of a song you’ll find a little further down on the Pop charts. That’s why it’s important not to stop with the top five or ten songs. Keep digging for those gems – the ones that make you say “I wish I’d written that!” These are the songs you want to learn from.

STRUCTURE
The song structure is…
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS

The pre-chorus starts with the line “I want to thrill you like Michael.” The section builds anticipation and energy going into the chorus which is just what a pre-chorus should do. Continue reading

Play It Again – Luke Bryan

There are always a whole lotta party-all-night, feel-good songs on the Country music charts, especially in the summer. It’s a theme with tons of appeal for Country listeners.

The songwriting on all these hits is solid, of course, but, after a while you might start to notice a certain same-ness to the lyrics. They all seem to have pickup trucks, beer, and girls in shorts. So, wouldn’t it be cool if you could  write a hit song with this commercially appealing theme and set yourself a little apart from the crowd? Let’s take a look at a  Country hit that does exactly that.

“Play It Again,” the summer 2014 hit song recorded by Luke Bryan, has the required tailgate and girl in shorts but the song brings this girl to life in a way that’s vivid and believable. You get a real sense of both the singer’s character and the girl’s. The song plays out like a series of scenes, fun to watch and easy to get caught up in.

Take a listen to the song on YouTube. I chose a video with lyrics rather than images so you can run your own mental movie while you listen. Notice how the song paints pictures for you.

Artist: Luke Bryan
Writers: Dallas Davidson & Ashley Gorley
The Shortcut numbers below refer to specific chapters in my books “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” (“Hit”) and “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV” (“Film/TV”).

GENRE/STYLE

The genre is Contemporary Country. (What is a genre?)

SONG STRUCTURE
The song structure is…
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS Continue reading

I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

A good story has long been one of the hallmarks of a great Country song and today’s Country hits are stuffed full of vivid characters and details. But sometimes, in all the clever word-smithing, we  forget that every great story has emotion at its heart. The best songs are driven by the singer’s feelings.

Here’s a Country hit that packs a huge emotional punch, Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck.”  Listen to the song, then read about it and learn how it draws listeners in and keeps them involved. You’ll also find out how you can use some of those same songwriting techniques in songs of your own.

Recorded by Lee Brice
Writers: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary

You can read the lyric here.
The Shortcut numbers below refer to specific chapters in my books “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” (“Hit”) and “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV” (“Film/TV”).

GENRE/STYLE: Contemporary Country.  Both lyric and melody have a current style that’s very Country-radio-friendly.

SONG STRUCTURE: 
The song structure is…

VERSE / PRE-CHORUS /  CHORUS
VERSE / PRE-CHORUS / CHORUS
BRIDGE / CHORUS

The chorus begins with the title line: “I drive your truck…” creating a powerful emotional release and memorable hook. Continue reading

Let Her Go – Passenger

Until recently you would only have heard a thoughtful, acoustic-based folk song like this on college radio stations or eclectic NPR shows. Certainly not among Billboard’s Top 10 Pop hits. But there it is, right there with Katy Perry, One Direction, and Pitbull. Wha? If you haven’t heard this song on the radio then you’ve probably heard it on a national TV commercial or featured in series like “Elementary” or “The Vampire Diaries.”

Take a look at the official video on YouTube and then let’s dive deeper into this song to see what makes it work so well and how you can use some of these techniques in your own songs.

Official video on YouTube.

Read the lyric here.
The Shortcut numbers below refer to specific chapters in my books “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting” (“Hit”) and “Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV” (“Film & TV”).

GENRE/STYLE: Folk / Singer-Songwriter  (What is a genre?)
The lyric, melody, and structure of this song are all reminiscent of the folk genre, with a nod to both authentic English ballads and the folk songs of the 1960s. If you still love to sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” then this song is for you! There’s even a subtle group sing-along on the chorus, almost as if everyone is gathered round the ol’ campfire.

But even though the retro underpinnings are clearly there, the melody has interesting twists that give it a modern edge. If you’ve got a few old fashioned folk songs tucked away (and I know some of you do) consider giving them a facelift with these tricks. Continue reading