Hi there – I was wondering if you would have any advice for an aspiring young person who wants to write lyrics
Not really my specialty, since I don’t write lyrics or sing very well myself.
However, I can certainly offer some general advice based on what I’ve learned and observed from working with others in the field:
- Write something every day! That’s probably the #1 rule for getting better at anything… do it every day! Doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, the more you do it, the better you will get!
- Rework and rewrite! If you write something that you think is good and is worth taking to the next level, then work on it some more. Rework and rewrite it until it’s as good as it can be. Most writers don’t get it right on the first pass. There is always room for improvement!
- Collaborate with others! Working with others is a great way to learn and improve, to introduce ideas from others, and to get feedback on your writing. This is especially helpful if you are only writing lyrics, and not actually creating a song with a melody. If there is no melody, then it’s either just a poem or a rap song. Other than rap/hip-hop, lyrics need a melody to make it a song. If you don’t have any musical talent, then you should find somebody who can sing and preferably also play an instrument. What may seem like great lyrics when you are just reading them to yourself can end up being a challenge to craft into a song with a rhythm and melody that can actually be performed in a catchy and interesting way. A perfect example is the long time collaboration between lyricist Bernie Taupin and Elton John.
- Find a local songwriters group and participate. Many cities have songwriting groups you can join and use to get feedback on your lyrics/songs. They are also a good place to meet other aspiring songwriters, and possibly find someone to collaborate with. If there are no groups that meet up in your area, you can always join an online group where you can share songs/lyrics and get critiques from others.
- Learn an instrument and/or take singing lessons! If you can’t sing or play an instrument, it is difficult to write a good song (see #3). You need to understand music, rhythm and melodies to really write good songs. Also, when you talk about song copyrights, a song is usually broken down to lyrics and melody. Everything else is just the arrangement and usually can’t be copyrighted. If you want complete ownership of your songs, you need to not only create the lyrics, but the melody as well. Otherwise, it’s just a poem (or a rap “song”).