Is it different from what worked in the past? For sure! Is it better or worse? That’s a matter of opinion. The fact that the current commercial music is getting lighter and it might not be as meaningful as oldies like “My Way” or “Papa” is another discussion. But the bottom line here is that those songs were commercial at their own time and probably now the commercial music is what Katy Perry does! But do not forget that even in current commercial music we have poetic writers like Adele.
Our goal here is to write better songs. By better songs, I mean songs that connect to your audience. Not necessarily anyone else’s audience. Yours. Whatever that might be. Whether you want to write songs that your family enjoys hearing at family reunions, or you want to write songs that millions of people hear on the radio, it’s all about communication. Unless you plan to be like “Neighbor Bob” and only play your songs for yourself, you need to communicate well. Commercialization is always a great improvement for any business and here in music industry we are also doing business. As soon as one understands this fact and understands how the business world works, they would understand that our music is our product and we need to make it the way that our sales people (publishers) can sell it for us. Otherwise, you are just throwing gibberish on paper.
Turning your work in a commercial product is not a bad thing at all and in fact it is an achievement for a songwriter if they can write commercially accepted music. It means they can create the music that the mass audience would enjoy, and if this is not the goal for a songwriter, I don’t know why on earth they are in the industry. Writing music just for sake of writing it will not take you anywhere! You need to write for people, for public, for mass audience if you want to be successful in this business, and the first step for it is to understand how you can write commercial music that the majority of listeners will enjoy. And you can do it in various of incredibly creative ways.