Songwriting is all about connection. Whether you write for yourself, or you are writing for commercial purposes, the goal is still the same. It’s all about connection. Even people who aren’t trying to get their songs recorded are generally interested in playing their songs for people and moving those people with their music. I don’t know anyone who truly writes ONLY for themselves. So, if you write songs and only play them for yourself in your home, this article may not be for you. But, if you EVER play your music for other people, I’m talking to you.
Touching human emotions. The idea needs to touch basic human emotions in some way. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” touches that feeling of not being wanted by someone you want. “The House That Built Me” touches on that nostalgic feeling of being young and innocent and the loss of those things. “Margaritaville” touches on the human desire to kick back and be irresponsible. The story can be uniquely MY story, but it has to make people think of their own story if I’m going to connect.
Does your audience pull for the singer? The listener needs to feel FOR and WITH the singer. You want them to feel like you’ve been reading their mail – that you KNOW what they’ve been through. If you do, they are “all in” with you on your three-minute ride through your song.
Songs say what people can’t. Your song needs to say what they want to say, but better than they could say it. To connect, you want the listener to think “Yes, that’s what I’ve been feeling and trying to say, but couldn’t find the words”!
Is your singer likable? The character in your story needs to be relatable and likable. Even if the character messes up, we still need to LIKE or relate to his/her mess-ups. People disconnect if they don’t like the character in the song.
So, whether you are writing songs just to play for family and friends, or if you are trying to write songs for Katy Perry, check your songs for these elements if you want to be sure people are able to connect to your music. And, watch for those glassy stares that let you know if are missing the mark!
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with more than 15 years of experience in music production, mix and mastering, recording engineering, live sound designing/engineering, lyrics writing and music arrangement. He has produced more than 800 and written more than 2000 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.