Write unique ideas that touch universal human emotions. Writing an old idea in a fresh way is a big key to commercial success. And touching on emotions that everyone has felt increase your commercial appeal. Humans are humans they always had, have and will have the same limited feelings just coming in different forms and shapes. If you want to stay in the comfort zone, stick to these feelings, either happy or sad, make your listener cry, laugh or dance. Up to you, but as long as you are not getting out of the frame of these universal emotions, you are in the safe zone and you have higher chance for your listeners to “feel” your music.
Pay attention to what is selling. If you ran a store, you would get rid of products that didn’t sell and order more of the big sellers. Knowing what is selling right now in music helps you craft your writing in such a way that it is more in line with the products people are wanting. Keep yourself updated. No matter what genre you are writing in, always keep an eye – or an ear in this case – on the new songs that are getting commercial success. The more you listen, the more you would know what is the “hot thing” at the moment. Even listening to the new songs can always give you ideas for writing more and more. But important here is to always be updated about the latest happening in your industry.
Set your standards high. Writing commercially doesn’t mean writing down the level of music that is selling if it’s not great. Try to elevate the bar for everyone. “The House That Built Me” raised the bar. Basically almost all songs by Adele sat the bar high. Challenge yourself to write the types of songs that are selling but to write them better and more creatively. This can be a very fun thing to do. We recently started this together with Singaporean singer – songwriter, Sam Veil, for his debut album named “X”. What we did was to go for very poetic and deeply meaningful songs, specially lyrics but the production of a club banger! Not only writing the songs turned out to be fun thing to do, but also the result was extremely satisfying. Our inner “artist” was happy with our creating and the listeners all gave some great feedback, beyond our expectations.
Write songs that are easy to digest. That doesn’t mean they are “dumbed-down”. If you are trying to write commercially, you are in the communication business. If you don’t communicate clearly, you won’t be successful. I used to know a preacher who loved to throw out big words that no one understood. He told me that he liked to challenge his audience to go home and look up those words. I delivered the bad news to him. “People are going to Applebee’s after church. They aren’t going home to look up your fancy words.” If people have to sit and ponder on the meaning of your song, they won’t bother with it.
You don’t have to sacrifice creativity for commercialism. They can co-exist! And, in the perfect world, the most creative people would be writing the most creative songs. I propose that songs that are selling are selling because they communicate something that people want to hear. There is plenty of room to be creative within that box. Write things people want to hear and communicate clearly, in a fresh, creative way. That’s the key to commercial success.
Hangi Tavakoli is our in-house established and professional music producer with more than 18 years of experience in songwriting, music production, mix and mastering. He has produced more than 3,000 and written more than 4,800 published songs to-date, including some major hits in international scale.