Or as another example, I met a very talented singer in Singapore named Sarah. She really could sing unbelievably good and she had almost all of the “X-Factors” for being a mainstream Singer. I asked her to give it a shot and she said, “My mentor told me I have to take his classes for another 3 years and I can’t do anything without him”. It’s great to see how much she respected her mentor but there one two problems with that. One was that I know her mentor in person and he is a kind of a corrupted man. He has a famous reputation for going after youngsters, brainwashing them that they are nobody without him and he just charge them heavily for mentoring them. The other problem was that she couldn’t see the big picture that right now one of Singapore's big players – Flipside – had offered to sign her. Fast forward, now four years had past and she is using her great talent to sing in a low-class Thai disco. The way I see it, there are several “Big Picture” items that any songwriter or singer should focus on, whether they are writing or singing for fun or for commercial purposes. Here they are, in no particular order.
Learn the basics of lyric writing. Learn how to map a song’s lyrics and make it efficient and say precisely what you want to communicate in the best way you can. Understand that clear communication is the goal, not being clever. It’s about establishing a connection with your listener not to remind them what big words are there in the dictionary that they don’t know about. Understand that each part of a song has a job and there is a reason for them to be in the song. Verse one gives characters, context and setting. It sets the atmosphere, preparing the listener for the chorus and what is happening there. The Chorus introduces a big idea or emotion. And the second verse digs deeper into the big idea with the goal of taking it farther.
Continue to evolve melodically. Study the musical choices made by the writers of hit songs in your genre of choice. Notice how the melodies changed over the time. Analyze the songs and study what is working and put those ideas in your toolbox to make your own melodies better. This way you would be familiar with old hits and you would understand why they became hits at their own time and you will learn from them, at the same time you must keep yourself updated about the trends and what is going on right now in your genre. Using these 2 elements in your current songs will help you to have a smoother path writing hit songs.
Study the reactions of people when you play your songs. When we are talking about reactions and feedbacks for your music, don’t include family and friends. They’re too close to you and they care enough to support you even if your music isn’t in the best place it should be. Notice how strangers react when you play different songs. And pay attention to the feedback of people specially professionals when they hear your song and always ask for criticism. Try to understand why certain ones get more audience and better reactions than your other songs. Your job as a writer is to make people feel something. If they start speaking to each other or get up and go to get a drink during your song, you aren’t making them feel anything.
Learn to enjoy writing without worrying about the commercial success (or not) that you might enjoy. If you can learn to approach each co-write with gratitude and just enjoy the experience of creating something you love with another creative person or by yourself, you are a winner. People who love the writing experience stay in the game longer and they write better. That joy comes out in their songs. People who are desperately trying to write a hit every day burn out and quit.