Professionals understand branding. Katy Perry is a brand. She sings songs that empower women. She doesn’t sing songs that make a woman look weak or pitiful. That’s not her brand. Kenny Chesney is a brand and sings songs about lost love and nostalgic relationships from the past, but he doesn’t sing “I love you” songs in the present tense. Every single artist and band has a brand and an image to maintain and they are not going to change it easily because their fans want them as they are, and them or their labels has already spent millions of dollars creating this brand and image. Professional songwriters spend time and do a good research to learn as much as possible about the brands of their target artists and they write for those brands in the same direction that the artist is in.
Professionals know that the artist wants to look good and cool onstage. This is part of the same branding process is mentioned earlier. Songs that make an artist look bad or weak are just not likely to be recorded. Artists want their audience to like them. So, if your song is about a guy that’s an alcoholic or that beats his wife, an artist is not likely to want to sing it. Maybe some artists would want to sing about these topics but not for themselves as the main character of the negative story, but just to tell the story and use their voice to address a social issue. But on the other hand, this type of topics isn’t exactly the most commercial and not every commercially successful artist would dare to risk their reputation to bring up and ugly truth from the society. People believe what artists sing about. They assume that they are true. Would you want to stand in front of 68,000 people and sing about being a drunk? Probably not.
Professionals understand what it means to write universal themes. Let’s say I enjoy metal detecting, but I understand that it’s not a common hobby. If I wrote a song about metal detecting, not many people would care. They wouldn’t connect to it because it’s outside of their experience and most probably outside of their “paying attention” territory. Professionals write topics and themes that connect with a large group of people, not small niches. Tapping into those universal themes and emotions and potentially having much wider range of listeners is what gives the professionals the edge. If you connect to large groups, you have the potential for large sales, which is what artists and record labels want.