Songwriting is an art form in itself and more often than not a means of genuine self-expression. A lot of songwriters would probably agree that apart from the poetry that lies in good songs, the purpose of writing also includes the therapeutic effects of releasing emotions we feel the need to express. More than anything, songwriting is communication!
While writing about your own experiences and emotional situations might come rather easily to you as a writer, writing for other artists can bring a whole set of new challenges to the table. However, I believe that these kinds of challenges are worth taking on, as they bring new perspectives and chances to perfect the craft of songwriting, which will ultimately benefit your own songs in turn!
When writing for a specific artist, there are three major things to consider and I mean really consider!
1) Understanding the vocal style of the artist you pitch to
If you are pitching songs to a specific artist, make sure to understand their vocal style. Ask yourself questions like: What is their vocal range? Which notes ring out the most beautifully? Do they sing in a very natural way, or in a trained, classical style? Do they like to belt and show off their abilities or do they prefer soft easy tonalities. Depending on their style you may play with structures as well! Add in pre-choruses that are higher in pitch than the verse. Experiment with the chorus being even higher or keep things a bit simpler and play with primes and thirds throughout the song sections.
2) Understanding the artist’s brand
This might seem obvious, but people sometimes get lost in their own artistry.
To pitch to a specific artist, make sure to nail their genre and understand their listener’s DNA. What is it that the listener loves about the artist? Look at the songs on the artist’s previous albums and find out what their core messages are, what they stand for and what the tracks have in common. This could be, for example, inspiring lyrics or high energy hooks. Are the songs a good choice for large-scale live performances, or rather meant for intimate singer-songwriter set-ups in smaller clubs?
3) Understanding the artistic development
Lyrically it is crucial to understand where the artist stands in their career and where they want to go next! An artist needs to balance out the need for staying recognizable and relatable and yet also developing further in their artistry and keeping it fresh. Think of Taylor Swift, imagining she didn’t write her own songs and you were to pitch a song to her. 10 years ago, she was still a rather young girl, shifting into womanhood and dealing with first heartbreaks and innocent flirtations. Now, at 30 years old, she is a successful grown woman with a proven track record as an artist as well! No one would expect teenage songs from her anymore. This is a very obvious example, as it has to do with the singer’s age. But it applies to all artists really! Life experiences constantly change us. Make sure to understand core messages of an artist (e.g. being an independent woman or being a sort of thoughtful guy etc.) and also find out which wordings they use often, but do add a new perspective to the songs, that fans wouldn´t expect to hear right away, but that they’d like and buy into!
Edited by Rachel Tattersall
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