Three Ground Rules for Pop Songwriters
(By Marc Mozart)
1. Working after briefs from record labels is for loosers.
Label will get a ton of similar things that all sound similar. Label gets really bored and hates you for boring them.
What they really want is a unique hit-single with a sound that defines their artists next record. They don't know how it sounds. If they knew they were producers.
Unfortunately you don't have the solution. You bore them with dated music.
2. The best producers and writers in the world are your competitors. And they kill you.
They kill you because they write hits and you don't. Their sounds are always a step ahead, the hooks and song titles easy to remember, the mixes punchy as hell.
People like Max Martin, Dr. Luke, J.R.Rotem, etc. just write and produce hits. 5 secs into the song you know its a hit. Tells a story every kid and housewife can relate to. Riffs and melodies are simple but artful, the sound and the message couldn't be more direct and the beat is driving like hell.
Write a damn hit. Play it to 10 people. If 9 love the song after 5 secs, you're on the right path. If not, go back to start. But hurry, you need to recoupe your publishing advance!
3. You don't need 100 good songs. You need one hit-song that makes a million.
By all means, try a lot of things, record ideas, hooks, sounds. However, understand that only one of your 300 crappy hooks is worth working out a full song, lyrics and production. When you really know you have a hit-single idea, take your time and produce that thing for at least a week. 10 days are even better. Or two weeks. Or more. One international hit-single a year pays the rent and more.
Michael Jackson took 3-5 years for an album and boy, was it worth it! Each of his kids' kids will still make 10 million each a year from his songs 50 years from now.
Get the best singer, edit the hell out of the vocals. Anything under two days of vocal editing doesn't sound like a record. When you're done, get the singer in again. It's always worth doing a second vocal session for a more refined vocal arrangement, "composed adlibs", harmonies, etc...
Next few days try different arrangement ideas, search for the best sounds, try 50 different kicks and 3000 different bass sounds until you found sounds that have punch and personality. Do plenty of rough mixes, play them to people. See how they react. Refine and rework, don't stop until it's finished and sounds absolutely amazing. When it sounds amazing, give it to somebody who makes great mixes. A great mix improves it even more. When you finalize the mix, hear it on many different systems. Make sure it sounds great on all systems.
Give the world one hit-song that they will play and remember forever. Everything else is wasted time.
A. Know which area you're NOT good at and partner with people who are.
Few people if any excel in all areas. A hit song requires a lot of specialized knowledge:
- a lyrical concept (and of course lyrics)
- production / sound design
- vocal arranging
- vocals (singing)
- vocal editing
Form partnerships where a team of 2 - 4 people bring top quality in all these areas to the table. Share your income with them on a song-by-song basis. If any of the above mentioned qualities are not in a song-demo, the competition will eat you alive.
B. When collaborating, give all you can give.
When you write with others, be the very best you can be. Be a nice, loving and positive person even if you're usually an asshole. Listen to what your collaborators have to say. Offer them tea, coffee and cookies.
C. Get your music to the all right people. Get a partner to support you with that.
Placing even a perfect song is a numbers game. I've spoken to Dido's manager recently who had been shopping her record to hundreds of people for more than two years until he finally found somebody willing to support. "It's a numbers game" he said to me.
Hundred people don't offer you a deal. Fine. If number 101 is Clive Davis and he loves your song the world is good! If you stopped at number 99 it's your fault. If you believe you have an undeniable hit-record, make sure the right people get to hear it.
Partner with someone who supports you in pitching your songs. Find a publisher and/or management who can get your song to the right people. Make sure they really send your songs out, follow up for feedback and keep fighting until it's placed. If not, do it yourself. And please stop whining!
D. E-Mail www.mozartandfriends.com
If all the above makes sense and you're ready to go for it, get in contact with us.
Thanks and good luck writing a worldhit!
Director Mozart & Friends Limited