1. Look at your lyric sheet-if it’s covered in words you probably need to trim it down. Try to be as concise as possible.
2. Use common words in your lyrical presentation. Odd words and strange rhymes will only hurt your chance for success.
3. Make the second verse strong. Harland Howard once said that the key to his success was a strong second verse. If you could get them to listen through to the second chorus, you had a winner.
4. Make the demo arrangement as much like a “radio” song as possible. Including an instrumental hook, short solo and the extras will give the producer/publisher/artist a true idea of hit potential. This will also sell your song way above another that is poorly arranged.
5. Demo as many songs as you can. Just like you wouldn’t want to go to Las Vegas with one quarter, you don’t want to pitch just one song.
6. Build up a diverse catalog of songs. Some ballads, some mid-tempo, some high energy, male female songs, perhaps a duet. This way you will have a song for every pitch and won’t be trying to force a ballad on an up-tempo pitch. Producers won’t even listen if your song isn’t targeted to their need.
7. Don’t demo the song until you are sure it’s finished. If you fell you need to get a critique, make sure you get one prior to the demo. Otherwise, you could be throwing your money away on a demo you will never pitch.
8. Listen to others. Learn from others. However, when your song is critiqued by professionals or other songwriters, bear in mind they are not always 100% right. A critique is just an opinion. Think of how many times you have seen a movie that the critics loved and you hated, and vice versa. Be objective about the critique and your own song. If five critiques recommend changing the second verse perhaps you should rewrite it.
9. Write your songs for fun. Being creative is part of being human. If you do it just to make money you will be quickly disappointed. However, songwriting is one of the few hobbies where you “can” actually reap a big financial success. If you are a fisherman, that fishing trip is just a ‘fish story’ five years later. Yet, as a songwriter, you can play that song and still enjoy it the same as the day it was created. Plus, five years later you can still be pitching it. I have heard of many songs that were written ten years before they became a hit. DON’T GIVE UP just because of some rejection. Rejection is commonplace in a creative industry.
10. If you are after commercial success, LISTEN to what is currently popular in that format so your songs will be up to date. It has been said that a successful songwriter writes for what an artist would want to record six months from now.
11. HAVE FUN. Enjoy your writing. If you enjoy what you do, success will come!