Songwriting Tips (Part 1) – Ideas 💡

Some of us are new to songwriting and some of us are veteran hitmakers, but everyone along that spectrum could benefit from some songwriting prompts to help them come up with ideas for their next tune! You may or may not know of some of these, but hopefully there’s a few that are new to you that you can try to come up with a unique and captivating concept!

Vision4Music, V4M, Songwriting Tips, Ideas

Songwriting Tips (Part 1) – Ideas 💡

  1. Pick a phrase that you say that’s uniquely yours or your friend group’s and see if it can spark a new slang or double meaning!
    • There are so many songs of various genres that started with words or phrases the artist and their friend group used that became international slang. (i.e. Whip/Nae Nae, Stickwitu, Baby Got Back, Fleek, Ratchet, etc.)
  2. Keep a running list in a notebook or your smartphone’s notepad of interesting and/or aesthetically pleasing words and revisit that list when you’re trying to convey a conventional or cliche idea.
    • “Chandelier” anyone? Also, who would’ve thought the word “Umbrella” could be used as the anchor of a timeless pop song instead of saying “We’re together” or “I love you”?Rihanna, Umbrella, Vision4Music, V4M, Songwriting Tips, Ideas
  3. Similar to tip #2, keep a running list of interesting phrases or ideas. NEVER dismiss an idea because it doesn’t seem to work at the moment, you never know when it will come in handy.
    • Leave it to Sia to speak volumes with the phrase “I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart.”
  4. Keep voice memos of melodic ideas on your smartphone!
    • This has reportedly been Justin Timberlake’s method! Also, Apple just made it easier with a free Music Memos app you can check out what we said here!
  5. Syllables in your lyrics are valuable real estate, never settle on words just because they fit!
    • You’ve got a limited amount of space to say what you want to say, don’t waste it on words that don’t advance the story. Even a carefully placed “Yeah” or “Baby” can forward the storyline if it’s used correctly.
  6. Keep your lyrics in a “family” of themes and terms.
    • Instead of telling a literal story of a waitress falling in love with a cook, find words in the food and restaurant world that have double meanings that can be used to describe their relationship. Keep as much of the imagery in the same “family” and you can turn ordinary food terms into the next big love song for the culinary industry! šŸ˜‰Ā Fork, Music, Food, Rihanna, Umbrella, Vision4Music, V4M, Songwriting Tips, Ideas
  7. Know the rules so that you can break them!
    • Not every rule is meant to be broken, but when you break the right ones you can create a style all your own! Kanye was told a song about Jesus would never chart and Sara Bareilles was told she needed to write a commercially viable love song to be successful as a female singer.
  8. Combine experiences.
    • Don’t just write about one ex, put the worse of them together! šŸ˜‰
  9. Good songwriters write about what’s going on, great songwriters write beyond what’s going on.
    • For example, if you’re the guy that never gets the girl, don’t write about not getting the girl or wanting to get the girl, write about getting the girl!
  10. Write EVERYTHING down!
    • You never know when that idea will come in handy!

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo on Rewriting “Love is a Battlefield”

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo on Rewriting “Love is a Battlefield”

At the 2016 ASCAP Expo, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo gave a candid interview and talked about the songwriting process. In this clip, they explain how the smash hit “Love is a Battlefield” began as a ballad with a beautiful melody and moving chord changes. After some exploration with drum machines and the band, the arrangement and production we know today came to life. Check out the clip above for that story and watch the clip below for an impromptu performance of “We Belong” showing that Pat and Neil still got what it takes to rock!

Catch Pat and Neil on the road this year as they go back on tour with their catalogue of classic rocks songs like “Love is a Battlefield” and “We Belong”!

From a Struggle Singer/Songwriter to International Hitmaker – Bebe Rexha

Before “The Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna was a #1 Billboard charting hit in a dozen countries and #1 on UK R&B, US Billboard Hot 100, US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard), US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard) and US Rhythmic (Billboard), a struggling songwriter in NY was writing a song called “Monster Under My Bed” in her parent’s dining room. Little did Bebe Rexha know that the song would change her life and in a year, Eminem and Rihanna would take the song and make it an international #1 smash hit. This performance from Jimmy Kimmel Live showcases Bebe Rexha’s original version of the song she wrote before she was an international hitmaker.

My First Grammy Win – Paul Avgerinos

“My First Grammy Win” is a new series by Vision4Music spotlighting musicians’ experiences winning the coveted award from The Recording Academy.

Vision4Music would like to congratulate the talented Paul Avgerinos – a spiritual (and hard working) Artist, Composer and Producer from Redding, CT who won his first Grammy in the recent 58th Grammy Awards. His album “Grace” won Best New Age Album and we caught up with Paul to interview him about winning his first Grammy Award.

Grace Grammy Win Vision4Music RKVC Acceptance

Paul Avgerinos

Vision4Music:Ā Tell us about the journey to winning a Grammy, how long have you been going for that golden gramophone and have you ever come close before this year’s win?

Paul Avgerinos: As I said in my acceptance speech, Iā€™ve been dreaming of winning a Grammy since it was first awarded in [the] New Age [category] to Andreas Vollenweider in 1987, almost 30 years ago. I was nominated the year before with my album called BHAKTI and have been part of several other nominated albums but this is my first win and very special to me.

V4M:Ā How prepared were you when your name was called at the awards ceremony?

PA: I woke up that day with a very strong premonition of victory and started the day by crying for about 20 minutes, releasing a lot of strong pent up emotions so I would not cry during my speech. I had four general areas planned for coverage in my speech later on and I was very grateful to remember them all.

V4M: Your win was in the “New Age” category, how would you describe your music?

PA: For me, New Age is any music that has a Spiritual quality – healing, calming, uplifting, inspiring in a Dharmic way.

Grace Grammy Win Vision4Music RKVC Best New Age AlbumV4M: What was the inspiration/intention/motive behind “Graceā€?

PA: This album is an honoring and an offering to my Sat Guru AMMA and the Divine presence of Grace that has the power to transform and heal. This Grace is active within and around us if we are open to perceiving it. Grace can be invited into your life and always responds when the time and circumstances are right.

V4M: What is your songwriting process like? (That’s a loaded question, but is there a common starting place for you and things that help you along the way in crafting what you’re trying to express?)

PA: I always start with the larger archetypal message and purpose – “Who will listen to this album?
What will they be doing while listening? How will this album serve them?”Ā Once I have a clear idea of purpose and direction, I do channelling invocations and meditations to become an instrument of the Divine. As I go deeper and deeper into the forest of musical details, I always keep referring back to the archetypal guidelines established at the outset. This keeps me on mission and on target.

V4M: A Grammy Award isĀ regarded as one of highest (if not the highest) accolades a musician in the United States can receive, what does winning a Grammy Award mean to you?

PA: It is truly gratifying and humbling to receive this accolade and approval from the academy members, who are the very best of the best in the music field. The Grammy Award is a confirmation that all my 30 years of hard work were worthwhile and that I am doing the work I was meant to do in this world.

V4M: What’s next for you?

Paul Averginos Grace Grammy Win Vision4Music RKVC Juliana JoyPA: I am 11 tracks into my AMMA album of gratitude and devotion to our amazing Sat Guru Amma.Ā Jen and I got Amma’s blessing to have a baby last Feb 20 in India and Jen’s due date WAS Feb 20 of this year ! 12 days after the Grammys, on Feb 27, our precious daughter Juliana Joy was born and the AMMA album is in gratitude for this miracle and for all the other tremendous blessings that Amma is bringing into our lives.

V4M:. What advice would you have for any songwriter and musician trying to get their songs heard and potentially win a Grammy Award someday?

PA: Hold fast to your dreams and inspirations but remember – it is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration.
Take rejection in stride and keep working hard with 5 and 10 year career plans. It is always darkest right before the dawn and Iā€™ve experienced this MANY times in my own career.Ā Believe in yourself and work REALLY REALLY hard !

Grace Grammy Win Vision4Music RKVCV4M: Thank you so much for your time and all the best in your future endeavors, anything else you would like to share with our readers?

PA: My pleasure! this is a great time for young people coming up in the business.Ā Streaming and social media make reaching your fans easier than ever especially with niche genres like New Age. Enjoy the ride !!!

 

Watch Paul’s emotional Grammy Award acceptance speech here:

 

 

 

Apple Music Memos Available for FREE on iTunes App Store!

Apple Music Memos

Apple Music Memos

Apple Music MemosĀ is like voice memos, but MUCH more magical. There’s a singular button at the center of the screen that you tap when you’re ready to record (and even then, there’s an “auto” mode that will detect when music is being played and start recording immediately). Play with either piano or guitar (you can use other instruments, but those two are the best for this application). When you’re done, the app will analyze what you played, automatically generate a lead sheet with the chords you played and AUTOMATICALLY add drums and bass! Check out this demo:

On the occasion that the app gets it wrong, you can go in and manually edit some of it’s interpretations as well. This new app from Apple is another reason there’s no excuse for musicians to not be making music. The Apple Music Memos app will almost undoubtedly become an invaluable tool to songwriters far and wide!

Holiday Songwriting and the Public Domain!

Merry Christmas

The holidays are a time for family, friends and cheesy TV specials, but it wouldn’t be the same without those trademark Christmas and holiday songs! There are many misconceptions about holiday music, so we’re going to clear up a few here. Songs that are in the public domain are mostly those composed before 1923, and free for use with no royalty payments necessary. This includes, but is not limited to classics such as:

  • Angels We Have Heard On High
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Away In A Manger
  • Coventry Carol
  • Deck The Halls
  • For Unto Us
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • Hallelujah Chorus
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  • Here We Come A-Caroling (Wassail Song)
  • I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
  • I Saw Three Ships
  • In The Bleak Midwinter
  • It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
  • Jesu, Joy of Manā€™s Desiring
  • Jingle Bells
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas
  • Joy To The World
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • O Come O Come Emmanuel
  • O Holy Night
  • O Little Town Of Bethlehem
  • Once In Royal Davidā€™s City
  • Silent Night The First Noel
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • Up On The Housetop
  • We Three Kings
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • What Child Is This

There are many more, but this is a good starting point. Aside from the songs that are old enough to have entered the public domain, there are some songs that most people believe are in the public domain but really aren’t. This means that either the songwriters or their heirs are owed royalty payments for use of their respective songs. Some modern standards like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” might be obvious, but some less obvious Christmas classics that are still copyrighted are:

  • A Holly Jolly Christmas by Johnny Marks
  • All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth by Donald Yetter Gardner
  • Carol Of The Bells* by Peter J. Wilhousky and Mykola Leontovich (The lyrics are copyrighted, but the music is in the public domain.
  • Do You Hear What I Hear? by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker
  • Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano
  • Frosty The Snowman by Steve Nelson and Walter E. Rollins
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) by Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman
  • Iā€™ll Be Home For Christmas by Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, and Buck Ram
  • Itā€™s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Edward Pola and George Wyle
  • Jingle Bell Rock by Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
  • Little Drummer Boy by Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, and Harry Simeone
  • Rockinā€™ Around The Christmas Tree by Johnny Marks
  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer by Johnny Marks
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
  • Silver Bells by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
  • Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish
  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Mel TormĆ© and Robert Wells
  • White Christmas by Irving Berlin
  • Winter Wonderland by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith

Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season, and may you songwriters out there be fortunate enough to have a song become a classic standard enter into the cannon of traditional holiday music!