Quick Comment on Musicians Writing Their Own Songs

First, let me say that I have been writing music for 45 years with over 1,500 songs or compositions. With that in mind here’s a quick comment on musicians writing their own music:
The biggest part of the problem of songwriting today is, people telling musicians to write their own songs because that will get them more money. Well getting a bigger share of bad songs that don’t sell, is no where near as good as singing a hit song.
Anyone can compose a song, but only a few can do a good one.  Writing music well, is much much harder than singing or playing music well. It really is. It’s tough.
Musicians , 99% of you that write songs – and more power to you – should keep them to yourselves until you get a rare rare rare good one.
Musicians, I would suggest you record the best songs of those few songwriters who can write great songs, or put your spin on great classic songs.
Remember if you have one hit song, you have a career for life. If you never have a hit, you don’t have a career at all (with hardly any exceptions to the rule).

Good composers are rare. Compare how many good orchestras there are with how many good Bachs, Mozarts, and Beethoven’s there are.

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2 Responses to “Quick Comment on Musicians Writing Their Own Songs”

  1. musea Says:

    Danny Taddei, from the songwriting newsgroup, rec.music.makers.songwriting had some sharp comments on this subject that I asked to reprint here. Both are in response to Barry Manilow’s comment on the loss of good songwriting in music.

    First of all, he’s (Barry Manilow) right. There is little melody at all in any popular music today. Listen and think about it, most of the music is chanted between 2 or 3 notes. There is nothing interesting about it. Further, no one performs music, they perform dance and lip sync. Even guys that can play, like Brad Paisley lip sync. He’d rather “save his voice for the studio”. The only acts I’ve seen lately that actually sing are Justin Moore and Miranda Lambert. The sound was so bad for them that you really couldn’t hear much anyway – except for some slow songs from Justin Moore.
    Songs are contrived more then written these days anyway and the
    performers are not the writers to there is much less personal
    attachment to the songs. In the 70’s, there was soul to the music
    because of several things. The first thing is that songs came from the guy playing it. The second thing is that the songs were about
    something, not just anger or getting laid. and lastly, there was
    musicianship that no longer exists. The last part is probably the
    worst part of all. In fact, I had a young man tell me, the other day,
    that he thought guitar music was just to boring. I played him a few
    songs from the 70’s and instantly he was amazed. He’d “never heard the guitar played like that”.
    Long gone are the days when people really studied music so they really don’t know what good is. Music teachers are just guys that can’t earn enough money working at guitar center so they teach on the side.
    Teaching, however, is an art form. There is a mass amount of
    information that the teacher needs to understand in depth before he/ she can even start to apply their musical knowledge in an
    instructional way. If you’re curious about that, read up on the
    fundamentals of instruction. There is a nice little, simple booklet
    that flight instructors use that condenses it down. Just look up
    F.O.I. and you’ll find enough. Yet I regress: instruction doesn’t
    exist therefore musicianship is lost.
    If all that isn’t enough, music use to have dynamics. These days,
    you’re lucky to find a dropped instrument for dynamics. There is no
    volume dynamic because everything is squashed to hell and there is no timing dynamic because everything is tied to a click track. You can have no emotion in music without free, human, timing. A dance track has no feel. Disco was hated because it had no feel! Now, in these days, there is no such thing as music that is not on a click track.
    For more thought on volume dynamics, google volume wars.

  2. musea Says:

    Good advice. Here is some that as a songwriter for 50 years, people may not like – 99% of the musicians writing songs shouldn’t be – you wouldn’t make your own guitars would you? You would leave that to experts that have been doing it for decades. Writing great songs is not for everyone. It’s not easy. It takes years to be any good at it. And it takes some born talent, and who knows where that comes from. It’s like playing the guitar, sure you can learn a few chords and play a song, but to be a great guitarist takes decades of practice. Songwriting is no different. Most of the songs written in the last few decades have not been good. The truth is – the real truth is – that it’s harder to be a good songwriter than it is to be a great musician or vocalist. The Beatles opened the door for everyone to write their own songs. Good, be creative, go for it, but when it comes to being a professional songwriter it is not easy – matter of fact it is just about the hardest part of music.
    Someone along the way has told musicians that they can make a lot more money if they write their own songs – no – it’s better to record a great song that you did not write, then a 100 bad songs you did.

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