by Jason Blume

At first, I was resistant to fitting my songs into a commercial format. It felt like selling out, and I thought it would weaken my work. I thought "commercial" was a dirty word, synonymous with having no heart, no genuine emotion, and no creativity. I couldn't imagine ever writing anything that had any real meaning for me (or anyone else) by using some recommended structure or formula. That seemed like the antithesis of creativity to me.

Nonetheless, I slowly came to see that "commercial" simply meant what listeners were drawn to buy—and "commercial" included most of my favorite artists. That didn't sound so bad. I did want people to like what I was writing, and I did want to write songs that would be hits. But even if I could learn the techniques that made some songs hits, I couldn't imagine employing those principles without sacrificing the soul of my songs. But I was wrong. I never dreamed that there would come a time when I would so fully absorb the "rules" that my songs would spontaneously emerge in the proper structures—but now they do.

With lots of practice, these tools, techniques, and principles can be assimilated to such a degree that you won't even have to think about them—so that the spark of inspiration that starts deep in your heart can express itself in a way that can touch millions of listeners.

What are the common denominators? What are the factors that separate the good songs from the hit songs and the merely talented writers from the successful ones?

The Six Steps To Songwriting Success Are:

  • Developing successful song structures
  • Writing effective lyrics
  • Composing memorable melodies
  • Producing successful demos
  • Taking care of business
  • Developing persistence
  • A last word: While most of the tools and the techniques addressed in this book will apply to all genres of music, they are most appropriate for the types of pop, rock, adult contemporary, Christian and country songs that are recorded by artists who do not exclusively write their own songs.

    Thankfully, there are writers who stretch the boundaries. It would get awfully boring if every song followed each of the rules outlined in this book. Some songs may become hits based on the strength of the artist or the production. But since the vast majority of hit songs that are not written by the artist adhere to most of the techniques in this book, you will have a much better chance of achieving your goals if you learn these techniques before you make the conscious choice to deviate from them.

    Copyright 1999 by Jason Blume. Excerpted from 6 Steps To Songwriting Success by Jason Blume. Published by Billboard Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, NY. Available where books are sold.