7 things you need to know about writing a great song

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Mon, 18/7/2016

We're proud to be supported by The Songwriting Academy and their search for the UK's greatest unsigned songwriter through the inaugaral UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year 2016. Think you have what it takes?

Multi-platinum songwriter, producer and songwriting coach Martin Sutton shares his tips on how to write a great song to help inspire you!


They say everyone has a song in them, but does everyone have a GREAT song in them? At The Songwriting Academy we say yes! But great songs don’t just happen by accident. There are certain common denominators that many great songs have, and if we as writers know what those commonalities are, our strike rate of writing a classic will improve for sure!

Here are just a few of The Songwriting Academy top tips for writing a great song.

1. Hooks Make Hits

Hooks are essential in creating a killer song. A hook is a really catchy melody, lyric (often the title of the song) or riff, that is repeated within the song. Remember a hook is not just a one off moment in the song. Repeat it enough and it will stick in the brain of the listener forever!

2. People ignore songs when songs ignore people

Even though it’s important to write something that has meaning to you, try and make your lyric easy to relate to for other people who hear it. How amazing would it be to have a song that resonates with you, the writer, but also to have listeners say to you “How did you know what I was feeling?” Swallow your pride, play your song to people and ask them if they ‘get’ it!

3. Be Believable

Don’t fake feelings when you write. Write about something you have actually experienced or an emotion you have really felt, or are feeling right now. That way your song will be so much more believable to the listener. 

4. Have A Solid Structure

There are certain structures that work in songwriting and keep the listener engaged. If a song takes too many twists and turns and has too many different sections it becomes too hard to follow and a percentage of your audience will lose their way and switch off. Keep it simple and your listeners will stay with you.

5. The Replay Factor

We all know songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Stairway To Heaven and American Pie; classic songs that can last up to eight minutes. But don’t underestimate the power of a song that lasts as little as 2 - 3 minutes either. Chances are a short, punchy, well crafted song will make your listeners hit the replay button. That way you get two shots for them to fall in love with your song!

6. What Makes A Song Catchy?

The first thing that people hear in songs is the melody, so work hard on creating unique melodies that are interesting and have definition. Once you’ve drawn the listeners in with your killer melodies they’ll tune in to your lyrics too. Use plenty of repetition to make your songs even more catchy.

7. Evoke A Strong Emotion

We believe one of the most important goals of songwriting is to evoke a strong emotion in the listener. This could mean your song makes someone feel joyful, ecstatic, tearful, strong and empowered or makes them want to dance around the room. All of these are far more preferable to someone describing your song as “nice”…Eurgh! How you do this is down to you, but always remember:

If your song doesn’t evoke a powerful emotion in YOU when you write it, it’s not going to move anyone else when they hear it!


Do you think you’ve got what it takes to write a GREAT song? Have you already written one? Are you the #NextBigSongwriter?

You could win over £7,000 worth of prizes in the UK Unsigned Songwriter of the Year Competition 2016.