Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Songwriter's Life

It's a unique life for those of us who consider ourselves a songwriter. You love to write, but you want to find success, acceptance, possibly income?

We all dream of that day when we are sitting in the music publisher's office and he nods as our song plays. Will he keep listening? Will he like the song? Could this be the start of something big? Of a long relationship?

Rewind to now. How do you get there? Where do you start with what you have? Or how do you write that song that will take you (and maybe your whole songwriting career) to a new level of success?

Step One: Learn from a Master

"What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession." - Neil Peart

There is a process that has existed for thousands of years, and it's called Master and Apprentice. Anyone wanting to become better at their craft has traditionally learned at the feet of someone who has been doing the craft at a high level for decades. This allows for real world training, absorption of wisdom from a life in that craft, and the ability to learn the correct way to do things.

Anyone who listens to music, and can sing or play an instrument, can mimic the initial phases of writing a song. Basically writing a lyric and putting melody to it is all it takes to craft a "song". But everything after that, from improving the song's melody, to writing original, well thought out lyrics, to the form, contrast, and hook; these are things that most beginning or intermediate songwriters can learn from mature, master songwriters.

Step Two: The Right Production

We used to call this a demo, and in some cases, a guitar/vocal or piano/vocal version is best for some things. But publishers like to hear well-realized versions of songs to imagine what they can be on a record. Also, artists and producers who are pitched a song by publishers prefer to hear more produced versions, as long as they are done by professionals they are accustomed to.

I've heard many productions where a songwriter will produce "full" versions using their limited skills in the home studio, and because of some inadequacy on the playing, singing, or mixing, liking the songs becomes difficult. This is especially true if you can't finish listening to the song because of it's quality.

Step Three: Getting the Song to the Right Ears

So let's say you do have a strong commercial song, and a great Nashville production. What do you do then?

Some call the pitching of songs the actual hardest part of the process. Finding someone who will not only agree to meet with you, but will be a good connection for years to come for pitching is as invaluable as a hit song.

Showing the song to a publisher may result in a "thanks but no thanks", or could be a hold, or even a referral to an artist or producer currently looking for songs. But the most important thing is that the meeting may be an open door for more pitches down the line.

Step Four: Repeat

Then after that meeting, whatever the result, it's time to start the whole process over again. This is the life of a songwriter. It's how it works: write/co-write, produce, pitch, repeat.

It may seem fruitless at times, it may seem no one is listening, and it may seem that it's a zero sum game, but every song has an unlimited life. A publisher could choose to revisit a song, you may see a use for a song you wrote 20 years ago, or you may write that next great one tomorrow.

Keep the faith! Keep working! And keep improving through the steps.

After all, how many people do you know that actually get to live the life of a songwriter?

Have a great week!

Eric Copeland started all the work he does forty years ago when he wrote his first real song, "Now That You're Gone". It started a lifelong obsession with songwriting, producing, and working with other music people. Now he helps songwriters, artists, and all music folks pursue their dreams and goals. Find out more at

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Give Em’ What They Want

Once we put out a call for songs. We were looking for an uptempo pop country song, and gave VERY SPECIFIC examples, as well as the EXACT Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler songs that the songs should sound like.

Of course, only about half of the 50 or more songs were even close to what we were looking for. People sent us ballads, they sent us backwoods country, they sent folks, they sent country gospel!

Attention songwriters: Yes, I know you love your babies, your songs that God gave you. But if a publisher or artist or producer puts out a call for a fast song, DO NOT send a slow song because it’s great and would be perfect for them.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Reason For Your Life Story

"I’ll pray a hedge of protection around you because I’m pretty sure you’re on a slippery slope. I might go as far as loving on you through this season. Just sayin’." - Jon Acuff

So many times, especially as songwriters that write for church or other religious reasons, we tend to write Christiany things. Yes, it’s a word. Ok, no it’s not, but you know what I mean.

Christianese. Words that sounds good to Christians because they know them and are comfy with them with our church friends or driving in the car praise-driving. But are these the only things to write about? Does writing more Christianish songs really get the true job out of reaching people for Christ?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Songwriting Essentials: Rhyme Time

(Guest post by the inimitable Robert Sterling. Find out more about Robert here.)
robertbookThe single most common Poetic Device used in songwriting is without a doubt – rhyme. Unfortunately rhyme is seemingly so simple, the beginner songwriter may assume it to be easy. (Simple is very different than easy.) Really great rhyme is a well-practiced craft.
For those of you songwriters that haven’t read my book (Shame on you, by the way.)here are some quick tips that might help you better master a part of the craft we all too often take for granted.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

How to Get Better as a Songwriter

I've been right where you are.

At some point in your life, it became apparent that you could put words and music together and make a song.

People know you as a songwriter.

But for some reason, no one has realized your genius (or least no one that MATTERS!) There has been no publishing contract with Word. There has been no calls from Toby Mac because he heard your music on Soundcloud. There has been no word from Hollywood, Nashville, or New York, even though you've sent a few demos that way.

So what is the deal?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

5 Steps to Songwriting Success

As you can imagine, we hear a lot of songs on a week to week basis. People ask us daily for our thoughts on their songs and we work with artists trying to help them move to the next level with their songwriting. In all this work we see a lot of the same things happening in songs. So I thought it might be good just to lay out a few things that might help beginning songwriters as well as songwriters who have been at this for a while find more success.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fighting Writer’s Block

You're trying to put together a new album, or haven't written any music in a while, but every time you sit down to write, the same thing happens. Either nothing comes to you, or you feel like everything you come up with is so stale and predictable you can't stand it.

Don't you hate when THAT happens?

Here's a few things you can do to fight this very common problem.

About Me

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at