By Jason Blume
In addition to writing mainstream pop, country and R&B songs,
there are many other genres songwriters might choose to explore.
These include writing Christian, Latin, Christmas, folk/Americana,
comedy, cabaret, and children's songs.
When gearing a song to any specific market, it's important
to remember that some lyrical and musical elements lend themselves
to certain styles of songs and are quite inappropriate for
others. For example: while poetic, offbeat, non-linear lyrics
may work well in an alternative pop or rock song, they'd be
out of place in a children's song or a country song. It's
important to use vocabulary and colloquialisms consistent
with the genre you're writing for.
When writing for specialty markets, the primary motivation
needs to be a deep love of the music because these styles
of music are rarely as lucrative as the mainstream markets.
Christmas songs are typically recorded from December to July,
prior to the Christmas season when they are released. Depending
on schedules, some artists record their Christmas albums during
the Christmas holidays for the following year.
If the album is one of those recorded live during Christmas,
with a choir and orchestra, the songs are typically selected
by the previous August or September, which is 15-16 months
prior to the album's release. The bulk of country Christmas
albums are completed by the end of May, while pop and R&B
Christmas albums are sometimes recorded through the July prior
to their Christmas season release. Any reputable publisher
should be aware of which artists are recording Christmas albums--and
should be capable of getting material to those artists or
to those who screen songs for them.
The majority of songs recorded on Christmas albums are standards.
A large percentage of the original songs are written by the
artist, the producer or another individual "inside" the project.
Your Christmas song must be incredible enough to make the
artist or producer bump one of the standards or their original
songs to put yours on. There are only so many Christmas images
out there, so you have to work extra hard to craft fresh,
unique lyrics in order to have your song rise above the competition.
Photocopy this checklist and keep it where you normally write.
Each time you finish a draft of a song, check to be sure that
it has successfully incorporated the tools and techniques
- Adheres to one of the most successful song structures.
- Has an interesting title and idea.
- Has a universal theme--not too personal for others to
- Makes the singer look good.
- Has verse lyrics that clearly lead to the title.
- Contains one focused idea.
- Evokes one emotion.
- Maintains one consistent tense.
- Uses correct pronouns.
- Contains opening lines that grab the listener & set
the emotional tone.
- Maintains one consistent tone and style throughout.
- Uses fresh imagery.
- Sounds conversational
- Avoids clichés.
- Is not redundant.
- Second verse adds new information.
- Doesn't preach.
- Doesn't tell how the singer feels--the listener feels
- Bridge (if applicable) adds a new angle.
- Each line logically flows from the previous line into
the following line.
- Employs rhyme in appropriate places.
- Has a title that "pays off."