Cheat Sheet

Songwriting For Dummies

From Songwriting For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Dave Austin, Jim Peterik, Cathy Lynn

Songwriting is fun, and also full of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is getting over any shyness you may have about writing songs. Other challenges include finding inspiration, collaborating, jotting down your ideas, and sharing your songs. Luckily, the Internet is filled with numerous sources to help you along the way.

Good Reasons to Not Be Shy about Writing Songs

Music and expression through a creative means is nothing new and can be traced all the way back to the day of the caveman. You may not know the language or understand exactly what a person who created a song is saying, but you can most certainly experience what’s being communicated through its feel and emotion. That is the beauty of music, and it’s a very good reason why you shouldn’t allow yourself to shy away from writing a song if you have the urge or desire to do so.

There are probably as many reasons for writing songs as there are people who write them. The bottom line is that songwriting is perfect for people who have a hard time verbalizing their feelings. Sometimes, putting your feelings to music or lyrics helps you say what you really feel or are not brave enough to say to one’s face. It doesn’t have to be a perfect song or a certified chart topper. The important thing is, songwriting helps you express yourself. It’s very therapeutic that way!

So, don’t feel shy about writing a song, especially if you want to do any of the following:

  • Express your true self or innermost feelings.

  • Release the music inside of you that’s just waiting to get out.

  • Give back to others some of the joy and inspiration they have given you.

  • Develop fully the gift of expression you have been born with.

  • Gain acceptance and make new friends (and perhaps make an income).

  • Exorcise your inner demons.

  • Connect with others through the message of your song.

  • Create something of value that others will enjoy for many years.

Online Sources to Help You with Your Songwriting

There are multitudes of music and songwriting sites that are geared toward making others aware of your talent — not to mention a means to finding inspiration and even potential collaborators and contacts.

You can cross-pollinate musical information between your site and other people’s sites, and also post your music for others to listen to and download. A very clever example is OK Go’s YouTube music video “This Too Shall Pass,” which within a short time had over 10 million views worldwide — heck, they even got a sponsor to pay for their production costs!

Just make sure you have filed the copyright papers for your songs before you share them with the world. Remember, also, that not only is the Internet a great way for others to hear your songs, it’s also a good way for you to check out what other songwriters are up to and what’s new on the scene.

Here are some recommended sources. Some will already be familiar to you; others not so much:

  • Amazon Music: An online music retail source offering more than 10 million songs for downloading to any device.

  • CDBaby: Touted as the world’s largest online distributor of indie music, and a company run by musicians, for musicians.

  • Facebook: A social networking Web site where you customize your own site for you or your band, post music for listening purposes, add friends, and create a fan base of gigantic proportions..

  • Grooveshark: A place where you can listen to practically any song you want for free, and where you can promote your own music, create ads, and share your songs for more exposure.

  • iSounds: Where both artist and listening fans hook up online for an easy way to discover and stream new music.

  • iTunes: A digital media player and online music retailer, not just for music, but also movies, TV shows, and more.

  • Live365: An Internet radio network where members can create their own station or listen to other Live365 broadcasters’ online stations.

  • MySpace: The original social networking Web site.

  • Napster: Online music service with both a subscription service and a pay-per-track purchasing option with over 8 million songs.

  • nValeo: A virtual video delivery system that not only combines television, the Internet, and social media, but allows you to create and transmit high-definition media content and music videos over the Internet and provide fan access for your live streaming events.

  • OurStage: A social networking community made up of undiscovered artists, music lovers, and industry professionals who want to collaborate with others who share the same interests.

  • Pandora: Personalized Internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your favorite songs or artists and creates a customized playlist; also has a very popular iPhone app.

  • ReverbNation: A social networking site for musicians, bands, producers, and venues to collaborate and communicate.

  • Rhapsody: An online music service, available in the U.S. only.

  • SongCast: A music distribution network where you can get your songs sold on iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, and so on

  • Sonicbids: A place where bands from any genre anywhere in the world can find and connect with industry professionals such as music promoters, licensors, or broadcasters — not to mention a great place to find songwriting competitions and book gigs.

  • TuneCore: A digital music and video distribution platform that delivers your songs to the top digital stores (iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and others) without taking a percentage of the sales.

  • Twitter: A social networking and microblogging service that lets users send and read messages otherwise known as “tweets.”

  • Viddler: An interactive online video platform for uploading, sharing, enhancing, tagging, commenting, and forming groups around videos.

  • YouTube: A place to post your songs and music videos for massive exposure potential.

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