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Whether you’re looking to learn how to do something, how to do it better, or how to do it differently than you’ve ever tried before, well, it’s all there on the internet somewhere. In the vast, cavernous annals of the web, we artists can find everything we seek to help with our practice as long as we know where to look.
And that includes tons of resources on the art of songwriting. The only problem is… there are way too many resources out there, and it can get totally overwhelming. Whose perspectives are worthy of reading? Who’s got the experience to be able to give me halfway decent advice? And how can I separate myth from truth?
Fortunately for you, this is what we do. We’ve combed the internet and found some of the best blogs to offer you some high-quality learning, some reputable advice, and some much needed dashes of inspiration in case you’re in a rut.
But first, for all you songwriting producers out there, Soundfly just launched a brand new course with Kimbra, in which she herself demystifies her variety of vocal techniques and the creative inspirations behind her most beloved songs. Go check out this awe-inspiring new course, Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production, exclusively on Soundfly.
Now, on to the blogs.
1. Songwriter U (American Songwriter)
As far as songwriting magazines go, it doesn’t get much better than American Songwriter. An industry staple since 1984, it makes sense that they’d make a substantial expansion into the blog world. Their blog, Songwriter U, is divided into seven categories: Touring, Legal, Getting Paid, Marketing, Coaching, Song Critiques, and The Writer’s Room.
Every one of their articles is jam packed with great info, and even features some of the greatest songwriting minds today. From subjects like “Overcoming Songwriting Trauma” to copyright reform, to tips on touring and marketing, this blog is sure to have something for everyone — regardless of where you are on your songwriting journey.
The name on many people’s lips — at least down here in the Nashville songwriting community — is SongTown. Clay Mills and Marty Dodson, who write the majority of the site’s posts, are a treasure trove of information. Between Clay (an industry veteran with multiple hit singles by people like Darius Rucker, Diamond Rio, Little Big Town, and Trisha Yearwood) and Marty (who had hits with Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and the Plain White T’s), there is enough songwriting knowledge to fill a library.
Other covered topics include tips on how to make your demos sound better, being an out-of-town writer, and whether other people’s opinions are good or bad for your songwriting.
The Songfacts blog was started by music writers and researchers in an attempt to organize the significant cache of music information across various major labels. Over the years, it’s expanded to include not only specifics like what was recorded, by who, and when, but stories behind the songs as well. It wasn’t long before some of these major artists and writers were reaching out to contribute, sharing their own perspectives on the songs they helped create, and even detailing how they got some of their most iconic sounds in the studio.
In addition to these insightful interviews, the blog includes a good mix of “how to’s” and insights from industry legends. Still, hearing about artists’ iconic creations in their own words should give you plenty of inspiration.
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4. Shelly Peiken
Shelly Peiken is a hit writer (“What A Girl Wants,” “Bitch,” “Come On Over” and more) as well as two-time Grammy Award nominee. Bringing that wealth of knowledge, along with a very real and unvarnished take on music, is what makes her personal blog unique. This prolific blog includes thoughts on “sexying up” a lyric (a la recent hit “W.A.P.”), why every songwriter should record at least one album of their own stuff, to thoughts on coaching.
While not necessarily a “how to” in the strictest sense of the word, it is a fascinating and honest look into the daily meditations of a hit songwriter.
The Songfancy blog was started by Nashville-based singer/songwriter, and Flypaper author, Sarah Spencer, with an eye toward helping songwriters who are just starting out or struggling with writer’s block. While the posts contain many useful insights and cover topics like getting all your royalties and silencing your inner critic, the best feature of the blog is Sarah’s “Five in Five” Song Challenge. This free speed-writing course marries accountability, community, and new song prompts all to help grow your creative spirit.
If you’ve been struggling with songwriting lately, this blog may just hold some of the most useful tools for you.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Here’s Just a Bunch of… Songwriting Prompts (Go Nuts!)”
6. Cliff Goldmacher
Songwriter, producer, and educator Cliff Goldmacher has been in the music industry for over 25 years. He’s worked with artists from Keb’ Mo to Ke$ha, and songs he’s produced have run the gamut from songwriter demos to major ad campaigns. Cliff brings all that expertise and more to his riveting blog posts.
Useful topics like how to engage with session musicians, what to listen for in a demo, and what makes a good producer will all prove enlightening to many novice writers. Other topics, like finding a good groove and keeping your songwriting motivation going are useful for all walks of the songwriter journey. Considering Cliff has been both a songwriter and producer, he’s seen the industry from both sides of the desk — you’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-rounded perspective in the industry.
7. Songwriting Pro
One of the cool things about the Nashville songwriting community is that here, your peers are often ready at a moment’s notice to lift you up, help you learn, or just offer an objective ear. Songwriting Pro aims to be the online version of that (though they are based out of Nashville). Started by award-winning songwriter Brent Baxter, who formerly helmed the much-lauded industry blog Man vs. Row, Songwriting Pro seeks to expand that scope to include growing fellow songwriters.
They even have a podcast called The C.L.I.M.B Show (you know how much we love podcasts here), which distills some of their wisdom for their many songwriter listeners. Topics include useful song title challenges, wordplay games, and even opportunities to pitch to publishers.
You’re already ON one of the best resources out there for musicians looking for advice, guidance, and inspiration to elevate their practice. That’s right, Soundfly’s in-house blog, Flypaper, produces daily articles aimed at helping musicians of all types move the ball forward toward their goals in immediately actionable ways. Explore all our articles here, and sign up for our weekly newsletter for even more pathways to improve in your musical practice.
Almost anything can provide that spark of inspiration a songwriter needs. While not strictly a songwriting blog, I was also recently fascinated to stumble across Menthol Mountains, the personal blog of the late, great songwriter and poet David Berman. It provides some truly fascinating stories, insights, clips from interviews, poems, and even a few inscrutable parables.
Although it can sometimes be hard to find voices who you can trust, when in doubt, look at the credentials. Trust one’s experience and expertise, and trust your gut. Most pro songwriters will also be the first people out there to tell you to try things that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
I encourage you to try to find what resonates and works for you. That’s the best way to find your own path through this complicated industry.
Don’t stop here!
Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, composing, home recording, electronic production, beat making, and much more. Explore Soundfly’s exciting courses like Modern Pop Vocal Production, Modern Mix Techniques, and Kimbra: Vocal Creativity, Arranging, and Production.