An aspiring young man approached me the other day. "You had so many top hits," he said. "Since you gave up writing pop songs for good you could reveal now your secret of success to me." I didn't know how to answer, because - honest to God - I never had a secret of success. My spontaneous answer was: "Keep writing songs and polish the lyrics until you enjoy singing them". Admittedly that is no guarantee for success. It is a good beginning, though, to write what you love to sing. Difficult enough but still the easy part. The bad news is that songwriting is a craft that must be learned and mastered. Anyway, start by writing a lot. You will get better. Learn from great songs, find out what you like about them and try to create something similar. And when you feel you can do it, aim for the charts. In doing so, you may find it useful to check my
Seven Points For The Highly Successful Songwriter:1) Basic idea: You must tell something worth telling. A conventional way to say I love you is not an idea. Try something new, something different. Think of a situation, strange circumstances, a story.
2) Catch line: A phrase that expresses your idea in a nutshell in an original or popular way. Again, try to find something original.
3) Structure: Like a story (and the best songs are actually stories) a good song must have a beginning, a middle and and an end; a great song has a surprising turn towards the ending.
4) Hook: Anything that is memorable, such as a repeated key line, a silly word, even a cry.
5) Relevance: Great songs are expressions of the zeitgeist, putting into words and music what people think, sense, long for; not necessarily journalistic observations, rather the way how your generation talks about love, relationships, daily problems.
6) Context: Your song must fit into the current charts; study your competition but don't just copy what's already out there; the trick is to add 10 to 20 percent originality to what people already love.
7) Sting: Add something, anything to your song that makes people listen up because it is kind of provocative - a word you usually don't hear in a song or a never-heard-before sound.