Songs are a multi-billion-dollar business. Unfortunately, only one in every several thousand songwriters will see any significant income for his or her efforts. Why is this? In part, it may be because there are several million songwriters on the planet competing for a couple thousand jobs. Lack of true desire also plays a role; songwriting is a great hobby, but few want to put in the amount of effort it requires to become a professional tunesmith.
Of those who have the talent and desire, the main reason for failure is lack of information. Songwriting as a profession encompasses multiple disciplines and areas of expertise. It's not enough to know how to write a great song; you must also be able to shape and develop the song to reach the intended audience and make sure that it gets properly demo-ed, heard by the right people, marketed, cut, produced, and marketed some more. Competition within the songwriting world is friendly but fierce, and a weakness or lack of knowledge in just one area has been the downfall of countless “good” writers.
Yes, there are people whose job it is to record, produce, and do all the other things that help a song on its way to the top, but they don't always know what they're doing and they're not always on your side. The best way to ensure success is to know how these jobs are supposed to be done and how the result can affect your song. With that thought in mind, The Everything® Songwriting Book is designed to be a comprehensive overview of as many elements of songwriting and the songwriting business as possible.
You may notice that, at times, this book moves frequently between the “nuts and bolts,” technical part of songwriting (known as the “craft” side) and the ephemeral, spiritual, sometimes mystical “art” side, with occasional forays into the nasty, convoluted maze of the business side. This is because being a professional songwriter means living in a state of flux between these three worlds. In order to find a balance between expressing yourself as an artist and reaching other people with your art, or between making good music and making a good living, it's necessary to learn to juggle these seemingly disparate elements.
While some music history is included in the text of this book, it is by no stretch of the imagination a comprehensive history of music. It's merely a basic overview with special attention given to events, inventions, people, and things that affected songwriting and songwriters. For the serious or advanced writer, further study of music history may prove helpful in understanding the ways in which market trends develop and what kinds of songs are more immune to market change than others. To put it another way, knowing where songwriting has been will help you figure out why it is where it is — and where it's going to go next.
If you simply can't wait to start writing a song, feel free to skip the historical bits and come back to them later. There won't be a quiz, you won't flunk or get detention. Of course, you might miss the part about the secret handshake, developed by sixteenth-century songwriting monks, the one that can still get you into a publisher's office today, but you didn't want to know that anyway, did you? Seriously, while no book can give you a guaranteed recipe for success in this or any other business, this book can give you the ingredients for that recipe and teach you how to combine them in a way that, hopefully, will have listeners asking for seconds. So, are you hungry yet? Well, then let's get cookin'.