Mar 8th, 2009 by Dave Piersall

10 Steps to Being a Hit Songwriter


A hit song has a magic formula that when you get it right people perk up and have to listen.

Here are the steps I have always used to write my songs.

1. The Inspiration

This has been the part that always happens, that part I can’t explain. It comes unannounced and whenever it feels like it. I am talking about inspiration and it can choose to come on at 3 AM on a Monday when I am dead asleep. When it comes I have an uncontrollable urge to see where it is going to go no matter when it chooses to come up. What ever your process to finding your inspiration for your songs is make sure you just let it happen. If your having writers block then let it breath for a while don’t force it. Nothing great comes from forcing it in life. Looking to find your inspiration? Watch a emotional movie, read a book, talk to an old girlfriend whatever. You’re really looking for two things,

  • 1. The idea or subject that stirs something up inside you that others might find cool too.
  • 2. A way to write about it in a unique way. Describe it in an original way, no cliches.

2. The Music

Get the music down whether on your guitar or piano. Unless you have a good foundation that has that something special it wont matter what your lyrics are.

3. Melody is Everything

Get your song melody down before you start writing words. This will lead you to the right lyrics and help you settle on your word phrasing and save you valuable rewriting time.

4. The Hook

Your song needs a hook in the chorus and or verse to leave them humming the melody and singing the chorus all day whether they want to or not. How many times have you had a song that you don’t really like in your head such as a jingle even though you didn’t want it there? That is because it had a strong hook. Make sure your songs have it too!

5. The Story Line

Next your need to decide what your going to write about. You wouldn’t jump in your car and start driving unless you had a good idea of where you were going would you? No. Well song lyrics are the same way. I usually decide on the chorus first as that will tells me where I need to build up to. The lyric should have a logical starting point, a middle, and an end. A good book starts at where it all began and slowly travels chapter to chapter making you want to keep reading. Make sure your lyrics follow those same steps.

6. Don’t Forget the Song Structure and Length!

There are several song structures the most popular is the verse chorus song and verse chorus with Bridge as you hear in many of The Beatles songs. Also you may want to keep an eye on how long your song is as usually that sweet spot is under 4 minutes long.  Songwriters who love all their songs don’t want the story to end and make their songs much longer than they should be.  One way to tell is to ask your friends what they think and i it keeps their interest. A great song becomes an OK song after you babble too long. Here is one link I found that may help you at least get the structure right.

7. The Rewrite

You will need to sit down once you think you have the lyrics right and read them to yourself and show them to other people for their opinions. Undoubtedly a rewrite or two will be in order. I am a perfectionist when it comes to this and usually rewrite my lyrics 3-4 times. After you have the listener liking how your song sounds they will focus next on your lyrics. If your storyline is a mess they will lose interest and that will mean less sales. $$$$$

8. Protect Your Material

You need to protect your work. I you do not the moment someone takes notice may be you when you hear your song recorded by someone else making a lot of money and you are S.O.L The best way is to go online to the United States Copywrite office. You can download PA forms at the the site. It will cost you $35.00 to copyright one song or a song group. There are no limitations to how many songs are in the group so In my opinion save some money and copyright them in a group. If and when you sell one you simply copyright that one song again by itself. Otherwise $35.00 a song can get expensive especially when you really don’t know which song will be a hit and how many you will write before that happens.

9. Record it

A professional studio recording with a great producer is a must. Home recording with software like Pro Tools is becoming more and more popular these days as long as you know what your doing. A good rhythm section is everything (Drums and bass) If you don’t have that start over. If you have Pro caliber vocals that will help too. The more you can do to sell the sizzle the better off you will be. If you can’t sing don’t do it yourself have the wisdom to know when you need a little help. We at euphony Productions can help you with that as we will be offering song writing workshops at a reasonable cost.

10. Promote the Hell Out of it!

You must promote your song. Online is a good way, if you know how to drive the traffic and if you don’t then do what ever it takes to figure it out. Another way is calling A & R reps, Agents, and Publishers though unless you are well known this may be a tough road. There are services like and too that promote your songs for a annual fee and a per song submission fee. Links are on the Home Page if you need a little help.

Contact Dave

5 Responses to “10 Steps to Being a Hit Songwriter”

  1. Jeff Sawalski Says:

    I am a songwriter who often suffers from writers block. These tips have been really helpful. How long have you been writing?

  2. Dave Piersall Says:

    Thanks I have been writing for about 15 years.
    We will have great Blog posts every week on different subjects.

    I hope you find them all helpful

    Dave Piersall

  3. » Blog Archive » How Do I Get Discovered? Says:

    […] of a hit song can be found in our past posts  “How to be a Better Songwriter” , “10 Steps to Being a  Hit Songwriter”, and ” Song Stucture 101″ Use the formulas like gospel and separate yourself from the […]

  4. Stupidartkid Says:

    thanku this really helped a lot i always wondere about copywriting.^-^

    but do u have to be a good or great singer in order to pursue songwriting or does it all deal with the lyrics u write?

  5. Dave Piersall Says:

    Lyrics and melody are most of the equation. The singing part depends on what you want to do with the song. If you want to sell them to other artists then an OK singer could get by. If you want to play on the radio then you had better have great vocals. Remember the better something sounds the better the first impression is. I always get a pro singer to do all my vocals and I can sing pretty well, a lot better then a lot of people out there. I would rather put the very best foot forward I have access to. You can get a great singer for $75.00 to $100.00 a song and to me it is well worth the investment. If you are looking for a great singer Jeff Anthony can be hired reasonably. Go to his page and contact him if you are interested or look to friends who sing really well if you know any. I hope this helped you get your answers.

    I look forward to hearing your music you will be writing.

    Dave Piersall
    Euphony Productions

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