Songwriting Tip: Write for Tomorrow, Not Today


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I heard some great advice the other day. Someone said, “If you are a songwriter you need to write for tomorrow, not today.” Kinda deep, but what it really means is that you can’t follow and imitate what is on the radio right now. If it is on the radio right now, that means it took a long time to get there. Many of those songs could have been written years ago. So our job as songwriters is to be students of what is going on but not copycats. We need to innovate and create new musical colors and experiences.
I, personally, am guilty of copying what I am liking on the radio right now. I feel that this is not always a bad thing, since you can’t learn to break the rules until you know what they are. I sometimes catch myself even imitating styles from the past, which isn’t bad either. What is old can become new again. Songwriters need to be willing to take chances and try new things. What do we have to lose….nothing. So what, you write an OK, or maybe even crappy song….you have more experience and you have just written one more song that the wannabes out there.
I read an interview years ago from Rodney Jerkins when he was writing songs for JLo. He said basically that he tries to do the opposite of what he hears on the radio right now. If all the songs are ballads, he writes a dance song. If all the songs are in minor keys, he writes in a major key. That always stuck with me, and if you listen to Darkchild Productions, you do hear that he takes bits and pieces of what is hot and adds his own twist….and you remember his songs…and he remembers he just had another hit record.
Let me know what inspires your songwriting.
– Chad


4 Responses to “Songwriting Tip: Write for Tomorrow, Not Today”

  1. Now that’s one of the most beneficial posts I’ve read in awhile and it definitely validates a lot of us who do like to “write for tomorrow”. I can’t thank you enough for this.

  2. 2 themusicvent

    Whilst avoiding copying what is on the radio is certainly something to be applauded, any artist trying to write something “new” will inevitably fail, everything new artists that supposedly writes something “new” can almost always be traced back to something in the past. However I do agree with much of the sentiment in this post.

    • That is very true. Most things have been done before in one way or the other. I think the key is to not focus on what is hot now, but try to come up with something hot that could be just one step ahead. That may be something “new” or it could be something coming back from the past.

  3. awesome post…I came here by way of Gary’s blog…awesome

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