Between the explosion of EDM, electronic dance tracks and the popularity of chill beat channels on YouTube, there’s perhaps no better time to be a digital musician.
That said, with so many newbies hopping on the bandwagon, making your own work stand out from the pack may seem easier said than done. While there is no formula for writing songs that resonate with your listeners, there are a number of songwriting steps you can take to help your songs stick in the heads of your fans.
So, where do you start?
Use Smarter Samples
From vocals to sound effects, well-placed samples can define your tracks to new listeners. For example, artists such as Justin Bieber and Skrillex often include vocal samples and variations of vocal loops throughout their songs. If you’re looking to take a similar approach to your own tracks, check out the ultimate list of free vocal samples you can experiment with yourself.
Establish a Distinctive Tone
Don’t just rely on starter packs and default presets. Setting up your own distinct tones through effects such as delay or your EQ can help your leads and synths stand apart from the crowd. If listeners leave positive feedback about a particular tone or hook, stick with it throughout your next recordings.
Be Bold With Your Beats
Generic and one-size-fits-all beats won’t do you many favors if you’re looking to make a lasting impression on listeners. The process of beat-making is fairly simple given how easy it is to program drums in DAWs and find sample drum kits online, too. Listeners can be captivated by beats in and of themselves, signaling why they deserve your attention in any given mix.
Don’t Ignore the Bass
On a similar note, many people listen to dance music because they want something they can groove to. While it may be tempting to craft bass tones that simply follow your synths or melody, coming up with unique grooves and arpeggios are a subtle yet significant aspect of your songwriting. For example, think about how songs like “Billie Jean” are driven solely by their thumping basslines.
Make Your Music Infectious
Remember: your goal is to get stuck in people’s heads. Catchy choruses. Hooks that listeners can’t forget. There’s nothing wrong with writing melancholy or ambient tracks, but consider that upbeat, poppy songs are oftentimes the ones that people remember.
Make a list of songs that you can’t help but dance to and ask yourself: what makes these tracks so enticing? Is it a tone or the beat? How can you use the same techniques in your own work?
Beware Copycatting Your Favorite Artists
Finally, there’s a fine line between imitation and inspiration when it comes to writing songs. Although you have every right to take notes from your favorite artists, playing copycat won’t get help you make a name for yourself.
Not only do you not want to be considered the “lite” version of an existing artist, but you obviously don’t want to run the risk of plagiarizing an artist’s work.
Establishing your signature sound takes time and experimentation, but it can be done with practice and persistence. With the aid of these tips, you can compose tracks that stand out from the crowd and boast your own unique sense of personality.