Tag Archives: rock singer survival

The Best Song You Never Wrote

How do you write a hit song?

Writing songs has existed as far back as probably fire. That is far enough back that can shamelessly say, I do not care when or how it actually all began. I do know that since the inception of recording, song writing has gained interest at an astronomical rate. Here we sit in the digital age and all of a sudden everyone seems to be a songwriter. Every teen on the planet has the capability to record their latest creation. Most writers, experimental and semi professional seem to be missing the mark though. What is the difference between the success story and the forgotten. So what is the perfect song writing process?
Writing Your Hit Song
Writing Doesn’t have to hurt!
I am going to let you in on a little secret that will set your next song apart from the rest.
There are people charging Big Money for the use of their vast knowledge within the music industry. This is definitely one of the things you will hear summed up in this one article. FOR FREE! So save your money and read on. READY?
Would you believe that the majority of hit songs are all virtually carbon copies of the songs preceding them? I do so hate to burst the creative bubble, just in case you didn’t know this. All of those songs at the top of the charts barring just a few, are replicas of the songs that have been embedded by the record labels over the years. We are habitual creatures and we love all that is familiar. Therefore yes we have cloned our own entertainment. A blatant example of this Axis of Awesome.
Wait… all hit songs don’t sound the same! No they don’t. That is where the individual artist comes in. That is YOU! Yes, you are special and now you are going to have a an awesome tool to help you write more palatable songs for your listeners. Remember, you are NOT stealing their material or sound. You are mimicking the process. There are several methods for doing this. We are going to use a Mashup method. Sort of like the Bruno Mars Funk it Up Single.

Step one: Top Picks
We need to 1st pick 10 hit songs that you love and that reflect your current style from the past 10 years. You can visit Billboard Charts to find yours by genre.
Step Two: Analysis.
Write down how many bars are in the intro, verse, chorus, bridge etc. You need to understand the structure of a song. Listeners are tuned into the pattern. You will also need to pick out the rhyming patterns.
Example AABA
There was a DOG
Who liked the FOG
Went down the STREET
and ate a FROG

Then pick out the Chords being used. You can cheat a little by visiting Ultimate Guitar. They are not always perfect but most are pretty close.

NOTE: Do one song at a time or you may find yourself over whelmed.

Step Three: Lyrics

This is all you. For inspiration though look at those songs and what they are talking about subject wise. Find one that has the same message you are wanting to convey. Don’t write all of your ideas down yet. That will come in a bit after we put all of this together.

Ok, now that you have put in some work lets get it going.

1 Pick one of those 10 songs. You are going to use the chord pattern from it for our New Hit Song.

2 Pick another song. You will use this as your base rhythm to be changed by your drummer later. HAHAHA! They can’t help it.

3 Pick another for your structure.

4 Pick another and use the lyric pattern for your amazing lyrics.
5 Make sure you do NOT forget your hook. Every song has one. KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Each musician in your band is going to have their own take on your new song. Let them. Do not tell them where you pulled from. It will allow them to put a creative twist on it giving it that original flare. That is what your existing fans love. Remember you do not want to sound like anyone else. You still want to be you, but with a process to speed up your writing. That will give you an edge when it comes to recruiting new listeners in the future. It will also make your songs translatable in a live situations. Especially with people who have never heard your music before.
Some things to keep in mind.
Some keys are more popular than others. Simply creating music that mimics successful artists that you love will not make you successful. It’s hopefully just a guideline that might help in the writing process. After spending time analyzing songs from popular artists you will begin to automatically recognize a lot of commonalities among them. Most musicians go their entire lives without considering that there may be a formula for the creation of all these great songs. I was one of those.
Fill the Room
You can’t fill a room with songs people can not relate to. They need to feel familiar.
For many years the idea was to write music to the fullest possible extent of the skill level. Take a simple concept and complicate it until it becomes something original, technical and forever LOCAL! You will have critics because there will always be the hater. The “That s/*- is simple and they Suck!” people. Remember it isn’t about complicated, it is about instrumentation and knowing before you begin, what the masses want. You can see the same process through greats like Muse all the way down to Nirvana.
Something to keep in mind if you are feeling a little dirty holding this knowledge and how easy it is.
Why do certain chord progressions get used so much, and why do people simply just not get sick of them?

The answer… They don’t sound the same, they sound familiar.

Hope this helped! If it did please comment below or share this post!
Allen Swank

Singing in the Strain

The crowd has arrived, the stage is set, the band is pumped. Meanwhile, behind the facade of the confident singer, nerves have begun to come unhinged. He/She has tried to down a couple drinks to relax and started doing some much needed warmups. To no avail they still just can not find that comfort zone. What to do…..

Nerves can get the best of any good singer and make them appear less of the vocal god that they really are. Here are a few tips to help get that confidence up and reduce the urgency to blow out your vocals in the first 3 songs of your set.


PROBLEM: Can’t relax and produce clean notes in your higher range.

Here are several ideas for you that have proven effective for me. 1st the obvious. STRETCH. Relax everything. Try raising your shoulders and then while doing tail up and tail down vowels let them drop. Be sure to take very deep breaths and do this for about 3 minutes.

YAAAWWWWNNNN! Yawning is one of the best relaxation exercises for a singer. It allows your throat to open and your larynx to drop.

EAT! Not nachos and cheese or jalapeno bites from the bar. STAY AWAY FROM DAIRY! Try to eat something that is going to make you chew. The chewing motion will help open everything up and make your throat relax. It has to do so in order to allow you to swallow. I would suggest a hard fruit like apples. You can also try celery and peanut butter. The peanut butter will provide you with energy for your show as well. Remember the point in this is to chew, not just to get it in your stomach.


Nothing like having cotton mouth just before you are supposed to perform. Ways to combat this? Well there are a thousand ways to do this but my advice is water. Stay away from alcohol. Not only will your body be hydrating to replace all the sweat that will pour out of your body during your show, but it will continue that swallowing action.You can also try sour candies to get that saliva flowing.

PROBLEM: I lose my voice halfway through our set.

If you are in a rock band with high energy shows, this is most likely something you have experienced. Sometimes this can be caused just by being too pumped up and screaming to the back of the room for the first few songs. At that point you have probably started to rip those chords. It is just downhill from here. Keep reading.

Another reason could be that you are simply out of breath. You know…. it takes air to make those notes. The less air we have the harder we push, the harder we push the more we strain, the more we strain the more we scream, the more we scream the less we sing.

Simple solution…. CALM DOWN!

jason and allen


As much as a stage show matters, it is not worth making your band look bad. Think of it from this perspective. If you were playing a ballad and you were in the midst of this super smooth light part and then your guitarist comes in full blown distortion with strings just out of tune. It wouldn’t really matter that he was pretty good about keeping it in the road, bending certain strings that he thinks are flat trying to make the chord sound whole. It would absolutely ruin that moment. That is what we do as singers when we push too hard for lack of air. Straining and sounding more like Chewbacca than the guy on the CD.

We can make ourselves believe that coming out running across the stage for the big “WE ARE HERE” intro. Eh… I would rather see someone actually have something left for the song. 30 seconds of BOOM is so not worth 30 minutes of UGH.

Try doing some deep breathing exercises before you hit the stage. Stretch your lungs. Stretch your arms out straight above your head and take in as much air as possible. SLOWLY exhale.. repeat.

Draw a mental road map of your show. Keep to it. If you find yourself getting off course pull it back in. Remember big, slow gestures are worth as much as the pogo stick bounce that grinds you down. You can also get your band to fill a little between songs to give you a chance to get a drink and recoup.

Remember this one point and it will help keep perspective. Fans come to see you play the songs they know. Your friends and family will always be way more forgiving than someone seeing you for the 1st time, having no idea what you should sound like. Some people like to see people fail. No matter what the reason is for those people to have shown up, you want them to remember you for your gift not the crash.

Give it a shot, put on a great show and CALM DOWN! It will make a huge difference in your performance and you may find your confidence and ability has not quite left the building.


My name is Allen Swank and I play in the band Indie LAgone. I have been performing for more than half of my life and love to share the knowledge I have gained along the way.