Songwriting Tip: Zig When They Zag


Numbers, patterns, and statistics can help us connect dots and identify trends, but these are ultimately just another set of tools we can use to move beyond the status quo rather than being enslaved by it.

Yes, you should seek to understand and appreciate what others are doing in your chosen genre to still appeal to that audience, but once you've learned to play by the rules, it's time to start bending and breaking them to find something more, something to call your own.

The goal of understanding the latest trends should be to find a chance to break from those trends when you see a creative opportunity—to zig when they zag.

Imitating your favorite artists will only get you so far. We have to develop our own unique sound and style, then we have to be willing to let that sound adapt and evolve with us over time.

Write what you feel, then be willing to let it go at some point.

What can you learn from the sounds and the trends around you? Consider a few of these numbers and see if they spark an idea or two for the song you've been struggling to start (or finish).

Sources are listed below

Sources are listed below

Whenever you find something of value here, please share it on social media and within your musical circles.

Always be open to the discovery of new opportunities to stand out and somehow separate your music from everyone else's. It may not always be better but it can certainly be different and different can often be what gets your song noticed and make it more memorable.

Be different. Be fearless.

What other trends have you seen with the music you follow? I’d love to hear what you’ve been working on and what makes it yours. Tell me about your music.

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Sources: Please feel free to check out some of the sources I used to create the infographic. It’s fun to geek out over statistics but remember to use the information as an analysis for setting your own goals, not a map to simply follow the rest of the pack.

  • Average song length - I’m all for songs that are clear and concise. They leave you wanting a little more (and wanting to hear it again) instead of wanting to skip to the next song. I find it interesting to see songs getting shorter while the tempos also get slower—that’s less room to work with, so you have to grab the listener’s attention and get right to it!

  • Tempo - A rather unscientific approach, but I grabbed a page of songs by year and genre from the BPM database and quickly calculated the average. The sampling is not everything released that year but is still representative enough to paint a rough picture with some broad strokes.

  • Keys and chords - This is a fun source to go through. Lots of interesting pieces captured for 2017, focusing on the songs that reached the Billboard Top 5.

Matt Recio

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