Are You Writing Songs For An Audience Of 1 Or 100 Million?

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Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.

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I’m sure we’ve all had this experience: we’re in the room with someone who’s on the phone and is really excited about something. She’s saying, “really?” and “that’s awesome!” But we have no idea what she’s talking about. Of course not- she’s speaking to an audience of one- the person on the other end of that call.

While the people on the phone are communicating, they’re not communicating to you. So you either get frustrated or you tune it out.

Sometimes, unfortunately, we write songs that way.

We write for an audience of one- either to one other person who already knows what’s going on, or to ourselves. Either way, the song may bore or frustrate other listeners- the people overhearing your “call.”

If your goal is to have millions of people hear your song, you need to include them in your conversation. Make sure your song includes all the information they need in order to understand it.

Don’t just talk… communicate.

After all, if you’re the only one who understands your song, you may be the only one who ever hears it.

What about you?  Have you made this mistake?  I have, and I’d like to know I’m not alone- so leave a comment!

God Bless,

Brent

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As a way to say “thank you” to all of you who subscribe to Man vs. Row by email, I’m going to give away some cool stuff in July (2014). If you subscribe to MvR, I’ll send you a free report, “10 Things The Pro Knows.” I’ll also send you the guitar/vocal of “Crickets,” which is the title track of Joe Nichols’ current album. You’ll get to hear the song as Joe heard it when he decided to record it. You’ll also receive the lyric file of the song- and this lyric file includes “Baxter’s Boneyard” – all the lines that DIDN’T make it into the song (see if you agree with our choices). It’s something nobody else has seen, and I think it’s pretty cool. But, again, this gift is only for those who subscribe to Man vs. Row by E-MAIL. These gifts will be sent by email, so if I don’t have your email address, I can’t send it to you. God Bless!

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10 thoughts on “Are You Writing Songs For An Audience Of 1 Or 100 Million?”

    1. Ha! True story, Gary. Once in a while, I like to write one just for me, just for fun. I know those aren’t likely to reel in the dollars but I think they’re good to get the creative juices following, anyway 🙂

  1. Hey Brent, great post. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and you consistently hit the nail on the head. This is great advice for everyone who writes lyrics because too often we don’t think about the audience, we think about the clever rhyme or how we can “fit” something in.

    This goes hand-in-hand with a post you wrote back in April about rhyming the line before the chorus and saving the set-up line for later (https://manvsrow.com/2014/04/28/rhyming-the-line-before-the-chorus/). I’ve been using that tip in my latest songs and it really helped a lot.

    Thanks Brent, I’ll keep trying your advice as long as you keep offering it. Good luck and God Speed

    Richard “Grumpy Puppy” Howard

  2. I have read that you need to be consistent in who you are speaking to in a song so your audience does not get confused. This is similar and thought provoking and makes me wonder how many of my songs really do communicate well enough to get the point across. Writing songs is, in some ways, is like communicating in a foreign language. As you learn more about the language and how it works the better you are able to express the emotion and ideas you have to another who speaks that language.

  3. This is so true and really speaks to the storytelling aspect of songwriting. I’ve majorly goofed this up a time or two and continue to work on it. This is where it’s really helpful to have someone who’s willing to take a look at your song and be honest about what they read or hear. Sometimes, it can be nearly impossible to judge when it’s your own work. Not going to lie, I have spent afternoons very irritated that I have to basically re-write an entire song b/c I’ve truly missed the mark but it’s always worth it to write it better 🙂

  4. Nope, you’re the only one.. I mean.. I am SO guilty of this. I either write them for 1 like a custom crafted song for one special person.. (whom I’m giving it to, so even they don’t need to purchase it) or for 432,539 (The # of Cajuns in Louisiana accordion to Wiki) I would say on average my “mass appeal” is regional at best. But I’m learning to better frame my ideas to cast a larger net and get them closer to the “now” as you put it Saturday in that wonderful presentation. Thanks for the testimony/workshop at #SongCon

    1. Thanks, Tommy. Glad you enjoyed it- I had a blast.

      Oh, and just so I’m clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing for an audience of one or 1000 or whatever… as long as that serves your goals for that particular song.

      By the way, I showed my wife the pic you posted where I had the funny look on my face. She said you really captured my essence.

      God bless,
      Brent

      1. I like “essence”. I did only post the “good” pics.. 😉 I deleted the rest. I’d have to agree your gestures and expressions did add quite a bit of genuine engaging humor to your presentation. When people laugh, they listen. Those that might not have been listening, started listening, wondering what it was that they missed.

  5. Hi Brent! and all!
    Great blog and thank you! Good thoughts…
    For me songwriting can go many different ways and I try mostly to express for the needed goal. I feel honored to have this gift and seek to use it to help others in any way that I am able:-)
    Thank you very much!! I wish you long and lasting success!
    Back to the music:-)
    Rachel

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