It’s not about you. It’s about the listener. What’s in it for the listener?
As we began discussing a few weeks ago (READ IT HERE), successful songwriters know it’s not about us- it’s about the listener. When it comes to your song, what’s in it for the listener? What’s going to make them stick around till the end and hit “repeat?”
If your song doesn’t have something in it for the listener, there’s no money in it for you.
Yep. I just said that last week and the week before, and I’m still saying it.
So, for the next few weeks, I’m going to be pointing out some things you can build into your song that can connect with your listeners. So far, we’ve discussed “It’s What I Want To Hear” and “It’s What I Want To Say.” This week, let’s talk about…
“That’s Who I Am (or want to be)!”
“She wears short skirts, I wear sneakers. She’s cheer captain and I’m in the bleachers.” How many young girls hear themselves in those lines? Not only does Taylor Swift say in that song what so many girls want to say, she IS who so many girls ARE.
When the listener sees him or herself in your song, it’s powerful. Let’s be honest- most folks’ favorite topic is themselves.
But you can also connect with a listener by being who they WANT to be. Jimmy Buffett is a great example of this. So much of his music is escapism. Most Parrotheads aren’t beach bums, but we sure want to be! I want to crank it up in my earbuds while sitting by the neighborhood swimming pool and pretend I’m really on the beach, where I’ll be again tomorrow… and the next day… and the next day…
How many country boys are big-time ladies men like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line present themselves? Not many. But a lot of them sure want to feel that cool. He wants to feel like the girl’s right in the palm of his hands, dancing for him in the truck headlights by the river, right before she slips out of that sun dress and invites him into the water for a skinny dip.
Really, if that happened as much in real life as it happens in country songs, the out-of-wedlock birth rate would be a whole lot higher. It’s who a lot of the young male listeners want to be. It’s male fantasy. But, hey… it sells.
If you want to immediately connect with a listener, sing their life (or the life they want) back to them.
One way to make your song more “cut/able” is to have your lyric say sing the listener’s life back to him.
So here’s your homework. Turn on the radio or your favorite playlist. Find a song or two that answers the question, “What’s in it for the listener?” with “That’s who I am (or want to be)!” (Either you yourself as the listener or who a listener of the other gender would want to be.) Please leave a comment and let me know what you discovered!
If you want your songs to be more “cut/able” – able to be cut – then you should definitely check out my new, expanded and upgraded version of “Cut/able: Lessons In Market Smart Songwriting.” It’s five powerful lessons will help you write songs that artists want to sing, radio wants to play, and listeners want to hear! CLICK HERE TO WRITE CUT/ABLE SONGS.
God Bless and Enjoy the Journey,
Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ruthie Collins, Ray Stevens, and more. He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.