The start of a new year is the perfect time to relax, reflect, and set some new intentions for the next lap of the sun.
If you want to up the ante with your songwriting in 2023, read on! This article lays out some key ways to become an in-demand songwriter, whether in studio sessions, online or as a performer yourself.
Growing your profile as a songwriter is a careful blend of dedication, passion, self-promotion and practice. In this article we unpack the key ways to grow your profile, get that collab, and work your way into the world of songwriting.
1. Claim your Jaxsta profile
The world of songwriting credits has traditionally been murky waters - until now! Enter Jaxsta, the world’s biggest database of official music credits. If you have released music, you will automatically have a profile on Jaxsta. When you claim ownership of your songwriting profile, you can add your bio, links, contact details and image - essentially creating a one-stop resume to promote yourself and your work. It’s great publicity for potential collaborators wanting to work with people just like you. It’s also a great way for you to find potential collaborators.
Speaking about Jaxsta, platinum songwriter and producer Mitch Allan says 'there’s no easier way for me to find out who I should be in a room with’. All of Jaxsta’s data is deep-linked, which means any release listed on Jaxsta will have hyperlinked credits that allow viewers to explore a writer or producer's entire catalogue. In this way it makes sense to claim your profile and make sure all your credits are correctly attributed. Plus, we have good news! Quote the coupon code JAXSTA-APRAAMCOS when you reach the final stage of the 'Creator' account sign-up to receive a 20% discount on the yearly membership. That's less than one dollar a week!
2. Get your socials up-to-date
Social media can be a powerful tool for up-and-coming songwriters. First thing is to decide on what kind of presence you want to have on social media as a songwriter. Are you a singer-songwriter, or do you prefer to work in others’ studio sessions? Are you using social media to seek out collaborators, or to promote your own solo work? Your social media presence should make it easy for people to find you, to know your style, what kind of songs you write, and have access to your work.
Whatever your goals are on social media, make sure that visitors to your account can quickly get a clear sense of what you’re about. Here are some recent articles we've written about tips for social media success and digital housekeeping.
3. Expand your network
While we’re on the topic of social media, it’s time to expand your network online and reach out to people. Supporting and engaging with other songwriters’ work online is a great way to get your name out. Comment on fellow emerging songwriters’ posts, write them reviews on Triple J Unearthed, share their work. Genuine kindness is powerful, and will likely pique their curiosity about you. Promoting others’ work is a powerful way to support your peers and sends a strong message about your commitment to the craft.
DM people! It’s validating to receive genuine offers for collaboration, especially if you’ve spent the time to check out their work. Try to reach out to artists or songwriters who are at a similar stage on their journey as you. We know it’s daunting to reach out to strangers online, but you have nothing to lose, and so much to gain! Similarly, if people reach out to you with a genuine interest in collaborating, make sure to respond, even if it’s a polite decline. General politeness, professionalism, and a bit of research about the person you're messaging go a long way.
Attending industry events in person is another great way to build your local songwriting community. APRA AMCOS' The Regional Sessions are a series of one-day events offering keynote speakers, workshops, panel discussions, live performances and networking opportunities for beginner, emerging and mid-career songwriters, producers and composers. The next Regional Sessions are happening in WA - click here for more info and to register!
4. Put your work out there
Putting snippets of your work online and gauging response can be a great indicator of how your full song might perform. If you get a great response from your audience online, chances are there’ll be a much broader community who would love to hear the entire work.
TikTok’s ‘duet’ function is also a fun way to open up your track to others’ input and have others explore the song’s theme. This can also lead to new collaborations! It’s never been easier to get real-time engagement on your track.
5. Ask for feedback
It’s important to get feedback on your work so that you can continue to grow and develop as a songwriter. But be careful - you’ll want to turn to people whose judgement you trust, and who have your best interests at heart. We find it helpful to have a selection of trusted people to go to for feedback. This includes a variety of people: from other musicians and producers who can provide technical feedback, to general music fans who can comment on a song's general energy or mood. Having a mix of people you trust is important, so you can ask specific people for specific feedback, at different stages of your creation journey.
6. Mix it up
If you feel like you have writer’s block, or that your writing feels stale, it’s time to experiment with some new ways of writing. Try writing a song in a new genre, or on an instrument that’s new to you. Do you write from a first person perspective? Try embodying a character instead. Do you write by yourself? Why not try a co-writing session. Do you normally write lyrics first, then music? Try it the other way around. Moving out of your comfort zone can help jump start your creativity.
Attending workshops is another way to mix up your writing process and challenge yourself. Keep an eye out for our 321 Sessions, so you can start to collaborate. The I Heart Songwriting Club is another supportive songwriting club, run entirely online for all songwriters, anywhere in the world. APRA AMCOS members also receive a special discount - join the I Heart Songwriting Club now and receive 30% off your first 10-week term (* applies to your first 10-week term of The Club, discount automatically applied when you click the link above). Finally, Coursera runs a free course on Songwriting, and we've heard good things about the School of Song’s writing course.
7. Enter song comps
When you’re feeling satisfied with your track, a great way to get industry ears on your track is by entering it into a song comp. Below is a list of some worthwhile ones, with key dates, entry fees and details:
Vanda & Young Global Songwriting Competition
Over A$71k to be won in the world’s most generous songwriting competition. A$50,000 first place cash prize
Entry fee: A$50
Deadline: 31 January 2023
American Songwriter Song and Lyric Contests
Entry fee: $25 US / song (get a 25% entry fee discount with code APRALOVE)
Deadline: Jan 30, 2023
For all unsigned indie artists. There are 18 music categories, with over $150,000 US in prize money
Entry fee: $30 US
Deadline: 25 January 2023
International Songwriting Competition (ISC)
ISC Is the largest songwriting comp in the world, with 23 music categories and over $150,000US in cash and prizes. Past winners include Vance Joy, Gotye, Kehlani, Passenger, Kimbra and more
Entry fee: $35 US
Deadline: early 2023
John Lennon Songwriting Contest
12 categories, with entries judged on originality, melody, composition and lyrics (if applicable). There are 36 finalists (3 per category), with one Grand Prize winner per category
Entry fee: $30 US / song
Deadline: 31 December 2022 - 11:59PM PST, 6:59pm 1 January AEDT
Australian Children’s Songwriting Foundation
Open to the younguns! (ages 5-17) Cash prizes to be won to help them further their musical endeavours, individuals or bands can submit
Entry fee: Free!
Deadline: September 2023
8. Just keep at it
Songwriting is a skill to be practised and refined. Where possible, try building songwriting into your weekly routine and carve out regular space and time for it. You will probably write some questionable lyrics along the way - that is just part of the process. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Keep showing up and trusting your gut.
9. Resources for inspiration
Some of our favourite resources to find inspiration:
The Creative Independent
Inspired to Write
Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ cards
Courtney Barnett speaking about 'The Catharsis of Songwriting' - Splendour in the Grass Forum 2019
Maria Popova’s ‘The Marginalian’ (FKA Brainpickings)
Nick Cave’s ‘The Red Hand Files’