Jim Byrne with Album Oh My Beautiful You

How to write hit songs

Here’s something that will surprise you. If you aim is to write hits songs; ironically, those might be the easiest songs you could ever write. I have an expanded article about this on my¬†Songwriting Magic Course – but here is a quick summary.

A critical part of my argument is the idea that you need to ‘live in the world of the charts’ – or more specifically – live in the world of the specific chart you want to have a hit on. At this point in history – if you don’t have the right bpm, the right tone, the right beat, the right rhythm, the right strong structure, the right vocal phrasing style – it’s going to be difficult for you to get hits.

The critical questions you need to ask yourself are,

  • What do people like right now?
  • What songs are artists looking for right now?
  • What types of songs are at the top of the charts right now?

Are you writing songs that sound like the current hits? No? Yes?

Do you want an indie rock hit? A country hit? Electronic? Pop? Singer-songwriter? Be the person who knows what’s number 1 (and the rest) in each of these genre’s Be the person who knows what artists are coming up, what artists are fading away. You need to know what is happening in your genre.

If you are young and the genre you want to write for is the genre you love (exclusively?), keeping up to date will be easy. If fact it’s guaranteed you will already know everything you need to know. If you are older you wil likely have to make a conscious decision to specialise in a particular genre – simply because as we get older we tend to become less tribal about our musical tastes.

What about your musical identity?

My advice would be; don’t worry. The Beatles and the Stones were trying to copy American Rock ‘n’ Roll and Blues – but they sounded nothing like the artists they tried to copy.

Want hits? Even if your genre is inspired by music from decades ago – be today, don’t be yesterday.

I’m assuming, of course, you want to have hit songs. If having hits isn’t important, write what you like, sound exactly the way you want to sound.

Join over 2500 students on my bestseller Songwriting Magic Course and learn to write your best songs.

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