Here is a list of resources that aspiring songwriters should find useful.
These resources are loosely grouped into four main categories:
- Getting Started - sites and tools to help you with song structure, melody, harmony, and lyric writing.
- Communities - sites where song writers share music and get feedback.
- Publishing - "going public" with your music.
- Legalities - some of the business and legal aspects
for those who want to work in music professionally.
The first thing you have to do, of course, is write the songs. Whether your inspiration comes from life, love, or a beautiful instrument, here are some websites with some great info to get you started.
Songwriting 101 - Espie Estrella has written a "101" series of articles, dealing with some foundational aspects of songwriting. The link goes to the page where the topics are listed - click on the title of each topic to read the full article.
Songwriting notes - Charles Wolff has an excellent overview of the songwriting process. Basic considerations, along with the "details that make the difference" are included in this comprehensive treatise.
The Songwriting Education Resource - "designed to provide you with educational articles on the craft of songwriting, as well as inform you of upcoming songwriting courses and seminars. "
Guide to writing lyrics - Some pointers for writing lyrics that "hang" together, with analysis of some well-known songs as examples.
Music and Theory
Instrument Ranges - Definitely practical rather than theoretical. Larry Solomon has a helpful chart of amateur and professional ranges for vocals and most orchestral instruments. Very helpful in creating playable songs and works.
Arranging Instrumentation - This website offers hints and helps for arranging your music using different instruments.
MoneyChords - Online lessons in chord progressions. Examples from standard styles, as well as demonstrations of using chord progressions to give a particular "feel" to a song.
Jazz Improvisational primer - Although this is formally Marc Sabatella's on-line tutorial in the art of jazz improvisation, it is very informative in the modes and structure of jazz. Very helpful for jazz composition, as well as understanding how modes make sense musically. See his Jazz Improvisation Almanac as well.
Teoria - A music theory site with many examples and exercises to help you understand how music "works".
Notation Composer - Composition software designed to be a composition partner, not a scorewriting application. Record your music using your MIDI instrument and get a great looking score for it. Import your lyrics from your text editing application to quickly complete your composition. Free fully functional trial version.
Clever Joe's - This Canadian website has many music resources for aspiring musicians, including news articles, teacher and gear links.
MasterWriter - A powerful "word smith" style lyric composition tool to help with your songwriting. "The ultimate collection of writing tools for the professional song writer."
There are numerous online communities with music-related themes. These are some of the best we've found.
Share your music - Notation Software Users Forum area where users share their songs and compositions, as well as tips and pointers for composing songs. Very friendly.
Christian Songwriting Organization - An email list, message board, and chat group for Christian songwriters.
The Muse's Muse - Quite simply (and fully) " A resource for and about songwriters."
Songwriter's Resource Network - A news and education resource for songwriters, song lyricists and music composers.
Just Plain Folks - A large community of amateurs and professionals in the music industry who share the motto "We're all in this together." Links for newsletters, groups, local chapters, etc.
Central Oregon Songwriters Association - "COSA is a nonprofit organization founded to promote, educate and motivate members to write, market and improve their skills as songwriters."
Fort Worth Songwriters Association Incorporated - "A non-profit organization, formed exclusively for charitable, literary and educational purposes as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The purposes of the Association include providing, educating, and promoting public awareness and interest in songwriting and the creation of music as an art form."
International Songwriters Association - News and contests for songwriters.
The Internet makes it possible for you to publish your music freely or commercially much more easily than in the past. The following are some sites that allow you to get your music out to the listening public.
Audio hosting/download and networking sites
Download.com - CNet's free MP3 hosting and download site. Also allows pay-per song and CD sales.
SoundClick - Free MP3 and music video hosting and download site. "SoundClick is a music website that features both signed and unsigned bands. You will find well-known artists such as Janet Jackson, Sarah McLachlan, Moby, Gravediggaz, PM Dawn, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Letters To Cleo. But the driving force are hundreds of thousands of great unsigned bands looking for their big break. "
AudioStreet.net - "AudioStreet.Net offers a complete solution for bands & artists looking to make a strong internet presence. Our services include mp3 hosting (streaming and downloading), full artist pages with your albums, songs and lyrics, news, biography, press and reviews, event listings, photo gallery, a fan subscription service, and much more. We also have many new services in development including artist message boards, a pay-per-download service for selling you mp3's, and a full merchandise storefront for selling your merchandise."
MP3.com.au - "Free music, MP3s, Downloads, Band info, and Reviews".
ezFolk.com - "One of the Internet’s largest folk music communities!" Free music hosting and downloads, artist profiles, forums for connecting, and "tabs and tutorials".
MySpace - Social networking site that allows for music downloads and music and CD sales.
Informational sites and Organizations
Song presentation tips - A short list of tips if you're sending out demos to music publishers or performance agents.
TAXI - "TAXI is the World's Leading Independent A&R Company helping bands, artists, composers, and songwriters get record deals, publishing deals and placements in film and TV."
Get Signed! - Tips and articles on getting signed for recording contracts, etc.
ASCAP - "ASCAP is a membership association of more than 300,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. Through agreements with affiliated international societies, ASCAP also represents hundreds of thousands of music creators worldwide. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership. "
CCLI - Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) provides churches with simple, affordable solutions to complex copyright issues surrounding congregational worship services.
Find the information you need to protect your music with the resources listed here.
Everything you want to know about music publishing, but were afraid to ask - An extensive collection of articles on the legal aspects of music publishing by Lynne Robin Green.
Music Law - Legal information on music copyright, publishing, business aspects, practical aspects, and music contracts.
U.S. Copyright Office - Links for information on copyright basics, registration of works, licensing, and more.
Song Rights - "SongRights.com is a site dedicated to exploring and discussing legal issues facing songwriters. You'll find the site is constructed in plain language and with a sense of humor. Robert Carter, creator of SongRights, represents musicians, performers, and songwriters of every genre, as well as independent record labels, publishing companies, managers, studios, and others in the music industry."