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Producers Should Stop Writing Songs!

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This is a big frustration of mine. I believe that part of the reason why we have all these crappy commercial music is because these producers also try to be songwriters. Maybe it happens that someone is so talented that they can do both very well. But in my experience it's really rare.

I've met many producers who are really good at what they do, but they undermine their own work by also trying to write the songs themselves. That's we got all these songs with decent melodies but terrible lyrics with absolutely no imagination like "let's go party and sip bacardi" or "tonight i'll make you mine, because you're so fine"...

In the short period that I've been trying to start off as a professional songwriter, I've realized that songwriting is not just a skill, but a craft that has so many technicalities, so many sets of rules and boundaries. I think that songwriting should be kept apart from the production proces. Especially when producers create the complete instrumental first and try to force melody and lyrics into it. Same kinda thing with musicians. I know that some guitarist would start off from a riff and try to force melody into it. By doing that, they're just laking it way harder, in my opinion.

What do you guys think?

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Oh, and I hate it when producers don't want to transpose their songs after a Songwriter has written melody and lyrics on top their "finished" instrumental. of course, the song will be too high or too low for the actual singer. And just because they're too lazy to rerecord all the parts, the whole song gets dumped.

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Hmm, I detect you might have had a bad experience with a producer?

It's a complex picture. I would start by pointing out that many many producers are also musicians. As producers they do tend to have a good perspective on what is popular. Why should they not write songs, any less than a guitarist or singer takes up songwriting.

The trouble is not the producers. The problem is taste makers and record label executives... in truth it's everyone's fault from the music makers through to the music buying public.

Poorly written songs is hardly a recent issue, nor is it restricted to songs written by producers. There is a long, long list of popular songs that have poorly written lyrics. The problem is also the needs of popular music are not necessarily the same as the interest of songwriters. The dominance of producers is also far more common within specific genres, for example hip hop.

What is a very common approach these days is collaboration, with songs written by several songwriters often including a producer amongst the writers. Do producers trade on their name? Yes, just like artists and other writers. Do they write some terrible songs? Yes, but not much different from songs written by other songwriters. Does the music industry under-value songwriters. Yes, absolutely. Does the public under-value songwriters? Absolutely. Do they tend to have the ear of music execs? Often yes. Do they know what the public is interested in? Yes. Are they much more interested in what is popular than the majority of songwriters? Yes, that's a big part of their job. Do songwriters tend to neglect writing songs while keeping in mind "Do people want to hear this kind of song?"? Yes, they do.

If you want to change opinions it's far better to be motivated to change by leading the way than by complaining. Few listen to songwriters now and we can scream and shout about it, but the way to get people to notice is by doing what producers and others do.... embrace the rest of the business of music and write excellent songs and critically, learn how to drive songs forward into the music marketplace with the drive to put them in front of a mass of public, and in a way that takes into account what they want to hear. So learn about making music, producing music and marketing and promotion and show them. Don't wait for recognition of craft to dictate a change of heart in the record execs and the music buying public. Take the fight to them.



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Hi John,

Thanks for taking the time to respond so extensively. I must say, I completely agree with what you're saying. I think I formulated my case incorrectly. My complaint was not towards the quality of popular music in general. I think the ones at the top of the charts really deserve to be there. But my problem is with the ones that pop up around 30-40 for couple of weeks and dissapear. The ones that sound like a chart hit, but aren't. Most of these songs have good production but because of lack of creativity on the lyrics department, they don't get to fulfill their potential.

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  • 1 month later...

I have worked with very good producers out there and they have helped me in various ways. Before working with any producer make sure that you know the producer very well. You can also ask the producer to show some of the work that the producer has done so that you have confidence that the producer is good and reliable. Today most producers are just after peoples money do not rush into working with a producer that is not reliable, hardworking and honest. That is what i can tell you

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think there are good and bad producer's much the same as good and bad songwriter's. If the only thing that people want is a sure fire hit they get a formulated team with that kind of experience to write and produce the song.

This isn't a new thing motown and others before that used to do the same thing and before bands like the Beatles it was common place. Unfortunately songwriter's don't write songs for songwriter's and the general public on the whole don't care about how the song arrived they just want to sing it for a bit and move on.

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