As songwriters, we are always looking to find ways to make our songwriting process more efficient and creative rather than laborious and frustrating.
One of the ways I’ve personally found that creates a more flowing songwriting process is by starting of my songwriting with the song title first.
You see, a strong song title can act as a beacon, guiding your creative process and providing a focal point around which all other elements of your song revolve.
Like a book’s title, a song title sets the tone, sparks curiosity, and most importantly, it captures the essence of your song.
So, why should you write your song with the title first?
Here are 15 reasons why…
- It Provides Focus
Starting a song with the title first gives your songwriting a focal point. It’s like a thesis statement for a paper or a north star for a voyage – it guides you and keeps your creativity aligned.
When you start writing a song without a clear focus, it can often lead to a song that feels scattered or disjointed. With a title in mind, you have a clear direction and it helps to avoid meandering or irrelevant lyrics.
Think of the title as your anchor, keeping you grounded in your theme. It enables you to explore the subject matter thoroughly, ensuring each verse, bridge, and chorus feeds back into the core theme of the song.
This results in a song that feels cohesive and well thought out, improving its impact on listeners.
- It Creates Expectations
A song title is the first impression listeners get of your song. It sets up an expectation of what’s to come and can intrigue the listener before they’ve even heard a single note.
This can be especially useful in grabbing attention in an increasingly crowded music landscape.
Moreover, by setting up expectations, you can choose to either fulfil them or subvert them with your lyrics and melody. This can add a layer of complexity to your song and engage your audience on a deeper level.
In a sense, it helps you control your listener’s first interaction with your music.
- It Helps With Song Marketing
In the commercial world of music, a catchy, intriguing, or emotive title can greatly enhance the marketability of your song.
An effective song title can make people want to click on your song when they see it in a playlist, or it can make them remember it after hearing it on the radio.
Plus, a good song title can help with branding and consistency across your body of work. It can be a reflection of your unique style and artistic persona.
If your song titles consistently resonate with your target audience, it may help in building a dedicated fan base.
- It Assists With Song Structure
Once you have a title, you have a clear destination for your song. This can greatly assist in forming the structure of your song.
You know what the climactic point is (the title) and you can build the rest of the song to highlight and support it.
For instance, knowing that your title will be the chorus or the last line of your song allows you to structure the verses and bridges to build up to it.
This can help create a more satisfying listening experience as each part of the song flows into the next in a meaningful way.
- It Enhances Your Creativity
Some might think that starting with a title might restrict their creative process. But limitations can actually enhance creativity by providing a challenge to work within.
Having a title to start with can spark ideas for the melody and lyrics, pushing you to explore different ways to express the theme of the title.
Furthermore, having a title can prevent writer’s block. If you’re ever stuck on what to write next, you can always go back to the title for inspiration.
It can help you ask questions about your theme – Who is involved? What happens? Why does it happen? – which can then prompt more ideas for your lyrics.
- It Creates Consistency
Starting with a song title can lead to a greater thematic consistency within the song. Every line of lyric, every note of melody can be tailored to support and enhance the title.
This results in a song where everything feels interconnected, leading to a stronger overall impact.
Consistency doesn’t mean lack of variety, it can also prompt you to explore different aspects of the same theme, leading to a richer and more nuanced song.
It also helps the listener to stay engaged, as everything in the song feeds back into a central idea that they’re already aware of.
- It Facilitates Emotional Connection
An evocative title can immediately establish an emotional connection with the listener. This connection can be deepened as the song unfolds, with each element of the song reinforcing the emotions suggested by the title.
This can of course lead to a more powerful and memorable listening experience.
By starting with a title, you can ensure that your song’s emotions are focused and potent. Whether your song is meant to be happy, sad, angry, or any other emotion, having a title that encapsulates that emotion can guide your writing to fully express it.
- It Boosts Memorability
In an age where countless songs are released every day, having a memorable title can help your song stand out.
A catchy, intriguing, or emotionally resonant title is more likely to stick in a listener’s mind long after the song has ended.
Starting with a title first allows you to make the rest of the song just as memorable. You can craft your lyrics and melody to echo and reinforce the title, making the whole song a memorable experience.
This can increase the chances of listeners returning to your song and even recommending it to others.
- It Can Inspire Visual Elements Of The Song
A good song title can inspire the visual elements of your music – like album art, music videos, or stage designs. This can create a strong brand image and a cohesive aesthetic for your music.
By starting with the title, you can brainstorm visual ideas right from the beginning of the songwriting process.
This can ensure that your visuals strongly complement your music and that your song has a consistent feel across all mediums.
- It Can Lead to Multiple Songs
Sometimes, a title can inspire not just one, but multiple songs. You might find that the title suggests different angles or stories that can’t all fit into one song.
In such cases, you can write multiple songs with the same title but different lyrics and melodies.
This can be a unique and interesting project that challenges your songwriting skills.
It can also lead to a series of songs that can be released together, creating a narrative or thematic arc that can engage your audience on a deeper level.
- It Aids With Song Collaboration
When co-writing or working with a band, having a title to start with can be immensely helpful. It ensures that everyone is on the same page and has a clear idea of what the song is about.
It also provides a point of reference that collaborators can return to whenever the songwriting process becomes chaotic or confusing. This can make the collaboration smoother and more efficient, leading to a better song.
- It Enhances Song Narrative
A title can provide a clear indication of the narrative or the story of the song. This can guide the songwriting to develop a clear and compelling narrative that engages the listener.
Furthermore, it can help in structuring the song to enhance the narrative. The verses can set up the story, the chorus can deliver the main message, and the bridge can provide a twist or a resolution.
This results in a song that not only sounds good but also tells a captivating story.
- It Helps In Setting The Mood And Atmosphere Of The Song
A title can suggest a certain mood or atmosphere, which can guide the choice of chords, melody, rhythm, and instrumentation. This can result in a song where all elements work together to create a specific mood or atmosphere, enhancing the listener’s emotional experience.
This can be especially beneficial for concept albums or soundtrack work, where each song needs to contribute to a larger mood or atmosphere.
- It Facilitates Audience Engagement
A compelling title can engage the audience even before they listen to the song. It can spark curiosity, resonate with their experiences, or evoke an emotional response.
Starting with a title also ensures that the song delivers on the promise of the title, further enhancing audience engagement.
Whether the song makes them dance, cry, or think, the audience is more likely to stay engaged if the song fulfils the expectations set by the title.
- It Aids In Song Sequencing
If you’re working on an album or an EP, having the titles of your songs can help in sequencing them. You can arrange the songs in a way that creates a satisfying narrative or emotional arc.
Moreover, knowing the titles can also inspire interludes or transitions that link the songs together, creating a cohesive listening experience.
This can make your album or EP more than just a collection of songs, but a unified piece of art.
In conclusion, writing a song with the title in mind holds an array of advantages.
From providing a clear focus for your songwriting to enhancing the marketability of your song, a strong title can be the compass that guides your creative process. It can challenge you to delve deeper into your theme, stimulate your creativity, and even inspire the visual aspects of your music.
But of course, this is only one way to approach the writing of a song and it’s a way that I have personally found to work for me.
As a songwriter, your ultimate goal is to express your feelings, tell a story, or convey a message through your music.
Whether you start with a title, a melody, a chord progression, or a single lyric line, what truly matters is the song you end up with.
So, my suggestion is to try starting your next song with the title first and just see what happens. It might just lead you to create something truly memorable.