This guest post is from my friend and hit-songwriter, Fred Koller. Enjoy!


Fred Koller1. At a very early age you should start listening to the radio every waking minute. If the radio station offers charts of the latest hits, these charts should be studied like you’re a biblical scholar searching for minute details. Calling request lines to hear favorite songs again and again is also highly encouraged.

2. Spend every waking moment not spent listening to the radio in record stores or any dubious place where recordings can be bought, sold or traded. Purchase large quantities of recordings by artists one identifies with either musically or lyrically. Buying music based on hair styles or fashion trends is to be discouraged.

3. Spend hours listening for the hidden message in the above records. Keep listening. It’s there.

4. Memorize the names of the producers and songwriters involved in the creation of the songs mentioned above. Spend much of your formative years in the company of others who have no lives beside their record collections. Learn to amaze them with minute musical trivia.

5. Buy a musical instrument and learn to play it well enough to get members of the human race to want to sleep with you.

6. Write your own deeply moving songs with the sole purpose of further continuing to attract or sustain a lust-filled lifestyle.

7. Write a song a day for fifteen or twenty years always trying to improve just a little with each effort.

8. Finally write an honest song about teenage lust and the hereditary inability of the males of the species to understand why an intelligent, beautiful woman would want to get naked with them.

9. Make a demonstration recording of the song using the most talented people you know. (Hopefully this person is your co-writer). Send copies to anyone who owns a guitar or knows someone who owns a guitar. Wait…Try to not think about all the things you could have purchased instead of your own demo. Wait some more. After encountering mind-numbing apathy from all US recording artists, seek talented foreign neighbors to the immediate north. Do not translate song into French just because they speak it there.

10. Click you heels twice and never lose faith that blind Canadian blues singers can be pop stars.

Fred Koller wrote his best song today and will hopefully write a better song tomorrow.

Visit him at Rhino Booksellers, a literate dispensary in Nashville, TN

Learn how to navigate your songwriting career.

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4 responses to “How To Write A Hit Song in 30 Years or Less”

  1. This was humorous and truthful. They indeed can go hand in hand. Love Mr Koller’s and Hiatt’s “Angel Eyes”(may cover it sometime). I think I may have or am capable of writing a song(and songs)that good.

  2. I am laughing out loud. Fred is a great writer. After 39 years songwriting, I have managed to have hits by the Dixie Chicks, Highway 101 and a cut by Reba on her Unlimited album. I have had cuts by many others such as Dixiana, Damon Gray, Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Bush, Darin and Brooke Aldridge (bluegrass), Mary Duff (Ireland), Lonnie Spiker, Dallas Rodgers (new artist out of Georgia), etc. I have a book out HEARTACHES, HITS & OTHER STORIES A Nashville Songwriter’s Odyssey (100 sold in a month)on my website (it is NOT on Amazon) which I hope you will check out as well as the blog on my site.

  3. Rick Erhart says:

    I’ve done #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 10.

    I’ll hold off on 4, 7 and 9 in case I need an excuse for not succeeding.

    A fella up here did a song a day for a month and radio picked up on it. Problem was the songs got progressively worse and so bad that by day 15 that it was unbearable. I guess the secret is to write them, just don’t release them all at once right away.

  4. Julius "JUICE" Davis, Jr. says:

    Another ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING article, Cliff. Thanks Fred, for your wit, humor, common sense and “get-r-done” advice to all of us who are climbing that songwriting ladder.

    Both of you are GREATLY APPRECIATED!!


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