There are times our songs come to us easily. They feel good as we’re writing them, people respond when we perform them and the demos practically jump out of the speakers. There are other times, however, when things just don’t seem to quite come together. To help you troubleshoot, I’ve put together a checklist to help you determine whether your song needs a re-write, a new demo or possibly both.

Re-Write Checklist

  • Is your song’s idea/hook strong?
  • Does your opening line make your listeners want to know more?
  • Is your song’s message relatable? 
  • Is your song’s meaning clear and entertaining without being too cliché?
  • Are you using enough visual details in your verses (i.e. showing ‘em and not telling ‘em)?
  • Are your lyrics conversational and natural sounding?
  • Are you emphasizing the proper syllables?
  • Is your rhyme scheme the same in similar sections
  • Is each part of your melody – not just the chorus – memorable?
  • Does your vocal melody have enough – but not too much – range?
  • Does your chorus melody differentiate itself enough from your verse melody so your listeners know they’re reached the most important part of your song?
  • Is your song fun to sing?

New Demo Checklist

  • Is your intro short enough so you can get to the verse quickly?
  • Is the recording quality good (e.g. no background noise)?
  • Do the musician(s) play in time, in tune and with proper dynamics?
  • Does the singer sell the song (i.e. do you believe them)?
  • Is every single word of the song clear and understandable?
  • Does the singer have the appropriate voice for your song’s genre?
  • Is the genre of your demo in the appropriate for your pitch opportunities?
  • Do the instruments/production sound dated? (i.e. synth or guitar sounds from an earlier decade)?
  • Does your demo have a memorable musical signature lick?
  • Does your demo convey the strength of your lyric and melody?
  • Is the mix clear with an emphasis on the vocals?
  • Did you remember to get instrumental mixes for film/TV pitches?

Helpful Hint

Make a rough recording and ask your go-to listeners to tell you what they think the strongest and weakest parts of your song are (e.g. lyrics, melody, concept, recording quality) BEFORE you pay for a new demo or play it for any industry decision-makers…and don’t be afraid to re-write, re-do and otherwise improve upon your work. You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression with your song so if it isn’t tightly written and the final demo isn’t professional quality, you could be doing more harm than good by moving ahead too soon.

Good Luck!

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2 responses to “A Songwriter’s Troubleshooting Guide to Fixing Broken Songs”

  1. Karl Crosby says:

    Keep up the good information on music.
    I learn so much from you that I didn’t know in the music

  2. Dave Bove says:

    Always great advice Mr. Goldmacher.

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