When you submit a song to ZMusic Publishing, there are a few things we'd like you to know. We are not evaluating your song based on personal taste, but instead on professional standards and genuine viability in the marketplace. Your song may be a favorite among your close friends and family, but how does it stack up next to someone who doesn't know you, in a sea of musical choices in today's portal?
Remember that “Songs Are not Written but are Re-Written”, even by the Best in the Business, and we encourage you to embrace this process. A must-have book is Jason Blume’s 6 Steps to Songwriting Success.
Here are some guidelines you can use in an effort to objectively polish your song before you submit it to us. These are a few of the things we'll be looking for.
With increasingly short attention spans in our culture, it's critical to capture a listener right away! You only have a few seconds to peak their curiosity to hear more, so make sure you open strong! Then, get to the point within a reasonable amount of time. Don't subject the listener to wondering where you're headed or you'll likely lose them. Try to avoid using overly predictable lines. Sleep on it, ponder the lines over & over, and do your best to come up with a fresh and conversational way of saying something that has been said many times before. Lastly, try and create images in the listeners minds; take them there.
Serve the song and use discipline. This is not a time to show the world how many chords you know, but rather it's an opportunity to relate to someone, spark an emotion, or open someone's mind/heart. Think carefully about things like tempo and mood. Make sure your telling the same story with your melody that you are with your lyrics. Avoid chord changes, just for the sake of chord changes. In other words, make sure the changes make sense to the listener and that they are necessary and relevant to the song. Be sure to have melodic separation between the verses, chorus, and bridge. Otherwise, a song can easily become monotonous and nobody wants that.
Most commercially viable songs are around 3 minutes, give or take. There is a structure that most of them fit. Offer around 4bars for an intro, which sets the stage; a verse or two to build towards the "hook"; a strong chorus that drives home the hook, makes an impact or is memorable; another verse to support the chorus and take the listener a little further in the story or picture; a bridge to segue or bring the song to a climax; another strong (not necessarily loud, but compelling) chorus; then an outro. Be sure your song adheres to, or is a working variation of, one of the established industry song structures. It's important to know the rules before you break them. These are the structure that listeners have come to expect. So, if you choose to go outside of these parameters, just make sure there is a good reason "why" and that it makes sense for the song.