What would you give to have a hit song sung by Christian powerhouse vocalist, Lauren Daigle, with over 10 million views on Youtube alone?
There’s an old saying in the music business, “Nobody likes it but the people…” I kind of think that about Cracker Barrel®, but that’s a different blog. No matter what you think about Christian radio, Lauren Daigle, or Cracker Barrel®, there’s still a TON of people who are crazy about them.
Now, I happen to like Lauren a lot.
Not that we’re friends yet, but I do hope to get her on The Song Revolution Podcast someday to ask about her life and her meteoric rise to Christian artistry at such a young age and how it’s impacting her at this point. I bet it’s a lot of pressure, for sure, and if you’ve watched any documentaries about what artists go through to build and sustain a huge career, you probably know what I mean.
But, let’s get real for a sec here… TEN MILLION+ VIEWS on Youtube alone?! Goodness, people… that’s a lot by anyone’s standards except maybe John Mayer… just saw he had like 50 million on a couple of his Youtubes, but still that’s a lot. While most of us hope a few thousand people would hear our songs and love them, maybe, we congratulate you, Miss Daigle, and the wonderful team of people who support you at Centricity Music and whoever is handling your management, touring, and publicity. It takes a village to get results like this, even if you are uber-talented, and we certainly join the many who recognize your talent and very hard work to do what you do. This stuff doesn’t happen by accident.
Okay, so back to us as songwriters… what can we learn from this song written by Daigle, Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram, and Jonas Myrin? I see a few things to point out that may help us find a broader audience for our songs, no matter what our context or goals.
#1 Collaborate. The fact that this hit song has FOUR writers on it is a glaring clue that maybe we could do better working with others on our songwriting instead of going it alone (see the blog post “Should Songwriting Be a Solo Sport” for some more ideas). If you don’t have anyone handy to cowrite with, consider joining NCS MEMBERSHIP to meet great people you can Skype-write with no matter what part of the world you both live in. It works well, actually.
#2 Have a killer one-line hook that sings incredibly well, then expand on it to finish out the chorus. You’ll have to do an internet search to view the full lyrics because I don’t have permission to reprint it here, but I can post it partially, “Your love is, Your love is/Your love is loyal/Your love is, Your love is/Your love is loyal/More faithful than the rising sun/This grace for me I can’t outrun/Your love is, Your love is/Your love is loyal” (© Copyright 2015 Atlas Mountain Songs, CentricSongs, Open Hands Music, So Essential Tunes).
Notice that the one-liner is repeated at the top and bottom of the chorus with just two other lines in the middle. They could do this because they married a compelling melody line with the repetition of the phrase “Your love is” finished out with the word/hook/title “loyal.” Pay attention to this as a way to craft your songs with completely different words, but it’s 100% kosher, Christian, and ethical to learn how people formulate choruses like this and then model yours after theirs. You’re not copying, just modeling and learning from them.
#3 Support the OBI (One Big Idea) in every line from top to bottom. Again, I can’t reprint the lyric here without permission, so go back and study how these fantastic writers supported their OBI in each line, word, and syllable. Nothing is wasted and everything points to that one little word “loyal.” That’s what makes for great songwriting and hit songs. Bill Gaither used to tell me, “There’s not room in a song for more than one idea,” but every day I review songs from aspiring writers that have about a thousand ideas in one verse and about a million in the whole song…. don’t do it.
Study this lyric and others to identify the “OBI” and to observe how the writers took the time to craft each section, line, word, and yes, even each syllable into something that points to the central message, theme, hook/title and you’ll become a much better songwriter for it. Insist on writing free-form, stream of consciousness, and hookless songs and you’ll be forever consigned to the ranks of songwriters who never really get heard.
You can get better, you really can.
But you have to want to get better and start paying attention to the right things. Just wanting to be a great songwriter doesn’t make you one. Your dream requires something of you. Wake up from the daydream about writing and start working harder on your OBI and learn from Ms. Daigle and her co-writers on a song getting 10 million+ hits on Youtube.
And, after you’ve sat there working on your song for a couple of hours, take a break and go out to Cracker Barrel® for a biscuit. They’re actually not bad.