Tips for songwriting – how to get inspiration for a song (video)

Image Credit: Spotify

New musicians and producers! Get inspiration for songwriting from these ideas from singers Charli XCX and Tove Lo via Spotify for Artists.

Anyone can be a songwriter, whether you’re messing around with chords on a cheap acoustic guitar or clicking melodies into the piano roll of your free DAW. That was the message from singer-songwriters Charli XCX and Tove Lo when they spoke about songwriting inspiration for Spotify for Artists’ Song Start series. We’ve gathered a few ideas here to kickstart your own music-making journey.

Charli XCX started off making lo-fi songs in her childhood home. She said songwriting is all about confidence: “When you say songwriter, it immediately feels like this thing that’s quite unattainable… There isn’t a rulebook, it’s just about trying, and about jumping in and not being afraid.”

With that in mind, check out four key takeaways for songwriting inspiration from Spotify for Artists.


Don’t overthink songwriting

Charli XCX said not everything musical you write has to be complex or intricate. You don’t have to have full ideas for verses, choruses, or how you want the production to sound. Starting small is the best bet.

Tove Lo said it’s easy to become overwhelmed by thinking there’s complicated techniques you need to learn, but ultimately it’s best to dare to start in the first place. If you love to write music, just write music!


Write what you want to write

Even if you think it’s not particularly profound or even matches your emotions, don’t be afraid to write exactly what you feel like writing about at that moment. That’s far better than writing what you think other people would like you to write.

Sure, you can chase trends if you want – but you might not find it creatively fulfilling…


Every idea is important

Whatever melodic or lyrical ideas you have, get them down in some form so you remember them. That tiny riff might end up forming the backbone of your track.

Consider jotting some ideas down with a nice old-fashioned pen and paper. Tove Lo starts every session writing out ideas on a page. When you’re out in the world, record voice notes and make use of your notes app so you have a record of that spark.

If you’re writing with your band or partnering with a producer, don’t be afraid to voice the smallest of ideas. The reaction will kick-start other ideas, for you and for them.


But how do I get started?

Every songwriter is different. Some simply start writing ideas, and hopefully land on the direction they want to go in. Others plan a way through, with a destination in mind first. Charli XCX sometimes creates songs based around the eventual visual idea she envisions for the track – so a theme for an album or video.

Try taking ten minutes to write down anything that pops into your head. “I Love It” by Icona Pop featured and was co-written by Charli XCX, who used that “stream-of-consciousness” writing process, with no particular emotion behind it.


Did those words of wisdom made your mind begin to whir with ideas? Here you can find out how to get started as a music producer, with help from Phoebe Bridgers, or learn how to structure your songs here. You can also check out more Song Start videos on the Spotify for Artists YouTube channel.


When your idea has taken flight and you’ve turned it into an incredible full song, you’ll probably start daydreaming about releasing it into the world. RouteNote can make that a reality – and it won’t cost you a penny.

Our digital distribution helps unsigned artists put their music on Spotify and all the major streaming services – for free. Find out more here.

I write about music for RouteNote, sharing fun stuff, news, and tips and tricks for musicians and producers. Also a saxophonist and hater of marmalade.

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