International Songwriters Association (ISA) Songs And Songwriting • Writing Song Titles
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ISA • Thinking Up Song Titles

This is one of a series of short and very simplified articles, designed to improve your understanding of the songwriting business. If you know little or nothing about the industry, might we suggest that you first click on the Songwriting The Basics button at the top of this page, and continue on from there?

And remember, if having read this or any other article, you have a query, simply email us HERE and we will be more than happy to respond.

ISA • Thinking Up Song Titles

Sometimes writing song titles can seem more difficult than it needs to be. Here are a few quick tips from Anthony Ceseri, to get you in the right direction next time you sit down to come up with a title.

1. Your Title Should Make Your Song Findable
Typically song titles are intended to serve as a summation of what the song's about. But more than being just a recap of the song's essence, they're meant to help up find the songs we want to hear again. It's common for us to hear a song we like, then go to a search engine and search for the phrase in the chorus we perceive to be the title. We usually assume the title is the phrase that repeats the most, or is in the most highlighted position in the song. Use this concept to your advantage when you write, to make it easy for people to find your songs again.

2. Write The Title First
Writing the title before you write any other words for a song can be a great approach to try when writing lyrics. Think of the title of your song as a bumper sticker. In other words, it conveys the "big idea" for what your song's all about. That's why the title often occurs in the chorus. Aside from typically being the most memorable part of your song, your chorus will generally be a summation of what's happening in your verses. It's an "overall idea" so it can relate back to the progressing story line of your verses and bridge. Your title has that same role. So if you write the title of your song first, you'll have the "big idea" in mind when getting into the specific details of the rest of your song.

3. Ask A Friend
The next time you finish a song, play it for a friend without telling him the name of your song. See if your friend can tell you what the song is called, just by listening to the lyrics. If he's right, you probably have a strong title. If he doesn't know, you probably don't. Your titles should help your potential fans find your songs easily, after hearing them once. This is a good test to find out if your songs will be easy to find.

4. Let Your Title Create Intrigue
Titles are important too because they (can) create intrigue. If someone's looking at a list of your titles, and that's all they have to go on, a well written title can make them want to hear your song. For example, the title "I Never Knew That" is more likely to get played than "I Found out You Were Cheating on Me" because there's a curiosity arousing element to the first one. You'll ask yourself "He never knew WHAT?... " and then find yourself needed to hear the song.

5. Listen To Conversations
Next time you're in a conversation with someone, listen carefully to what they're saying. Don't just listen, but listen for titles. You'd be amazed by how many song ideas you can get from that. And once you have a title, you have a central focus for your chorus, which will get you going for your whole song as well. If you incorporate this into your every day life, you'll be flowing with ideas.

To learn more, download my free E-Book here:

How To Write A Song

Anthony Ceseri is a songwriter and performer who has travelled the United States in pursuit of the best songwriting advice and information available. From classes and workshops at Berklee College of Music in Boston, to Taxi’s Road Rally in Los Angeles, Anthony has learned from the most well-respected professional songwriters, producers and performers in the industry.

As a result of the information he’s compiled, he subsequently founded the site, a website dedicated to the growth and development of songwriters of all skill levels.

Anthony's writings appear as examples in the book "Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises For Finding Your Voice" by Pat Pattison, an acclaimed lyric writing professor at Berklee College of Music.

The Knowledge

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