Warning: This blog contains a high rate of earnest encouragement and phrases like “your imagination is your only limit”

There is an old cliché that’s rolled out by bands within indie circles: “We just do what we like to do and if anyone else likes it it’s a bonus.” For years, I despised this phrase. To me, it showed lack of ambition, contempt for the audience, the whole “oh dear, I just wanted to play some tunes in my attic and now I’m headlining Brixton Academy; I’ve sold out!” mentality.

However, my thinking turned around and (discounting the uber-cool tone in which it’s spoken) I pretty much agree.

One of the greatest things about being a songwriter is that your imagination is your only limit so if there is music that you want to hear, go ahead and create it.

Do you absolutely love two specific chord sequences? Stick them together. Have a pang for a reggae-metal song? Get writing! You may create the song you always wanted to hear, and if you love it the there’s a big chance that other people will too.

But hang on, you’re just a singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar, right? How are you supposed to aim big when you can’t get the big sounds? You hire in a producer and explain what those sounds are.

Where production is concerned, I find there are two schools of singer/songwriters.

There’s the Elton John school, where he writes the song on his chosen instrument, and hands it over to the producer in the trust that the producer will arrange it sympathetically and brilliantly. (Elton, if you’re reading this, I have a few ideas for your next album.)

Then there is the John Mayer method, where he writes not just the song but a lot of the arrangement, and it’s the producer’s job to get inside his head, create the sounds he wants to hear or create better sounds from his demo.

Either way, using a producer will help you get to where you want to be, musically.

Here, have a listen to Paul Simon’s original version of Bridge Over Troubled Water:

A beautiful song, for sure, not quite classic.

Now listen to the fully produced version:

A stone cold classic, with great production, a beautiful build and it just sounds incredible.

There is nothing stopping writing your own Bridge Over Troubled Water. Forget about restrictions or what would sound good played in your local pub and aim high.  Imagine where you want to song to be played and head there.

Your imagination is your only limit.



By Ben Haynes