How to Choose Your Genre

An area that can sometimes introvert a songwriter is genre. You may not know which genre you’re is actually in- are you in pop or are you in contemporary folk? Maybe you love, and are strong in, each genre. If you’re struggling on which one to focus on, however, it can cause you to feel troubled to the degree that you can’t get started and just write.

Which genre?

The process of choosing a genre can be a frustrating one, particularly if you’re trying to decide between some of the bigger ones, such as pop and folk. Each style has its own approach to lyrics, melody, and production. So being on the borderline when writing one song can turn out to be a disaster.  Trying to write a pop song when you’re wondering whether it should be a folk song or not can be a distraction from what you should be focusing on.

By keeping a certain genre in mind, you’re building an audience, which gives you an advantage when the time comes to promote your music. It’s an issue that you should be taking seriously and that every songwriter who takes his craft seriously will need to confront at an early stage in their development, even if it changes later. So how do you approach this? Here are some ideas.

Become familiar with the genres that you’re considering

Study a genre and get used to the range of themes, style of language, chords, rhythms etc. It will help you remain within the genre and write songs that will attract listeners who enjoy that style of music.

Spend some time taking in and studying songs that have been successful in the genres that you’re considering. Try to focus on recent songs as that’s what both audiences and the industry are interested in.

Try your hand at multiple genres

Ideally, you’d take the time to master a single genre before expanding into another. However, if you’re struggling to decide, it might be an idea to just go ahead and play around with a couple before deciding on which one to master.

Take one of the genres and a recent song within that genre that you like and use the song structure and chord profession as a template. You could even write to a karaoke track. Just look for one without background vocals. Minimally, write a verse and a chorus to the track. You can write an entire song if you wish. Don’t concern yourself with perfection, just get down your idea and record your vocals.

Then consider a few points, such as which song you liked more, which one felt more natural to you, which genre has more themes that you’d like to explore, which made you feel more creative, and which genre is a more natural fit for your persona. Once you’re able to answer these questions, you’re likely in a place where you know which genre you’d like to start with.