Barry Blue’s tips on surviving for 50 years as a songwriter

23 May, 2019 in Features, Interviews, Tips & Techniques

Barry Blue

Barry Blue: “Write songs for the joy and love of writing.”

The legendary British songwriter and producer offers some wise words for anyone wanting a lasting career in the music-making business


With a career spanning five decades, London-born Barry Blue is a prolific songwriter and producer of over 40 worldwide hits that have been covered or sampled by the likes of Celine Dion, Diana Ross, Andrea Bocelli, Missy Elliott, J Dilla, Redman and Earth Wind & Fire. His notable compositions include Dina Carroll’s Escaping, Toto Coelo’s I Eat Cannibals, Five Star’s All Fall Down and Brotherhood Of Man’s European No 1 Kiss Me Kiss Your Baby.

As Barry recently announced he would be re-recording some of these songs the way he wanted them to be heard, and with such a huge amount of experience under his belt, we invited the hitmaker to share some advice for surviving as a songwriter…


Don’t write songs for money

“Write songs for the joy and love of writing. If you try to emulate other ‘hit’ writers of the day you could end up writing a poor imitation of their work. Be spontaneous, witty, have something original to say in your lyric writing – define what you want to say and don’t ramble!”

Be an average musician

“I know it may sound strange but if you know everything to know about the technicalities of music you can forget to be inventive. I sometimes wander into a different key when I’m composing a melody, to which a response usually is: ‘Wow, what a great modulation, I wouldn’t have thought those notes would work together!’”

Be disciplined

“I have a place to write, my space, my creative bolt-hole… It can be your studio, bedroom or bathroom! I have to feel comfortable knowing where I place my guitars, plectrums, pen or paper (if I still use them) or I make sure my laptop has all my song files in the right place so I can always update and re-work a tune.”

Write fewer songs

“One of my closest friends in the business was the late great songwriter Rod Temperton. I knew him for all of his creative life and I would say he wrote maybe six to ten songs a year. All of them were worthy of a major cut because he spent time to think, create, change, and complete the very best songs he could deliver to his artists. I have always followed that philosophy, so that even if a song is not cut, I still feel proud to have written it.”

Enjoy it!

“I am so very fortunate to be doing something I love doing. I relish every day so that I can fine-tune or hone a piece I’m working on. I also know I started out when the songwriter was ‘king’ and artists depended on the great song to have a career. My first songwriting contract was with Don Kirshner at his company with ATV, back in the days of the Brill Building in New York, where all the greats like Goffin & King, Sedaka, Greenfield or Lieber & Stoller would work in small cramped ‘offices’ trying to ‘out-write’ each other to get the next big record with the artist of the day. They may have complained about no real money or bad working conditions but the thrill of writing a hit overcame all obstacles. So my main piece of advice is love and enjoy what you do and what you write.”

Barry Blue’s new EP Boy In The Moon is out now. Discover more about the great man at barryblue.co.uk



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