How to Write Folk and Western Music to Sell

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


People have been asking me how to write Folk and Western music that will sell. Here are some tips.

Defining folk and western music

Folk and western music have been American staples since the early days of the nation. Though the genres have changed and morphed over time, they still maintain a strong following today. In order to appeal to this wide array of fans, it’s important to understand what folk and western music is and how it can be written to sell.

Both folk and western music are rooted in American culture and history. Folk music is often based on traditional songs or stories, while western music generally tells stories about the American west. Both genres often make use of acoustic instruments, though electric instruments are sometimes included as well.

Folk and western music are typically easy to listen to and understand, making them perfect for background noise or sing-alongs. The lyrics are often simple and straightforward, focusing on topics like love, loss, work, and nature. The melodies are usually catchy and easy to remember, which makes them perfect for repeated listening.

If you’re looking to write folk or western music that will sell, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. Who are you writing for? What do they want to hear? What kind of emotions do you want to evoke? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be well on your way to writing songs that will resonate with your audience and sell copies.

The market for folk and western music

Sales of folk and western music have been declining in recent years, but there is still a large market for this type of music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, sales of country music alone totaled $1.16 billion in 2017. This genre made up 14 percent of all recorded music sales in the United States that year.

To increase your chances of success as a folk or western musician, it is important to understand the market for this type of music. Here are some tips:

1. Know your audience. There are different subgenres within folk and western music, so it is important to know which one you are targeting. For example, if you are writing country music, your audience is likely to be middle-aged or older adults living in rural areas.

2. Write songs that appeal to your target audience. Once you know who your audience is, you can write songs that appeal to them. This might include topics that are important to them or stories that they can relate to.

3. Be aware of trending topics. Keep up with current events and popular culture so that you can incorporate these into your songs. For example, if there is a lot of interest in politics right now, you might write a song about the current political situation.

4. Get your music out there. There are many ways to get your music heard by potential fans, including social media, online streaming services, and radio playlists

Why write folk and western music?

Folk and western music are two of the most popular genres of music in the world. They are also two of the most profitable. If you want to make a living writing and performing music, you would be wise to focus on these two genres.

There are a number of reasons why folk and western music are so popular. First, they are incredibly versatile. Folk and western music can be performed solo or with a group, making them perfect for both live shows and recordings. Second, they appeal to a wide range of people. Whether you are writing for an older audience or a younger one, there is a market for your music.

Finally, folk and western music are easy to write and perform. In comparison to other genres, they require relatively little technical skill. This makes them ideal for songwriters who want to focus on their lyrics and melodies, rather than their instrumental prowess.

If you are interested in writing folk or western music, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, your songs should tell a story. Folk songs are known for their narrative quality, so make sure your lyrics paint a picture in the listener’s mind. Second, focus on simplicity. The best folk songs are those that can be played on a single acoustic guitar. Third, don’t be afraid to experiment with different musical styles. Folk music encompasses a wide range of subgenres, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different sounds and influences.

Keep these tips in mind and you will be well on your way to writing folk and western songs that sell!

The elements of folk and western music

Folk and western music are two genres that are often lumped together, but there are some important distinctions between the two. Folk music is typically simpler in composition and lyricism, and is often based on traditional folktales or folk melodies. Western music, on the other hand, tends to be more complex and is often based on the music of the American frontier.

Both genres typically make use of simple instrumentation, such as acoustic guitar, harmonica, and banjo. Folk music may also incorporate traditional folk instruments such as the fiddle or accordion. Western music often makes use of electric guitar and synthesizers to create a more modern sound.

Folk and western music are both popular genres for country and Americana artists. If you’re looking to write songs in either genre, it’s important to understand the elements that make these genres unique. By understanding the key elements of each genre, you can write songs that are more likely to appeal to fans of folk or western music.

The structure of folk and western songs

Folk and western songs usually have three or four verses, with each verse having a different set of lyrics. The chorus is often repeated after each verse, and may have different words each time it is sung. The chorus usually has a sing-along quality that makes it easy for listeners to remember.

The verses of folk and western songs often tell a story, or describe a particular scene or feeling. The chorus is usually more simplistic, and may contain the song’s hook or central message.

Folk and western songs are typically written in a major key, with a moderate tempo and simple melodies. The instrumentation is often minimal, consisting of acoustic guitar, piano, drums, and bass.

Writing lyrics for folk and western songs

Folk and western songs are usually story-based, so the lyrics are important in setting the mood and conveying the message of the song. If you can capture the emotions of the characters in your lyrics, you’ll be well on your way to writing a song that sells.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Write about what you know. The best folk and western songs are usually personal stories or stories based on real life events. This gives your lyrics authenticity and makes it easy for listeners to relate to the song.

2. Keep it simple. Folk and western songs are often concise, so don’t try to cram too much into your lyrics. Stick to one main idea or theme and focus on telling a story that can be easily understood by your listeners.

3. Use strong imagery. Since folk and western songs are often based on stories, painting a picture with your words is essential in creating a vivid image for your listeners. Be sure to use sensory details such as sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste to bring your lyrics to life.

4. Use literary devices. Literary devices such as similes, metaphors, and personification can add depth and richness to your lyrics. These devices can also help you convey complex ideas in a more accessible way for your listeners.

5. Rhyme when it feels right. Many folk and western songs make use of rhyme, but don’t force it if it doesn’t come naturally. Only rhyme when it enhances the meaning of your lyrics and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the song.

Creating melodies for folk and western songs

One of the best ways to get started writing folk and western songs is by coming up with catchy melodies. The melody is the most important part of the song, so it’s important to make sure that it’s memorable and easy to sing.

One way to create a memorable melody is to use a hook, which is a short phrase that can be repeated throughout the song. These hooks can be based on anything from a catchy vocal line to a simple instrumental riff. Once you have your hook, try putting it into different melodic variations to see what sounds best.

It’s also important to keep your lyrics simple when writing folk and western songs. The focus should be on telling a story or conveying emotion, rather than on using complex language. When in doubt, less is usually more when it comes to writing folk and western lyrics.

Arranging folk and western songs

There is no sure way to guarantee that a song will sell, but there are some effective things you can do to make your music more marketable. If you’re writing folk or western songs, here are some tips on how to arrange them for maximum impact.

Think about the mood and tempo of the song. Is it a fast-paced country song or a slow, soulful ballad? The arrangement should reflect the overall mood of the song.

Consider the instrumentation. What kind of instruments do you have available? What will complement the vocalist best? Again, think about the overall mood of the song and choose instruments that will support that.

Think about the lyrics. What is the message of the song? What are the most important lines? The arrangement should highlight those elements so that they come across clearly to the listener.

All of these elements come together to create a successful arrangement. By taking the time to consider each one, you’ll be able to create folk and western songs that are more likely to sell.

Recording and releasing folk and western music

In the United States, “folk music” refers to a wide variety of musical genres, from traditional mountain music and bluegrass to contemporary Singer-Songwriter folk. “Western music” is a broad term that encompasses all the various musical traditions that developed in the American West, including country, cowboy music, folk, gospel, and blues.

If you’re interested in recording and releasing folk or western music, there are a few things you’ll need to do in order to make sure your music reaches a wide audience. Here are some tips:

1. Find your niche. There’s a lot of folk and western music out there, so it’s important to find a niche that you can fill. What kind of music do you play? What are your musical influences? What sets your music apart from other folk and western artists? When you know what makes your music unique, you’ll be able to more effectively market it to potential fans.

2. Get your music out there. Once you’ve recorded some songs, it’s time to start getting them heard by as many people as possible. There are a few ways you can do this:
-post your songs online (on websites like SoundCloud or Bandcamp)
-send CDs to radio stations or DJs who might play your type of music
-play live shows at local venues

3. Build up a fan base. The more people who know about your music and like it, the more successful you’ll be. There are a few ways to build up a fan base:
-give away freebies (such as downloadable songs or concert tickets)
-use social media to spread the word about your music
-play at festivals or other events where potential fans might be in attendance

Promoting and selling folk and western music

Folk and western music are two of the most traditional and widely enjoyed genres in America. Though the styles and subject matter of the two genres differ greatly, both have passed the test of time and remain popular with music lovers today. If you’re a folk or western musician looking to make a living from your music, you’ll need to know how to promote and sell your music effectively.

The first step in promoting your music is to create a high-quality demo recording. This will give potential fans and industry professionals an idea of your musical style and ability. Make sure to include a variety of songs on your demo, as this will give listeners a well-rounded sampling of your work. Once you have a polished demo, you can begin shopping it around to record labels, music promoters, and booking agents.

In addition to promoting your music through demo recordings, you can also sell your music directly to fans through online platforms like Bandcamp and iTunes. These platforms make it easy for listeners to find and purchase your music, and they also take care of distribution and marketing for you. To make the most sales possible, be sure to price your songs reasonably and promote your online store through social media and word-of-mouth.

With hard work and dedication, it is possible to make a living as a folk or western musician. By promoting your music effectively and making it accessible to fans, you can build a successful career in this timeless genre.

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