As the frontman for OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder packs arenas with adoring fans mesmerized by his piercing lyrics and authenticity that shines through his emotionally-powerful performances. But off stage, the 40-year-old artist has been rising as one of the music industry’s greatest songwriters and producers, working with A-listers like Adele, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, U2 and more.
For the last 10 years, the three-time GRAMMY winner has consistently demonstrated his ability to knock out a top charting hit for someone else and now he’s revealing what the songwriting process is really like on NBC’s Songland. Although the lead singer has had massive success as a writer, he admits he still has to hustle to stay relevant.
“There’s also a thing in pop, I can’t speak to country music, but what I know of country, once you’ve kind of earned the respect and proven that you have the goods, they’re more likely to come back to you,” show producer Ryan Tedder told us during a virtual listening party, which also included producers Ester Dean and Shane McAnally.
“It doesn’t work that way in pop. You’ll have a moment in pop and you’re the hot new writer for that year. Maybe you can stretch it into two. After that you have to overprove that you know what you’re doing. You have to scramble at all times in pop. They forget you that fast.”
Ester Dean agreed: “In pop, it’s a trend. In country, they’re looking for a classic song, but in pop they’re looking for a trend.”
“Exactly,” Tedder responded. “The way I describe it to aspiring pop writers. You’re a surfer. Your ability to find and catch waves is directly impacting how long you can stay out at sea. I’ve been doing this for 17 years now in pop and I still feel like the 21-year old who just got off the boat.”
He added: “The only difference with me being me is they will take my call. I will always be able to get my call taken, but I’m more likely to be asked in my career now to executive produce a project, which is frankly what I’m more interested in doing because there’s a level of controlling the outcome.
“It still feels like you write for 30 days and in pop one of those days, maybe two, turns into something no matter how good you are because it’s so nuts.”
Ryan Tedder has written No.1 hits for Adele, the Jonas Brothers, and Taylor Swift, but he confessed he still has to fight to get songwriting gigs. “I’m competing with an 18-year old and his best friend who just learned how to produce last year. I’m not going to name who they are, but on an album that I worked on recently I was competing for the single with two guys who really had never written a song.”
“They just happen to figure out making some beats. I’m going toe-to-toe with these kids, who a year ago were at McDonald’s. I’m like, ‘man they’re going to get the single because they’re the new wave.'”
The second season of Songland continues on NBC tonight, Monday, May 4th. Five-time CMA-winning country superstar Martina McBride joins the series to hear unknown songwriters pitch their original material. Songland has produced chart-topping hits, including six songs that have achieved a No. 1 ranking on an iTunes music chart. The songs can immediately be downloaded or streamed following the episode.
The hit songs include “Greenlight” by Jonas Brothers, “Better Luck Next Time” by Kelsea Ballerini, “Be Nice” by Black Eyed Peas, “Shadow” by Macklemore ft. IRO, “Solo Quiero (Somebody to Love)” by Leona Lewis, Cali y El Dandee and Juan Magán, and “We Need Love” by John Legend.