How do I use music influences in my own songwriting without plagiarizing?

Plagiarism is outright copying a song and claiming it as your own. That is word for word, note for note copying. You never want to do that. Music influences help inspire songwriters in a way they become a type of mentor. As in your case you probably have several music influences, what makes every songwriter songs original is your own life experiences. Everyone has a unique life to live. When you combine your personal life experience along with the influence of 3 or 4 other songwriters mixed in, you will begin to develop you own personal voice.

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  • Songwriter Tip:

    The second kind of critiquer (grain of salt critiquers) judges music by using their own style as their frame of reference. These critiquers do not make your music better, just different. Usually, this will just change the appeal of the different types of listeners instead of enhancing the experience to the listeners who would have liked your music originally. They may give you ideas to help your vision, but they are also tearing down walls that you have identified as your style. You can learn from these people, but you just have to be careful. Consider, possibly change and move on.