Another bit of advise: get a good intro to the song. If you catch someone early on in the song, they are more likely to listen closer to the music. I usually use a solo on a percussive instrument or a guitar to start. Anything will do though. It's pretty neat when all the instruments slowly get added to the song, instead of the always starting all at once.
When I refer to an instrument I am using a vague term. I mean it as an actual music instrument or a sample that can be mixed in the music.
I can't help you on the software, I use ACID Pro 4.0