Songwriting Tip: Grammar Matters
by Harriet Schock
Yes, I meant that both ways. I’m writing on matters of grammar and I’m also writing in case grammar matters. So for a songwriter, when does it matter? Well, I suppose that depends upon your target audience. If you’re a novelist, it always matters. That’s why book writers have editors. Today, even a great storyteller may make the usual grammatical errors, especially if he went to school in the last decade or so. But even if a person has been taught in the best English class there is, he may make the usual mistakes. His brain is simply Teflon where the rules of grammar are concerned.
So who is the target audience for your songs? Does it matter to your listeners if you make sense? If communication is desirable, then grammar is very helpful because it actually helps a person be clear. And if you’re performing in a club, you’d better not lose the listener because your communication wandered off into the woods. Grammar can help keep you in sync with your listener.
Now I’m not talking about “proper speech” that would prohibit you from being colloquial. Technically it’s “whom are you kidding?” But no one in his right mind would say that in a song. It’s not the way people talk. One of my biggest hits had the word “ain’t” in the title and used a double negative. I did it on purpose. So I’m not being a purist. I’m just trying to make the point, for instance, that if you said “I lay here and drink my coffee” some people would be confused, because “lay” is the past tense of “lie.” So how could you be lying here yesterday and drinking your coffee today? So technically, it’s “I lie here and drink my coffee” or “I lay here and drank my coffee.” The whole lie/lay thing is confusing to people but it’s simply a matter of whether it’s something you do (lie) or something you do to an object or person (lay). You lay the book on the table. You lie on the bed. Eventually the dictionary will simply put “lay” as a synonym with “lie” because usage dictates meaning. (That’s how we’re losing the difference between “imply” and “infer.”) But at the moment they don’t mean the same thing so if your target audience knows the difference between “lay” and “lie,” you’ve just lost some points by using it wrong. I know, I know “Lay lady lay” was wrong, but Dylan couldn’t very well say “Lie, lady lie.” To add to the confusion, “lie” has two meanings.
There are many examples of these grammatical pitfalls. For instance, if you’re making a lyric sheet for someone to look at, remember that “The book is on its side”—not “it’s side.” There are whole websites and discussion groups devoted to the fact that there is no apostrophe in the “possessive its.” Auto correct can get you in trouble when you’re texting because that thing wants to put apostrophes in everything. And while we’re talking about apostrophes, don’t use them to create a plural. It’s not “Come hear these singer’s.” The plural of “singer” is “singers” for heaven’s sakes. And don’t say “I have sang”—it’s “I have sung,” just like “I have drunk,” not “I have drank.” Bad grammar may not affect how well you sing, but it’s enough to drive a literate person to drink. And who knows? You might just have some literate folks in your target audience.
Harriet Schock wrote the words and music to the Grammy-nominated #1 hit for Helen Reddy, "Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady" plus many songs for other artists, TV shows and films. She co-wrote the theme for “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks,” currently showing in 30 countries. She and her band were featured in Henry Jaglom’s film “Irene In Time” performing 4 of Harriet’s songs. She also scored two other Jaglom films and is starring in the current movie “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.“ Harriet is in the process of writing the songs for “Last of the Bad Girls,” a musical with book by Diane Ladd. Karen Black wrote the play, “Missouri Waltz,” around five of Harriet’s songs, which ran for 6 weeks at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood as well as in Macon, Georgia. Harriet teaches songwriting privately, in classes and a popular online course by private email. In 2007, Los Angeles Women In Music honored Harriet with their Career Achievement and Industry Contribution award. For her performance schedule, list of credits and samples of her work or information on he rbook (Becoming Remarkable, for Songwriters and Those Who Love Songs), her songwriting classes and consultation, go to:www.harrietschock.com
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to:http://www.songwriting.net
Oscars 2014: Who Will Win Best Original Song Race?
Competition this year is between four nominated songs: "Happy," "Let It Go," "The Moon Song" and "Ordinary Love." The 86th Academy Awards will take place March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. The performers of a song are not credited with the Academy Award unless they contributed either to music, lyrics or both in their own right.
1) "Let It Go" from Frozen
Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Performed by Broadway sensation Idina Menzel
2) "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Music by Paul Hewson (Bono), Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson (Bono).
Performed by U2
3) "Happy" from Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyrics by Pharrell Williams
Performed by Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams is on a roll. He was featured in two of last year’s biggest songs, just swept the Grammys with four wins.
4) "The Moon Song" from Her
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
Performed by Karen O
Surprising Songs That Did Not Make Past Oscars
Songs that were published prior to a film's production having nothing to do with the film, such as "Unchained Melody" in the 1990 film Ghost and "I Will Always Love You" in the 1992 film The Bodyguard, cannot qualify (although "Unchained Melody" was nominated when first released for the 1955 film Unchained). In addition, songs that rely on sampled or reworked material, such as "Gangsta's Paradise" in the 1995 film Dangerous Minds, are also ineligible.
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to http://www.songwriting.net
CO-WRITING: THE NO FREE ZONE
By Pat Pattison
The best advice I ever got on co-writing was from Stan Webb, my first professional co-writer. When Tom Casey, a VP at SESAC in Nashville, set the appointment up for me, he asked Stan to talk to me a bit about the Nashville co-writing process, a process that dominates the songwriting culture there.
I was waiting in the SESAC writer's room with my notes and titles, some complete lyrics, song ideas, and I was feeling nervous. I, after all, am a big-time Professor at the biggest time music school in the world - Berklee, where I teach lyric writing. What if I can't come up with anything? What if he thinks all my ideas are dumb? They don't look too good to me right now either... What if he thinks I'm a fraud? Not only would that humiliate me, but it would put my students' credibility in question too, and it'd be all my fault. Why am I here? Maybe I should leave while there's still time. Couldn't I say I have food poisoning?
Too late. The door opened and there stood Stan Webb, my co-writer for the day, a guy with hits. Stan is a burly guy. He looked a bit shaggy, wearing bib overalls, a tattered t-shirt, and work boots, looking like he'd just come off the farm (which, in fact, he had--he owns one, bought with songwriting royalties). He came in and did something curious: he shut the door, re-opened it, shut it again and then pushed hard to make sure it was closed. Hmmmm. Was he worried about folks listening and stealing our good ideas? I was deeply concerned just with having a good idea. It would have been a relief to have an idea good enough that a secret listener would want it.
He sat down opposite me on a couch and seemed to size me up. He grinned and said, "Is that door closed?" Yikes. "Yes it is," I answered carefully, not knowing where he was going with this. Was it a secret initation? "Good, I'm glad it's closed," he said, "because you can probably tell by looking at me that I'm gonna say some of the dumbest things you've ever heard." I stayed quiet. I was more worried about what he thought of me. He went on, "And if you do your job right today, you're gonna say some of the dumbest thing I ever heard, professor or not." "No doubt there," I thought. He grinned again and said, "But, as long as that door is closed, nobody needs to know how dumb both of us are. I won't tell if you don't."
He told me that he hoped I didn't mind, but Tom had asked him to talk to me about the co-writing process in Nashville, so he wanted to tell me just a couple things before we got going on a song. I told him to take his time.
He said, "SAY EVERYTHING that comes to your head. Say it out loud, no matter how dumb it is. Don't censor anything. If you say something really dumb, you might give me an idea that's not quite as dumb. And then I might have a decent one that gives you a better one that gives me a great one. If you'd never said the dumb one, we would never get to the great one."
"So that means that we'll never say "no" to each other. A co-writing room is a "NO" FREE ZONE. If you say something and I don't like it, I just won't say anything. Silence is a request for more, more, more. It says 'just keep throwing stuff out there.' When either one of us likes something, we'll say YES. Otherwise, just keep going."
We had a great writing session. I lost my fear of looking like a fool. I came up with a lot of dumb ideas, and my dumbest idea of all led us to the best part of the song. We really did say everything. And the silences were golden - what a great way to ensure that we always get the best out of each other: nobody has to defend anything, and the only ideas that make it into the song are automatically ones we both like. The "NO" FREE ZONE gets the best out of both writers: there are no arguments, and there never needs to be compromise.
I've always been grateful to Stan for his wise advice that day. It helps me every time I co-write, but also every time I write. My inner critic (most frequent co-writer) has also learned to abide by the "NO" FREE ZONE. And Stan's words still echo in the songwriting classrooms at Berklee College of Music, where literally hundreds of students have worked in the "NO" FREE ZONE and have had great co-writing experiences because of it.
I've added some advice of my own to Stan's, because, in Berklee writing classes, we talk ABOUT writing a lot. Lots of process, lots of techniques. And it really helps their writing, learning about what goes into it - what tools are available. My students learn to talk about writing very well. They are good technicians as well as good writers.
Thus, my advice: never talk about writing in a co-writing room, especially about technique. You're supposed to be writing, not talking about it. Stay inside the song, inside the characters. Don't run away to the intellectual level. Most people are tempted to talk about those wonderful technical effects in their lines - assonance, rhythm, deep thoughts or metaphors-- out of fear -- to cover their bases and try to dress up what they're afraid might be a dumb idea, in academic robes. A dumb idea is still dumb, even with professorial robes on. Just write. And write fearlessly.
One final thought: in terms of SAYING EVERYTHING, I hereby grant you permission to write crap. Lots of it; all the time; the more the better. Remember: crap makes the best fertilizer.
Pat Pattison is a professor at the famed Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA.
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to:http://www.songwriting.net
Obscurity vs Clarity
By Harriet Schock
I believe that there’s an invisible line that goes from the mouth of the singer to the ears and heart of the listener and if that line is broken by a lyric that makes no sense, the listener’s attention leaves.
Of course, there are many examples of songs that make no sense and have been hits, but when you cite these as examples, I would ask: 1) Was the melody and harmony so killer that people loved it in spite of the lack of clarity? 2) Was it sung by someone so famous that anything they put out will become a hit? 3) Was the audience chemically altered so that each song and bite was better than the one before, no matter what they were hearing or eating?
I have taught songwriting since 1986 and occasionally I’ll have a student who announces he wants to write an obscure song. And granted sometimes songs in films can be a bit generic so that the story takes place on the screen, not in the lyric. But even there the lyrics need to make sense. I find that thetwo most common reasons for someone’s wanting to write an obscure, ambiguous lyric are: 1) His craft is limited and he thinks he’s being clear when he’s not or 2) He’s not willing for the real story to come out for personal reasons.
There’s a vast difference between writing on two levels and being ambiguous. I believe songs should make sense when you first hear them. Then upon second and third listening, deeper meaning can be discovered. Ambiguity generally leaves the listener wondering what you actually meant.
All of this has been about the lyric. But needless to say, the melody and harmony (chords) are vitally important. They are the wavelengths that carry the lyric along that invisible line I mentioned earlier. Obscurity breaks the line, but a weak melody completely dissolves it.
As performers we can tell when we have a strong melody, compelling harmony and a lyric that moves the listener. That’s when the audience is very quiet and attentive. Sometimes they cry, and we like that too.
Harriet Schock wrote the words and music to the Grammy-nominated #1 hit for Helen Reddy, "Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady" plus many songs for other artists, TV shows and films. She co-wrote the theme for “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks,” currently showing in 30 countries. She and her band were featured in Henry Jaglom’s film “Irene In Time” performing 4 of Harriet’s songs. She also scored two other Jaglom films and is starring in the current movie “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.“ Harriet is in the process of writing the songs for “Last of the Bad Girls,” a musical with book by Diane Ladd. Karen Black wrote the play, “Missouri Waltz,” around five of Harriet’s songs, which ran for 6 weeks at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood as well as in Macon, Georgia. Harriet teaches songwriting privately, in classes and a popular online course by private email. In 2007, Los Angeles Women In Music honored Harriet with their Career Achievement and Industry Contribution award. For her performance schedule, list of credits and samples of her work or information on herbook (Becoming Remarkable, for Songwriters and Those Who Love Songs), her songwriting classes and consultation, go to: www.harrietschock.com.
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net
The Backyard Connection
by Mark Cawley
If you've been writing songs for awhile you have to have heard someone preach about the value of networking and getting connected.
Pretty much a given, you can create in a vacuum but you can't grow there.You may be all alone in your room and in your head when you create but to get that song (and you as a writer) in front of people it takes more people. More people means connecting and more connecting. Takes a village to raise a hit. Where to start?
Scour the village!
What does that look like for a beginning writer or a writer living outside of a major music center? It takes some digging on your part. For instance, I coach songwriters from all over the US and beyond these days and many live in places like Indiana, just to pick one. I urge them to look for a local resource first. If you write lyrics but don't play an instrument see if you can connect with someone who's a good player. If you're a songwriter but don't have production skills look for someone around you who's making magic in the basement. Grow together.
One of my favorite ways to connect in these cases is to, in the words of John Hiatt "pull my pony up and hitch my wagon to your star". Is there someone you've heard in a local club? Online? At church? Who's a diamond in the rough? Connect with them. So many writers made a career of working with an unsigned artist and as the artist gained attention, as good ones tend to do, the songwriter’s name was attached. I'm not just suggesting you pitch your songs to this budding artist but suggest you offer to co-write. Get them invested in the song and as they rise so will you. Not every artist we know and love came from LA, New York or London. Some of them came from small towns and for the sake of my point, the pride of Seymour, Indiana, John Mellencamp.
I Was Born In A Small Town
I know John a bit from my days of playing in Indiana and most of the people connected to him in the beginning were all local players. The guys I saw in the local bars where the same ones I saw years later at the LA Forum. Some of his earliest hits were co-written with a local lyricist named George Green. John worked with what he had around him.
Sure the odds go up if you move to one of the cities I mentioned and put yourself out there but in the meantime make the most of what's right in your backyard. Might seem like a small connection but it just might be the one to hitch your pony to. Oh yeah, one more Hoosier...John Hiatt.
Got Nothing Against the big Town
In defense of the writers and artists that make the big leap to a major market, most of the ones I know worked hard at making and keeping connections. One of my favorite illustrations would be the number of them that offered to sing demos for songwriters, sometimes cheap, hoping that as the writers song gets heard someone will discover the singer. In my first few years in Nashville it was common for me to call some of these folks like Gretchen Wilson, Brett James, Clay Davidson, Ruby Amanfu and Neil Thrasher to sing a demo for me. Worked out pretty well for me and for them.
No matter how you get your break, you never stop connecting on any level in this business you chose.
Photo: Google Images
Mark Cawley's songs have appeared on more than 15 million records. Over a career based in LA, London, and Nashville his songs have been recorded by an incredibly diverse range of artists. From Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Wynonna, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan to The Spice Girls, Tom Scott, Kathy Mattea, Paul Carrack, Will Downing and Pop Idol winners in the UK. He has had #1 records in the UK and throughout Europe as well as cuts in Country, Jazz & R & B. His groundbreaking website Song Journey created with Hall of Fame writer Kye Fleming was the first to mentor writers from around the world one-on-one online. He is currently writing and publishing as well as helping writers and artists worldwide with a one-on-one co-active coaching service, iDoCoach.
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net
The Dos and Don’ts of Co-Writing
by Cliff Goldmacher
The top winning song of the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition was written by six different songwriters. Collaboration on writing songs have been around for years. Cliff talks about the dos and don’ts of co-writing.
Looking back over twenty years to my first songwriting efforts, I remember my creative process as so personal and fragile that I was dead certain I would never open it up to another songwriter. This would have seemed like co-painting or more like co-dating...just not going to happen. However, two things DID happen. One, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, the co-writing capital of the world, and, two, I wrote a lot more songs which stopped me from thinking of each of my song children as untouchable and precious. Ultimately, I simply wanted to create more and better songs and co-writing became a big part of the process. Over the years, I’ve experienced (sometimes the hard way) a few of the big “dos” and “don’ts” of co-writing and thought I’d cover a few.
Decide in advance if you’re going to bring ideas or start “cold”
There are advantages to both approaches. If you’re new to the co-writing process or possibly a little nervous about how your upcoming session will go, preparing in advance with anything from a list of song titles to lyrical and/or musical hooks can go a long way towards a smooth-running session. However, as a more experienced writer, I go into sessions with younger artists without preparing ideas because I anticipate that our initial discussions and time spent getting to know each other will provide the material for our collaboration. All this to say, there is no “right” way to do this.
Show up on time and ready to work
I know we’re all artists and we’re all supposed to be flaky, creative types but you’re now writing to hopefully generate income from your music so it’s also a business. Treat it that way. You wouldn’t show up late for work or cancel because you didn’t feel like going so don’t do it with your co-writing sessions either. Showing respect for the process and your collaborator goes a long way towards setting the tone for a productive co-write.
Make a plan on how you’ll both promote the song
The reality of the music business is that collaboration doesn’t end with the finished song. There will be subsequent discussions about demo costs, pitch opportunities and any one of a number of other details. What this really means is that in order to make yourself an “attractive” co-writer, you should remember to bring as much to the table as possible. This could mean bringing an industry connection or pitch opportunity or even having a recording studio where you and your co-writer can do the demo for free. It’s helpful to remember that the actual co-write is easy/fun part and it’s all the other parts of the process that ultimately make for a successful collaboration. Truly successful collaborations often extend beyond just writing the song.
Discuss percentages for each co-writer
After writing close to a thousand songs, my assumption is that all my “from-scratch” collaborations are even splits. This means 50/50 if there are two of us, 33/33/33 if there are three of us, etc. I consider it bad karma (and frankly exhausting) to count words or try and figure out who created what when the song is done and then try to adjust percentages. Just know that some days you’ll contribute more and some days your co-writer(s) will and that it all evens out in the end. If the song is brought to you mostly (or even partially) finished, then be clear on what the split will be in advance so there isn’t a misunderstanding later on. It’s simply better to just deal with this stuff. Also, it’s considered bad form when discussing your collaborations later to state that you “really wrote most of it” or any variation thereof. The bottom line is that without your collaborator the song wouldn’t be the same song that it is no matter what was directly or indirectly contributed.
Putting the business aside again for a moment, the collaborative process, at its root, is about trust and chemistry. The following “don’ts” are suggestions about how to avoid damaging or compromising that trust.
Don’t ever criticize a co-writer’s suggestion
This is the ultimate vibe killer. There is vulnerability in trusting someone with your ideas and it only takes one “that sounds stupid” or “that’s a bad idea” to kill the goodwill that should be part of the process. This is not to say that you won’t hear (and suggest) dumb things in the process of a co-write. It happens all the time but it’s enough for you to simply say you’d rather keep looking for another idea or try something else at that point in the song. There’s no percentage in saying someone’s idea is “bad” or “wrong.” First of all, this is art and it’s subjective but more importantly (and I’ve seen this more times than I can count) you could crush an admittedly weak idea that was only going to be a stepping stone towards a truly great one. Be patient with your collaborator and yourself and you’ll be amazed at the results.
Don’t insist on one of your ideas if your co-writer doesn’t seem interested in it
You may be in the middle of a co-write and come up with a snippet of lyric or melody that you absolutely love but for some reason your co-writer just doesn’t get it. My suggestion is to make your best case for it and if your co-writer doesn’t like it, let it go. It’s that simple. There are too many ways to write a song to derail the process over a simple disagreement. The key to collaboration is making sure you’re both on board with an idea before moving forward. That being said, if you feel your collaborator consistently doesn’t like ideas that you feel are strong, there’s no rule that says you have to keep writing with this person.
Don’t edit too harshly early on in the session
There’s real value in keeping a co-write moving along. Squeezing too hard on a single line or section of the song too early in the process can take all the creative energy out of a session. Better to either keep in a “good enough” line with the understanding you’ll come back to it when you begin to review what you’ve written or take a break if the line just isn’t coming. There will always be time for editing but I’d suggest not going too deep on that front at the expense of getting the shape and form of the song together first.
Don’t push too hard to collaborate with a more established/successful songwriter
As songwriters, we all know who the hot/marquis writers are. We hear their songs on the radio, meet them at music conferences and, in some cases, came up with them from when they were “nobody.” The unwritten rule I’ve observed is that it’s better to be asked to co-write by a more established/successful writer than it is to ask them to co-write yourself. If your personality is such that you just can’t wait for that to happen, my recommendation is that you should ask once, politely and don’t take it personally if the writer isn’t interested or doesn’t have time. It’s abundantly clear what you, as the less experienced/successful writer, stand to gain from the collaboration but it’s up to the more successful writer to decide if your talent, motivation and, yes, connections warrant them taking the time to collaborate with you. It’s simply the law of the jungle. Hopefully, you’ll be in a position to write with a less experienced/successful writer yourself one day and you’ll treat that writer exactly as you’d hope to be treated yourself.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of co-writing rules but simply a few guidelines to help those new to the game to understand it a bit better. The best kinds of co-writes are the ones where both collaborators feel like they’ve written something better than either could have written alone.
Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including monthly online webinars. Go to http://www.educatedsongwriter.com/webinar/ for the latest schedule. Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos. You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook. Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter Twitter: edusongwriter
For more information on the 19th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net
By Jessica Brandon
Where were you on November 22, 1963? I wished I can say where I was, but I wasn't born yet. However, In remembrance of the sad day 50 years ago when John F. Kennedy was assasinated, here's a look at 10 Songs remembering John F. Kennedy, some songs are also honoring the late president:
"Life in a Northern Town" - Dream Academy (1985)
"The Day John Kennedy Died" - Lou Reed (1982)
"Sympathy for the Devil" - The Rolling Stones (1968)
"He Was a Friend of Mine" - The Byrds (1965)
Bob Dylan, 'Chimes of Freedom'
"Civil War" - Guns N' Roses (1990)
"Brain of J" - Pearl Jam (1998)
"Born in the 50's" - The Police (1978)
Otis Spann, 'Sad Day in Texas'
The Beach Boys, 'Warmth of the Sun'
Do you have a song Remembering John F Kennedy? If so, we would like to hear from you, please post your YouTube or Soundcloud URL in the comment box.
For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net
The world's leading Songwriting Competition - USA Songwriting Competition launched a campaign "Songwriters For Super Typhoon Haiyan" on Saturday. Millions of people in the Philippines need our help. The massive storm has caused catastrophic damage throughout the island nation.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and are in urgent need of food, water and shelter.
USA Songwriting Competition and Mercy Corps has launched immediate relief efforts to help meet these critical humanitarian needs of survivors and is accepting donations to help survivors.
Let's join us in supporting this important work. Together, we can help families devastated by this disaster survive and rebuild their lives. Information:
The Hollywood Reporter released a ranking of America's 10 Best Music Schools last week based on a survey of academic and entertainment insiders - including composers, arrangers, music supervisors, editors and engineers. In reverse order, they are:
10. Royal College Of Music (London, UK)
The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire established by royal charter in 1882, located in South Kensington, London, England. The college regularly ranks as one of the world's leading conservatoires.
Notable Alumni: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Julian Bream (One of the Greatest Classical Guitarist of all time), James Horner (Composer for "Titantic"), Gustav Holst, L.A. Philharmonic CEO Deborah Borda
9. CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS (Valencia)
The California Institute of the Arts, colloquially called CalArts, is a university located in Valencia, in Los Angeles County, California. It was incorporated in 1961 as the first degree-granting institution of higher learning in the United States created specifically for students of both the visual and the performing arts. It is authorized by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to grant Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in the visual, performing, and as of 1994, literary arts. The Herb Alpert School of Music was accredited in 2009 to grant a Doctor of Musical Arts.
The school was founded and created by Walt Disney in the early 1960s and staffed by a diverse array of professionals. The institute was started as Disney's dream of an interdisciplinary "Caltech of the arts." CalArts provides a collaborative environment for a diversity of artists. Students are free to develop their own work (over which they retain control and copyright) in a workshop atmosphere, as respected members of a community of artists in which authority is constantly tested and where teaching works through persuasion rather than coercion. Intercultural exchange among artists helps in practicing and understanding of the art making process in the broadest context possible.
Notable Alumni: Jeremy Wall (of Spyro Gyra), Ravi Coltrane, The Airborne Toxic Event's Noah Harmon
8. NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC (Boston)
The New England Conservatory of Music (NEC) in Boston, Massachusetts, is the oldest independent school of music in the United States.
The conservatory, located on Huntington Avenue of the Arts near Boston Symphony Hall, is home each year to 750 students pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies along with 1400 more in its Preparatory School as well as the School of Continuing Education. At the collegiate level, NEC offers the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts, as well as the Undergraduate Diploma, Graduate Diploma, and Artist Diploma. Also offered are five-year joint double-degree programs with Harvard University and Tufts University.
Notable Alumni: Neal E. Boyd (Top winner of "America's Got Talent), Cecil Taylor, Sarah Caldwell
7. CURTIS INSTITUTE OF MUSIC (Philadelphia, PA)
All students attend on full scholarship and admission is extremely competitive in the Curtis Institute of Music. It is a conservatory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., that offers courses of study leading to a performance Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, or Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.
Notable Alumni: Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, James Adler, Lukas Foss (USA Songwriting Competition Finalist, 2004)
6. NYU STEINHARDT (New York)
The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development is one of 18 divisions within New York University and is the oldest professional school of education in the United States. It was known as New York University School of Education till 2001.
Notable Alumni: Elmer Bernstein, Wayne Shorter, Alan Menken
5. EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC (Rochester, N.Y.)
The Eastman School of Music is a music conservatory located in Rochester, New York. The Eastman School is a professional school within the University of Rochester. It was established in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company.
Notable Alumni: Renée Fleming, Ron Carter, Jeff Beal
4. UCLA HERB ALPERT SCHOOL OF MUSIC (Los Angeles)
UCLA has departments of Ethnomusicology, Music and Musicology
Notable Alumni: John Williams, Randy Newman, Angel Blue
3. THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL (New York)
Known as the Granddaddy of all music colleges in America, The Juilliard School located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, United States, is a performing arts conservatory which was established in 1905. It is identified informally as simply Juilliard and currently trains about 800 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama, and music. It is widely regarded to be one of the world's finest and most prestigious arts programs.
Notable Alumni: Barry Manilow, Henry Mancini, Miles Davis, Philip Glass, Nina Simone, Marvin Hamlisch, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Giacchino
2. USC THORNTON SCHOOL OF MUSIC (Los Angeles)
The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, founded in 1884 and dedicated in 1999, is one of the premier music schools in the United States. Founded only four years after the University of Southern California itself, the Thornton School is the oldest continually operating arts institution in Southern California. The School is located in the heart of the USC University Park Campus, south of downtown Los Angeles.
Notable Alumni: Jerry Goldsmith, Marilyn Horne, Marco Beltrami
1. BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC (Boston)
Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known primarily as the world's foremost institute for the study of jazz and modern American music.
Notable Alumni: Quincy Jones, John Mayer, Branford Marsalis, Al Di Meola, Melissa Etheridge, Keith Jarrett, Claude Kelly, Diana Krall, Paula Cole, Howard Shore
For more infromation on the USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net
7 Steps to Creating a Perfect Music Page for Your Website
by Dave Cool
When it comes to having music on your website, installing a site-wide music player or embedding a player on your Homepage just isn’t enough. Remember, your website is your main hub on the Internet. If there’s any place that fans should be able to find all of your music, lyrics, and some free downloads, it’s on your own website.
Create a dedicated Music page as part of the main menu on your site, then follow these 7 steps to give fans a great experience, plus collect emails and generate sales in the process:
1. Have a PLAY button
It sounds obvious, but we still come across band websites where there isn’t a single play button. Don’t simply post the image of your album cover with a purchase link. Let your fans preview all of your songs, including at least 2-3 full songs. Your website isn’t the iTunes store, give fans something more than they would get anywhere else.
2. Offer Free Digital Downloads
Speaking of giving more to your fans through your website, offer a free downloadable song on your Music page. Even better than that, offer free songs in exchange for their email address. Getting a fan’s email is worth much more than getting $0.99 for a song download. That way you can keep in touch with them over the long term to let them know about upcoming shows, new music, new merch, etc.
3. Have Digital Downloads for Sale
Don’t simply send fans away to iTunes to buy your music. You should have ecommerce setup on your own site where you can offer digital downloads for sale. This way you get to keep the majority of the money, plus collect their email addresses (shameless plug: with Bandzoogle’s Album feature, you can offer downloads for free, pay-what-you-want, or set the price, and you keep 100% of any sales).
4. Have Physical Option(s)
Don’t believe the hype, there is still a demand for physical merch. Pledgemusic revealed that 82% of the pledges are going to physical product. So besides digital music, you should also offer physical options for your albums.
Signed CDs and special edition vinyls are great for your super fans who want a little something more. (shameless plug #2: with Bandzoogle's Store feature, you can offer physical merch for sale, and again, keep 100% of the sales, $10 million and counting).
5. Include Lyrics
Did you know that people search for “lyrics” just as much as “sex” on Google? With digital downloads and streaming, gone are the album/CD jackets with lyrics, but clearly fans still want to see the lyrics somewhere. So on your Music page, be sure to also include lyrics for your songs.
Another option is to create a “Lyrics” submenu page for your Music section and post all of your lyrics there. Just make sure that fans can find them on your website.
6. Add Album Info & Description
Another important element to add to your music page is info about the albums/songs. When/where was it recorded? With who? What was the inspiration behind the creation of the album? How was the experience? Why are you excited about it? Give your fans some context, let them read the story about your music while they’re listening to it, it might help inspire them to buy it.
7. Offer Other Purchase Options
Although you should emphasize selling music through your own website, some people simply prefer to buy through stores that they’re familiar with. So at the bottom of your Music page, include links to stores like iTunes and Amazon, but don’t bring more attention to them than that.
Some artists have large calls-to-action sending people directly to iTunes to buy their music, but again, your focus should be on selling directly to your fans and getting most of the money, and more importantly, collecting email addresses to stay in touch with those fans.
This is a guest post by musician website and marketing platform Bandzoogle. With Bandzoogle, musicians can easily build their website and manage their direct-to-fan marketing and sales. For more website tips, check out their blog and follow them on Twitter at @Bandzoogle
For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net