Songwriting Tips, News & More

Are Your Song Pitches as Perfect as They Should Be?

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 @03:58 PM

[Songwriting Advice] Are Your Song Pitches as Perfect as They Should Be?
by Jason Blume

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When I critique songs during my workshops and webinars I ask the writers what their intention is for their song. For example, do they hope the song will be recorded by a hit country artist, or is the writer a folk singer who wrote the song to perform it him- or herself at coffeehouses. Is the goal to have the song recorded by a pop star, or to license it for placement in television or films? I need to know the writer’s hope for the song so I can assess whether the melody and lyrics are hitting the target the writer was aiming for. Songs that work perfectly for one artist or genre might be completely inappropriate for others.

In a surprising number of instances, when I ask the writers’ intention for their songs I get responses that reveal they are not listening to the recent hits by the artists they hope to write for. For example, sometimes a song that would fit perfectly on a playlist of 1960-era folksingers is intended by the writer to be recorded by one of today’s country stars. Similarly, a song that sounds appropriate for a 1980s boy band might be intended for a current urban/pop star.

My prescription is to go to Billboard and jot down the titles of the top five songs in the genres where you believe your song might fit. Listen to those songs carefully and print their lyrics. Note the rhythms in the vocal melodies, the instrumentation, the songs’ structures, the chord changes
and the style of language used in the lyric. Then ask yourself if your song contains similar techniques. It can also be beneficial to seek professional feedback to be sure we do not have a blind spot and that our songs are indeed accomplishing what we intended.

If your goal is to place a song with a specific artist, study his or her recent hits. I’m not suggesting we clone those songs; we need to push the creative envelope–not rehash musical territory that has already been covered. But we need to accomplish this while writing material that is consistent with the genre we are aiming for.

Give your songs their best shot by studying the market and being sure your pitches are “pitch perfect” for the artists or licensing opportunities you target.

[Reprinted by permission from BMI]

Jason Blume is the author of 6 Steps to Songwriting Success, This Business of Songwriting, and Inside Songwriting (Billboard Books). His songs are on three GRAMMY-nominated albums and have sold more than 50,000,000 copies.

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, pitching songs, songwrite, song demo, Jason Blume, collaborations, Co-Writing Songs

Playing With The Box

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 @06:00 PM

Playing With The Box
by Harriet Schock
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It all started with a student I had named Moke. He would bring me songs that he wasn’t happy with but he couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I put him through my songwriting course “steps” and very early in the process, he discovered something that got him enthusiastic again: In a verse, verse, bridge, verse song with the title at the end of the verse, you can twist the title and make it have a different meaning at least three times during the course of the song. Each verse will lead to it differently and it will change meaning just like a chameleon changes colors. I’d forgotten what that realization felt like, but he was having it like fireworks. From then on, every week he’d bring me another song that attempted to change the title’s meaning at the end of each verse. It was at that point that I coined the term “playing with the box.”

There’s a well known story about the child at Christmas who is given an expensive toy only to end up playing with the box the toy came in. This is exactly what it feels like to me when I see a writer find a clever idea and try to twist and turn it, outlining a way the story could develop, without any real meat to the story. He’s playing with the title, as the child would play with the box at Christmas.

When a title comes in at the end of a verse and hits us right in the seat of our emotions, it’s very powerful. “The Song Remembers When” by Hugh Prestwood is a perfect example of this. But that song is not a clever mind game. It is a work full of real-life pictures, supporting a truth that goes beyond language.

Many of my students have written powerful songs with the structure of verse, verse, bridge, verse with the title at the end of each verse. One of the most talented and skilled writers I’ve ever worked with is Tracy Newman. In the decade  she’s been in my class, she’s written some astonishing songs. The one I’d like to quote here is “Someone in the Room.” She twists the title each time but never lets the emotional impact be lessened by our awareness of “cleverness.”

SOMEONE IN THE ROOM (Tracy Newman 2011, Kabeauty Music)

He lets me brighten up his day  
Pours out his heart to me  
He’s interested in what I say
And when we disagree
He fights fair, we work things out
He’s such an open book, I have no doubt
I’m his special SOMEONE IN THE ROOM

Not a word of that is true
He only looks my way
When I interrupt his view
Or take the remote away
Sad eyes, the TV
It’s finally gotten through to me
I’ve become just SOMEONE IN THE ROOM

He used to fly to me with a wild heart
Pretend to cry when we were far apart
Yeah, he’d call me up and say my name
Over and over again
 
He took me to the highest high
I never touched the ground
So I don’t even want to try
To travel this far down
It feels so wrong
Days and nights are too long
To be just a SOMEONE IN THE ROOM
Life is too short
And I want much more
Than to be just SOMEONE IN THE ROOM


Getting back to my student, Moke, I should say that he soon learned there was more to emotional impact than clever plays on words. He’s eventually chose topics to write about that were connected to reality and fertile with pictures. Occasionally he would fall off the wagon and bring in something that looked a bit like a movie set of a house, with no house behind it, but I would just look at him and he would say “I’m playing with the box.” It’s great to have students who do my work for me.

Harriet Schock wrote the words and music to the Grammy-nominated #1 hit, "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 three other Jaglom films and starred in “Just 45 Minutes from Broadway.“ Jaglom’s recent film, “The M Word,” features Harriet’s song “Bein’ a Girl,” performed on camera at the end of the film. 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. In 2007, Los Angeles Women In Music honored Harriet with their Career Achievement and Industry Contribution award. Harriet teaches songwriting privately, in classes and a popular online course by private email. For her performance schedule, list of credits and samples of her work or information on her book (Becoming Remarkable, for Songwriters and Those Who Love Songs), and her new up coming book, her songwriting classes, online courses and consultation, go towww.harrietschock.com

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, pitching songs, Helen Reddy, songwrite, song demo, collaborations, Co-Writing Songs

5 Things You Can Do To Make Your New Year More Musically Successful

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Jan 02, 2017 @08:00 AM

5 Things You Can Do To Make Your New Year More Musically Successful
by Karen Randle
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As you begin the year, we wish you great music making, prosperity and autonomy…and hope you have your best year yet.

Today, I’ll list five things that will specifically help you meet your songwriting and music making goals for 2017.

1)      Pick your biggest wins. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with songwriting and music making ideas you want to implement. Instead of attempting everything from your book or tape of ideas, melodic lines, lyric ideas, becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed and completing nothing, pick one or two ideas that will give you the biggest wins.  Give yourself a deadline to complete them. Then pick two more. For example, if you run into a songwriting block today to a completing a break up song, try it again in 2 days time, this will give you a new perspective and might give you a bigger win in 2 days time when your mind is fresh. Make your single focus to get to finish that verse or pre-chorus or melodic line that didn’t work earlier in place in the next week. Then move on to your next big idea.

 

2)      Rewrite your song. People often wonder what hit songwriters like Desmond Child do to write iconic hit songs. The answer is simply that words matter and he’s very good at picking and combining words that catches the audience’s ear. He wrote “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” as a sole writer, the song became a minor hit for Bonnie Tyler in the middle of 1986. Desmond said “I was sore at the record company for not pushing that song”. "I'm going to prove that that song's a hit! So we wrote it again".

Although Desmond was dissatisfied with its success in the US and UK, he did not give up, he rewrote the song and it became one the biggest and most iconic hit song in rock history. Thus, “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” became “You Give Love a Bad Name” with co-writers Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. This song also was on VH1's "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs".

Here is a very important lesson you can learn from Desmond Child: Don't give up, regroup and rewrite your song.

 

3)      Test and Try writing in a different genre.  Let’s say you love Country music but hate writing in the Rock or Hip-Hop genre. It doesn’t mean you should thump your nose at Rock and Hip-Hop styles.

Heard of hick-hop? Country rap is a subgenre of popular music blending country music with hip hop-style rapping, also known as hick-hop or rural rap. Country rap began to form as a genre when Bubba Sparxxx and producer Shannon "Fat Shan" Houchins created Sparxxx's 2001 debut album Dark Days, Bright Nights as an independent release which was later re-released on Interscope Records. The trend continued in 2005 when country artists Big & Rich introduced Cowboy Troy to the country world via 2005's Loco Motive released on Warner Brothers, which reached #2 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and the rest is history.

 

4)      Experiment by performing yourself as a music artist. Meghan Trainor was signed by a music publisher in Nashville as a songwriter. She experimented and gave it a try as a recording artist. The rest as we say is history, Meghan’s debut single “All About That Bass” became one of the biggest hit single by a debut artist, hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, selling over 15 million copies worldwide, #1 on 58 different countries, her debut album debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 Album charts and she went on to win a Grammy award for Best New Artist.

 

5)      Collaboration with other songwriters.  If you look at the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, chances of a song written by more than one songwriter or even multi-way collaboration between songwriters and producers. The #1 song of the year 2016 “Love Yourself” was written by Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Benjamin Levin. The #2 song of the year 2016 is a multi-way collaboration “Sorry” written by Justin Bieber, Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Sonny Moore and Michael Tucker.

 

 

Information on the 22nd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net/enter


 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, pitching songs, songwrite, song demo, Desmond Child, collaborations, Co-Writing Songs, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Meghan Trainor, Bon Jovi