Songwriting Tips, News & More

Jessica Brandon

Recent Posts

6th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards)

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 @12:02 PM

6th Annual IAMA (International Acoustic Music Awards) is currently accepting entries, this awards competition is judged based on songwriting, performance & artistry. Win prizes in 8 different categories: Best Male Artist, Best Female Artist, Best Group/Duo, Folk/Americana/Roots, AAA/Alternative, Instrumental, Open, Bluegrass/Country. There will also be an Overall Grand Prize winner awarded to the top winner worth US$11,000, which includes radio promotion to over 250 radio stations in US and Canada! Also, our past winners Charlie Dore and The Refugees will be featured on Acoustic Cafe, a syndicated radio program. You may also obtain the entry form at:
http://www.inacoustic.com/entryform.html

Or enter online, *FREE EARLY ENTRY BONUS: First 1,000 entrants will each receive a FREE subscription from Broadjam worth $25.00 (first 1,000 entrants, must be entered by Oct 31st or earlier, so hurry!) :
http://www.broadjam.com/contests/details/contest/index.php?contest_id=1493


Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, music composition, IAMA, International Acoustic Music Awards, Music Performance, Music Artistry

USA Songwriting Competition Winner On Tonight Show "Conan O'Brien"

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Jul 23, 2009 @11:37 AM

Kate Voegele not only hit the big time by landing #10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts but also appeared earlier this week on Tonight Show "Conan O'Brien" on July 20, 2009. Kate got her start right here by winning the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition and she is still the youngest first prize winner at 18 years old at that time. 

 

 

 

Tags: Kate Voegele, hit song, hit songwriter, songwriting competition, song writing showcase, USA Songwriting Competition, Billboard Charts, One Tree Hill, Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien

Songwriting Critiques Week, An Exclusive Midsummer Opportunity

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sat, Jul 11, 2009 @11:52 AM

Songwriting Critiques Week - Exclusive Midsummer Week Promotion!

Sonicbids & 14th Annual USA Songwriting Competition are offering songwriting critiques. This is exclusively for the week of 7/10/09 to 7/17/09. Yes, only all songs submitted during this time period will each receive a songwriting critique.

Winning songs will receive radio airplay in United States and Canada along with great prizes such as a Top Prize of over $50,000. Past years winning songs went on to hit the charts as well as get placed with various recording artists. You could hit the Top 40 charts or have your song placed on TV, Film or various recording artists and receive execellent exposure!

Sponsors of the 14th Annual Competition are: Acoustic Guitar Magazine, New Music Weekly, Sony, Audio-Technica, Ibanez Guitars, D'Addario Strings, Cakewalk, Sam Ash Music Stores, Singer & Musician magazine, Mi7.com, Overloud, Sonoma Wireworks, Intellitouch Tuners, SongFrame Software, Indie Bible, Acoustic Café Radio Program, Livewire Contacts, AirplayAccess.com, Loggins Promotion, Superdups.com, Sirius XM Radio, Broadjam & Sonicbids.

Hurry, you must your songs enter no later than July 17, 2009:
http://www.sonicbids.com/usasong


Tags: how to write a song, sonicbids, tips on how to write a song, songwriting critique, songwriting evaluation, songwriting feedback

Michael Jackson, The Songwriter Remembered (1958 - 2009)

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 @09:28 PM

Michael Jackson

We here are USA Songwriting Competition are all saddened to hear the passing of the legendary superstar Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson is known as one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. However, few people have acknowledge that Michael is also one of the greatest songwriters of his time. Of all the hits he has on the charts, few haev acknowledged that he wrote hits like his trademark songs "Billie Jean", "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Beat It".

These are a list of songs that Michael Jackson has writing credits for as a solo artist in his albums:

"Billie Jean"

"Beat It"

"Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough"

"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"

"The Girl Is Mine"

"Bad"

"The Way You Make Me Feel"

"Liberian Girl"

"Another Part of Me"

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"

"Dirty Diana"

"Smooth Criminal"

"Leave Me Alone"

"Black or White"

"Remember the Time"

"Heal the World"

"In the Closet"

"Scream"

"Earth Song"

"They Don't Care About Us"

"Stranger in Moscow"

"You Rock My World"

 

 

 For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 

 

Tags: songwriter, Songwriting, Michael Jackson

USA Songwriting Competition Winning Songs On The Charts

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 @09:46 PM

Thanks to those that have e-mailed us and asked for our other winning songs that have hit the charts. Many that have won were cut by other major artists, placed on film & TV. Here are some of the winning songs that have hit the charts:

Kate Voegele (2005 USA Songwriting Competition 1st Prize winner, Pop category) had her winning song "Only Fooling Myself" peak at #37 on the Billboard AC Charts

Ari Gold (2007 USA Songwriting Competition Overall Grand Prize Winner) has his winning song "Where The Music Takes You" currently peak at #10 (Billboard HOT DANCE/CLUB PLAY Charts). The song hit #1 on Sirius OutQ and #1 video on Logo TV channel.

Aruna Sutra's song "Break You Open" which won first prize in the Pop category in 2004, hit the US Pop charts with a peak at #45 on the R&R® (Radio & Records) CHR/Pop Top 50 chart. R&R, like Billboard, is a national publication which tracks and monitors the most prominent airplay nationwide (CHR stands for Contemporary Hit Radio).

Darryl Zerro (1999, 2000 & 2001 first Prize winner - Dance category, 1999- 1st Prize - Pop, 2000 1st Prize - Latin Category, 2000 Honorable mention award) has his winning song "Let The Joy Rise" cut by Dance diva - Abigail. It hit #1 on the Dance charts and went #9 in the Billboard Dance charts. His winning song in 2000 (First Prize - Latin category) "Chiquita Mi Senorita" was recorded by Top 10 artist - Paulina Rubio. Darryl has won a record 6 awards - five 1st prizes and one honorable mention award in a period of 3 years (1999 to 2001)

 


 

Tags: Songwriting, writing songs, USA Songwriting Competition, Billboard Charts, Hits, songwriting success

USA Songwriting Competition Winner Hits Top 10

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 @12:22 PM

Kate Voegele Performing at USA Songwriting Competition's showcase at SXSW

Kate Voegele's new album with Interscope Records was released on May 2009 and it hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts on this week of June 15, 2009. 

Kate is also an actress on "One Tree Hill". She has appeared on "Good Morning America" and her new single "99 Times" is climbing the Billboard charts and has been receiving heavy airplay throughout United States. 

Kate Voegele started her claim to fame by winning first prize in the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition with her song "Only Fooling Myself" in the Pop category. She became the youngest winner at just 18 years old at that time. After winning the USA Songwriting Competition, she went on to perform at USA Songwriting Competition's showcase at SXSW on March 2006 (see picture above). Her stunning performance and her win lead her to be signed to Interscope records shortly after. Her winning song "Only Fooling Myself" was featured in her debut album with Intercsope records and it peaked at #37 on Billboard Charts (Adult Top 40). Her debut album peaked at #27 on the Billboard 200 Album Charts. 

Many USA Songwriting Competition winners in the past have received recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2006 First Prize Winner and 2008 Overall Grand Prize Winner Jordan Zevon was signed to New West Records and appeared on TV program “Late Night With David Letterman”. 2007 Overall Grand Prize Winner Ari Gold had his winning song “Where The Music Takes You” hit #10 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Darrell Scott, winner of the country category of the 2005 USA Song writing Competition had his winning song "Good Ol USA" cut by award winning country singer Faith Hill and the song was renamed “We've Got Nothing But Love to Prove.” Also, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer (Kensington, MD), winners of the Children's' music category of the 2005 USA Song writing Competition won a Grammy award in the Best Children's music album in the 2006 after winning the USA Songwriting Competition. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition visit:

http://www.songwriting.net

 

Tags: Kate Voegele, hit song, hit songwriter, songwriting competition, composing songs, One Tree Hill, sxsw, songwriting showcase, Billboard Album Charts

Top 10 Ways To Win A Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 @07:59 AM

Written by Ira Greenfield

This is a follow-up artilce to the one I wrote last month. I have been approached many times by songwriters how to submit their songs and win a songwriting competition. This is what I think that will work best:

1. Catchy Chorus or Hook
Having a catchy melodic chorus or hook that drives home the message always works well in a song. 2007 USA Songwriting Competition top winning song "Where The Music Takes You" by Ari Gold, Joe Hogue "JOJOHO" and Sean Petersen has such an catchy chorus that it not only won the songwriting competition but also hit Top 10 on the Billboard charts. This is a good evidence of a song with a catchy chorus/hook.

2. Good Verse
Writing a good melodic verse starts and keeps the listener involved and wanting to hear more. The 2008 USA Songwriting Competition top winning song "Home" by Jordan Zevon, Jordan Summers & Morty Coyle is an example. The catchy verse keeps the listener curious to listen for the upcoming hook.

3. Short Into or No Intro
Everyone just love long classic intros such as "Stairway To Heaven" and 'Wish You Were Here". However, radio friendly songs today tend to have shorter intros. Also, at a music industry judging level, judges and A&R want to hear the meat of the song. They just do not want to waste any time. The 2007 winning song had no intro, the song starts immediately, no waste of time.

4. Get to Quickly to the Hook
You really need to get to the point quickly. I have been visiting Nashville songwriting scene every year and their rule of thumb is getting to the chorus within 45 seconds for savvy songwriters.

5. Good Lyrics or Storyline
The 2007 runner-up song "The War Was In Color" had such a touching lyric about World War 2 and imagery of the lyrics just jump out from the CD.

6. Unique Idea
Many songs are almost the same. 2008 Winning song in the Folk Category "Snare Drum" by Lucy Wainwright Roche, had lyrics written about someone clapping his hands making "Snare Drums" sounds. Also, there are hit songs that just stand out for being so different: Womanizer and Poker Face. There isn't "I love you, you love me" cliches in songs like these. Using cliches like "You wanna break my heart and now I fall apart" are such cliches in lyric writing that it doesn't show any originality.

7. Good Use of Chord Progression
2008 Top winning song "Home" had Beatles inspired chord progressions with a twist. The 2007 winning song has retro "George Michael/Wham" inspired chords but with a more up to date musical feel as the song goes on.

8. Good Use of Melodic Line
2003 Top winning song "Lighted Up" by Gabriel Mann had a drastic change in the pace of the melodic line that by the time the chorus comes, it stands out and the melodic line slows down in the chorus works well.

9. Short Instrumental interlude in between Verses and Chorus as well as Chorus and Bridge
Long interludes between verses and choruses are frowned upon. There was an entry that was given to me to listen with a 1 minute intro, 1 minute lead guitar interlude between verses and choruses that I had to fast forward. The judges all want you to get to the point quickly, please do not waste their time.

10. Using The Right Instrumentation
If the song is a ballad, vocals and piano or vocals and guitar are sufficient. For a kicking Rock/Alternative song or a Dance/Electronica, a more produced version with bass, keyboards, guitars, vocals may be needed to display the use of the song. However, radio ready or polished production is not necessary. The runner-up of the 1999 Competition "Happy Valentines' Day" by Trina Belamide was recorded simply with just vocals and piano.

For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please visit:
http://www.songwriting.net


Tags: Songwriting, songwriting competition, songwriting contest

How Songwriters Can Create a Winning Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, May 08, 2009 @12:25 PM

~written by Ira Greenfield

Many songwriters have asked me what makes a winning song. As VP of development at USA Songwriting Competition for the past 14 years and I have heard winning years through the years, a winning song should be creative in both music composition aspect as well as the lyric composition. A good example is the top winning song of 2008 competition "Home" written by Jordan Zevon, Jordan Summers and Morty Coyle. Musically, it displays surprises in Chord changes and the lyrics about coming home are not the clichés of what you hear on radio. It didn't hurt the song that chorus is  catchy.

Another example is the winning song of the country category in 2007 "I Can Live Without You", written by Mary Danna and Troy Verges. One would think the song is about someone who doesn't want to live with another. However, there is a twist at the end of the sentence in the chorus "But I just don't want to". They have taken a love and heartache song and given a "surprising twist" in the end. Also, the bridge was short, surprising and also emotionally high (with the melody hitting a high note at the end of the melodic line) and yet sad. That song still remains a favorite at the USA Songwriting Competition.

I have heard submissions where songwriters try to write the derivative songs that were number one on the charts at one time and end up being awkward. One case was a songwriter who took the entire track of Jennifer Lopez song "If You Had My Love" and wrote a similar melody to the background music, even the melodic line's rhythm was so similar. The chorus even copied the melody of the original song. Our judges thought the song has been plagiarized, let alone not being creative as the judges left the room singing to Jennifer Lopez song instead. Needless to say, that song didn't win.

I realized an interesting fact that the top winning songs of the past two years have been a three-way collaboration. The winning song last year was written by three songwriters and so was the year before ("Where the Music Takes You", written by Ari Gold, Joe Hogue "JOJOHO" and Sean Petersen). That song also hit top 10 on the Billboard Charts after winning the competition. "Where the Music Takes You" was unique, it had no intro, the vocals start as soon as the music plays. The chorus was so catchy that the judges left the song singing to it.

Speaking of catchy, the winning song in 2004 was written by five songwriters ("My Three Wishes", written by Patrice Pike, Wayne Sutton, Sean Phillips and Darrell Phillips). The opening hook in the chorus of the Alternative song "My Three Wishes" was accented in an off beat way that would draw the listener to want to hear more. You can tell that the song took extra effort and creativity.

A song may sound nice to listen to but please note that a lot of work is being done to the song: musically, lyrically, artistically and more. Cher's biggest hit "Believe" was written not by one but six songwriters! Paul Barry, Matt Gray, Brian Higgins, Stuart McLellan, Timothy Powell, and Steven Torch wrote that hit number one in 23 different countries. Where would Cher be without this great hit song like this? Could you be creative enough write a song better as good as this or even better? Write one and submit it to us in the USA Songwriting Competition.

Information:

http://www.songwriting.net/enter


Tags: Song writing, Songwriting, lyric, hit song, hit songwriter, song contest, songwriting competition, songwriting contest, songwriting partner, collaborator, Melody, writing songs, song writing showcase, composing songs, music composition, lyric writing

Jordan Zevon Performing At USA Songwriting Competition showcase during SXSW 2009

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, May 05, 2009 @10:25 PM

Tags: Song writing, Songwriting, song contest, songwriting competition, songwriting contest, American Idol, song writing showcase, sxsw, songwriting showcase

Muscle Music Marketing For Your Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Apr 16, 2009 @04:16 PM

Muscle Music Marketing For Your Songwriting
By Molly-Ann Leikin

Most creative people are terrible at business. We're all very, very sensitive and take it personally when someone is abrupt or rude as we nervously try to promote our uncertain selves.

The guy who makes one more phone call, one more time, gets the meeting. The most persistent musicians are the ones with the deals.

We hate hearing that because we're all looking for fairy godmothers to rescue and discover us, but Toto, there is no fairy godmother. No matter how much we want or need one, it's on each of us to switch gears and become the cool-headed champions of our own art.

Nobody will ever love our work more than we do. Not our mothers, dads, wives, husbands, ex-husbands, ex-husbands twice removed, significant or insignificant others.

The good news is that in my book, "How To Be A Hit Songwriter", there are three whole chapters devoted to the creative marketing your music and lyrics. And in the Fifth Edition of "How To Write A Hit Song", just published, there are two.

One of the best recommendations I can make is to call, speak to and/or meet one new music person every day. Not just when you feel like it. Every day. Keep a list with phone numbers and email addresses. At the end of the year, you'll have 365 contacts. Sure, it's easier staying home under the bed, hoping hoping hoping to just mail it in, unsolicited, but you have to leave the comfort of your creative space and get out into the world where the people are you need to meet. The chances are good that the next Sony CEO won't knock on your door desperate to go potty, hoping for a diet Coke, with shaved Bavarian ice, in the bargain.

Don't you owe it to your music to learn to be as good at business as you are at writing, singing and performing? When you are, you'll have the whole package. Then nobody can stop you.

© 2009 Molly-Ann Leikin

Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a songwriting consultant in L.A. with a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination. She is also a Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe). Three of her clients have Grammy nominations, another won an Emmy and so far, 5041 others have placed their work, with Molly's help, in movies, TV, on CD's and in commercials.
The author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter", Molly's website is www.songmd.com and her toll-free number for the USA and Canada is 800-851-6588. You can also reach her at [email protected]


Tags: Songwriting, how to write a song, hit song, hit songwriter, song contest, songwriting competition, songwriting contest, songwriting partner, writing partner, collaborator, American Idol, Melody, Melodies, writing songs