Songwriting Tips, News & More

2012 USA Songwriting Competition Radio Podcast

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Apr 05, 2012 @04:29 PM

 

Tune in to the 2012 USA Songwriting Competition Podcast, featuring of the winners of the USA Songwriting Competition (past & present). Click on the audio player above to listen to the music (See Above)

Music featured in this podcast by:

Alexander Cardinale, singer-songwriter

Alexander Cardinale & Morgan Taylor – Traffic Lights (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Pop & Overall 2nd Prize)

Gabriel Mann – Lighted Up (2002 USA Songwriting Competition Overall Grand Prize)

Orly Forman & Yagel Sulchiner, performed by Orly – Boy on a Hill (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Folk)

Molly Hunt, Troy Johnson & Jack Williams, performed by Molly Hunt – Go There (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Country & Overall 3rd Prize)

Simon Spire – A Four-Letter Word (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Folk)

Nenna Yvonne - Go Around (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition Overall Grand Prize)

Ed Romanoff, Crit Harmon & Mary Gauthier – Breakfast for One on the 5th of July (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize, Lyrics)

Patrice Pike, Wayne Sutton, Sean Phillips & Darrell Phillips, performed by Patrice Pike and “Sister Seven” – My Three Wishes (2004 USA Songwriting Competition Overall Grand Prize)

Nianell - Finally (16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition First Prize, Gospel/Inspirational)

USA Songwriting Competition promotes the art & excellence in songwriting. For more information on the 17th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, American Idol, USA Songwriting Competition, Billboard Charts, Alexander Cardinale, Radio Podcast, Gabriel Mann, Orly, Molly Hunt, Simon Spire, Nenna Yvonne, Ed Romanoff, Patrice Pike, Nianell

Songwriters Tip: Presenting Yourself as a Pro

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Mar 02, 2011 @05:25 PM

Presenting Yourself as a Pro

(By Molly-Ann Leikin)

Molly-Ann Leikin
In Nashville, one of the most successful songwriters of all time writes on Mondays and Wednesdays, then spends the rest of the week wearing another hat altogether.  The man is not a tunesmith on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.  He is in business.  That’s when he pitches his songs.


Business people make professional-sounding phone calls, write professional-looking mail email, texts, and check their spelling. They arrive on time, look solid and immediately gain the respect of the person on the other side of the desk – in our case, the guy with the contract and the money.      


Recently, while interviewing candidates for a job in my company, people I’d spoken to at length on the phone who sounded like great possibilities, showed up late and stoned in flip flops.  They texted during our conversation, spelled songwriting with two t’s and didn’t know who David Foster was.  Folks - that’s not it.
If you looked at yourself in the mirror, would you hire you?  Would you want to do business with the person you’re looking at?  Do you appear to be a solid investment?  And most important, do you know what the guy on the other side of the desk needs - not just what you want him to want?    


It would help if you consider yourself a potential business partner, not somebody begging for a shot.  That sure changes the dynamic, doesn’t it?       


Do you have a business card?  If not, get one.  A clever one.  Make it as original as your music.  After all, nobody can stuff a CD in his wallet.  At least not yet.        Always remember this:  you have something to contribute to the literature of music that nobody else but you can, because nobody else but you is you.  
Present it in a professional manner, and you’re half way home.

© 2011 Molly-Ann Leikin
Molly-Ann Leikin is a Career Mastery Coach and Songwriting Consultant.  An Emmy nominee, Molly has 14 gold and platinum records, plus four ASCAP Country Music Awards.  She's the author of "How To Write A Hit Song" and "How To Be A Hit Songwriter" and has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Violet” that won an Oscar.   Molly has helped launch the careers of thousands of singers and songwriters, three of whom have Grammy nominations.  She can be reached at: www.songmd.com or 800-851-6588.    

Tags: Songwriting, American Idol, Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriters Tip, Presenting Yourself as a Pro, song writing. song writer, The Carpenters, Emmy Awards, Country Music Awards

Songwriting Tips: Jonathan George Songwriter/Producer

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 @02:42 PM

Jonathan George, Songwriter/Producer speaks about songwriting and collaborating with music artists, songwriters and bands. He won overall grand prize in the 2009 USA Songwriting Competition with Sarah Lonsert and Jami Templeton:

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Sarah Lonsert, American Idol, producer, USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriting Tips, Jonathan George, Jami Templeton. interview

Kate Voegele Talks About Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Aug 24, 2010 @09:59 AM

Kate Voegele won first prize in the Pop category of the USA Songwriting Competition in 2005 and became the youngest winner at that time at just 18 years old as a teen phenom.

She went on to perform at USA Songwriting Competition showcase at SXSW (see picture below) and was signed to Interscope Records shortly after. Her winning song "Only Fooling Myself" went on to hit top 40 on the Billboard charts that year. Her 2nd album hit the Billboard 200 Album charts at #10. She has appeared on major TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", acted in "One Tree Hill" and toured with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. 

Kate Voegele Performing at USA Songwriting Competition showcase at SXSW

 

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

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, lyric, Kate Voegele, how to write a song, American Idol, writing songs, Lyrics, lyric writing, USA Songwriting Competition, Billboard Charts, One Tree Hill, Billboard Album Charts, Hits, hit song writer, tips on how to write a song, Conan O'Brien

Songwriting Advice: The Missing Structure of the Music Industry

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 @04:05 PM

Missing Structure of the Music Industry

The music industry is an interesting one. 20 percent of the music industry record labels owned by Sony, Universal, EMI and Warner owns 80 percent of the music industry. This Pareto's Principle like "80-20" rule is hard to acknowledge but true. 

Success in the music industry is in the eye of the beholder. Less than one out of a hundred artists (music artists such as singer-songwriters) will have a song or album on the record charts such as Billboard or make 1 million in sales. That's less than 1%. This superstar 1% level control 80% of all music sales, songs you hear on the radio, downloads, concerts, etc. Singer-songwriters such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kate Voegele, Darrell Scott have sustaining careers, playing large venues hitting the Billboard Charts or making 1 million in sales.

The remaining 99% of the rest of the industry struggle to get signed, let alone hitting the charts, remaining in perpetual captivity. Most independent artists print 1,000 copies of their CDs and struggle to even sell half (500). They would make $80,000 or less per year in revenues or concert tickets per year. With no direction 99% remain in this captivity as they struggle through each day. The top 1% are using a system that 99% aren't.  

However, there is a solution, it is called The Hit Songwriter Process™ , this is a proven method used by major record labels would release 99% of the music industry. The music artists break through out of that captivity and shatter the ceiling of complexity. This missing structure is what missing in the music industry. The general public thinks American Idol and America's Got Talent are means to an end. The missing structure is a tough 8 step method to make a music artist breakthrough. 

The Hit Songwriter Process™ , is the missing structure where talent and ambitious music artists can achieve the $1 million in sales and above. It is the only way to do it in a strategic manner 

Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Kate Voegele, Ari Gold, American Idol, Darrell Scott, Music Industry, The Hit Songwriter Process, The Missing Structure, Madonna

TEEN PHENOM WINS USA SONGWRITING COMPETITION, NEW COMPETITION BEGINS

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Dec 09, 2009 @02:18 PM

Sarah Lonsert

Teen phenom Sarah Lonsert won the Overall Grand Prize of the 14th Annual USA Songwriting Competition along with co-writer Jonathan George. Her winning song "Dancing Through Life" will be on the USA Songwriting Competition's compilation CD next year. Sarah Lonsert, only 17 years old, not only broke the first prize record of being the youngest winner but also the overall grand prize winner of being the youngest winner ever. The previous youngest first prize winner was Kate Voegele, who won in 2005 at 18 years old. Adrianne Gonzalez was the youngest overall grand prize winner at 22 years old when she won in 1999. Sarah also won first prize in the Dance/Electronica category, making her the first from that category to ever win the overall grand prize. Sarah Lonsert will be releasing a full length CD earlier next year. Although Sarah suffers from autism, she is a budding singer-songwriter and has also won the L.A. Music Awards last month.

Eric Colville (from Ipswich, MA) won the overall second prize and Anne Simoni (from Brazil) won the overall third prize.

This year also marks the first time that USA Songwriting Competition had two winners from Spain. Ariel Queupumil from Guadalajara, Spain won the first prize in the Latin Category while Eduardo de la Iglesia Nieto from Madrid, Spain won the First Prize in the instrumental category.

Celeste Scalone, an American Idol semi-finalist and "Making The Band" reality tv show finalist won 1st prize in the R&B category. 

Nicole Morier and Fabien Waltman from Los Angeles won the first prize in the Pop category. Nicole has written songs for Britney Spears and is also an artist. Helle Hansen (from Denmark) tied with Ariel Queupumil for having the most songs in the finals, at 5 songs each. Here is the list of winners:

OVERALL GRAND PRIZE WINNER:
Sarah Lonsert
Dancing Through Life - Sarah Lonsert & Jonathan George; Mission Viejo, CA


OVERALL 2nd PRIZE:
End of War - Eric Colville; Ipswich, MA


OVERALL 3rd PRIZE:
Papagaio - Anne Simoni; BRAZIL

 


FIRST PRIZES IN EACH CATEGORY:
1st Prize - LATIN
Fruto Prohibido - Ariel Queupumil; Guadalajara, SPAIN

1st Prize - LYRICS
End of War - Eric Colville; Ipswich, MA

1st Prize - R&B
Red Light - Celeste Scalone & Enpho; Sherman Oaks, CA

1st Prize - DANCE/ELECTRONICA
Dancing Through Life - Sarah Lonsert and Jonathan George; Mission Viejo, CA

1st Prize - FOLK
Bullets To Bite - Melissa Greener; Austin, TX

1st Prize - COUNTRY
You and I - Kyler England; Los Angeles, CA

1st Prize - ROCK/ALTERNATIVE
I'm Not - Carla Cappa; Blue Bell, PA

1st Prize - POP
Good Boy - Nicole Morier & Fabien Waltman; Los Angeles, CA

1st Prize - HIP-HOP/RAP
Strange Kinda Love - Ashley J. Llorens, Monique Harcum, Steven Boel & SoulStice; Columbia, MD

1st Prize - WORLD
Papagaio - Anne Simoni; BRAZIL

1st Prize - INSTRUMENTAL
The Pursuit - Eduardo de la Iglesia Nieto; Madrid, SPAIN

1st Prize - JAZZ
Your Eyes - Vanessa Moodley; Durban, SOUTH AFRICA

1st Prize - GOSPEL/INSPIRATIONAL
Every Time - Tom Poulter; NSW, AUSTRALIA

1st Prize - NOVELTY/COMEDY
The Starbucks of County Down - Greg Trafidlo, Neal Phillips & John Seay; Salem, VA

1st Prize - CHILDREN
Tallest Tree - Jeremy and Rebecca; Visalia, CA

 

Honorable Mention Awards
1. Vamo Ya - Peter Torsiello & Liliana de Leon; Mesa, AZ
2. Beautiful Life - Claire Ulanoff, Will Hopkins; Nashville, TN
3. Anyway U Want - Nichole C. Minor aka Alias; Washington D.C.
4. This is My Life - Andrea Benham; Bloomfield, NJ
5. The Peddler - Maria Dunn; Edmonton, CANADA
6. Hurricane - (Mandee Radford) Alathea; Unicoi, TN
7. The Runner - Jesse Terry/Fred Wilhelm; Nashville, TN
8. Bait Shack - (Whitelaw, Lewis & Lewis ) Jimi Whitelaw; Gallatin, TN
9. Hard To Smile - ORBO & The Longshots; Os, NORWAY
10. Waiting - Jonathan Ferreri & Chris Upton; Nashvile, TN
11. Guitar - Carsten Lindberg, Joachim Svare, J. Belle & Jayden; Loa Angeles, CA
12. Eye for an Eye - Rebecca Wolfers & Dirtywings; Queensland, AUSTRALIA
13. Vai-e-Vem - Luiz Simas; New York, NY
14. Reason For Me To Smile - Helle Hansen & Ole Kibsgaard; Copenhagen, DENMARK
15. Where There Are Dreams - Jen Waters & Bob Farrell; Toluca Lake, CA
16. What I Do With Your Time - (Anadara Arnold and Stephanie Lewis) Anadara; Nashville, TN
17. I've Done It - Brent Lillie & Paul Harris; Queensland, AUSTRALIA
18. Jubilation - Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer; Kensington, MD
19. Woman In The Dark - Dewi Puspita; Bali, INDONESIA
20. Hypnotized - Beezy; Commerce City, CO


Entries are currently being accepted for the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Winning songs of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition will receive airplay on a nationally syndicated radio program "Acoustic Café" as well as Sirius XM Satellite Radio. This is the first Songwriting Competition that gives airplay to the winning songs, giving deserving bands, songwriters the recognition and exposure they deserve. Entrants stand to win a grand prize of over US$50,000 in cash and music gear from sponsors such as Sony, D'Addario Strings, Ibanez Guitars, Audio-Technica, IK Multimedia, and more, making this the largest prize package for any annual songwriting competition. For more information on the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit:
http://www.songwriting.net

 


Tags: Songwriting, Sarah Lonsert, Nicole Morier, American Idol, USA Songwriting Competition, winners, Britney Spears, Songwriters

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

How Songwriters Can Write Hit Song Melodies, Part 3

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Apr 02, 2009 @07:10 AM

HOW TO WRITE HIT MELODIES, Part 3, by Molly-Ann Leikin

Molly-Ann Leikin, songwriter

When I write a song, I always write the melody first, one note at a time. While I have limited chops as a keyboard player, I do hear melodies in my head. I keep a recording device of some kind with me all the time - in my car, in my purse, next to the bed, even in the shower - so that whenever I get an idea for something, I just record it, la la la'ing. Sometimes I even call my voicemail, and sing to myself. I constantly revise the notes, going over and over and over them. You may work differently, but just remember that songwriting is a process, and what comes out in the first draft is just that - a first draft - and usually needs several more to reach the finish line. I'm lucky because I feel a little click in my gut when I know something I've written is finished. But I don't have anything to do with chords or programming until much later.

After writing the single notes of the chorus, I work backwards to write the individual notes of the verse, again, one note at a time. When I am finally happy with both the verse and the chorus, I go looking for the chords to put around them. That way, I'm not inhibited by my lack of musicianship or intimidated by the technical aspects of programming. I just write the song. Once the melody's down pat and the lyric I write to the melody clicks and I have the chords that go around the notes, then I start thinking about "how do I hear this produced, what instruments do I feel, what record on the radio sounds like what I'm going for." But it all starts with the individual notes of the melody. I know from working with so many talented, developing writers that they start with too much ambition and too much technology and not enough bare simple note-by-note creativity. So if you find your melodies aren't as strong as you would like them to be, or that the marketplace requires, then I suggest you try some version of my way of writing songs and adapt it to your personality. When you change the process, you can change the result.
© 2009 Songwriting Consultants, Ltd.

~Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a song marketing consultant in California, who, for a modest professional fee, works one-on-one to help you find the right writing partner and then helps you market your finished work to all the right people. A Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe), Molly is the author of "How to Write A Hit Song, Fifth edition", (June, 2008) from which this article is excerpted, and "How to Be a Hit Songwriter", both published by Hal Leonard. She has a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination, has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Eight is Enough" and "Violet" that won an Oscar. From the USA and Canada, you can reach Molly, toll-free, at 800-851-6588, or from anywhere in the world, at www.songmd.com. Please note: Molly does not accept unsolicited material. © 2009 Songwriting Consultants, Ltd. For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 


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, Molly-Ann Leikin

How Songwriters Can Write Hit Song Melodies, Part 2

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Apr 01, 2009 @02:42 PM

HOW TO WRITE HIT MELODIES, Part 2, by Molly-Ann Leikin

Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriter

In writing a melody, it's critical to keep your audience surprised.  Since we speak English in iambic pentameter, it's natural to assume we can write in the same meter.  Unfortunately, it's deadly boring.  So I suggest you deliberately vary the lengths of your lines, and the number of notes in each, along with the number of lines or bars per section, to avoid your song sounding predictable.  After all, it's your job as an artist to tell your audience something they aren't expecting.    

The range of most contemporary singers is an octave and three - the interval from middle C, for example, to the E an octave above it.  If you write a tune with a range greater than that, you'll be hard-pressed to find a singer with the chops to handle it.  My song, "An American Hymn", which I wrote with Lee Holdridge, was only recorded once in twenty years until Lee figured out how to revise the bridge melody, reducing our octave and five to an octave and three.  Now the song is recorded at least once a month.    

Most hit "power" ballads, such as Daughtry's "Home," end their verses on notes lower than the ones on which the choruses start.  To create tension and drama in their melodies, I urge my clients, and you, to go up into the chorus, not sideways or down.  Doing the latter is like letting air out of a tire.  So go up and stay up.  And although some contemporary songs break the rising-into-the chorus rule, you can bet their rhythmic hooks at the beginning of and throughout the choruses are strong enough to overcome the melody's drop, and keep us listening.  

~Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a song marketing consultant in California, who, for a modest professional fee, works one-on-one to help you find the right writing partner and then helps you market your finished work to all the right people.  A Eurovision finalist (American Idol in Europe), Molly is the author of "How to Write A Hit Song, Fifth edition", (June, 2008) from which this article is excerpted, and "How to Be a Hit Songwriter", both published by Hal Leonard.  She has a house full of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination, has written themes and songs for over four dozen TV shows and movies, including "Eight is Enough" and "Violet" that won an Oscar. From the USA and Canada, you can reach Molly, toll-free, at 800-851-6588, or from anywhere in the world, at www.songmd.com.  Please note:  Molly does not accept unsolicited material. © 2009 Songwriting Consultants, Ltd. For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go tp: http://www.songwriting.net 


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, Molly-Ann Leikin, Announcements, Product Information