Songwriting Tips, News & More

Singer Songwriter Barry Manilow Fears Songwriting Is History

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 @02:32 PM

Singer Songwriter Barry Manilow Fears Songwriting Is History

Barry Manilow, singer songwriter

Veteran singer Barry Manilow fears the art of songwriting has been lost amid the mass of modern technology used by young musicians.

The Mandy hitmaker loves listening to new music created using computers and drum machines, but he is adamant the devices are replacing the craft of penning simple tracks that can be performed on any instrument.

He tells Fox411's Pop Tarts column, "I'm very involved in the machinery and the technical ways of making music these days, and it is exciting for young people, writing music on their computers with loops and drum machines and making gorgeous, exciting sounding records.

"But what I miss is well-written songs with great ideas, wonderful lyrics, beautiful rhymes and wonderful melodies. I don't hear that anymore, I feel very angry about that. People are making great records because of all the technical abilities, but what I try to do is turn all that stuff off. Do you have a song when you're done?

"I tell these young people to turn off the drums and all that stuff, and ask themselves is there a melody and lyrics there? Can you just sing it there with a guitar or are you locked into all these machines? I don't think they do. If there is one thing I miss in music these days it is great songwriting. I think we've lost it."

(Source: FOX411’s Pop Tarts)

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

Tags: Billboard Charts, singer songwriter, top 40, Billboard #1 Hit, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Billboard, Barry Manilow, Songwriting Fears, modern technology, music computer, loops, drum machines

Songwriting Tip: Creating in a Group, The Collaborating Game

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 @10:39 AM

Creating in a Group – The Collaborating Game

 Pat & Pete Luboff

Here’s a fun way to get your creative juices flowing. Get two or three, or more people in a room to play the collaboration game. The rules are simple:

 

1. NO NOES!

 

You can point to your nose and shake your head to emphasize this rule! This means anything goes! Ignore all your self-imposed limitations and barriers. Utterances such as “I can’t sing,” “That won’t work,” “I’m not good at lyrics,” “That’s stupid,” and all the variations on that theme are NOT ALLOWED. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to eliminate the negative if everyone agrees to this rule.

 

2. NO EVALUATIONS

 

If you judge your ideas before you express them or simultaneously with expressing them, you stop the flow of your ideas. When working in a group, each person has the responsibility to say WHATEVER IDEAS ARE TRIGGERED IN THE PROCESS. If you think to yourself, (trying to avoid Rule 1 by not saying it out loud) “That’s stupid,” and stop yourself from saying it, you have eliminated the stimulus that might have inspired the next person’s thought. Our rule of thumb is, if you really think it’s stupid, you are OBLIGATED to say it out loud. In the early stages of creating, all ideas are good ideas! The time for judging them comes much later in the process. Leave your judge outside the door for now.

 

3. STAY POSITIVE

 

No noes means all yeses! Every idea can be greeted with a “yes.” Every idea will inspire new ideas in other members of the group. Here are some positive phrases that can be used to build on ideas:

 

Yes, and…. Suppose…. Another idea….

Or…. Also…. How about….

What if…. And…. Let’s….

 

These phrases are indispensable tools for expressing respect for all the ideas that flow in a collaboration.

 

 

4. HAVE FUN!

 

Be silly. Make jokes. Say the wildest thing you can think of. Laugh! Aren’t we lucky to be writing songs?

 

Let’s play the collaboration game:

 

You can use any photo as the stimulus for the game. For example, use a photograph of two people kissing.

 

There’s one at http://www.masters-of-photography.com/D/doisneau/doisneau_kiss.html Double-click the photo and it will be large enough to fill one page, which you can print out. Each person in the room takes a turn saying a sentence or two about the story of the picture.

 

The idea is to say anything that comes to mind very quickly and then pass the picture to the next person. Keep going round and round until you really feel you’ve dug that kissing well as deep as you can! Here are a couple of examples:

- She just told him she’s pregnant.

- Their braces are stuck together and they’re going to an orthodontist to get unstuck.

- He doesn’t know her at all. He’s kissing her to distract her while he picks her pocket.

 

There is no end to the ideas that you can come up with. What did s/he he say just before this photo was taken? What are the fellow behind them and the woman next to them thinking? What’s going to happen next? These are the questions you will be asking about the people in your songs, so you are practicing the art of characterization.

 

This game of getting the creative flow going without boundaries can be played with any photograph or curious item. You will have to remind yourself to return to the fun, open attitude of this game whenever you feel yourself getting bogged down creatively.

 

Collaboration business tip: We think it’s best if everyone agrees up front that the song will be shared equally by all the writers who are participating in the collaboration. Mathematics can kill a collaboration. That’s why they call it division!

 

Write On!

 

Pat & Pete Luboff have recordings by Snoop Dogg ("Trust Me," the first single from the platinum-selling album "Top Dogg") Patti LaBelle (gold album and the title song for "Body Language: the Musical"), Bobby Womack (No. 2 on Billboard's Black Music chart), "Hometown, USA" from the John Travolta movie "Experts," on Michael Peterson's new CD, recently charting Miko Marks, and more.  They've been teaching songwriting workshops together since 1979. The Luboffs are the authors of the Writer's Digest new book "101 Songwriting Wrongs and How to Right Them" and "12 Steps to Building Better Songs," which they self-publish. For more information, visit http://www.writesongs.com

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Billboard Charts, Songwriting Tips, Billboard Books, Billboard Album Charts, Billboard #1 Hit, Billboard, Creating in a Group, The Collaborating Game, Pat, Pete Luboff

Top Songs of The Decade of USA Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 @03:25 PM

As the decade is winding down, here are the top 10 songs of the USA Songwriting Competition of the past decade:

 

Ari Gold

1. "Where The Music Takes You" by Ari Gold, Joe Hogue 'JOJOHO' & Sean Petersen

This song went on to hit #10 on the Billboard charts. This song was the Overall Grand Prize winner of the 2007 USA Songwriting Competition. The song is also on the soundtrack of the 2010 Film "Bear City". 



2. "Only Fooling Myself" by Kate Voegele

This song went on to hit #26 on the Billboard charts. This song was the First Prize winner in the Pop category of the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition. Kate Voegele performed at USA Songwritiong Competition showcase at SXSW and was signed shortly thereafter. She was the youngest winner at that time (18 years old).



3. "Give Me Love" By Alannah Myles & Nancy Simmonds

This song won the Overall Grand Prize of the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. Canadian Singer-songwriter Alannah Myles is known for her #1 Billboard hit song "Black Velvet". This songs signals Alannah's comeback. Her co-writer Nancy Simmonds has written songs recorded by Melissa Manchester, Ricky Van Shelton, Rosemary Butler and more. 



4. "Is that So Bad" by Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell.

Ken Hirsch won first prize in the Pop category of the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition & Overall Second Prize is no stranger to the music scene, penning mega hit songs such as "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene and written songs recorded by the greatest legends in music such as Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and B.B. King. He has written with legendary songwriters such as Howard Greenfield and Ron Miller. 



5. "Message to the Future" by James Keelaghan

This song won James Keelaghan First Prize in the Folk Category of the 2003 USA Songwriting Competition.  This Juno award-winning Canadian folk singer-songwriter also won first prize in the 2002 USA Songwriting Competition. 



6. "Bridal Train" by Vikki Simpson (The Waifs)

Vikki Simpson won the Overall Grand Prize at the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition is the lead singer and songwriter of the Australian hit group "The Waifs". They went on to win an ARIA award and toured the world. They are currently signed to Compass Records



7. “Good Ole USA” by Darrell Scott

Darrell Scott won first Prize in Country category of the 2005 USA Songwriting Competition and it was later recorded by #1 recording artist Faith Hill and the title was changed to "We've Got Nothing But Love To Prove".



8. “Home” by Jordan Zevon

This song won Jordan Zevon, the son of legendary singer-songwriter Warren Zevon Overall Grand Prize in the 2008 USA Songwriting Competition. He aslo won first prize in the pop category in 2006 with “The Joke's On Me” which he performed at the “Late Night with David Lettermen” TV show.



9. 'Lighted Up' by Grabriel Mann

Grabriel Mann won Overall Grand Prize in the 2003 USA Songwriting Competition and he formed a band “The Rescues” and was signed to Universal Records in 2009 along with bandmates Adrianne Gonzalez (1999 Top Winner) and Kyler England (2009 First Prize Winner, Country category).



10. “Does Yo Mama Know” by Pepper Mashay & Corey White

Pepper Mashay hit top 10 on the Billboard charts with this song and she won first prize in the Dance category of the 2008 USA Songwriting Competition.

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

Tags: Ken Hirsch, Rosie Casey, Kate Voegele, Ari Gold, The Waifs, Jordan Zevon, Kyler England, hit songwriter, composing songs, music composition, Billboard Charts, Jonathan George, Darrell Scott, Billboard Album Charts, Composer, Alannah Myles, Billboard #1 Hit, Pepper Mashay, Corey White, Grabriel Mann, Vikki Simpson, Peter Roberts, Hillary Podell, Nancy Simmonds, James Keelaghan, I've Never Been To Me

Music Veterans Dominate Top Two Spots In USA Songwriting Competition

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Dec 10, 2010 @09:22 PM

Alannah Myles, USA Songwriting Competition Top Winner

Results of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition have been announced. Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles and prolific Los Angeles songwriter Ken Hirsch won the top two positions of the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition respectively. This also marks the first time that music industry veterans dominate the top two positions of the USA Songwriting Competition fifteen year history.

Toronto Canada based Alannah Myles and co-writer Nancy Simmonds won Overall Grand Prize as well as the first prize of the Rock/Alternative category with their song “Give Me Love”. Alannah Myles is known for her Classic Rock hit “Black Velvet”. “Black Velvet” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1990, won a Grammy award in 1991 for the same song. That song has become a classic and is a mainstay on Classic Rock and Pop radio stations worldwide. With her latest win, Alannah Myles is launching a comeback. This also marks only the second time that the top prize went to a non-US based songwriter. The last time the top prize when to a non-US based songwriter was 2006 when Vikki Simpson of the group “The Waifs” won.

 


Ken Hirsch, USA Songwriting Competition 1st Prize Winner (Pop Category)

Ken Hirsch and co-writers Rosie Casey, Peter Roberts & Hillary Podell of Los Angeles, CA won first prize in the Pop category as well as Overall second Prize with their song “Is that So Bad”. Ken Hirsch is a prolific songwriter with several hits on the charts and is well known for his number one hit “I've Never Been To Me”. Like Alannah Myles's “Black Velvet”, “I've Never Been To Me” has also become a classic hit and is a mainstay on Classic Pop, Soft Rock and easy listening radio stations worldwide. Ken has also written hits such as “Two Less Lonely People In The World”, a top 40 hit for Air Supply which he wrote with late legendary songwriter Howard Greenfield. Ken Hirsch has his songs recorded by music legends such as: Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton. Ray Charles and Mary J. Blige.  Rounding of the top three is Ason, a Hip-Hop up-and-coming act from Upper Marlboro, MD, who won Overall Third Prize as well as First Prize in the Hip-Hop category. 

Other winners of the USA Songwriting Competition were amazed by the top 3 placements. Sherri Gough, who won the first prize in the Lyrics Only category said "Wow, I'm humbled that I was even in the same category with these songwriters, Congratulations to the top three winners".  

Music industry insiders have been impressed with the quality of songs submitted at the USA Songwriting Competition. "Very high caliber of submissions. USA Songwriting Competition is always ahead of the curve", said Rob Reinhart, DJ of the "Acoustic Cafe", a syndicated radio program that appears in 65 different radio stations in US and Canada. "USA Songwriting Competition is a great place for talent to be found", said Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Records. 

Christopher Tin, an Honorable Mention winner of the 15th USA Songwriting Competition has been nominated for two Grammys at the latest 53rd annual Grammy Awards: 'Best Classical Crossover Album', and 'Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists' for his USA Songwriting Competition song entry 'Baba Yetu'. 'Baba Yetu' won an honorable mention award in the 2010 USA Songwriting Competition. For the list of full winners, see: http://www.songwriting.net/winners


USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television. 2009 First Prize winner (country) was signed to Universal Records. 2005 First Prize winner (Pop) Kate Voegele was signed to Interscope Records the year after she won and had her winning song hit top 40 on the Billboard Charts, her latest album hit Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album charts this summer. 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 cut by award winning country singer Faith Hill. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music

Entries are currently being accepted for the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. Winning songs of the 16th 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, Ableton, Audio-Technica, Presonus, IK Multimedia, and more, making this the largest prize package for any annual songwriting competition. Other sponsors include: New Music Weekly, Loggins Promotion, AirplayAccess.com, Onboard Research, Acoustica, Livewire Musician, Sonoma Wireworks, Rockstar Texting, Image line Recording magazine and Premier Guitar magazine.

 

Songs may be entered in 15 different categories including Pop, Rock/Alternative, R&B and Country. Entries are accepted from now through May 31, 2011. For more information, visit: http://www.songwriting.net 


Tags: Ken Hirsch, Alannah Myles, Billboard #1 Hit, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Christopher Tin, Black Velvet, Classic Pop, Classic Rock, Evergreen Hits, I've Never Been To Me