Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriting Tip: Planting Positive Seed

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 @12:00 PM

Planting Positive Seed

By Daylle Deanna Schwartz

 Daylle Deanna Schwartz

Trying to succeed in a creative endeavor can feel futile at times, if not often. Doors close and people don’t respond to what you send them or to return calls. Your gig didn’t go well, your efforts to get your music licensed haven’t gotten you anywhere or your band mates are giving you a hard time. It can make you feel lost about what to do or wanting to give up. I encourage you to do some gardening for your life to up your chances for career opportunities, good people, and other goodies to bloom in profusion for your career.

 

I think of life as a garden. It needs weeding, seeds planted, watering, and fertilizer to help it bloom in ways you want. When you don’t tend your garden it gets out of control. When you don’t tend your thoughts and the seeds you plant, YOU feel out of control of your life. When you do plant the seeds for healthy blossoms and take care of them, your life blooms in a profusion of attracting many blessings.

 

It’s important to be careful not to allow weeds to grow in your garden of self: criticism, pessimism, negative thoughts, frustration, hopelessness, doubt, etc. Some weeds are pretty on the surface and may actually have flowers, which makes it harder to understand they must go. In life, people are like weeds. They may sweet talk you, pump you up about our music, offer to help you but then disappear, and other things that are common.

 

You may think you need someone who has contacts or the money to invest in your music. But if they hold you back as you wait for them to do something—while they make lame excuses for not keeping their word—they’re weeds that need to go! When I was doing my music, there were many weeds who told me what I wanted to hear. I’d get all excited, only to be let down.

 

Weeds can glom onto you in ways that make you keep them around when the thought of doing everything on your own, or trying to find better people, seems like too much work, or too scary. When they throw you a bone to make you continue to deal with them, they're still weeds. When you let them stay and spread, they overpower everything.

 

Weed your garden so your talent can bloom! Awareness is a great weed controller. It helps you spot people who are all talk and no action, don’t keep their word, ask for money with no return, etc. fast and eliminate them. Replace weeds by planting as many seeds as you can that can open doors down the road. Seeds are doing something that could potentially create an opportunity. Every little thing you do that allows another person to be aware of you and your music is a seed that might bloom.

 

Every time you send out your press kit or make a call to pursue a gig or increase your friends on social networking sites, or go to a seminar or take a class to improve your performance or meet other musicians or managers or go to panels with industry pros, or make a new friend or let people know what you need, you create a potential opportunity. Each one is a seed. Think about how seeds spread in the wind to gardens. It’s common for people to get a beautiful flower in their garden that they didn’t plant. The wind carries seeds from one garden to another. It’s the same with action seeds.

 

Every time you do something to advance or connect or let someone know what you’re doing or need, you give yourself another chance to bear the fruit of each seed. The more seeds you plant, the more chances one will sprout. I sent Oprah a press kit a year before they called me to do the show. A producer held onto it and got it out when they needed someone like me for a topic that I have expertise in—a year later! Patience helps you not get discouraged when seeds don’t sprout right away.

 

Many artists tell me they’ve succeeded because they planted as many seeds as possible by getting their music or name to as many folks who might be able to use them as possible. Thinking of each effort as a seed planted keeps you from looking at opportunities that don’t pan out as a waste. IF you have the goods to qualify for what you want, no seed is wasted. You may not hear from the person for a long time, as what happened for me with Oprah. But people who look at their efforts as seeds know that it only take one to sprout before the whole garden can start to bloom.

 

So step out and tend your own garden. Control the weeds of your garden too. You don’t need a green thumb! Look for the weeds and get rid of what you can. Plant as many seeds for what you want as possible. Then take any actions you can and EXPECT them to grow! The more you stay positive and keep believing in your talent, the more opportunities you can attract.

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Daylle Deanna Schwartz is a speaker, consultant for musicians and record labels, self-empowerment counselor, and best-selling author of 13 books, including the third edition of Start & Run Your Own Record Label (Billboard Books/Random House) and Nice Girls Can Finish First (McGraw-Hill), based on lessons she learned as one of the first women to start a record label. http://www.daylle.com  For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, visit:http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: music business, Daylle Deanna Schwartz, Billboard Books, Run Your Own Record Label

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

Songwriting Tip: Making The Most of Your Time Resources Online

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Jun 09, 2011 @11:33 AM

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME RESOURCES ONLINE

By Daylle Deanna Schwartz

Daylle Deanna Schwartz, Billboard Books best-selling author

Indie artists often complain about not having the budget they’d like to market and promote their music. Nowadays, digital marketing offers a plethora of opportunities for marketing yourself and your music that doesn’t cost anything in dollars. But, it can be hard to know where to begin—and end. While much of it is good for those of you with small to no money budgets, there’s still a big expense for taking advantage of so many opportunities—TIME.

 

The good AND the bad news: the cost to break an independent act can be more in time than in dollars. It’s great to have free tools! But you could spend all of your waking hours going onto all the different social networking sites and other avenues of promotion and still not make a dent. With all the artists and labels vying for online attention, you must work to make your music stand out.

 

It’s important to brand your name online. The more people see it, the more curiosity can be generated, which leads to potential fans or clients checking you out. The more you respond to fans who write to you, the more loyal fans you’ll have. But so much of the efforts to find fans is one by one, which accounts for a lot of the time you need to put into it.

 

It’s not enough to just register on all the websites. While there’s unlimited space for everyone online, you can get lost in it all and not make any constructive progress. I know. I’m always getting links to sites I “should check out.” People email me both to my server and on the social networking sites. It gets overwhelming. Another day ends and I haven’t done any writing. So I must get tough with myself in order to function.

 

Time isn’t FREE when it costs you your sleep, your personal life and even your sanity. But you can take control of online activities to make the most of the best opportunities. Here are so DOs and DON’Ts for getting the most out of your online resources.

 

DON’T jump around to everything that seems interesting or the new flavor of the month.

DO force yourself to stay on track. Put aside things you want to check out for when you have some time or accept you can’t look over everything. Learn the benefits of hitting DELETE.

 

DON’T immediately answer emails when they come in or click when you get a link.

DO: Prioritize what most needs to be done at this point. I have a NEED TO ANSWER folder and put personal emails and those asking questions into it. Have a block of time set aside when all you do is answer emails. When time is up, leave the rest for the next block!

 

DON’T jump from one site to another and register with every one you can.

DO plan your direction carefully and prioritize your needs to work them properly. Social networking sites allow musicians to seek fans out and interact with them. But working one or two hard is strongly advised as opposed to doing a little bit on many. If you have too many, you don’t work anything well and you can spread yourself too thin. Decide which sites are best for you and concentrate your energy to build up relationships with fans on them.

 

DON’T try to do everything yourself.

DO mobilize fans to help. Get volunteers to assist you in following up with online activities. Ask them to tell other musicians on the site about you, use your music as their default on their MySpace page and drive potential fans to your sites. If you have a budget, hire an online marketing specialist to direct your efforts and do some of the legwork.

 

DON’T register with any social networking site that you’re not prepared to follow up with.

DO answer every email and make your presence known. Respond to comments. Nowadays, when people hear an artist they like or see you perform, they’ll leave a comment on your MySpace page. It’s important to respond. Musicians who keep in touch with their fans religiously build the strongest communities and get the most support.

 

DON’T focus just on MySpace and Facebook.

DO diversify. While pure social networking sites are great to exploit, get your music in places where people can find it. Do as many things as you can that don’t require constant attention that give your music potential exposure. Create iMixes up in the iTunes music store. Get your music into streaming radio sites, such as Last.fm, Pandora, Launch, iLike, etc. Send it to MP3 bloggers who review your genre of music. Post videos on YouTube. And get yourself on wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. These efforts often just require doing something once and can drive people to find your music.

 

DON’T think that selling and promoting your music online is all you need.

DO everything you can in real life too. Touring is still important for creating a strong connection with fans. People do live a good part of their lives off the computer so follow traditional promotion routes too.

 

DON’T put all your energy into inviting people you don’t know to be your friend or worry about having big numbers of them.

DO be more concerned with connecting to real fans. Successful artists say they don’t worry about how many friends they have on MySpace. What’s important is that they’re real fans who care about reading bulletin posts and getting invitations to your gigs. Of course you can invite people to be your friend if you want to know them. But do that with an email to introduce yourself so they know who you are and why you’re requesting them as a friend. Just inviting for the sake of upping your numbers is a waste of time these days. I don’t have thousands of friends on MySpace but every one of them came to me. I like that better! <http://www.myspace.com/Daylle>

 

Before you begin, make sure you’re ready to commit the time. Even with limits, you’ll spend hours a day keeping up. Find sites that are the likeliest to reach your audience and work them with a vengeance. Take advantage of every function they offer. Join relevant communities. Interact on them as much as you can so people get to know you. Eventually some will come to your page and hear your music.

 

Being online can be a full time job and you might only have a limited amount of time to devote. ReverbNation, which I featured in the last issue, has many helpful tools that can save you a lot of time and maximize your online reach. Some people hire a promoter to do it for them. If you don’t have a budget, I highly advise that you put aside time every day to work this new model for marketing and promoting music online, with a real plan.

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Daylle Deanna Schwartz is the best-selling author of 13 books, including I Don’t Need a Record Deal! Your Survival Guide for the Indie Music Revolution. Start & Run Your Own Record Label and Nice Girls Can Finish First. Daylle is giving her self-love book away for free at http://HowDoILoveMe.com She presents music industry seminars, does coaching/consulting for musicians and record labels, and publishes a free music business e-zine. Info: http://www.daylle.com  and:

http://www.IDontNeedaRecordDeal.com

 

Tags: Songwriting, Daylle Deanna Schwartz, Billboard Books, Myspace, twitter, facebook, making full use of your time