Songwriting Tips, News & More

How to Become a Topline Songwriter

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 @04:31 PM

[Songwriting Advice] How to Become a Topline Songwriter

 by Karen Randle

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What is Toplining?

Toplining is writing a vocal part over an already written music bed. This is popular in the EDM, Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop/Rap world.  It is a different sense of songwriting in the part that you’re writing a crucial section of the song, but it is not songwriting in that you’re creating a new totally song from scratch. If someone hires you to do toplining, they’ve already created the "beats" or music and you will be expected to write the rest - the melody and lyrics.

 

What skills do you need as a Topline Songwriter?

If you’re a topliner, your main musical gifts are your ability to

  1. write catchy melodies;
  2. add good lyrics, and then
  3. sing well.

 

Legal Case Involving Toplining

In 2011, there was a famous legal case involving DJ Avicii vs Leona Lewis, as they settled a dispute in which the Swedish DJ had attempted to get a high court injunction to block the release of Lewis's new single, Collide, alleging that the instrumental track for the single was copied from Avicii's forthcoming single, Fade Into Darkness.

So how did Leona Lewis end up recording an almost identical track to Avicii's without realising their releases were going to collide? It's because of the common practice – especially among DJ/producers and dance labels such as Avicii's label Ministry of Sound – of sending out a track to a multitude of topline writers, asking them to come up with melody and lyrics (the topline) for the track. The writers then have to record said topline, so the DJ can have his pick of the bunch and select the one he/she likes best. In this case, one of the topline demos containing Avicii's backing track that was not picked found its way to Lewis, who recorded it, prompting the dispute.

 

Why do people hire topliners?

Producers are often really talented at creating beats and synth tracks. They can do this part but aren’t confident in their vocal melody or lyric writing skills. That would be where a topliner comes in. Sometimes instrument players want to hire topliners instead of writing the whole thing themselves. There are many possibilities!

How common is toplining?

Many writers do it for EDM, Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop/Rap producers, commercials, bands, and other situations where people don’t want to write the vocal part. The other 10% is songwriting – writing the full song for clients from the ground up. If you want to get paid work as a songwriter you’ll definitely want to try toplining as an option.

How do I get started as a topliner?

First, you’ll want to hone your craft. Don’t take a paid gig until you know exactly how to do it. Get some free music beds or background music online and practice writing to it.  See how many ideas you can create. Use one track to create several songs. Set up your social media and let people know you’re available for toplining services.

How do I get paid for toplining?

This can be tricky, since you are writing part of the song but not all of it. You can work this several ways.

 

    Option 1: No up-front pay, but larger royalty split

        I actually don’t recommend this one often. Unless you are sure the song will sell and generate revenue (if the client already has proven sales and a large following), you’re unlikely to make a ton of money off of royalties. Still, if you want the work and the client doesn’t have money but is willing to split 50/50 with you, it might be an option

    Option 2: Work For Hire (no royalties, all up-front pay)

        This is most common for many topline writers. Many writers do this because they are not sure what will happen to the song after they are done with it, and the writer need the money up front (musicians don’t often live lavishly, in case you’re wondering). However, the obvious downside to this is that if the song ever does become huge, the topline writer will make nothing off of sales. So it’s important to decide if this is a risk you’re willing to take.

    Option 3: A combination of the above

        Let’s say you are offered a lower rate than you would normally accept, or the client doesn’t have enough to pay. This is a good time to negotiate royalties with them if you’re willing to do this. Create an amount of up-front pay combined with royalties that will make both of you happy.

Toplining isn’t for everyone, but it is not taking the place of traditional songwriting. But it’s a reflection of today’s new technological possibilities. Done well, it can result in catchy songs that are fulfilling to write.

 

To enter the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net

 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Recording, song demo, demo recording, focus, Topline Writer, toplining

Eight Ways to Get Inspiration on Writing Songs

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 @01:49 PM

Eight Ways to Get Inspiration on Writing Songs

by Jean Jennings

 JeradFinck2

Do you often wonder how some people always seem energetic, upbeat and motivated when it is time to get the job done? Not only this, in fact, for some people it does not matter how big or small the project is because then also they meet deadlines without even complaining or giving excuses about why the task is not complete so far. Therefore, if you want to be a part of ‘Nothing Can Stop You from Getting the Job Done’ group, then below are the eight tips you must know to stay encouraged, motivated and inspired to complete your tasks:

 

Write Goals

Writing your goals on the piece of a paper is the best piece of advice I would give you to get motivated and stay encouraged. When you write out your goals in spite of storing the information in your head, then you can see the list of things you need to accomplish. Also, you get to know what needs to be done which gives you the motivation to complete your task at the earliest.

 

Music

Have you ever been in the dumps while playing your favorite upbeat song and have you ever seen changing your entire mood from being sad to being positive and upbeat? If not, then try listening to your favorite track when you are sad because multiple people who exercise to music usually, stay motivated and inspired as music helps them keep going.

 

Read Inspirational Literature

The most excellent way to begin your day with an upbeat way is to wake up a couple of minutes earlier than your normal routine and read one or two paragraphs of inspirational literature such as Bible, Bhagwat Geeta, devotionals, inspirational poems, and many more. Therefore, read the inspirational writing to stay motivated.

 

Hang Out with Positive People

If you are around negative people, then you have to fight to maintain your motivation as negative people are draining most time. Therefore, if you want to increase your motivation, then you hang out with people who are high strung, confident and always inspire you to keep going.

 

Set Goals which Challenge You to Rise

Make sure you set goals which challenge you to grow. If you continue setting goals which are easy to achieve, then you will lose your motivation because in this case, you are left with nothing for which you can survive.

 

Take Breaks

If you keep on working for long periods of time and do not even take breaks, then generally, you get drained and lose interest in your current task. Therefore, take breaks to rejuvenate your mind and your body. Also, if you possess a rejuvenating mind and body, then you will have the energy you need to complete the jobs to be done in the longer run

 

Break Down Bigger Tasks into Smaller Tasks

If you have enormous tasks in hand to continue with, then you must break them down into smaller steps to prevent getting overwhelmed and discouraged. Practicing this strategy will amaze you at how easy it is to complete an enormous task only in a couple of hours.

 

Read Inspirational Quotes

The simplest and fastest way to get inspired is to read inspirational quotes. As sometimes all you need to hear to get inspired is, ‘If the other person can do it, then I can also do it.’ Therefore, implement this story to keep you motivated all the time to get the job done.

  

Jean Jennings is the content creator of "Soundwhich" which is an online music portal, and with a vast collection of royalty free music free of charge provides a comfortable, affordable, flexible and creative pace to its users to customize soundtrack for YouTube videos, ads, TV programs, and games.

 

To enter the USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 
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Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Recording, song demo, demo recording, focus, Set Goals

5 Ways for Singer-Songwriters to Improve Their Chances of Success

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 @05:15 PM

5 Ways for Singer-Songwriters to Improve Their Chances of Success

by Larry Butler

 5WaysforSinger-SongwritersForSuccess

We’re all familiar with the standard rules given to those who think they want the fame, glory and money that comes from being a successful singer/songwriter – work hard, practice, smile, be nice to people, etc.  In the forty years or so that music industry veteran Larry Butler has worked with some of the most successful artists in the business, he says he’s found a number of pieces of advice that you’re probably not going to find in those well-worn lists. Here are five taken from his new book The Singer-Songwriter Boot Camp Rule Book: 101 Ways To Improve Your Chances Of Success.  None of them involve smiling.

 

Make sure that MUSIC is the ONLY thing you want to do in your life to the exclusion of everything else.

The most successful music and performance stars I’ve worked with over the years were focused. And they weren’t just focused in the normal sense of working on something and then taking a break; nope, they were SUPER FOCUSED. No time off. Nothing else mattered. Not family, not friends, not loving relationships, nothing. If you weren’t somehow related to helping them succeed, you were in the way and did not matter.

A cautionary note: Do not have a back-up plan. If you have “something to fall back on,” you will end up doing that instead. Make sure that this is all there is in life for you to do––singing, songwriting, performing, and entertaining. And only do those things. Everything and everybody else is in second place.

 

 

Do not listen to your family, friends or fans. They’re way too close to you to be objective about you, your music or your show.

Your family, friends and fans, for all their genuine belief in you and your talent, probably don’t know much about music or how to entertain an audience. Even if some of them have been in bands or on stage in their lives, they’re all way too close to you emotionally to make an accurate assessment of your music and your show. You’re not nearly as wonderful as they say you are. How would they know?

You’re going to need evaluation and instruction from an unrelated, professional live performance coach on the fine art of taking your well-honed singer-songwriter performance skills and moving them up into the rarefied air of ENTERTAINMENT. Just the ability to write songs and accompany yourself on piano or guitar as you sing them is not, in and of itself, all that entertaining. And even if it were, there are a couple hundred other singer-songwriters in Silver Lake/Echo Park alone who are already doing just that. If you were to learn how to actually entertain an audience of complete strangers, then you would be able to separate yourself from that pack.

 

 

Avoid marriage or any serious relationships. Break-up with the live-in boy/girlfriend. If you have kids, love them and keep them safe. If you don’t, don’t.

Everyone who’s ever been a performer knows that as soon as a significant other enters the picture, the career is put on hold. It’s scriptural––you cannot serve two masters. There can only be one driving force in your life––the pursuit of a career in music.

It’s okay to have a casual or friendly relationship––as long as it relieves tension instead of adding to your mounting list of fires to put out. You’re looking for HELP in furthering your career, not HINDRANCE. So you have to weigh the value of the relationship to the actual benefit. Relationships take time––do you have that kind of time?

Then there are kids. If you already have some, you have to stick with them and be a good parent. It is the only real responsibility you have in life. Do the right thing. But, if you don’t have kids and think you have to have some, join a band. Since all musicians act as if they’re 12 years old anyway, you can play out your parental role with them.

 

 

Avoid watching or following both real and fantasy sports.

Pointless. They take up way too much of your precious time. The same goes for binge watching Netflix/Amazon or just TV in general. Shut it off!

 

 

Get rid of your cat/dog/plants as well as all other high maintenance, non-musical responsibilities.

This instruction may actually be harder for some of you than losing family and unneeded friends––losing the pets and plants. But, let’s face facts: pets are just short of kids in regards to the time and money spent to keep up the maintenance. The food, the walks, the clean-ups, the vet bills and the accouterments are all drains on your time, your cash and the part of your brain that should be focused, once again, on your music.

If, indeed, you MUST have some downtime with an animal, offer to cat or dog sit for friends and neighbors while they’re away. At least you’ll be able to call on them for some awkward favor in the future. And don’t get me started on multiple pets or something ridiculous like horses. Who are you people?

Same thing with plants––they need daily care and, even then, they’re going to die. Plants are designed to thrive outdoors and on their own. Do not continue to live in the belief that somehow you’re going to have a garden in your apartment. Listen to reason for once, will you?

 

FINAL WORDS ON THE SUBJECT: I’m not going to attempt to list all of the high maintenance, non-musical responsibilities that you may come up with that could sway your attention away from your goal. Lose them all. Now. Today. And get on with living your life for yourself and your career. You do not have the time to waste. All of your clocks are ticking – musical, biological, and financial. So do it now! REMEMBER: It’s not about who has the most talent; it’s about who wants it more and is willing to work harder to get it!

[Reprint Permission by Music Connection Magazine]

LARRY BUTLER is a 40-year veteran of the music business. He currently consults as a live performance music coach based in Los Angeles. His new book, The Singer-Songwriter Boot Camp Rule Book: 101 Ways To Improve Your Chances Of Success, is available at Amazon in both digital and print configurations (amzn.to/2o4osB8). He also runs one of 365 insightful quotes from famous rock and pop stars every day on his Twitter feed -@larryfromohio. He can be reached through his website, diditmusic.com.

 

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

 

To enter the USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 
TellUsWhatYouThink
  

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Recording, song demo, demo recording, fantasy sports, avoid high maintenance, avoid non-musical responsibilities, Larry Butler, focus, Avoid relationships