Songwriting Tips, News & More

USA Songwriting Competition's Christopher Tin Wins 2 Grammy Awards

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @02:35 PM

Christopher Tin

USA Songwriting Competition winner Christopher Tin wins 2 Grammy Awards at last night's 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. This marks a historic win, making Christopher the only USA Songwriting Competition winner to win 2 Grammy Awards in the same year. Christopher Tin won an honorable mention award at the 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition with the same song that won two Grammy awards. 


Christopher Tin is an American, Grammy-winning composer whose work is primarily classical, with a world music influence. He won two Grammy Awards for his classical crossover album, Calling All Dawns. He is also a composer for films, video games and commercials. Tin is best known for his composition Baba Yetu, featured in the 2005 computer game, Civilization IV. Christopher Tin made video game history today, becoming the first composer to win a Grammy Award for a song composed for a game. Tin took out the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) at the 53rd Grammy Awards in Los Angeles yesterday for his composition "Baba Yetu", the opening track from Sid Meier's Civilization IV. Tin also won the Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album for his debut album, Calling All Dawns, which also features the song "Baba Yetu".


He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, becoming the first to be awarded one for film scoring, to study composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London, and he graduated with a MMus with Distinction. He was also the winner of the Horovitz composition prize, and graduated with the highest grades in his class. He was also commissioned by the US Embassy in London to compose music for a string quartet. In 2003, he became a Sundance Institute Film Music Lab Fellow.
Darrell Scott (2005 USA Songwriting Competition First Prize Winner, Country) was nominated for a Grammy Award of Best Country Instrumental Performance of his song "Willow Creek" at the latest 53rd Grammy awards. 


Past USA Songwriting Competition winners that have gone on to win Grammy awards include: Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxler who won first prize in the Children's catgeory of the USA Songwriting 2004 and won a Grammy in 2005. Current top winner of the USA Songwriting Competition, Alannah Myles won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in 1991. Dave Merenda (Honorable Mention Winner, 15th USA Songwriting Competition) won a grammy award as a co-writer with Sarah McLaughlin with their song "I will Remember You". Dave will be performing live at USA Songwriting Competition's songwriters showcase during the SXSW (South By South West) on Friday 18, 2011 at Borders Books & Music (4477 S. Lamar, Austin, TX).


USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting success, 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. Judges include A&R managers from record labels such as Warner, Capitol Records, Universal, BMG/SONY Music. 

For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, visit:

http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, USA Songwriting Competition, Composer, Grammy, Grammy Awards, Hits, Christopher Tin, Royal College of Music, London, composing

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

Top 10 Songwriting Teams

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 26, 2010 @06:41 PM

These are the top songwriting teams/collaborations. When you put two or more heads together, you may come up with a hit or two.

1. Paul McCartney & John Lennon
With pop anthems such like "Yesterday" and Let It Be". Lennon & McCartney is argubly the best songwriting collaboraion in the world. With a resume of the best selling band in the world and the most successful songwriter of all-time (McCartney). This dynamic duo tops the list. 

 

2. Rodgers and Hammerstein
Richard Rodgers (1902 - 1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895 - 1960) were a well-known American songwriting duo, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. With musicals such as "The Sound of Music" and "South Pacific", their songs have made into the mainstream Pop and became household names.


 Burt Bacharach and Hal David
3. Burt Bacharach and Hal David
With hits such as: "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", "This Guy's in Love with You", "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", "Do You Know the Way to San Jose", "Walk On By", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "I Say a Little Prayer", "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me", "One Less Bell to Answer", and "Anyone Who Had a Heart".

4. Elton John & Bernie Taupin
Elton has made magic with lyricist Taupin and wrote hits such as "Your Song" and Candle In the Wind". In fact the only time he didn't use Bernie was his "Victim of Love" album which resulted with no hits.

 

5. Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
With hits such as "Hound Dog", "Stand By Me" and Jailhouse Rock". They have written the soundtrack of the 50's and beyond.

 

6. Holland, Dozier, Holland
Holland-Dozier-Holland is a songwriting and production team made up of Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr. They are one of the greatest songwriting teams in pop music. The trio wrote and arranged many of the songs making up the Motown sound that dominated American popular music in the 1960s with hits such as "Heat Wave", "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)", "You Can't Hurry Love" and more.

 

 

7. Carole King & Gerry Goffin
With iconic hits such as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", "Up on the Roof" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman".

 

 

8. Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
With pop anthems such as You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", "Never Gonna Let You Go", "Make Your Own Kind of Music". This husband and wife team went on to create songs for numerous contemporary artists, winning a number of Grammy Awards and Academy Award nominations for their compositions for film.

 

9. Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman
Also known collectively as "Stock Aitken Waterman", this UK team has written #1 80's iconic hits such as: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley, "Respectable" by Mel and Kim, and more.

 

10. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
They have written hits for Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, etc.
 

 

This article is brought to you by USA Songwriting Competition. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

 

 

 

 


Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, Top 10 Songwriting Team, Top 10 Songwriting Collaborations, John Lennon, Hal David, Rodgers, Hammerstein

Top 10 Most Influential Songwriters Alive

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 24, 2010 @09:55 PM

 

By Ira Greenfield

A few weeks ago, I sent out a tweet to ask who you think is the best songwriter alive. We received many messages on who they think is the best. This is a list I have compiled:

Bob Dylan

 

1. Bob Dylan
With inconic songs such as "Blowing In The Wind", "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Times Are A Changing", Dylan social messages ranked high above other songwriters today.


2. Paul McCartney
Paul is the most successful songwriter in the world, according to the Guiness Books of world records. With his stints in the greatest rock group in the world "The Beatles", later with "The Wings" and went on to a solo career. With his late co-writer Lennon,they are considered one of the greatest songwriting collaboration in history.


3. Elton John
He has written numerous hit songs with Bernie Taupin, their iconic songs "Your Song", "Candle In The Wind", "Rocketman". Not a day goes by that you do not hear any of these songs in a cover band in a hotel bar.


4. Neil Young
Neil has been in lengendary bands such as "Buffalo Springfield", "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young" and later on a solo career.


5. Bruce Springsteen
With rock anthems such as "Born To Run", "Born In The USA", "Glory Days", need I say more?


6. Diane Warren
Just about every artist has cut a song written by Diane Warren. She was the first songwriter in the history of Billboard magazine to have seven hits, all by different artists, on the singles chart at the same time. Warren owns her own publishing company, Realsongs, which gives her control over her songs. Her number 1 hits include "Because You Loved Me", "Un-Break My Heart", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing". She still remains the most in demand songwriter in the music industry today.


7. Desmond Child
Desmond has written iconic number 1 hits such as "Livin' on a Prayer", "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' La Vida Loca". His diverse list of artists such as Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Cher, Aerosmith and Clay Aiken, Desmond is running close to Dianne Warren.


8. Paul Simon
From his days with Garfunkel, his solo career, his stint with South Africian music, Paul has written songs that mean something.


9. Brian Wilson
Brian was the primary songwriter in The Beach Boys, also functioning as the band's main producer, composer, and arranger. In 1988, Wilson and his band-mates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which refers to him as "One of the few undisputed geniuses in popular music".


10. Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. In 2010, Cohen received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Lou Reed described Cohen as belonging to the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters."

 

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


Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Bob Dylan, Diane Warren, Paul Simon, Desmond Child, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Top 10 best songwriters, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Leonard Cohen

Songwriting & Composition Tool: NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 @11:06 AM

 NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik

NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik
Just released today, First Playback and Music Notation Tool Designed Specifically for use with IK Multimedia’s Miroslav Philharmonik. IK Multimedia and NOTION Music have created NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik™, a special version of the award-winning NOTION3 scoring software that is customized for use with the award-winning Miroslav Philharmonik orchestral library by IK Multimedia.

NOTION SLE for Miroslav Philharmonik features instrumentation and articulation presets that automatically handle all articulation changes in the background, allowing for very realistic playback directly out of the score.   Songwriters and composers no longer need to spend hours programming presets, templates and articulation changes — they can now simply focus on creating compositions.

As you write and articulate your score, NOTION SLE will follow your instructions and automatically change to the appropriate Miroslav Philharmonik articulation patch during playback to accurately and realistically perform your score. Additionally, you can take full advantage of NOTION’s live performance features and conduct the full orchestra with an unmatched level of control.

Also included is a 32 stereo channel. Virtual, full mixing console that facilitates mixdown of the score, eliminating the need for an additional DAW.  Full export controls are included for producing MusicXML, audio and MIDI. For more information, visit:
http://www.ikmultimedia.com/notionsle

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Composer, Songwriting & Composition Tool, Notation Tool, Miroslav Philharmonik. IK Multimedia, NOTION Music

GrooveMaker for the new iPad, Great Tool For Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 @06:50 PM

Groovemaker For iPad

Released for the iPhone and iPod touch in August 2009, GrooveMaker has become one of the most popular mobile loop remixing apps. The GrooveMaker Free version has consistently been in the top 100 music apps with over 600,000 downloads, and the entire GrooveMaker family features 11 style-based apps for the most popular genres of music.
 
GrooveMaker for the new iPad offers the same smart features and streamlined workflow as the iPhone/iPod version for making music with loops, but also takes advantage of the new larger multi-touch surface to provide enhanced operation with an integrated, advanced controller.

Users will find a convenient mixer-like environment with large slider controls for volume, pan and master volume of the 8 controllable loop tracks, plus instant access to tempo, solo and mute functions all on the same screen.  

Also, GrooveMaker for iPad adds even more control when working with loops, providing a new level of creative flexibility.  Users can now switch “snapped” grooves with a single touch, plus control the number of loops that are automatically combined during a random mix. GrooveMaker iPad is the perfect addition to a DJ set, providing unlimited creative flexibility in live remixing and DJ applications.

GrooveMaker House, Hip-Hop and D’n’B contain over 300 loops each and are only $9.99/€7.99 from the iTunes App Store.

For more information on the new GrooveMaker for iPad apps, please visit:
http://www.GrooveMaker.com/ipad

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, GrooveMaker, iPad, songwriting tool

Songwriting Tips: Four Steps To Writing A Hit Chorus

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 @06:40 PM

Four Easy Steps to Writing A Hit Chorus

by Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriting Consultant


How To Write A Hit Chorus

Want to learn to be better in songwriting? No matter how sophisticated our technology, a melody is still a series of single notes. Nobody ever sings chords or tracks.  They sing individual notes.


While creating music, some of us might hear melodic and/or rhythmic ideas in our heads, then high-hurdle the sofa en route to the keyboard to play and record them right away. Others may not hear anything specific, but will feel that lightning urge to create and hope they'll find some magic hidden between the black and white keys. But no matter where we find our music, or where it finds us, a melody is still a series of single notes.
You can't hum a track.


When there are problems with a melody, ( and most of them can't be fixed in the studio), they can be solved very simply by going back to the individual notes. Never mind how good the drum fills or harmonies are, or how cool the sax sounds in the bridge. If you find you have melody problems, and your hooks aren't strong enough, go back to square one - note one, and let's see where the trouble is.


I think of choruses as nursery rhymes for adults - short, repetitive, irresistibly singalongable, easy to remember. This may sound silly or disparaging to those of you with Julliard degrees, or who've been in bands all your lives. But if you aren't getting where you thought you should have gotten by now in your careers, you could change all that for the better in ten minutes.


When my clients are having melody problems, I assign them the nursery rhyme game. That is simply choosing five different nursery rhymes - doesn't matter which ones - "Mary Had A Little Lamb", "Humpty Dumpty", "Jack and Jill", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Ring around a Rosie" - any five. All nursery rhymes have just one musical section, which I call the verse. This exercise will show you how to write a simple, repetitive chorus to each of those verses, and that is basic melody construction.


Step One : from the last note of the verse melody, go up a major third to the first note of the chorus. (eg: C to E). Notice I said note, not chord.


Step two : tap a rhythm on your knee or on your desk - a rhythm that is dramatically different from the rhythm of the verse melody. Try several different rhythms, - don't stop with the first thing that pops into your head. Record everything. You never know what'll come up and you may not remember some of the good stuff.


Step three : once you have a rhythm that you like that is unexpected, starting on the note a major third up from the last note of the verse, add individual notes to create a short chorus. Make sure you repeat your chorus's first line somewhere in the body of that section. Beginners will write lines one and three the same, two and four the same, but you can write your choruses however you like. Be sure you don't simplify the process too much, and write predictably. And be careful not to borrow someone else's melody.


Step four : test your chorus with your verse. Is it surprisingly different? Or is it too similar? Could you tweak it a little? Change even one note? Remove two? Vary a rhythm pattern? Record everything and put your files aside for a day or two. Then listen again. If your new "melody" makes it through the night, chances are it's right. And although it's "just a nursery rhyme", you'll have very deliberately constructed a note-by-note melody with a strong hook. When you're 100% happy with it, THEN add the chords and the track.


Change the process, change the result.
For more suggestions on easily strengthening your music and lyrics, please refer to my books, How To Write A Hit Song and How To Be A Hit Songwriter. Both are available in paperback.

© 2010 Molly-Ann Leikin www.songmd.com    
Molly-Ann Leikin (rhymes with bacon) is a songwriting consultant with dozens of gold and platinum records plus an Emmy nomination. The author of “How To Write A Hit Song, Fifth Edition” and “How To Be A Hit Songwriter”, and the producer of “Molly-Ann Leikin’s Master Class in Songwriting”, Molly consults with talented writers and artists all over the world, with a view to helping them market their material. She also matches lyricists with composers. And she’s very good at it. Three of her clients have Grammy nominations, another won an Emmy, and so far, 5068 others, with Molly’s help, have placed their work in movies, on TV, CD’s and in commercials. Molly also writes articles for USA Songwriting Competition e-mail newsletters. Her website is www.songmd.com, and you can reach her at [email protected]. If you live in the USA or Canada, you can call her toll-free at 800-851-6588. However, please check her website first so your conversation is as productive as possible.

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

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, lyric, hit songwriter, Lyrics, lyric writing, Molly-Ann Leikin, how to write a better song, hit song writer

Five Steps To Improve Your Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 @12:43 PM

by Ira Greenfield

I have been asked so many times how do you write a good song. Here are five main ways you can use to your advantage:

1. Song Structure
We have received many songs at the USA Songwriting Competition. Many songs received are free-formed and hard to follow. Every good song has a good structure such as AABA or Verse/Refrain. Structure such as: verse leads to the chorus back to the verse and then chorus, bridge and lastly chorus is probably the most popular. Let’s stick to what works and then break the rules once you are good at it.

2. Compose Good Lyrics
I like songs with a good story or lyrics that actually say something. Avoid cliches such as “I’ll never break your heart, I’ll never tear you apart”, words like that has been done before and you want to say it in a different angle. Write lyrics that would bring imagery to the listener as well as a hook to it. You want a theme to begin with it. A good idea is “Unbreak My Heart”, this shows great sense of craft and artistry even in the title itself. In this case, the writer “created” a word “Unbreak”. If it was “Don’t Break My Heart”, it would have been quite ordinary and would not have the same effect.

3. Compose Good Melodies
Many songs we received sound more improvisational than actual composition. You have to sit down to sculpt out a melody for the verse and a melody or hook for the chorus. You want to make the melody chorus sound memorable and sound a little different from the verse. Good melodies are found in the current hit “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. The bang on chorus is catchy and well thought out.

4. Developing good chord structure and background music.
You need a good chord progression to go with your melody. It doesn’t matter which come first and it doesn’t matter if you collaborate with someone who is a keyboardist, guitarist or producer who writes a great chord progression or produces a music “bed” for you to write your melody. There is no secret many hit songwriters/artists do it this way: Jason Derülo, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey have all written songs this way by going over a piece of background music.

5. Artistry And Intangibles
This is probably the hardest to come by. Iconic songs such as “Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eye Peas, “Poker Face” by Lady Ga Ga, “Californication” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers, “Believe” by Cher, “Angie” by Rolling Stones, “My Way” by Paul Anka are examples of songs that have been composed and re-composed over many times before the song can be recorded. Love them or hate them, there is a sense of artistry in each an every one of these songs. I would suggest focus on what you are good at: If you are good at say writing music but not so good at writing lyrics, I would suggest hooking up with a lyricist, someone who can write good lyrics.

Ira Greenfield works in business development at USA Songwriting Competition. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, please visit: http://www.songwriting.net.

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting Tips, improve your songwriting skills