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:
Songwriting Tips, News & More
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.
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
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
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.
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
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:
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
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:
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:
Four Easy Steps to Writing A Hit Chorus
by Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriting Consultant
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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.
by Molly-Ann Leikin, Songwriting Consultant
I've written poems and I've written lyrics. I've learned if you can do one, you can usually do the other. As a poet, I've enjoyed the pure creative process, and the occasional publication of my work.
But I've never made a dime writing a poem. Ever.
On the other hand, I live very comfortably on my lyric royalties. And it beats working.
In my practice as a songwriting consultant in California, I hear almost every other new client tell me he or she can't write lyrics. To help them, I've developed a seven-step system, and it works.
If you're a poet who's tired of being broke, and would like to occasionally use your gifts to write more commercially, this article can help you make that transition. It can also help lyricists who are stuck, composers who claim they write music only, plus the entire world of left-brain computer types who ache to create something romantic—like a song.
When writing one, be aware that melodies are open to interpretation - so when you write a tune, what you feel or intend is still safe in your heart.You don't have to reveal yourself or stand completely naked in front of the world. But once you put words to a tune, your feelings are totally out in the open and everyone knows what's in your heart. Therefore, it can be very inhibiting to write lyrics, which is often why writers get stuck.
But here is the process I use with my clients to make lyric writing simple. I suggest you use all seven steps. Cutting corners is usually why a lyric doesn't work.
Most poets and beginning songwriters make the mistake of writing acres of lines of iambic pentameter and then set out to look for someone who can turn that dreary rhythm into an exciting melody. Almost nobody can, no matter what the words are saying. So don't write your lyrics first. ]Get the tune, then write the words. So let's assume, for this exercise, that you have a melody but no idea of what to say in your lyric. Don't worry if you don't have a tune. I'll give you one.
STEP 1. Sing or play the tune of a nursery rhyme. Any of them will do: Baa Baa Black Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, Ring Around the Rosie - it doesn't matter which you choose. Use this melody for practice. As you listen to it, scribble down some non-rhyming prose. Ignore the exact notes, but listen to the feelings. Let your words be a stream-of-conscious exercise to warm up your imagination. Don't use rhymes or logic. Try to be visual, silly, playful and have fun with it.
Here's an example of some lines I scribbled down after listening to "Itsy Bitsy Spider":
A former tooth farmer from Fluffy, South Apricot, dug through Exxon's banana shoe hairbrush section for kangaroo lingerie, after the De La Hoya/Pope Potato wrist rake from Western Tire Cough Drops slid unnoticed into burping toenails.
STEP 2. Now please write a silly, visual non-rhyming lyric to your tune. Match each note with one syllable. Fill your non-rhyming lyric with ridiculous pictures. Again, don't be logical, don't make it make sense. Every line can be about something different. The first might concern shoe repair, the second, airport parking. In this draft, try to keep all the rhymes OUT. Here's an example of a nonsense lyric I wrote, to the tune of "Jack and Jill".
Lizards frying Jaguars
All hum Hawaiin shoe trees
Disneyland will hiccup in
The mayor's purple phone soup.
STEP 3. Now write an uncensored list of silly titles that will fit with the stresses of the first line of your nursery rhyme. No matter how many notes in that line, keep your title to seven syllables or less. Shoot for twenty or thirty possible titles. Don't write anything you've heard before. Let your imagination roll. Don't say, "Oh, that's dumb." Write it all down. You might find one of these nonsense titles could actually turn into a real one later. "I Love You" is fine, but Jewel's "Swallow The Moon" gets you in the gut. A good title will write the whole song for you. A mediocre one will leave you stranded in line two.
Here are some nonsense titles I wrote to the tune of
"Jack and Jill":
Santa knit a Hershey Bar
Orange dancing astronauts
Drinking bricks can make you skate
STEP 4. Write a few real titles with the same number of syllables as your silly ones. Here are some I wrote to
"Jack and Jill":
Sundays with the London Times
Do you ever think of me
Moonlight over Lake O'Hare
STEP 5. Choose one of your real titles. Write the story it tells in prose. Just a couple of sentences will do fine. Writing the story as a letter might be easier for you. If any lines come out rhyming, change them so they don't. That way, you'll be able to express yourself with complete freedom, and without the constraints of rhyme or meter.
When you finish this step, you'll know the beginning, middle and end of your story before you start to write the lyric. Most songs have two verses, a chorus and a bridge, so allow space for them in your story. By writing it first, you'll be able to see if you have enough information to fill a whole song, so you won't get stuck half-way through with nowhere to go. You can always cut out words and lines later.
STEP 6. Using the information from your story, write a non-rhyming lyric to the nursery rhyme melody you've chosen. Should rhymes mysteriously appear, delete them.
STEP 7. Now write the "real" lyric, with the story and the rhymes.
I suggest you do all seven steps. Not four, not two. Seven. My clients who don't are still claiming they can't write lyrics. But many of my songwriters who do are climbing the charts.
The more lyrics you write, the easier it gets. So please do this exercise five times, each with a different nursery rhyme. Once you learn how to map out a lyric, and write it to a melody, you're 90% there.
© 2010 Molly-Ann Leikin
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, 5067 others, with Molly’s help, have placed their work in movies, on TV, CD’s and in commercials.
Her website is www.songmd.com. You can reach her at email@example.com. If you live in the USA or Canada, you can call her toll-free at 800-851-6588. For more information on the USA Songwriting Competition, please go to: http://www.songwriting.net