Songwriting Tips, News & More

Songwriter Joan Baez still loves the stage after 50 years

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 @06:03 PM

 

Written by Bill Nutt

(Scource: NJ Press Media)

Joan Baez, Singer-Songwriter

This past January, Joan Baez turned 70. And like a number of her fellow septuagenarians (such as Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Paul Simon), she still tours and performs.

No one is more surprised by that fact than Baez herself.

“Sometimes, I’m up on the stage, and I think that it’s crazy that I’m still doing this,” she says.

With a laugh, she adds, “And it’s crazy that you’re still coming to see me.”

Crazy or not, Baez continues to make music and continues to promote political and social activism. Her current tour brings her to the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Wednesday (Nov. 16).

The combination of social causes and music has been part of Baez’s public image since she started performing in coffeehouses in Cambridge, MA in the late 1950s. Only 17 years, she had already developed a social consciousness, in part because of her parents.

Her musical career began almost by accident, according to Baez. Her first instrument was the ukulele, followed by the guitar.

“I didn’t take (music) seriously,” she says. “My idea of the future was the following Wednesday. Planning was not my strong point.”

Nonetheless, Baez’s undeniably powerful soprano voice soon became familiar to aficionados of folk music, and her first three albums went gold. She championed other performers, including a young Bob Dylan. Gradually, she went from recording traditional folk songs to more politically tinged material.

In the 50 years since her debut album, Baez has occasionally had significant commercial success, notably her cover of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and the self-penned title track from her 1975 album “Diamonds and Rust.” But arguably her greatest strength has been covering material by singer-songwriters from Dylan to Mary-Chapin Carpenter and making it her own.

For example, her 2008 album “Day After Tomorrow” was produced by Steve Earle, who contributed three songs. She also covers songs by Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett.

“It sounds corny, but the song really finds me,” says Baez. “With the song ‘Day After Tomorrow’ (written by Waits), I really thought, ‘Oh, he wrote it for me.’ ”


With so much material from which to choose, planning her setlist is a challenge.

“It’s dicey business doing a concert,” she says. “If it’s a new song, it has to be one that catches the people’s attention right away.”

However, Baez also understands that some older songs can take on a deeper resonance. For example, inspired by Occupy Wall Street and related movements, she has resurrected her version of the Rolling Stones’ “Salt of the Earth” on her current tour.

“I think that Occupy Wall Street is one of the biggest surprises,” she says. “I don’t know if this would have happened without (uprisings) in Egypt and Tunisia, that showed how much power people can have.”

Still, Baez does not see herself as a starry-eyed optimist.

“I was always a realist,” she says. “Most things that are unpleasant don’t surprise. And I’m not discouraged, because I know newspapers and TV don’t always cover the good things that are happening.”

For her own part, Baez sees no reason to slow down either as an activist or as a performer.

“It’s true that I’ve lost some of my upper register,” she says. “But it’s made up by the fact that my voice contains 50 years of living.”

 

For more information on the 17th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, please visit: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, Joan Baez, folk music

Vince Gill Showcases Songwriting Strengths

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 @05:29 PM

By Michael McCall (Edited by Jessica Brandon)

Vince Gill, Singer-Songwriter

(Source: Associated Press) The title of Vince Gill’s new album focuses on his instrumental skills. But the music more intently highlights another talent: songwriting. On “Guitar Slinger,” Gill concentrates on lyrics about friends and issues, turning out stories that are sometimes entertaining and often touching.

Some draw on his sense of humor: The title is a roadhouse rocker inspired by Gill’s catastrophic loss of musical equipment in Nashville’s 2010 flood. Others confront tragedy: “Bread and Water” is based on the death of Gill’s older brother, who struggled with daily existence after suffering a severe head injury. “Billy Paul” questions why a close friend took such a deadly turn, while “Buttermilk John” honors the late steel guitarist John Hughey, who worked with Gill for many years.

As usual, Gill’s guitar playing adds color to his songs, and he balances the difficult stories with those of love and faith: “Who Wouldn’t Fall In Love With You” is a beautiful love song to his wife Amy Grant, and “Threaten Me With Heaven” explores his religious beliefs.

Altogether, “Guitar Slinger” shows Gill utilizing a veteran’s craft to delve into truths essential to who he is. It shows how a superstar can age gracefully while continuing to sharpen his talents.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: “If I Die,” written with Ashley Monroe of the Pistol Annies, is an emotionally resonant prayer that balances sin and salvation in beautiful terms.

Vince Gill has recorded more than twenty studio albums, charted over forty singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs, and has sold more than 22 million albums. He has been honored by the Country Music Association with 18 CMA Awards, including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards. Gill has also earned 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other male Country music artist. In 2007, Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to:

http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, hit songwriter, singer songwriter, Grammy Awards, Vince Gill, CMA Awards

Every Place Is Home: A Magical Songwriting Co-write

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Thu, Oct 06, 2011 @01:22 PM

Every Place Is Home: A Magical Co-write by Melissa Axel

Songwriters Melissa Axel and Andy White, photo by James Jacoby

After my last blog article about the power of co-writing, I was asked to share an experience of how one successful co-write came together. This is the story of "Every Place Is Home," a song from my new album LOVE . HUMANITY . METAMORPHOSIS …

A few years ago, my husband James Jacoby and I were awarded scholarships to participate in a songwriting workshop held in the United Kingdom by the WOMAD Foundation. Short for "World of Music, Arts and Dance," WOMAD was co-founded by Peter Gabriel in 1980 to create awareness of the potential of a multicultural society through festivals and educational projects. It was at one of these programs that we met Irish singer-songwriter Andy White, who was leading the songwriting workshop. A year later we attended again, and there Andy, James, and I co-wrote the song "Every Place Is Home" in a flurry of inspiration.

Each day of the workshop, the songwriters gathered in a small 14th century castle tower to share their original songs and team up to create new ones. Co-writing began with a lyric brainstorming session, a process we've affectionately nicknamed "songstorming." Andy placed huge sheets of paper on a big group of tables, and in the center of each sheet was an art image. Ten songwriters walked around the tables examining the artwork and doodling bits of lyrics near any image that sparked an idea, later copying down favorite phrases into the notebooks Andy had given us. The first image of a single chair by a table in an empty room immediately caught my eye.

Words came first, but almost immediately a melody started to form along with them: "if I play for one, I play for all / from this truth I cannot stray" and then, "fill this empty space with what my soul creates / let this mind just fall away." As James and I walked around the tables, each piece of art drew out more lyric ideas: "sweeping landscape, surreal sunscape, urban faire and country rain" and "in the shadow of our big dreams, we built a love that will sustain." We had driven through Iceland for several days before arriving in the UK, so the more scenic images on the table reminded us of the trip, as well as the English countryside on our train ride from London to Bath.

After the "songstorming" session, James and I compared notes in a practice room. We had both written about our journey: traveling the world, connecting through music and creativity, always feeling at home with each other and the friends we met along the way. We quickly worked out a chorus together: "we don't need to find one way to go / all we need is love, open sea and road / we don't need a place to call our own / when every place is home." By this point, I knew that this would not be one of my typical piano songs.

Even though I've never played guitar, in my head I was hearing a steady picking rhythm. Andy opened our door to check on us, 12-string guitar in tow, and we quickly brought him into the fold. I told him we needed a guitar pattern that would evoke the feeling of riding along on a train. Imagine my euphoria when he immediately played what I was hearing in my head! Forty minutes later, the three of us had fine-tuned the melody, written a bridge (or as they say across the pond, the "middle eight" bars), and were rehearsing away, ready to make a demo recording.

Sometimes a song just comes magically, without warning or even very much effort. Who knows how or why certain words, ideas, and notes come to us to put life's experiences together in a poetic and relatable way that will hopefully touch people for years to come. Yes, we spent a little time honing the lyrics and melody a bit, making adjustments to the chord progression as we went. But in this case, we can truly say that the muse spoke, and we all just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help capture her magic.

Melissa Axel is an Artist Relations representative of USA Songwriting Competition. At just eight years of age, she was writing songs about the bittersweet journey of life, love, struggle, and inspiration. The piano-driven singer/songwriter studied at Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music and went on to earn her master's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University. Axel's new album LOVE . HUMANITY . METAMORPHOSIS is reminiscent of Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Tori Amos. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, USA Songwriting Competition, WOMAD, Peter Gabriel, Melissa Axel, co-write, Andy White

Songwriting Tip: How To Write A Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 @09:49 AM

How To Write A Song by Toby Gad

The songwriter behind hits by Fergie, Beyoncé, Colbie Caillat, and more, opens up his box of secrets...

 Toby Gad, professional songwriter

I’ve written songs for quite a while now, over two decades, and I still get a kick out of it. I used to write eighty to a hundred songs a year but it seems like success has only made me work harder—last year I wrote and recorded a hundred and eighty songs, and this year probably just as many.

I already wrote songs when I was seven years old, very basic but useful songs that I would chant on the bicycle on my way back from school in the brutal German winter, songs that would warm my freezing hands, songs about pretty much anything that came to mind. Over the years my songs got better, but even today before most writing sessions I have moments when I think, “I really don’t know how to write a song.”

Chemistry

I have long ago given up trying to write a song by myself. I tried a few times, but mostly got insecure about it halfway through the writing process and tossed it before long. For me it’s really the chemistry with an artist that provides the fertile ground for a seed to sprout. I also find that different collaborators inspire in different ways. Last year I wrote songs with over a hundred different collaborators, some of them superstars and some of then complete unknowns. Some of them were established writers or artists I had worked with before, and some of them were upcoming artists that seemed to have something intriguing about their talent that made me want to write a song with them.

I couldn’t say that superstars are more inspiring than some unknown artists, but I certainly put more pressure on myself in A-list sessions, since the labels and managements have high expectations, and stars can spare only a little of their valuable time. I’m not sure if the pressure makes the songs better. Some good songs just happen, and I couldn’t say why on this particular day this song came about. As random as all this now sounds, I do know a few things that I have learned over the years that I can share.

Let’s start with the most basic and yet most profound:

A song is a feeling

A good song makes you feel something, often so intensely that you keep thinking about it for days, so intensely that it makes you cry, or laugh, or it can make you want to dance, or it helps you vent your anger... A bad song is a song that doesn’t make you feel anything. Often it is that simple. If you have a hit, then it is usually a song that makes a lot of people feel a lot. That’s why many listeners want to hear such a song over and over and—you hope—they also want to buy it. So it helps to trust your feelings when you write a song.

When I first meet an artist or writer, we feel each other out, talk about life, and often that leads to interesting subjects to write about. On my first session with Colbie Caillat she said, ten minutes into our conversation, that she loves singing and making records, but really what means the most to her right now is the love she gets from her boyfriend. I loved that thought and we wrote our first song “What means the most.” The song wrote itself in two hours, and every word in the lyric reflects how she feels about him. On our second writing day she was still the hopeless romantic and said she could even imagine saying “I do” to him one day. So we wrote “I Do,” which became the hit single of her current album.

These songs have a genuine urgency and authenticity to me. They feel honest and spontaneous and they really make me feel something every time I listen to them. That is my personal reward for making music.

Lyrics matter

To me the lyric has become increasingly important. I used to run around with a dictaphone and record melodies all day long. Lately I just jot down words and lyrics. The music often comes naturally, later in the writing process. Sometimes I still jam in a session and let music and lyric flow together, from scratch, but that’s more the exception now.

Maybe it’s just me, and I don’t even consider myself a lyricist, but I do listen mainly to the words in a song, and if a lyric feels out of place then even the best beat and melody can’t save it... but a great lyric with a mediocre melody can still make a great song. By “great” I don’t mean academically legitimate. To me, “great” means believable, conversational, from the heart, conclusive, unique, urgent, creative, honest, and with a purpose.

Listen

I get my best inspiration by really listening to my artists and writers. The good ideas are often between the lines, and some of my questions can feel like I’m the shrink, but by getting into the mind of the artists I make sure the song is authentic and the artist will identify with it later on.

Even when I don’t write, one ear is always listening for words that could provide good starting points for a future writing session. I collect such fragments on long lists that I browse through before writing sessions. This way I have a Plan B in case the conversation with the artist doesn’t lead to anything song-worthy.

Songwriting is a ball game

We bounce ideas back and forth, kick them around, smack them on the ground, throw them high up in the air, and during the process we assemble the elements that feel good to everyone involved. If one player doesn’t feel like playing one game then we start another game. Some games are so much fun that no-one wants to stop playing. Those are the songs that write themselves.

By bouncing ideas back and forth the good ones come together, bad ones naturally get weeded out, one sentence leads to another, and suddenly there is an unexpected great line that may never have surfaced in a different context. That’s why I’m not a fan of “closet writers” who get a track and then write everything in their own headspace. Some writers function well that way, and it drives me crazy to sit in a room with someone who doesn’t share their thoughts. I like to be part of every lyric and I want to share my melodies and ideas as they come to light and evolve. I feel only then can I be great in my capacity as an “incubator”.

Make it memorable

Back in the days of the musicals, the writers had to make songs so memorable that the audience would walk out of the theatre and still sing the songs, after hearing them only once. The movie musical Mary Poppins has a good example of “memorable”... maybe annoyingly so, but so much fun that even the most serious audience member walks out singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. I adore how shamelessly creative this word is... creative license!

Let go

If something doesn’t feel right while you’re writing it, then maybe it’s time to try something else. In some sessions we write for three hours and suddenly one of us doesn’t feel good about the concept anymore. Then it is really important not to be afraid to toss everything and start over. Usually that leads to a better idea.

Last year I also had a few sessions that ended with no song. That can be very frustrating, especially if it is with an important artist. But I find it better not to record anything if it doesn’t feel right. Otherwise I record something I don’t like, only to find myself having to arrange that bad song, mix it, play it to my curious publishers and managers and the artist’s record label, and spread a meaningless idea that I’m not proud of.

The big question I ask myself is this: Can songwriting ever become boring? After several thousand songs, will I run out of song ideas one day, or just write bad songs after all the good ones have been written? But so far every writing day still feels like a safari. I get better at spotting the leopards, I’m less afraid of rhinos, and I still find new surprises all the time.

 

This article is reprinted by permission by Recording magazine. Toby Gad’s writing credits include Beyoncé’s “If I Were A Boy,” Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” Colbie Caillat’s “I Do,” Nicole Scherzinger’s “Don’t Hold Your Breath,” The Veronicas’ “Untouched,” Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” and Selena Gomez’ “Year Without Rain”, to name a few. Photos courtesy Toby Gad. For more information on Recording Magazine, go to: http://www.recordingmag.com

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Toby Gad, Fergie, Beyonce, Colbie Cailat

Songwriting/Collaboration: The Power of Co-writing

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Aug 08, 2011 @05:21 PM

Creative Collaboration: The Power of Co-writing by Melissa Axel

 

Melissa Axel (Artist Relations, USA Songwriting Competition) & Andy White, photo by James E. Jacoby

Everybody knows the three keys to a successful business are "location, location, location!" For successful songwriters, there is another mantra: "co-write, co-write, co-write!"

Still, many of us have grown accustomed to making music alone in our creative caves and may be nervous about teaming up with other writers. Let's take a look at some of the benefits of creative collaboration, whether it takes place in the same room or online with a co-writer many miles away …

Different minds bring fresh perspectives. Unless you've been deliberately writing about a variety of subjects, it's likely (and natural) that your songs tend to focus on the same handful of topics you know best or care about most. Pairing with someone else brings a second lifetime of experiences to the writing table, challenging you to try on new shoes and see what another person's ideas might look like told through your eyes.

Variation opens up new melodic and harmonic possibilities. If you tend to favor the same keys and chord progressions, writing with someone whose first instrument is different from yours can lead you down fresh musical paths. Guitarists could try writing with a pianist, violinist, cellist, mandolin player, etc. (and vice versa). Also, look for people who share some of your influences and lyrical interests but are into other musical styles or approaches to songwriting as well. Always wanted to explore African grooves or incorporate bluegrass elements into a pop song? Find an artist/writer comfortable in territory that's new to you, and give it a try!

Two heads really are better than one. It's easy to beat our heads against the wall or even put a song aside for years when we get stuck on a section of lyrics or melody that just doesn't feel "right." Or perhaps you have some choruses that need verses or a song that's missing a bridge. Trusted writing partners not only bounce ideas off of each other but also can become a great for completing unfinished songs and making sure each word and note is the strongest possible choice.

So where do you find people to co-write with? They might be performing artists in your local music community, writers you know from songwriting websites and social network groups, composers who usually write instrumental music, or producers who create tracks for artists who only sing or rap. Be open to meeting songwriting partners if you travel to perform or attend songwriting conferences, too. It's easy to write across the miles with online audio/video chat programs or even by sending MP3s and lyrics back and forth via email.

If you're ready to broaden your songwriting horizons, take your time and get to know potential co-writers and their writing styles. As your songwriting becomes more plentiful, diverse, and enriching, you'll be glad you reached out and found creative collaborators who are a really great fit.

 

Melissa Axel is an Artist Relations representative of USA Songwriting Competition. At just eight years of age, she was writing songs about the bittersweet journey of life, love, struggle, and inspiration. The piano-driven singer/songwriter studied at Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music and went on to earn her master's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University. Axel's new album love . humanity . metamorphosis will be released September 20, 2011. For more information on USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Berklee, writing songs, Co-writer, writing lyrics, Creating in a Group, collaboration, co-writing

One Thing a Day for My Songwriting Journey By Doak Turner

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Jul 15, 2011 @03:26 PM

One Thing a Day for My Songwriting Journey

by Doak Turner

 

Doak Turner

If I told you that you could do 300+ things for your songwriting journey between today and this time next year – would you think that I am crazy or what?

As a songwriter who lived outside of Nashville until moving in October 2002, I would follow a plan that really helped me stay focused and stay on my songwriting journey. I made trips to Nashville for (6) years before moving to town. I called it simply, "Do One Thing a Day for my songwriting." Those "things" have enabled me to develop a great network in Nashville of friends and industry professionals, to be prepared when I moved to Nashville with the craft and business of songwriting, to write better songs on my songwriting journey, and to really keep my songwriting goals focused over the years prior to moving to Nashville.

One thing a day includes making a phone call or e-mail to a songwriter to set up a co-write session, or an industry professional to ask a songwriting business question, or someone in the local songwriting workshop to discuss an upcoming event. Or, I might make plans for my next trip to Nashville, plans for an upcoming workshop meeting and guest speakers for the local events. I would also contact the media for those local songwriting events. Sometimes I would talk to a couple of out-of-town or out-of-state friends who are on the songwriting journey to share ideas, goals, challenges and successes. Sometimes a call would be needed to say hello to someone whom I haven't spoken to for a while, who always encouraged me in life, and to share what was going on in my life, even thought that friend was not a songwriter. They are (and still continue to be) great, positive friends who believe in me.

Other kinds of one thing a day include opening my hook-book to write a hook that I had just found reading a book, a conversation overheard during the day. My hook-book contains “Hooks” – thoughts and ideas for songs that I use when writing and co-writing songs. Or, I might find a hook from watching a movie or TV, from the preacher's sermon, a newspaper, or magazine. Sometimes, the hook "came to me from the sky," or wherever those hooks come from, and seem to find our songwriter's antenna, move into our head, and then down our arm onto the paper. I also open the hook book to review ideas I've written in it, to see if I could write another verse or chorus to something I had started previously, and maybe even complete a song in my hook book. Looking at music sites on line can be very helpful by finding ideas from artists and songwriters, learning and networking on-line with myspacemusic and other sites from organizations and songwriters. 

I might play the guitar or keyboard - even for a couple minutes a day - which is another excellent thing to do that may inspire an idea. I would learn another melody that can lead to a song, learn a new chord or strumming pattern, or work to improve a song that I've written. If I have more than a couple minutes, then I play the instrument and visualize myself playing my songs to an audience, a concert hall, one of our local venues, or playing live in the venue if that is my ultimate goal. Keeping the guitar on a stand instead of in the guitar case makes it much easier to play! So have them in as many rooms of your house as possible – you may pick one up for a couple minutes and strum a melody that you haven’t thought of yet – starting another song!

One thing a day also includes reading just a chapter - or even one or two pages - of a songwriting book a day to increase my songwriting skills. Hey, folks - we all know what our favorite room to read is - so go ahead and have a songwriting book in there at all times! If I read a little before going to bed, I often make it a songwriting or industry publication for my bedtime stories. I read the "how to" songwriting books, biographies about people in the songwriting or music industry, or any book or industry magazine that enables me to learn one thing per day. American Songwriter Magazine, Music Row and Performing Songwriter are a couple magazines to have around the house. It's is a great investment for my songwriting journey. I highly recommend every songwriter reading “The Craft and Business of Songwriting – Third Edition” by John Braheny. If you read just (2) pages a day – you will learn something new every day about songwriting! The book by Douglas Waterman “Song – the world’s best songwriters on creating the music that moves us” is another great book to have at your desk or nightstand – somewhere easy to pick up and read – maybe just ONE interview a day with a great songwriter will make a difference on your journey!

Some other things that I did while still in Charlotte, NC and you can too is to attend and get involved in the local songwriting community. I was the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) coordinator in Charlotte from 1996 - 2002. I was fortunate to have two great co-coordinators for the last year in Charlotte, as I had my condo on the market and was making plans to move to Nashville. I know from personal experience that it's great when songwriters ask what they can do to get involved with the local songwriter workshop.

I highly recommend networking in your local community by attending the music events and singer/songwriter nights. This is an excellent place to meet new co-writers and friends that have the same interests as you and inspire new songs.

One thing a day should include time to review your goals. I wrote my goals down and placed them where I could see them every day. I still do this. That way, I can pause for a minute, look and make sure I have done one thing that day for my songwriting journey. Visualize your goals happening with your songwriting. But, the most important thing for you to do each day is - Have Fun on Your Songwriting Journey!

Doak Turner is a songwriter in Nashville, TN. He has songs on independent CD projects, former 6-year local coordinator in the NSAI Charlotte workshop, produced several successful songwriting events, a writer for www.musicdish.com in the “Song Works¨ section of the site, and editor and publisher of The Nashville Muse. 

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, Nashville, hit songs, doak turner, one thing a day

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.

-----------

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

What is 'Podsafe' Music?

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 23, 2011 @02:05 PM

What is 'Podsafe' Music? 
by David Wimble, The Indie Bible

David Wimble

As you visit the hundreds of music podcast and MP3 blog sites you'll notice that most them feature something called PODSAFE MUSIC. For this article I have gathered information from various internet sites in order to help clarify what podsafe music is and how it can become another helpful tool to place into your marketing utility belt.

Definition of podsafe music (from Wikipedia 
en.wikipedia.org)
Podsafe is a term created in the podcasting community to refer to any work which, through its licensing, specifically allows the use of the work in podcasting, regardless of restrictions the same work might have in other realms. For example, a song may be legal to use in podcasts, but may need to be purchased or have royalties paid for over-the-air radio use, television use, and possibly even personal use.

The effective definition of "podsafe" for a given work depends entirely on the contract through which the podcaster licenses the work; there is no single podsafe license. The concept of podsafety, in its true form, greatly favors the artist and the profitability of the artist's product, in exchange for only very limited concessions to the podcasting community.

While some works such as public domain works or works under some Creative Commons licenses are inherently podsafe, the only actual requirement for a work to be podsafe is that any licensing requirements it has, if applicable, allow for the work's free use (typical broadcast use in its original form, if in no other form, depending on the specific license) in a podcast or web broadcast. This gives specific favor to podcasts only, allowing the artist to impose more traditional constraints on everyone else. Podsafe licensing can, for example, continue to require non-podcast consumers to pay for the work, require royalties on derivative works, and profit significantly from the work's use in traditional radio, television, or film.

The licensor of any podsafe work must be legally capable of making it so. An artist cannot distribute his or her own work through a podsafe license if doing so would break any laws or breach any standing agreements (e.g. with the RIAA). The creator of a derivative work may also not claim this work podsafe without express permission from the original copyright holders. (PMN has more specific and stringent terms to this effect in its agreement.) Another point of contention is that not all podcasts are non- commercial works; in fact, an increasing number of podcasts are taking on sponsors and looking to make a profit. In general, no significant distinction is yet made between podsafe for non- commercial use and podsafe for commercial use, but it could easily arise at any moment.

Motives for the podcaster to use podsafe music (from Wikipedia 
en.wikipedia.org)
As podcasting grows more and more popular, illegal use of heavily licensed music (as through the RIAA) becomes increasingly difficult to hide. This is in general of greater concern to podcasters than to the typical sharer of music, because podcasters usually produce their shows for and promote them to the public-a far more overt and traceable action.

Including such licensed music legally has its own set of caveats. Indeed, under many jurisdictions it's currently impossible, but the message from those in the know is that many licensing agencies, if they do intend to allow the use of their music on podcasts, will require not only the payment of royalties but also the use of DRM on the shows. (DRM, because of its proprietary, system- specific nature, would be destructive to the general openness and system independence of podcasts.)

Use of podsafe music instead of more stringently licensed material allows a podcaster to continue to produce an inexpensive, legal program with little hassle. Not least important for an independent podcaster is the promise of being able to avoid the confusing maze of licensing organisations.

Motives for the artist to use podsafe music (from Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org)
Conventional radio (and television) can present a difficult, and not always logical, barrier of entry for a musician or other media artist involving large sums of money and often a great deal of surrender in both ownership and creative freedom.

In contrast, podcasting, an increasingly popular medium for audio programs, is as a whole very receptive, indeed thirsty for artists and input. This is due in part to the creative and economic nature of the largely independent podcasting community and further fueled by its need to avoid repetition. While a conventional radio show may be able to risk replaying a large part of its music selection from day to day, there would be little point in downloading a music podcast whose selection did not vary significantly from a previous show. Podcasting is thus a voracious medium. With a growing and international audience podcasting is now becoming an effective means for inexpensive artist promotion often aimed squarely at the people most like to be interested in that type of music.

What is The Podsafe Music Network?
The Podsafe Music Network (
music.podshow.com) is a comprehensive source for podsafe music. It was founded in 2005 by ex MTV VJ and current podcaster Adam Curry (Daily Source Code). PMN brings a large group of podcasters together with a wide variety of all-podsafe music and the artists who produce it.

According to PMN, podsafe music is music that meets all of the following conditions:
1. Works submitted to the Podsafe Music Network are the property of the artist, and all rights to these works, including lyrics and music, are the property of the artist.

2. All works contain no recordings, lyrics, copyrights, or other elements that are the copyright of any other artist, except under the limited provisions of the Creative Commons License Agreement www.creativecommons.org

3. Despite any recording contracts with RIAA, ASCA, BMI or other recording industry entity, the artist retains ownership of the works and is free to distribute, broadcast, license or sell these works at the artist's discretion.

The licensing agreement between the artist and PMN: 
music.podshow.com/music/artistTerms.htm What are Creative Commons Licenses? (from www.creativecommons.org)

Creative Commons Licenses help you publish your work online while letting others know exactly what they can and can't do with your work. When you choose a licence, we provide you with tools and tutorials that let you add licence information to our own site or to one of several free hosting services that have incorporated Creative Commons.

1. Standard License License your song under your terms. Our set of standard licenses will let you share music with fans while protecting your song from limits you put in place. Or, choose a prepared license for audio works.

2. Sampling License People can take and transform pieces of your work for any purpose other than advertising, which is prohibited. Copying and distribution of the entire work is also prohibited.

3. Share Music License This license is aimed at the musician that wants to spread their music on web and filesharing networks legally for fans to download and share, while protecting the music from commercial use or remixing of any kind.

How does a Creative Commons license operate?
Creative Commons license are based on copyright. So it applies to all works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example. Software programs are also protected by copyright but, as explained below, we do not recommend that you apply a Creative Commons license to software code or documentation.

Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights-such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright- including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing-nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas. Creative Commons licenses attach to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the license. This means that if Bob has a copy of your Creative Commons-licensed work, Bob can give a copy to Carol and Carol will be authorized to use the work consistent with the Creative Commons license. You then have a license agreement separately with both Bob and Carol.

Where are the forms that I have to fill out?
Creative Commons licenses are expressed in three different formats: the Commons Deed (human-readable code), the Legal Code (lawyer- readable code) and the metadata (machine readable code). You don't need to sign anything to get a CCL. Just select your license here: 
www.creativecommons.org/license Hmmm ...what if I change my mind?

This is an extremely important point for you to consider. Creative Commons licenses are non-revocable. This means that you cannot stop someone, who has obtained your work under a Creative Commons license, from using the work according to that license. You can stop offering your work under a Creative Commons license at any time you wish; but this will not affect the rights with any copies of your work already in circulation under a Creative Commons license. So you need to think carefully when choosing a Creative Commons license to make sure that you are happy for people to be using your work consistent with the terms of the license, even if you later stop distributing your work.

Before you do anything, make sure you have the rights!
Before applying a Creative Commons license to a work, you need to make sure you have the authority to do so. This means that you need to make sure that the person who owns the copyright in the work is happy to have the work made available under a Creative Commons license.

Where do podcasters find podsafe music? (from Dave's Imaginary Sound Space 
soundblog.spaces.live.com)
Discovering new music and the ability to use it fairly without fear of copyright infringement is a key issue for podcasters and listeners alike. Artists, composers, producers and consumers can all benefit from clear, fair and flexible copyright licenses that embrace new technologies. 'Podsafe' means non-RIAA audio and video that can be used legally in podcast productions and freely distributed online for downloading. Podsafe music can be found in many locations on the web including: artists websites, MP3 blogs, open source music communities, podcast directories, netlabels, P2P networks and BitTorrent hosts. A quick search for "podsafe" in a podcast directory like PodcastAlley.com reveals a rich and diverse array of productions featuring podsafe music. Unfortunately it becomes extremely time consuming for podcasters to source available music and listen to it. Recommendations by listeners and fans play an important part in the podcast production process.

The definitive list of podcasting safe music sites can be found at
http://soundblog.spaces.live.com/Blog/cns!1pXOS7l93k8mqeQ7FlEEmOSQ907.entry It's always about the music

For an artist just entering into the podcast/MP3 blog universe, the amount of information to take in can be overwhelming. It's not unlike a lifelong typist being plopped in front of a computer and asked to create a spreadsheet with colored charts.

As you watch the internet continue to explode with new technologies, it may feel like life has passed you by and left you lying in the dust. However, the truth is we're all still tightly bundled together. No one is ever left behind. The opportunity to move towards the cutting edge is available to anyone (my father-in-law has just learned how to use a computer at the age of 81). Don't let fear (and the excuses it can conjure up) lessen your attempts to succeed.

Remember, it has always been, and always will be about the music - that unique expression that you have to offer to the world. Podcasts, podsafe music, MP3 blogs, Creative Commons licenses and all that other bounce-off-the-head stuff is simply a collection of new and useful tools to help you get your music heard by more people.

Final thoughts
For the newbie, my suggestion would be to take it slow. Open one small door at a time and get a feel for it all. You'll eventually discover that bloggers and podcasters are simply human beings with a passion for music - a collection of music lovers that are ready and willing to help you get your songs heard by a new stream of potential fans.

 

David Wimble is Editor and Publisher of the Indie Bible - a yearly music directory for recording artists that helps them to gain exposure for their music. The Indie Bible was first published in 1999. www.IndieBible.com

 


Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, Podcast, David Wimble, Indie Bible, Podsafe, Creative Commons, RIAA, licensed music

USA Songwriting Competition Winner Kate Voegele on TV, Releases CD

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Wed, May 18, 2011 @03:20 PM

USA Songwriting Competition Winner Kate Voegele Back on "One Tree Hill," Releases 3rd Album

Knitting Factory

NEW YORK (Billboard Magazine) – USA Songwriting Competition Winner Kate Voegele is back on TV show “One Tree Hill” and has just released her third album yesterday "Gravity Happens" under ATO records. Kate Voegele won first prize in the 10th Annual USA Songwriting Competition in the Pop category. She went on to perform at USA Songwriting Competition's showcase during SXSW (see picture), went on to get signed after winning the USA Songwriting Competition and she hit Top 40 in the Billboard charts with the same song that she won at the USA Songwriting Competition with “Only Fooling Myself”. 


On the May 17 episode of CW's teen drama "One Tree Hill," Mia Catalano -- the character played by Kate Voegele -- returns to Tree Hill feeling refreshed after a brief sojourn to work on her music.


Voegele knew exactly how her character felt: the pop-rock singer/songwriter missed a few episodes of "One Tree Hill" this past winter to finish her third album "Gravity Happens" for ATO Records (May 17).


"It was a much-needed little sabbatical to take because music is really my first language," the 24-year-old artist said. "I've been doing it a lot longer than I've been in this acting world, and I'm so happy that I took the plunge and did it."


Since joining the show in early 2008, Voegele has juggled her musical endeavors (her last album, 2009's "A Fine Mess," hit top 10 on the Billboard 200 Album Charts) with her filming schedule. She also toured the country with Jordin Sparks. 


While the dual commitment has made Voegele's day-to-day life more hectic, her role on the show has resulted in original songs like "No Good" and "Wish You Were" garnering prime placements on the long-running program.


"Heart in Chains," the first single from "Gravity Happens," will be performed by Voegele on the show's season finale -- the same day the album is released.


Meanwhile, Voegele will showcase her visual artistry in an upcoming sponsorship with Oakley sunglasses: The budding painter designed original artwork for a signature pair of shades that will hit stores this summer. Each pair will include a free download card for "Gravity Happens.""It's all very connected," Voegele says. "Even some of my lyrics are in this design for the sunglasses. Oakley has been an amazing partner and sponsor, and I'm stoked to see come out soon."


In the meantime, Voegele will be busy unveiling "Gravity Happens," which she described as "more honest and raw." The set features sing-along tracks like "Hundred Million Dollar Soul" and "Sunshine in My Sky." She's joining Natasha Bedingfield on the latter's Less Is More summer tour, which kicks off June 5 in Northampton, Mass.


As for taking on additional acting projects aside from "Hill," Voegele says, "I never would have dreamed that we would have such a cool tie-in with a show like 'One Tree Hill.' So you kind of just take it as it comes."


(Editing by Jessica Brandon & Zorianna Kit)

Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, Kate Voegele, One Tree Hill, Billboard, Gravity Happens, ATO Records, CW, Jordin Sparks, Oakley sunglasses

Inspirational Words From Noted Songwriters And Composers (Part 2)

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, May 16, 2011 @04:10 PM

Desmond Child, Hit Songwriter
Desmond Child, Hit Songwriter

"Live life to the fullest, and then write about it. Dare to suck and put your music out there, and just keep on going" ~ Desmond Child, songwriter of #1 hits such as "Livin’ La Vida Loca", "Livin' On A Prayer" and "You Give Love A Bad Name"

 

"I felt a kinship with country music, because country has lyrics that tell stories" ~ Desmond Child

 

"Don't fall in love with everything you write, many of the times it can be improved" ~ Ken Hirsch, Hit Songwriter of songs such as: “I've Never Been To Me”, “If I Could”, etc and First Prize winner of 15th Annual USA Songwriting Competition

 

"Music is structure out of Chaos" ~ Stephen Sondheim, Lyricist

 

‎"I don't recommend analyzing a market or particular artist too much. Write the best song you can and let the professionals figure out what to do with it" ~ Billy Steinberg, songwriter of #1 Hits "Like a Virgin", "True Colors", "Eternal Flame", "Alone", etc.

 

"I guess you could write a good song if your heart hadn't been broken, but I don't know of anyone whose heart hasn't been broken" ~ Lucinda Williams, songwriter

 

"I'd rather write great songs because the word "commercial" is so subjective" ~ Beth Nielsen Chapman

 

"It's not about record companies, it's about finding other avenues to market your music" ~ Mark Mothersbaugh, songwriter, Devo.

 

"You should listen to songs and listen to what works. Listen to why a song is a hit. Check it out--not to imitate it, but there are certain things that work - hooks and melodies. Hear what works through the ages" ~ Diane Warren

 

"I think there's something strangely musical about noise" ~ Trent Reznor , songwriter, composer, former member of “Nine Inch Nails”.

 

"Songs are your best teachers. I try to learn something from every song I hear" ~ Pat Pattison, Songwriting Professor at Berklee College of Music

 

"Music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music" ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 For more information on the 16th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, check out: http://www.songwriting.net

 

Tags: songwriter, song writer, Song writing, Songwriting, Berklee, Ken Hirsch, Diane Warren, Pat Pattison, Desmond Child, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Stephen Sondheim, Billy Steinberg, Like A Virgin, Lucinda Williams, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo, Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, I've Never Been To Me