Songwriting Tips, News & More

USA Songwriting Competition Winner Lucy Kalantari Wins a Grammy

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Sun, Feb 10, 2019 @08:23 PM

USA Songwriting Competition Winner Lucy Kalantari Wins a Grammy


USA Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention winner (2017 Competition) and finalist (2018 Competition) Lucy Kalantari of New York, NY won a Grammy Award earlier tonight for Best Children’s Album. Her album All The Sounds by Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats included her 5 year old son Darius Kalantari, who played the cello on the album.

Before she made an acceptance speech, she handed the Grammy trophy to her 5 year old son, she told him "Don't drop it". She went on to say "Thank you to the Recording Academy, thank you to the voters. I have been making music all my life. I have to honor all the sounds in my heart and in my head. This is beautiful. This is such an honor to be on the ballot with all these nominees".

She went on to say “This album was written and recorded by a Latina woman. It was produced by a woman.” She also gave a shout out to her mom in Dominican Republic and appeared overwhelmed by her win.

She beat out other nominees in her category such as Tim Kubart (Grammy award winner in 2016), Falu, The Pop Ups and Frank & Deane.

Lucy Kalantari is an award winning children’s artist based in Brooklyn, New York, making jazz age inspired music for families. Since the Fall 2017 Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats has been featured on Sprout House, the musically-infused programming block on Universal Kids. Her songs are on steady rotation on SiriusXM Kids Place Live and other family radio programs around the country.

USA Songwriting Competition has a long history of having winners getting recording and publishing contracts, have their songs placed on the charts as well as having their songs placed on film and television, and winning Grammy Awards.

Meghan Trainor (USA Songwriting Competition finalist) won Best New Artist in the 2016 Grammy Awards, making her the only winner in the top categories (Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, etc) of the Grammy Awards. Meghan Trainor hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, and debuting #1 on the Billboard 200 Album Charts. She has a total of 9 songs that have hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts as an artist.

Christopher Tinn (USA Songwriting Competition First Prize winner, Instrumental category in 2014, Finalist in 2010) won two Grammy Awards for his classical crossover album Calling All Dawns in 2011.

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer (USA Songwriting Competition 2011 First Prize winner, Children’s music category) have earned two Grammy Awards for their recordings “cELLAbration: a Tribute to Ella Jenkins” in 2004 and for “Bon Appétit!” in 2005. Their CDs “Postcards” and “Banjo Talkin’” were both Grammy Awards nominated in the Best Traditional Folk Album category. They have received a total of 12 Grammy nominations so far.

2013 winner American Authors were signed to Island Records, and hit #1 on the Billboard Charts and went Double Platinum.

The 2017 top winner Pricilla Renea had her song “Love So Soft” recorded by Kelly Clarkson, it hit #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. Her songs have recorded by other big name artists such as Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato, Rihanna, Madonna, Selena Gomez and Chris Brown. Several of her songs have hit the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.

USA Songwriting Competition is sponsored by: D’Addario Strings, Godin Guitars, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, New Music Weekly, Loggins Promotion, Airplay Access, Audio-Technica, FL Software, Sonoma Wireworks, Berklee College of Music, DiscMakers, CDBaby, StoryBlocks, School of Rock, Final Mix Software and more.

In its landmark 24th year, the USA Songwriting Competition is currently accepting entries. To enter the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition online, Click Here>>


Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Recording, Meghan Trainor, American Authors, Cathy Fink, Pricilla Renea, Lucy Kalantari, Christopher Tinn, Marcy Marxer

6 Benefits of Collaboration in Songwriting

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Mon, Feb 04, 2019 @07:00 AM

6 Benefits of Collaboration in Songwriting

by Pam Sheyne


If you glance at the songwriter credits on any music charts these days, you’ll notice that most hit songs are written by more than one writer. In fact, the 1 or 2 people it used to take to write a song, is on the wane, it now takes a village. Six out of seven of the past seven years top winners were multi-way collaborations.

Collaboration has become the new workplace in many creative industries and it’s the combination of talent, skill-set, chemistry and how connected you are, that all add up to the recipe of success.

I myself, have been a collaborator for over 25 years and what I wanted to share with those of you who have never ventured out to write with others, is that the benefits of collaboration far outweigh the negatives. It might take a while to find “your people” and the right partners, but just like a marriage, when you find the one or few you have chemistry with, it will be much more fun than writing songs on your own.

So, what are some of the benefits of collaboration? Here are 6 for starters:

  • Working with people who compliment your skillset, lightens the load and increases productivity.   Few people are masters at everything, so know what you are good at and master that to the best of your ability.  Find collaborators that mirror your skills and bring something else to the table. If you’re not a whizz at Pro-tools you may want to leave that to someone who is experienced and faster at it.  In the long run, it will save you many hours in the studio and mean you can concentrate on writing more songs.

  • Working with people who are more experienced than you, helps you fine tune your skills and elevates you and your craft.  You can’t get to the top of the ladder without climbing all of the steps and putting the work in, (well, for most people that is the case).  Make the effort to go out to songwriter gigs, and open mic’s in your area.  Search for songwriting camps, music events and extend your network beyond your city or country. You will meet successful songwriters and business professionals at these events who might be able and willing to help connect you with the right people. Becoming a part of a music community is key to meeting and finding new collaborators, offer your help and get involved.

  • Extend your network and you will find “your people” and the ones you have the best chemistry with.  When I first started out, I wrote with anyone would write with me. I eventually traveled to other countries to write with other songwriters and built a network of co-writers and friends around the world that I love working with. Songwriting is such a unique and social craft and you will find it’s much more fun working with your friends and people you enjoy hanging with. Side note: you will learn something from every co-writer you work with, even if it’s not to go back and write with them again!

  • Enhances your professional and personal development.  Us creative types can be sensitive people but if you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, you will grow into a better writer and develop your “people skills”. Collaboration means you will have to learn to be a politician and your ability to debate, will help you figure out which ideas to fight for and which ones to let go of. Ultimately you are all working for the same goal at the end of the day, aiming high to write the best possible song.

  • More people marketing the song and finding a home for it can only enhance your strike rate.  Ideally, you want to work with people who are connected, the ones who are published, managed and have close connections with artists and record companies. Getting your song out to the right people is key so once you finish your song, you need someone to find a home for it. The more collaborators who are connected, the better the chance of finding opportunities for your songs. It isn’t over when the song is written, now the fun begins. Your songs are like your children, you want to give them the best chance in life so take care in deciding which home they go to.

  • Different minds bring different perspectives and a mix of styles.  The best part about collaborating is mixing perspectives, styles and cultures. You might never have tried such an idea on your own or written from this perspective. I love it when a co-writer challenges me to see something from another angle. Some collaborations are not easy, in fact sometimes it can be a difficult birth, but in the end when the song is done and you and your new friends are punching the air with excitement, the buzz is knowing the journey was worth every minute.

Pam Sheyne is a multi-platinum selling songwriter, vocal producer, singer and mentor.  Her song writing career has achieved success on a global scale and includes international hit records and song placements in numerous films and TV shows around the world.  With 50+ million record sales, 100+ platinum sales, she is also a prestigious Ivor Novello Award winning songwriter and a 7 times BMI Radio Play Award recipient.  Pam, and her business partner Richard Harris, started SongWriterCamps, (www.songwritercamps) and offer camps, workshops and one to one mentoring sessions for aspiring songwriters and artists.

Pam is also a founding member and executive committee member of SONA (Songwriters of North America) a grass roots advocacy group based in LA that actively fights for songwriter rights in the digital age. In 2018 SONA was instrumental in helping the Music Modernisation Act pass as a law.


To enter the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to:


Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, songwrite, Recording, lyric writing, song demo, demo recording, fantasy sports, Pam Sheyne, music writing, chemistry

The Real Stuff Is The Good Stuff – How to Write A Song

Posted by Jessica Brandon on Fri, Feb 01, 2019 @07:07 AM

[Expert Songwriting Advice] The Real Stuff Is The Good Stuff – How to Write A Song

by Mark Cawley



There is no one way to write a song. You may write melody first or mix it up but for our purposes, lets start with writing your lyric.

Whats a good place to start once you have a title or an idea of what youre going to write about? Prose. Think about the title, say it out loud ... a bunch. What does it bring to mind? Got something? Take a few minutes and write the idea in prose. Dont rhyme, dont worry about being clever, just write a couple of lines describing what youre going to write about. Lennon and McCartney could have written, “” Penny Laneis about the images of everyday people on the street in my town and what they mean to me.

Prose serves a couple of purposes. As you write your lyric, check your prose to see if youre still writing about one thing. Is everything supporting your idea? As you try to write, prose may reveal there's really nothing there. This has happened to me more than once, and Im usually grateful I was saved from spending all day on a non-starter of an idea.

The next step is a biggie and usually a big mistake. You begin to write.I mean write in a bad way. You dont want to sound like just anybody, so you try to sound like a “writer.” I always think of the famous Saturday Night Live skit with Jon Lovitz as the Master Thespian. Just search YouTube for a few moments and youll get the idea. You dont want to feel the sweat in your lyric.

Instead of jumping right in, try closing your eyes, think about your idea, and then write what you see. Dont rhyme, dont worry about cadence or how cool it looks on the page, just write. If youre writing a song about meeting the love of your life talk about the time of day, name the place you met, what was the weather like? Color of her hair? Even the smallest detail can make the difference between a generic lyric and one that comes to life. If its a car whats the make? These details make up the real stuff. Write the real stuff because its the good stuff. You can make it pretty later.

Remember the editor? Still dead. What do I mean? If you begin to self-edit in the moment its toxic. Ive mentored songwriters who have found themselves stuck simply because they were focusing on a line or an idea way too early. Before they had enough on the page to even begin to think about the editing process. Write first, edit later. Much later.

Hopefully youre filling up that page now but once in a while, take a look at the prose you wrote earlier. Does everything in your lyric still support your prose? Does your third verse introduce a cat into the story of two people falling in lust? Hard choices, but the cat probably has to go. Again, most lyrics are about one thing. Prose can help you remember what that thing actually is.


Mark Cawley is a hit songwriter who coaches other songwriters around the globe through his one-on-one, online service His songs have been on more than 16 million records with cuts ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Chaka Khan and The Spice Girls. Mark is a judge for Nashville Rising Star, Belmont University’s Commercial Music program, and West Coast Songwriter events. He’s also a contributing author to USA Songwriting Competition and Songwriter Magazine, a sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, and a mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK. His first book , “Song Journey”, based on his coaching and adventures in songwriting, will be released in April 2019. Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Mark now resides in Nashville, Tennessee.


To enter the 24th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to:


Tags: songwriter, song writer, song write, Song writing, Songwriting, lyric, songwrite, Recording, lyric writing, Mark Cawley, song demo, demo recording, music writing, cadence, edit, Lennon and McCartney