GSC Interview with Bruce Miller

Bruce MillerGSC Interview with Bruce Miller

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder:  Hey, Bruce! Thanks for talking today. So how long have you been evaluating songs?

Bruce Miller:  That’s a good question! I have to go back and look…I think It’s been about 7 or 8 years. I started at NSAI working with Sheree when she was there. I think they had like a 6 month backlog of songs to evaluate, and I got them caught up in like a month or something ridiculous like that. I had never done evaluations before, but I had taught songwriting and studied songwriting. And I had been writing for 25 or 30 years…more than that, really. I had studied songwriting a lot and I discovered that I was really good at song evaluations and I really liked doing it. I think I figured out that when I was at NSAI, I evaluated something like 14,000 songs – including contests – and I was their most requested evaluator. So I mentored writers on about 14,000 songs and I really enjoyed doing it. So that’s kind of the history of it.

DR: What would you say is the #1 thing that you constantly come across?

BM: Writers at different levels make different mistakes. I’d say the #1 thing that developing writers make is that they assume the listener knows what the story is about. They don’t give enough detail. They don’t give enough who, what, when, why, and where and the listener is lost. It’s a very common thing. Even professional writers I work with can sometimes forget that, and we have to go “Wait a minute…why does nobody understand this?” I think Jason Blume said something great one time. Someone asked him to explain the song to them, and he said “Unfortunately, songs just don’t come with instruction sheets.” So that’s probably one of the main things. And learning how to find a great hook is another thing, and making it pay off emotionally.

DR: Tell me a bit about your evaluation process.

BM:  I evaluate very organically. When I listen, it’s almost like I’m outside of myself, observing what I’m listening to. So if I’m not really engaged in the song, if I’m not feeling it, I need to find out why I’m not emotionally engaged by the song. And to me, that’s one of the most important things. Even if the song isn’t crafted well, if it doesn’t have the emotional content to it, it’s not doing its job. And each song has a job. I try to work with people to figure out what the job of each song is, and how to make sure that song is actually fulfilling what it’s supposed to do. As writers, we decide what that job is. There’s a few techniques I used to help people, like a checklist they can look at to see if the song is doing what they want it to do. In a vacuum it’s hard to know whether it’s doing its job, and if you know the right questions to ask, you can have a little more of a sense of what you’re writing. I tell people a song should move you in one of four ways: It should move your body, or your heart, or spiritually, or intellectually. If you get all four of those going at once, you’ve got a song that will live on forever.

DR:  Good answer.

BM: (laughs) Long answer. And you  know, people don’t realize how much of songwriting has to do with the human brain, and patterns. That’s how the brain really works, and how it’s really comfortable. When our brains can recognize a pattern quickly, it makes us feel good – the brain is really comfortable with that. That’s why we get anxious when things change. If you’ve ever moved, the first several months, you feel like you’re not in your body as much. You don’t know where the bathroom lightswitch is. And then finally you get acclimated to that and you become comfortable again. Part of being a commercial writer is about making people feel comfortable in a certain way. Like an old sweater. But we also crave variety, which is a paradox – we want variety in our patterns. We want the patterns, but we also want something new. I like to say we need something shiny. Songs that are memorable have something shiny in them that you haven’t seen before.

DR: Great thoughts. What are some songs you wish you’d written?

BM: I wish I had written “Ghost in this House”. I think it’s one of the most perfectly crafted songs that I’ve ever heard. I mean, I haven’t heard every song written, you know. But Alison Krauss does the best version of it – her voice captures so much of the emotion of that song. That’s one of my top ten. “The Song Remembers When” is another one. Both written by Hugh Prestwood.  I’m a huge fan of almost all the Beatles’ catalogue, melodically. I think their melodies are just unsurpassed in the 50 years since they’ve been around. It’s hard to find melodies that touch their stuff. I’m a big fan of the Eagles, and that whole cadre of songwriters from the 70’s – country rock writers. JD Souther, Glenn Frye, Don Henley, Don Felder. Linda Ronstadt wasn’t a writer, but she picked great material to record. Crosby, Stills, and Nash. And my all-time favorite writer/artist is Joni Mitchell. I’ve followed her music and her career pretty much since the beginning. I’ve just watched how she progressed and developed as a lyricist. It’s kind of like “learn everything you need to know about songwriting, and then throw it out the window”. She really knew the importance of a hook, and returning musical themes that are memorable.

DR: Let’s talk for a minute about your background. What got you into songwriting?

BM: Well, I’d been playing guitar since I was 13 and joined my first band when I was 14. I was always in bands, up until the time I was 40. When I went to college, I actually moved down to Los Angeles to be in an original project – we were being produced by Andy Johns who was Glyn John’s brother – he engineered Zeppelin and the Who. He was a big time British engineer. I moved to L.A. and I started doing club work as a professional guitarist and singer. I had written maybe 4 or 5 songs in high school. I later worked with Paul McCartney and Kenny Loggins. I was Laura Brannigan’s lead guitar player for several years – that was probably my longest gig. After being in several original bands, none of which I did the writing in,  I got tired of just being the guitar player. I felt like I had something to say, and I wanted to say it. I had a friend in Nashville who was a publisher, and he agreed to listen to my songs – I thought I knew how to write, and I thought I was writing country. You remember the sound tapes made when they were fast forwarded? (imitates the sound) That was the sound of my meeting. After that, I started taking songwriting lessons. I got involved with a songwriting organization out in L.A.  called NAS. I went to every meeting. I saw what the business was about, and just really got an education. I started writing and figuring it out – my songs were getting better. I started commuting to Nashville and went to Song Camp – that was a religious experience. Rick Beresford, Jon Ims, Don Henry, James Dean Hicks, Hugh Prestwood and Angela Kaset were teaching.

DR: They’re great.

BM: Yeah. I learned a lot. So that’s kind of my progression from wanting to do it, to learning how to do it, to doing it and eventually moving to Nashville. I love what I do. I love this part of it – being a teacher and mentoring people. Because I know how hard it is. I also love songs and songwriting, and being a songwriting mentor is really, really exciting for me. I get to witness this process with someone and get to help them find their legs as songwriters and get good at it.

DR:  Awesome. Well, do you have any parting thoughts?

BM: Yeah. I think what’s really important for people to understand is that they need to have an order of business they need to take care of in order to be successful. And the first thing they need to do is get their songwriting together. I don’t care how much networking you do, how much social media you do, I don’t care about any of that stuff. If your song is not competitive with what is happening within the market you’re in, there’s no way you’re gonna go anywhere. The most important thing you should be focusing on is getting your songs competitive. That is job one. Being able to have immediate feedback and have it from someone who isn’t going to make you feel bad, or make you feel like quitting is really, really important. That’s why the evaluation service with Global Songwriters is so crucial. It’s a great deal, and not to toot my own horn, but it’s with someone who can really help them. People complain all the time “Well, I can’t get anyone to help me.” You’ve got it right in front of you – this opportunity to increase your marketability by becoming a better songwriter. And you need good feedback so you can improve. It’s almost exponential how much better you get when you have someone who can nurture you along the way, and you’re working with them consistently. You’re gonna get a great feeling of progression that way.

DR: Thanks for the interview, man!

BM: You’re welcome! Have a good one!

 

 

Interview with Ree Boado

Ree BaodoGSC Interview with Ree Boado

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: Great to meet you, Ree! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. What got you into songwriting?

Ree Boado: Well, my journey into songwriting is a little different from most songwriters I’ve known. I was always passionate about lyrics and singing, though I didn’t grow up in a very musical family and wasn’t surrounded much by musical people. Music was always calling to me though. Some of my earliest and best memories involve music. I can remember being 8 years old and sitting behind the bushes in my front yard, reading and memorizing lyrics. I occasionally wrote bits of poetry and wrote some short stories that won some contests as a kid, but I never actually thought I could write a song since I didn’t play instruments at that time. And then one day in my early 20’s, I was in the shower and several lyrics and a melody line just came to me. That turned into my first song, which I later found piano chords for, thanks to a friend. After that small victory, then learning to play piano and guitar, songs have been flowing ever since. I guess the music was in there all along, just waiting for the right time to come out!

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?
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Interview with Joe Piasecki

Joe PiaseckiGSC Interview with Joe Piasecki

provided by reporter Dan Reifsnyder

Dan Reifsnyder: Tell me about how you got into songwriting.

Joe Piasecki: In 2001, I got a comedy song signed to Goodnight Kiss Music in L.A. In 2002 through GKM – I met #1 hit artist Alan O’ Day who sang “Undercover Angel”. We became friends through the years and in 2008, he cut my song “Hello Mom” in Nashville for his CD “I Hear Voices”. A wonderful man, may he rest in peace. I have co-written four songs with Alan’s good friend, and my mentor, Denny Martin, who is a fantastic Nashville producer and songwriter.

DR: Who are some of your musical influences?

JP: Tom Petty, Dwight Yoakam. Currently, I just found Beth Nielsen Chapman online and her thoughts about the initial creative process are incredible.

DR: I agree! She’s very sweet, too. What made you want to join GSC?

JP: I met Sheree briefly at NSAI in 2008 and her enthusiasm was inspiring.
When I saw she had her own business, I thought it was cool and inexpensive.

DR: What do you feel is different about GSC?

JP: Sheree! She should be a motivational speaker and travel the globe like Tony Robbins or something! I love the real world hook-ups she has provided me with. People I never would have met except through her. I currently have a very controversial song called “Think About It” that I’m going to pitch that was demoed as a result of Sheree finding me the perfect match for the song. She doesn’t really critique–she encourages. I hate when a song service will actually critique 1 or 2 syllables.

DR: Couldn’t agree more. I always walk away feeling inspired after a session with her – she’s a powerhouse of positive energy! What are some songs you wish you’d written?

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Interview: Trey Bruce

Interview with Emmy Award Winning Songwriter & Producer Trey Bruce

An Inside Look at Nashville’s Country Music Movers and Shakers

Trey Bruce

Featuring: Trey Bruce
Emmy Award Winning Songwriter & Producer


By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network


Emmy Award winning songwriter, Trey Bruce, moved to Nashville just in time for the 1990’s country music boom. Trey was a rock drummer from Memphis so…..what could go wrong? He credits a copy of Springsteen’s Tunnel Of Love as the bridge he had to cross to make the trip, lyrically & spiritually. Luckily, Trey’s first demo got cut immediately by Shelby Lynn and was a top 15 hit. As a result, he signed his first publishing deal with MCA Music.

After three years at MCA, in 1993, Trey co-founded a small indie publishing company, Big Tractor Music, with record producer Scott Hendricks. There he received 13 ASCAP Awards, an Emmy Award, five #1 singles, multiple top 5 & 10 hits and an Academy of Country Music Song of the Year nomination.

During the Big Tractor years, Trey developed a love for coffee and long nights in the studio, so he became a record producer. Trey’s first and still favorite record to make was Chris LeDoux’s critically acclaimed One Road Man followed by four Trace Adkins albums and Rebecca Lynn Howard’s Forgive. Over one-thousand songs later, Trey left Big Tractor in 2005 to partner with Kenny MacPherson and became VP of A&R and Creative for Chrysalis Music in the Nashville office.

At Chrysalis, Trey signed and developed new artists, such as GAC’s KingBilly, wrote a ton of new songs, and built a catalog of roughly 800 songs in five years, as well as cuts in the rock format and #1 singles in Australia and Canada. In 2010 Trey partnered with The Royalty Network in NY/LA and since that time has cuts in pop, rock and country formats as well as film and TV.

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Interview: Alicen Catron Schneider

Interview with Alicen Catron Schneider/NBCUniversal TV 

The Ins and Outs of Music Placement in Movies and TV Series

 Alicen Catron Schneider

Featuring: Alicen Catron Schneider
Vice President, Music Creative Services for NBCUniversal Television
By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network


Alicen is the head of the creative music division for NBC Universal Television, which she created and established seven years ago. She manages music strategies and personnel for all Studio productions. She contributes creative music for select NBC Agency promotional campaigns, most notably the Olympics, and assists with strategic music partnerships for the multiplatform marketing of shows.  Alicen operates as a music liaison between Network and Studio creative executives for stunt casting and on-camera opportunities as well as making composer recommendations for Universal Television produced programs.  In addition to this, she solicits the creation of original compositions and recordings for both promotional campaigns and series episodes.  Past projects include Heroes, The Event, Trauma, Lipstick Jungle, Crossing Jordan, and Monk, as well as The 60s and The 70s mini-series for NBC.  Most recently, Alicen has added a music business affairs component to her plate, taking on the negotiating of composer and music supervisor agreements, as well as assisting production executives with music budget estimates for new shows and lots and lots of troubleshooting. She is a frequent panelist at music festivals worldwide on the subject of music supervision for television.

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Interview: Tony Von Pervieux

Industry Spotlight

The Ins and Outs of Music Placement in Movies and TV Series

Tony Von Pervieux

Featuring : Ton Von Pervieux

Creative Director, TV Music

ABC Entertainment Group

By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network

Tony began his career in music management working as an assistant for Aaron Walton Entertainment; an entertainment company specializing in management for a variety of talented artists.

He then made the transition over to independent music supervision working as an assistant for Dawn Soler. Dawn has been supervising Film and TV for over twenty years, working on movies such as Dumb and Dumber, Princess Diaries I & II, Catwoman, Dead Man Walking, Hollywood Homicide, Enchanted and more. Tony co-supervised a couple films with Dawn and some on his own before making his way over to Television as a co-music supervisor for the hit series Ugly Betty.

He supervised Ugly Betty for one season and shortly after was hired at ABC Studios to work as Creative Director for the TV music department.

ABC Studios currently produces over eighteen shows for multiple broadcast and cable networks. Some of the shows include Army Wives, Castle, Cougar Town, Criminal Minds, Grey’s Anatomy, Happy Endings, Nashville, Once Upon A Time, Private Practice, Revenge, The River, and Scandal.

 As Creative Director for ABC Studios, he helps oversee all aspects of music for their shows; including pitching music to ABC Marketing & Promo and the shows he supervises in-house. He also is also a co-founder of The Happiest Hour, a TV/FILM/MUSIC industry mixer that has been around for eight years and running

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Interview: Julia Michels

Industry Spotlight

On The Music Beat

The Ins and Outs of Music Placement in Movies and TV Series

Julia Michels

Featuring : Julia Michels

Music Supervisor– Format Entertainment

By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network

Julia Michels is an independent Music Supervisor who has enjoyed a rewarding career in the film music industry for over twenty years.  She is currently working on jet setting romantic comedy Baggage Claim (Fox), starring Paula Patton and Derek Luke, directed by multiple NAACP award-winning playwright, David Talbert.  She most recently completed work on the highly anticipated Christmas release, Parental Guidance (Fox), starring Bette Midler and Billy Crystal, and the irreverent a cappella comedy Pitch Perfect (Universal Pictures).

Prior box office success includes the lucrative Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked! (Fox), the illustrious Sex & The City (1 & 2) (New Line Cinema/WB), critically acclaimed drama The Blind Side (Alcon/WB), beloved family trilogy Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Fox), and the indie film A Single Man (The Weinstein Company), which was nominated for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes.  Other notable films she has supervised include Hope Springs (Mandate Pictures), Marley And Me (Fox), the Oscar Nominated (Best Song) and Grammy Nominated (Best Soundtrack) August Rush (WB), and the 2006 blockbuster The Devil Wears Prada (Fox).

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Interview: Frankie Pine

Industry Spotlight

On The Music Beat

The Ins and Outs of Music Placement in Movies and TV Series

Frankie Pine

Featuring: Frankie Pine

Music Supervisor/Consultant – Whirly Girl Music

By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network

Music Supervisor Frankie Pine has been instrumental in putting together memorable arrangements on a variety of film and television projects.  Among her many qualities, one could say it is her versatility that has made her a success.

During her career, she has overseen the music featured in such diverse films as “Nurse Betty,” “Kinsey,” “The Toothfairy,” and “The Santa Clause 2 & 3.”  She has also had the opportunity to supervise several successful television series including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Army Wives,” “Hung,” “Body of Proof,” and “GCB.”  In addition to her television background, she also served as music consultant on Steven Soderbergh’s films “Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13” as well as the Academy Award-winning “Traffic.” Recently Frankie was the Music Supervisor on the box office smash “Magic Mike.”

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