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Songwriting Tips

Songwriting Tip: How to Ruin a Song Pitch

Dan Refsnyderby Daniel Reifsnyder

1. Talking Yourself Down
A lot of writers are humble, quiet, and avoid the limelight. Some aren’t very good with people skills or networking (one reason some have become writers in the first place). Worse, we are always our own worst critics – I know that’s true in my case, at least. I used to hand over demos to publishers with some sort of preface: “It may not be what you’re looking for…” or “The vocals aren’t up to par…” or “I know it’s a ballad, but…” I stopped when I realized this was, in essence, an apology. An admission, right out of the gate, that what I was presenting wasn’t good enough (or, at the very least, that I thought it might not be). Not only might this turn off a professional listener, but it begs a bigger question: If you don’t think it’s ready, why are you wasting their time? A little faith in yourself goes a long way. I’m not saying to thrust the demo in their face and insist it’s the next big hit, but at least stop shooting yourself down before you start.

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What Publishers are Looking For

GSC members,

We have been diligently gathering information about what publishers are looking for when it comes to songs.  At GSC, we want to provide you with information that helps you to write songs with intention, direction and purpose.  We trust the information below with help you in your efforts.

Song Types – Song publishers are telling us that they want beat driven “track drive” tempo songs but with meaningful, meaty lyrics.

Titles – Publishers want and need FRESH UNIQUE TITLES that are almost like a slogan on a t-shirt or a slogan that you would read on a coffee mug.  Songs are released as singles and on digital sites like Spotify and need to STAND OUT.

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GSC Goal Setting Class

If you FAIL to PLAN, you PLAN to FAIL!

Start your  new year off RIGHT with this FREE GOAL SETTING CLASS from GSC!

STEPS Instructional Training

This Goal Setting Class is a powerful tool to help you truly PLAN your 2017 year. This class is normally taught in a classroom setting, so just skip past the sign-up process and get straight to the heart of the matter.

Please DO read each portion of the class as many of us, as creators, are self-sabotaging by nature.

LEARN WHY we often make the choices we make!
LEARN HOW to overcome these self-sabotaging habits!
PLAN for a great 2016 YEAR OF MIRACLES!





1. “I AM A MAGNET FOR GREAT OPPORTUNITIES!” – Print these words and put them on your computer and in several DIFFERENT locations in your life where you will see them every day. Speak this out loud as often as you can no matter how you may be feeling and no matter what you may be experiencing.


2. LISTEN IN – to at least ONE POP Event a month. Those who are doing so are growing, learning, connecting AND 101 members had in person publisher meetings through this event last year.


3. Career Mentoring Session – schedule a one on one mentoring session and help lay out your 2016 year and get a checklist started on what to do NEXT! We recommend that you plan and prepare to do FOUR mentoring sessions a year.

We Believe in YOU!

Your GSC Team!


Songwriting Tip: Point A to B

The shortest distance between Point A and Point B is a straight line. If you are writing good songs (Point A) and you want to write great songs (Point B) then the straightest path is through an industry mentor. You’ve just written a hit song (Point A) and you want to get it cut (Point B) then the straightest path is through a reputable publisher or career mentor.

If you are waiting to be discovered, stop waiting and take action. GSC takes a personal approach to all of its services, getting to know you and your goals so we can position you on the straight path with services like our targeted mentoring sessions, Publisher Online Pitch events and the incredible GSC FOCUS event. Make the investment in yourself today and take a look at booking a session with Sheree, Devon or Bruce or a spot (pitch or listen only) in one of our Publisher Online Pitch events.

Songwriting Tip: Getting an Industry Professional to Respond

I am thankful and grateful to have the opportunity to meet with so many wonderful creators. I count it a privilege to be the one to hear the struggle, the challenges, the disappointments, the weariness, and the desire to be successful through your songs.

Often the disappointments happen because you have not heard back from an industry professional after having what you thought was a great meeting. Just know that when you are meeting with an industry pro that they most likely REALLY DID mean everything that they said to you! They really do love your song! They really do want to connect you with that songwriter or whatever the case may be. I cannot speak for all industry professionals, but let me give you a little insight into the GSC day.

Emails – approximately 200 to 300 a day
Facebook Messages – approximately 50 to 100 a day
Facebook Event Invitations – approximately 30 to 60 a day
Phone messages – approximately 50-60 a day

That equals 330 to 520 messages or responses a day! This doesn’t include meetings or any community involvement! To create success for our members, I have to depend on the industry community which means I have to be involved in the community and have real working relationships.

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Songwriting Tip: Mentoring Guidance – Resonates or Resistance

Mentoring Guidance – Resonates OR Resistance?

I hear from so many songwriters who are very confused by all of the mentoring advice they receive from various industry professionals. One mentor says one thing; another mentor says the opposite! The songwriter is on the outside trying to get to the inside by following the expert’s advice. I completely understand how that feels!

Let me give you a little insight on the process. Just know that each person is truly trying to give you their best perspective from their experience and their role within the industry. Remember the role of that industry professional when you are in your mentoring. Very different advice will be given from someone who is working in Film/TV versus someone who is working in the commercial radio market. YOU have the answers inside of you for your songs and your career.

Here are a couple of suggestions for the next time you are trying to assimilate and apply the many mixed messages to your career and songs.
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Songwriter Tip: Song Titles-Relevant not Revealing

Song Titles – Relevant, not Revealing!

The first point of contact, is the first point of SALE and in a song, that is the title. So here is another tip for your titles:

Make the title RELEVANT, but not REVEALING! Example: if the title of your song is “She Broke My Heart Again,” I kind of already know what your songs is about and a publisher might make an assumption that they don’t have to even listen to the song to know that it is a sad ballad.

However, if the song title is “Jagged,” I can relate to the emotional feeling the title inspires, but I have to LISTEN to the song to really know what it is about. That is what we want happening for YOU! We want you to get your songs HEARD! So be Relevant in your titles and save the big REVEAL for when they are listening!

Songwriting Tip: When the Repetition of a Sound Can Create Problems

As a songwriter we often utilize the tool of alliteration. Alliteration is when a series of words in a row or a sentence all have the same first consonant sound. As kids we used this tool often in fun tongue twisters like “She sells sea-shells down by the sea-shore” or “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.” Alliteration is also a great tool for TITLES of your songs, as it makes a title easy to remember.

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Songwriting Tip: The Importance of the Track Record

There are all kinds of quotes regarding running races. Here are some examples:
“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”  -Steve Prefontaine

“The five S’s of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.” -Ken Doherty

“Let us lay aside every weight and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Trust me, you need patience to work in the music industry!

I believe creating a track record of success in the music industry requires stamina, strength, skill, spirit, and patience. These attributes are something you really want to consider when you are pitching your songs to a publishing company.

Although there are all kinds publishing company configurations out there, I have observed that there are frequently two basic types of publishing companies.

Type #1: A company opens and at the head of the company is an experienced industry leader who has run a great race previously, has a successful track record for his/her efforts and is finally, finally getting the investment backing and opportunity they have worked for years to create. These companies  have the magic mix of ingredients required to create a successful publishing company. They have the investment funding, enthusiasm, vision, a track record of experience, and deep rooted relationships. I am always thrilled when I see those ingredients mixed together, as it is so good for the songwriters they sign! A songwriter signed to this company is on the fast track and is positioned with the greatest opportunity to succeed.

Type #2: Then, there are those new companies that open with a lot of finances and enthusiasm and not much else. Finances and enthusiasm  are important and a requirement for any publishing company. However,  without experienced leadership, finances and enthusiasm usually fizzle in the face of real publishing challenges and those ingredients alone do not create a successful publishing company.  These types of companies usually last three years or less. They close due to the lack of real industry knowledge and the relationships required to succeed. The end result for the songwriter who signed with them is that frequently their songs are tied up for several years, the company no longer exists, no one is working their catalog, and they are running in circles for years with little to show for their efforts. Sometimes the songs written during those years are gone forever without the right kind of contract.

A successful publishing is something that happens over time and under the guidance of experienced leadership with a track record of success that has often come at a sacrifice and has taken years to acquire.  

If someone wants to sign your songs to their company, ask questions like:
What is  the track record of the leadership?
How long have they personally worked in the music industry?
Have they worked in publishing previously or were they a successful leader in a different industry?
Does the contract contain a reasonable reversion clause?
How do you get your songs back if the company closes?

GSC desires for you to run this race and to WIN! I trust this information will be of service to someone today who is looking at a contract and trying to make that very important decision of whether to sign or not to sign?

Be EQUIPPED with knowledge and information.

You can find this and other helpful tips and information on the member section of our website. Not a member yet? JOIN TODAY!

Songwriter Tip: Lyrics Have an Expiration Date

Lyrics Have an Expiration Date!

We often talk about how production is like a time date stamp and can limit the shelf life of a song. Production has a signature sound usually identifiable by the decade in which the song was produced. This is why Time Life magazine successfully sells songs by the decade like, “The Sounds of the 60’s,”  “The Hits of the 70’s,” and so forth. People who grew up in those decades are comfortable with those sounds and identify with those songs. But did you know that your lyric can also have a freshness date?

Here is a little insight on the song journey process. Just remember, I know there are exceptions to this rule, but my goal is to maximize your opportunities for success through these tips.

It  can frequently take five to ten years for a writer to actually achieve success with their first major cut. One such writer who has worked for nearly 15 years for his current success is Josh Osborne. Did you catch how I said 15 years? Even if you got a song cut today by a major artist, it might take two years to actually hit radio and three years for you to start receiving income.

Lyric language in a song that describes current technology or current buzz words like “selfie” give an expiration date on your song. Songs like “Feeling Groovy” or “The Streak” for example, are identified by the lyric as representing a certain generation and era of music.

If you do not have a way to expedite your song to market through a major artist you may be spending money on a demo for song with a very short shelf life. The choice is always up to you and if you feel strongly about a particular lyric, then please always follow your heart. If you are the performing artist, of course get your fresh and relevant song to the market asap!

Otherwise, you may want to look at your song lyric again. See if there is another word to express the same emotion without compromising the intent and integrity of your song while extending the shelf life and freshness of your song. This is what happens when a song is called timeless.

Investing in YOUR SUCCESS one tip at a time!

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