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Songwriting Tips

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!

Songwriting Tip: Positive Pitching Perspective

Twice a month, GSC provides the opportunity for songwriters to pitch their songs to some of Nashville’s top publishers. Most songwriters only dream of getting the opportunity to have an legitimate industry professional to truly listen to their song.

Our POP Events are creating success for many of our members from all over the world. Some have even received requests for IN PERSON publisher meetings. While we could talk for hours about our members’ successes, today’s tip is for those songwriters who are showing up and playing their songs, but not getting the results they desire…YET!

A GSC POP Event is the real world of pitching songs and it is not for the faint of heart. The excitement of finally getting your song heard by an industry professional can dissipate when your songs are repeatedly not taken by the publishers. We quickly become familiar with privilege of playing our songs for industry professionals who give to you of their most valuable assets: their time and trained listening ears. The reality of the professional songwriter’s life is that they may pitch hundreds of songs or sometimes one song hundreds of times before they receive a “yes” and that song is cut.

Here are a few stories about songs that were pitched, but took years to get cut.
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Songwriting Tip: Refusing to Give Up is Contagious

Have you ever wondered how singers who may not be the greatest singer in the world wind up on the radio? Or songs that are less than stellar, in your opinion, wind up on the radio? All the while you are working at your craft, your voice with diligence and discipline? It can be really frustrating! However, here is the good news: It ISN’T always the best voice, the best song that makes it to the masses!

This usually happens because a singer believed they had something unique to offer or a songwriter believed in a song and wouldn’t give up until it got to where he/she thought it should be. It isn’t always the most beautiful person who gets the modeling contract, the most talented writer who gets the publishing deal….it could be someone just like YOU who refuses to give up!

The energy of refusing to give up and to give in is CONTAGIOUS! People want to be around creators who BELIEVE in themselves and their work, including publishers, label executives, radio promoters. There is a strength and a power that goes beyond the human voice and human words when FAITH is engaged.

2014 is YOUR YEAR to leap and bound ahead in your purpose and on your path. Feel free to take a GIANT STEP today!

Songwriting Tip: Send a Copy

This may sound very simple, but because it is still happening, I will address it. NEVER send your ONLY copy of a song, your ONLY photo, your ONLY article, your ONLY ANYTHING to a music industry professional! I rarely say never, but I just said it and will say it again…NEVER. You simply will not get your materials returned to you and here is why:

Many publishers are listening to 300 to 400 songs a week! The same is true of most industry pros from an A&R representative to a mentor, like myself. Industry pros are processing songs at a very fast rate of speed. It is impossible to keep up with the physical copies of all of the packages that are received. In addition, there is simply not enough time in the day to respond to all of the songs one listens to unless the industry pro has an interest in actually working with you.

I know your songs and materials are important to you. You worked hard to create them and ensure that they represent the best of you, so make sure that you have a copy of whatever you send out to others in the music industry.

Songwriting Tip: The Take Home Marketing Tip

Recently, I worked for several hours creating a gift for publishers to take home from our GSC PLAYS4U! event. Along with the amazing talent we presented, I wanted them to have something to remember the GSC event by long after the songs were played.

One of the items was a star shaped candy dish filled with mints for their receptionist’s desk. There was a card on the dish that said, “Tomorrow’s Talent Today at Global Songwriters Connection.” There was also a sticker put on the bottom of the dish, so that when it got empty and they washed the dish they would see the name Global Songwriters Connection again and remember the quality talent that we bring to the table.

The words “take home” have many different meanings. Take Home and Residual Results can often be interchanged. Most of us want something to take home after all of the energy and efforts we put into an event, tour, or music project! If you are doing a gig, your take home should include a pay check and at a minimum the email addresses of those who attended your show.
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Songwriting Tip: Branding Your MP3s

When sending your mp3s to industry professionals, please DO NOT list the demo singer’s name on the mp3 along with the title of the song! Many demo singers are songwriters too and this may be confusing to the industry pro. If anything, the industry pro needs to see YOUR name! GSC is all about branding YOU as a songwriter in the industry and getting your name known and recognized. When listening to a song, the industry pro doesn’t really care who sang your song as long as it is a good, clean, clear vocal where they can understand the song. It doesn’t help you one bit that you chose a known demo singer except for the fact that they may have more experience that can help them provide the sound publishers are listening for and make your song sound like a hit. THAT totally matters.
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Songwriting Tip: The Importance of Being You

Oh sure, there will be imposters, those who make outlandish claims, and some who are even quite good, but no one will ever be another you. Talk about an advantage!” (from Tut Messages from the Universe)

I encourage you to identify what makes you uniquely you in your writing and magnify and amplify that skill set. Maybe you are great with melody, rhythm, cool phrases or phrasing, unique chords, quirky sense of humor. Whatever your gift is that you bring to the table, own it and know it! It isn’t easy to maintain your uniqueness while working to become a master songwriter especially if you don’t really know what sets you apart. Here is a suggestion: next time you have a song evaluation ask, “What do you think are my unique qualities as a songwriter?”

Songwriting Tip: Don’t Get Cocky

I usually provide the tip every week, but I thought it might be fun this week to give you a tip from a STAR! This is a quote from Sara Evans is taken from Anastasia Brown’s book “Make Me A Star.”

“DON’T GET COCKY – That’s the number one rule. Do not get cocky because you will not last if you do, especially in country music. If you come out of the box and make it really fast and great things start happening and you start believing it’s because of you and not because of the support of radio or the fans or just luck or your team or God’s blessing on you, then you’re going to fall away quickly. I’ve watched it over the years of my career. I’ve seen so many artists do that. That’s my biggest advice. Don’t get cocky and don’t take your position for granted.”

I hope you have a wonderful week!