Songwriters Need to Succeed
Excerpt From "A Meeting of the Minds"
Anne Freeman - "Our purpose here today is
to explore some of the findings of the MusicDish songwriter
survey; in particular, we'll look at the statistics that showed
only 7% of the 584 songwriters surveyed selected 'improving
their craft of songwriting' as most important thing to help
to move their career forward, and anywhere from 30% to over
50% do not utilize the many resources and services available
to them to help them further their careers, both traditional
and new media."
Kim Copeland - "Susan and I do a lot of
workshops, teaching workshops, lesson plans, and seminars.
The most difficult task that we have is convincing songwriters
that they need this, which makes no sense at all to me.
can be divided into two categories, in my opinion: those that
look to it as a hobby and those that look to it as a career.
I think that there are too many who are confused about that.
There is nothing wrong if you want to do it as a hobby; then,
you don't need all of this stuff. You also don't need publishers
and labels, because you're material's not going to be ready
for them. If you want to do this as a career, then you need
teaching materials, workshops, and shared creative energy.
I liken it to building a house. You wouldn't set out to build
a house with no carpenter skills and a spoon and a fork in
your toolbox. That would be ludicrous. But at the same time,
you sit home and say, 'I know how to write that song. My grandma
told me that it's great!' But, when you put that house on
the market and people come in a look at it, built with a spoon
and a fork compared to something that was built by a professional
builder, which house do you think folks are ! going buy?"
Barbara Cloyd - "One of the things that I
noticed when looking over the survey is that a large portion
of people who reported that they were actually making income
from their writing were independent singer/songwriters. I
have this theory that the range of music that people like
can be represented as a yardstick, and the yardstick represents
every style of writing. Anywhere that's within those 36 inches,
you can find somebody who likes your kind of music. The range
of music that gets recorded and released by major labels,
that gets on the radio and on the music channels on TV, and
shows up in the bins in the stores, however, is maybe 3 inches
of that yardstick in the middle somewhere. The portion of
that music that comes out of Nashville is maybe about a quarter
of an inch of those three inches - maybe a half an inch, if
I'm being generous, and maybe three quarters! of an inch if
you include Christian music. I live in Nashville, so this
is where my emphasis is. Let's say that on the yardstick,
the style of music that will get cut in Nashville lies within
the 7 - 7 and a half inch mark.
you're over there at 33 inches, somebody likes that style
of music if you're creating a quality product, but it's not
going to get cut in Nashville. Let's say that you're creating
Um-Pa-Pa Polka music. I probably won't buy it, but there are
people all over the world starving for Um-Pa-Pa Polka music.
What I'm leading into is that although a large percentage
of the people reporting that they made income from their songwriting
made those sales off of the Internet and downloading, very
few of the writers surveyed were really utilizing the Internet.
Only 8% of those surveyed selected learning how to use Internet
more effectively as an important need in their career. And,
only 7% percent selected songwriting. What I'm seeing here
is a dollar missing a gold mind."
Jason Blume - "I was mortified. Now, I shouldn't
have been because I'm a songwriter, and most of the songwriters
I know believe what I've believed for many, many years, which
was that my songs were incredible. The only thing that was
stopping me from becoming successful was that I didn't have
the magic dust sprinkled on me, or the connections, or whatever.
I believed that for many, many years. The truth of the matter
is, when I now look back, is 'no.' When I was having those
first ten years of banging my head against the wall and getting
nowhere, it was because my songs were not up to the level
they needed to be at. My songs were not better than, or just
as good as, Dianne Warren's songs, Gary Burr or whoever you
want to point to, who are the top people. I did not see that.
So why should it surprise me that other people did not see
didn't matter how interesting or good Alanis Morissette's
voice sounded if she didn't have a "You Ought To Know," which
was just going to jump out of the airwaves and grab people
by the throat and go, 'I have never heard anything like this
before on the radio.' This is not another good song. It's
wow, it's different, it's unique. It's the way I felt the
first time I heard a song, when my assistant kept saying to
me, 'Have you heard this totally crazy song about this guy
who was singing, 'we were doing it on the floor, we were doing
it in the kitchen, and she walked in on me and so I said,
'it wasn't me!' ' I finally heard the song and I said, 'Wow,
it's so fresh, it's so different.' My experience is that 93%
of the songwriters I'm encountering are not writing songs
at that level, that are that fresh that unique, and that interesting."
Gary Talley - "I guess I've been playing
on song demos, publisher demos, since 1968, or something like
that. The same thing happens over and over again. 90% of the
time, people will pay lots of money to get a song recorded
and to do a really nice demo - which could be thousands of
dollars - and everybody in the studio knows that that song
is never going to get recorded. It's sad, really. I think
that there should be a video of a major publisher listening
to songs, and how many songs will be turned off before the
song's intro gets done. You have to know what these people
listen to, the hundreds of songs every day. That's their job
- they listen and listen. When something is not up to par,
even if it's the fact that somebody does a long intro to a
song, what they hear is 'amateur' and the tape goes off. Just
those little things can make the difference, like is d! iscussed
in any of these books here on the table. For instance, in
Jason's book, there are do's and don'ts for demo-making.
"I'm just totally amazed
at the people who don't even think that there is a craft of
songwriting, much less think they - well - they think that
their songs are great and they don't really want to learn
about the craft of songwriting. That's why I made the video,
"Guitar Playing for Songwriters" because I realized that a
lot of people are so limited by what they can do on an instrument.
I was talking to a songwriter about guitar players vs. piano
players. She was saying, 'Piano players know more chords and
they can write more interesting melodies.' That's true, because
people learn to play guitar in a different way than they learn
to play piano. You can't compete with the Phil Vassars, and
the Annie Roboffs and the Jason Blumes if you only know three
chords on y! our guitar. You're limiting yourself. It's the
same issue that we all have, it's trying to convince people
that there is a craft of songwriting in the first place, and
that there's a lot to learn. I know that the next time I'll
do a demo session, I'll go into the studio and they'll play
the work tape and nobody in that building will think that
anything's going to happen with that song, and that's just
really sad. You need to be realistic about where you are in
Meeting of the Minds" is a free downloadable report, sponsored by Windrift
Songwriting Competition, and cdstreet,
gathering leading songwriting veterans. Through their own
real world experience, they proceed to dissect what songwriters
need to succeed in the industry as well as addressing subjects
ranging from song contests, song critiquing services, artistic
integrity, rewriting process.
© Tag It
2002 - Republished with Permission