Songwriters New Year's Resolution

Four New Year’s Resolutions For Songwriters

Written by: Cliff Goldmacher

After looking back and taking stock of what last year had to offer, it’s time for us to dig in and start preparing ourselves for songwriting success in the year to come.  There are so many facets to life as a songwriter that there’s always something we can do to move the ball forward.  To that end, I’ve listed a few new year’s resolutions starting with the little things and moving up to the big ones.

1.Write down a song title every day

If you take a minute or two every morning to wake up your inner songwriter, you’ll be amazed at the cumulative results by year’s end.  Keep a small notebook by your bed and write down a song title first thing every day.  Don’t spend a ton of time on these, just write down the first thing that comes to mind.  Some of your titles will be uninspired but others will be genuinely unique and song-ready.  This notebook is a great way of not having to start from scratch when it’s time to sit down and write.  Sometimes a title that seemed dull when you were writing it down will inspire a great song when you see it again later.  It’s a small thing but it’s a reminder that inspiration is an active pursuit.

2.Find a new (or your first) co-writer

Carrying the weight of creating a song by yourself is both a worthwhile challenge and a discouraging burden depending on the day.  Sharing the load with a co-writer is a great way to stay motivated and explore different approaches to songwriting.  If you’ve already got an established group of co-writers, go find someone new to get you out of your regular routine.  If you’ve never co-written, now’s the time.  Finding the right co-writer who has strengths where you have weaknesses and vice versa will simply make for better songs.  It takes courage and a bit of a thick skin to open up your creative process to another writer but if you’re both respectful and have a great song as the ultimate goal, you’ll almost certainly be glad you did it.

3.Write a song in a genre that’s new to you

As a country songwriting friend said to me once, “there are lots of countries.”  In other words, try to write a song this year in a musical style that’s unfamiliar to you.  If you write country, try to write a jazz song.  If you write rock, try country.  By expanding your repertoire, you’ll force yourself to study different styles of music.  This, at the very least, will give you a better understanding of what goes into creating your preferred musical genre.  By filtering a different musical style through the prism of your experience, you’ll undoubtedly come up with something unique.

4.Don’t give up

Songwriting is not a profession for the faint-hearted or the easily discouraged.  It can be both exhilarating and demoralizing.  All this to say, no matter how bleak things may appear currently or how far away success may seem, the only trait all successful songwriters share is that they haven’t given up.  A songwriting career is a marathon not a sprint.  If things are tough, it’s ok to slow down, give yourself a break and go on “input” for a while.  Sometimes just living your life instead of trying to document it is the best way to regain your motivation.  Resolve to find the strength to keep at it this year.  There’s a great song out there just waiting for you to write it.

Happy New Year!

 

Bio

Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including a brand new HD video series available at the link below.

http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/video-podcast-series

Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos. 

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going tohttp://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter

Twitter: edusongwriter

Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer

Submitted by Alison Williams on Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:19am

It's that time of year again.  Let me guess, you have an Holiday CD and you're wondering what to do with it?  You've gone to a lot of work and don't want to just put the CD out for people to use in their shops and parties.  A few dollars for one CD is crazy for all that effort you've put into it.  You've worked for months to write the songs and produce them, so why just hand it away for all to listen to....

It's a hard time of year to actually sell that CD, especially in December when you have finally put it together, right?  But, think again, there are plenty of locations looking for original music rather than the standards. Shops need to bring people in...ask them if you can perform and sell CD's in their business.  This way you are performing, offering support to a local business and getting your work out to the public.  There are customers looking for something different to give during the holidays and what a perfect gift is an original, wonderful CD that can be shared on that special holiday when gifts are opened and shared.

Get your CD's, go to the local shops or public spots and perform!  Bring your CD's and sell them.  Everyone will enjoy your wonderful music and will happily buy your CD as a gift and for their holiday events.  And, of course, don't forget that as the months progress through the year, your name and music will remain in their hearts.  You will have a new following and house concerts will be organized for the months ahead.

So don't be shy, get out there and offer your performance time as long as you are able to sell those CD's...You only have a short time to sell those songs, so join the "shop local" movement and support those small, independent locations and get your work out there for the public to enjoy!

A Conversation with Michael and Patty Silversher

A conversation with Michael and Patty Silversher

How did you get your start?  

MICHAEL-   I started writing songs when I was 8- As the years progressed, I had a rock band for many years performing all over the Bay Area with the band and as a solo act.  I became a staff writer for the 5th Dimension and
then ended up as musical director for TheatreWorks in Palo Alto for 10 years which gave me the experience of writing on assignment, for deadlines,  for characters  and for voices not only with  success as well as failure.
From TheatreWorks, I worked with the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep and composer in residence for the Sundance Institute and most recently, for the Kennedy Center.

PATTY-  I played guitar and wrote songs for fun while in college.  When I met Michael, we entered a Christmas song International songwriting contest and I worked with him on the lyric.  We won.  After that, we started collaborating on many songs and projects.

We started the South Bay Songwriter's Association to bring the craft and business of songwriting to the Bay Area. We  fell into Children's music as we were introduced to the publisher at Disney through a volunteer of SBSA and from there on, our collaboration with Disney expanded to writing and producing over 130 songs with that company.   We have been fortunate to write for the Jim Henson Company, Sony, Warner Brothers, MGM and Children's television workshop having songs recorded and produced by Luther Vandross, Little Richard, Melissa Manchester, Karla Bonoff, Brenda Russel and of course, Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Winnie the Pooh, Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzy and our current favorites The Pajanimals!

Who are your major influences? 

MICHAEL-  The Beatles, of course!,  Aaron Copeland and Leonard Bernstein, Traditional Irish music, Peter
Gabriel because he opened me up to a lot of World Music, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and just about everybody
except for Phillip Glass.

PATTY-  Motown, Supremes, Beach Boys, 50's rock and Roll, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Carole KIng,
Hall David and all of the Brill Building writers,  and also every dog I have ever owned inspires me to write
for little people!

What sparks your passion to write?

MICHAEL- What somebody says, hearing a sound and whatever music rises above the white noise

PATTY-  The child inside of me that always has something to say.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

MICHAEL- I love the folks I am already collaborating with-  if there was one person, I would say, Elvis Costello because he would draw the essence of me out of myself.

PATTY-  Actually, I love collaborating with Michael-  I think it would be fun to write with Dick Sherman

Where do you find the best place to write your songs, at home, restaurant, coffee house etc.,?

 MICHAEL-  Doing mindless activities like shopping or cooking and just walking around with my dog.

PATTY-  Well,  Lots of times I will wake up and write ideas down.  Also working at home writing while gardening,  cleaning and sitting in my back yard next to my babbling brook.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

MICHAEL- I want to continue songwriting but I have been composing the scores for some TV shows and I would like to continue doing that as well as writing for films and concert halls.
 
 PATTY- I would like to have a Bichon Farm with 250 Bichons running all over the place and me as the Alpha Dog. On the farm there will be a public Botanical garden with a nursery and a wildlife refuge. An amphitheatre will be in the center  for live community performances and concerts with a small gift shop that has a little cafe.

What made you join WCS?

M & P-  We started it in our living room in 1979  and look where it is today!

What made you decide to become Volunteer with WCS?  What do YOU get out of your participation?

No one would pay us as we had no budget and only volunteers to help us grow-  We started it out of a passion for music and community and also we felt it was vitally important that if one were to be successful in the music business it was 50% the craft of writing and 50% the business of music.

Anything else you’d like to add?

WCS was instrumental in introducing us to a career that has lasted 32 years where we have been privileged to write for every genre of music for all ages and for all people all over the world.

NYC & Nashville Songwriting

As a transplanted songwriter from Nashville to New York City, I’ve had the chance to observe, up close, the approaches to songwriting and the songwriting communities in both cities.  While there are of course many similarities, there are also quite a few differences. By the way, I feel I should mention that the following observations are really more my impressions than hard facts.

 

Differences Within the Similarities

In this article, I’ll start with a similarity between New York and Nashville as it’s readily apparent and then explain how, within that similarity, one city differs from the other.  One of the first similarities is that both cities have huge songwriting populations.  The depth and breadth of talent in both places encompass many more genres that the obvious country music for Nashville and pop and rock music for New York.  There are great pop writers in the suburbs of Nashville and extremely accomplished country songwriters living in Greenwich Village. 

Finding the Songwriters

One difference between the two songwriting communities is how easy they are to locate.  Because Nashville’s artistic community is predominantly made up of singers, songwriters and musicians, it’s much easier to find the music/songwriting community there.  New York, on the other hand, has a wonderful songwriter population, but it’s mixed in with the countless other artists and creative types that live there and is thus less obvious.  In other words, it takes a little more effort to find the songwriters in New York, but believe me, they’re there.

Before moving from Nashville to New York, I’d taken several writing trips a year up to New York and, by a process or trial and error, I found a core group of NYC songwriters that became my go to people on every trip.  This way, when I eventually moved to New York, I felt like I was instantly part of the community even though I had to discover it little by little.   I highly recommend this approach for anyone considering a move to New York as it eases the transition and makes the entire process much less overwhelming.

Co-writing

Although both New York and Nashville have large numbers of songwriters, co-writing is much more a part of the day to day routine in Nashville.  It’s not unusual for a Nashville writer to have five co-writing appointments in a week where they meet with a different cowriter every day in a publishing company office on Music Row.  This happens for several reasons.  First of all, as a hired staff songwriter for a Nashville publishing company, you are given a yearly quota of songs that you need to fulfill. The more songs you write,  the more quickly you’ll fulfill your quota.  Publishers make a real effort to connect songwriters they think will work well together and go as far as to set up co-writing appointments for their writers.  As a result, it’s fairly common in Nashville to be set up on a “blind date” cowrite. Secondly, even though you’re only credited with half a song for a cowrite, it’s easier to motivate yourself to write if you’ve got someone to collaborate with.  The act of scheduling appointments and being expected to show up significantly eases the stress of having to create on a schedule.  This approach seems odd to a lot of New York writers who are either artists themselves and used to writing with their own bands or are songwriters used to working with artists whose schedules are much less predictable.

Lyrics

Staying with the generality that you’re writing country in Nashville and pop or rock in New York,  I’ve noticed  that the rules of lyric-writing between these genres and cities differ significantly.  In Nashville, the story is king.  This means that the lyric has to make perfect sense, the images are concrete and the story has a logical flow from beginning to end.  There’s not a lot of room for poetic, impressionistic lyrics that don’t have the arc of a story.  New York, on the other hand, while it certainly has its share of great songwriter/storytellers,  has a broader tolerance in its pop and rock genres for words that “feel” and “sound” good together.  Please don’t misunderstand.  It takes just as much skill to write a great pop lyric where the words convey the emotion of the song and carry the nuances of the melody as it does to write a great story in a country song, but it’s a different skill set.  I’ve found that switching from one approach to the other can be creatively liberating and quite a bit of fun.  Also, it’s interesting to see how one city’s lyrical approach can bleed into the other’s.  In this way, you can end up with country lyrics where the words in the story sound good next to each other or pop lyrics with the arc of a story to them.

Labels

Speaking of artists, another similarity in the two cities is that they are both home to major record labels and their signed artists.  This alone attracts a huge number of songwriters to both cities.  The difference here is that country music artists are still largely dependent upon outside songs for their projects.  In New York, bands tend to write their own material and it is less common for these artists to go looking for outside songs.  Occasionally songwriters will be paired with these bands/artists in New York allowing the writers to end up with cuts on these acts.  Of course, all of these distinctions are lessening as more country artists write and cowrite their albums as well.

You Can’t Lose

At the end of the day, both communities are great places to work and create.  Ironically, after living in Nashville, working as a staff songwriter and writing for the country market for twelve years, my first cut was with a New York writer and was recorded by an Irish tenor on Universal Records named Ronan Tynan.  In my opinion, it was the blend of our New York and Nashville songwriting sensibilities that came together to create that song.  What I mean by this is that somewhere between the soaring melody more suited to pop and the lyric that had more of a country attention to detail, we came up with a classical crossover song.  So, if you’re a Nashville writer thinking about working in New York (or vice versa) I’d highly recommend it.  Sometimes it’s the differences that create the best art.

Good luck!

 

Biography

Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including a brand new video series available at the link below.

http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/video-podcast-series

Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos. 

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going tohttp://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter

Twitter: edusongwriter

Get your Music in Film & TV

One of the fastest growing areas for new music is the film and TV industry. With 24 hours of hundreds of TV channels and numerous films being produced daily, the need for  music/songs/soundtracks far outweighs what is available.  Perhaps it's your chance to have your music in TV/Film. However, getting your music to the right person is not the easiest. Have you checked online, magazines and every method for sending in your songs only to not hear at all or told "we'll keep your music on file"?  It's a hit and miss method of getting your music to the right person.

The only way to be certain to get your music heard is to meet the heavy hitters in the industry in person.  Sounds easy doesn't it...but how can you make an appointment and meet them.  Try finding their direct line, try cold calling or even stop by...and imagine the reaction!  

However, the opportunity is here.  Meet the TV & Film guests at the 32nd Annual Music Conference in person, network with them and perhaps you can strike up a good relationship where they will remember you and even call you when they're looking for your kind of music.  

Make the effort, come to the conference Sept 7th-9th and meet Jerome Spence, Darian Cowgill, Adam Levenson, Mason Cooper, Chris Austria and Ryan Gaines.  Imagine -- SIX TV/Film guests to network with in person!

So be sure to prepare your music and bio and study up on the music they're looking for and strike up a converstaion.  You never know what might happen next!  It's your chance to be seen, heard and remembered.

Graham Howes