WCS in Music and Film
Musicians write songs for a myriad of reasons: performing, recording, Film/TV placement or simply for catharsis. West Coast Songwriters’ are no different except they also have access to some of the best producers, arrangers, engineers, voice coaches and music supervisors in the industry. At the Annual WCS Music Conference (held the second weekend in September) industry professionals from around the world meet songwriters, listen to songs, give advice and often remember songs for later use in their productions. This kind of expertise is not easy to find and it’s important to find advocates who truly believe in the West Coast Songwriters organization and love attending the conference and song screenings to find talent.
Music Supervisor, Marcus Barone, is no exception. Marcus operates Film Music Group /First International Pictures and supervised Decoding Annie Parker starring Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt and Dumb and Dumber, King Pins. Marcus used a number of WCS members and Bay Area/NorCal artists/licenses for this project. More recently, Marcus supervised the music forJUNCTION, with over ¾ of the soundtrack coming from his clients and West Coast Songwriters members.
Getting your song placed in a Film/TV show gives you tremendous leverage in terms of exposure to a mass audience. Music placement not only increases visibility of your work but can also be lucrative. With the democratization of the music supervision industry it has become easier, yet harder, to place music in film. What is important is to have the access to those who make the decisions and this can be found through West Coast Songwriters.
Having access to an industry great is one of the tangible benefits of being a WCS member and attending the conference epitomizes the raison d’etre of the organization. Whether or not you aspire to write specifically for the visual media, be it Film/TV or advertising, getting your songs placed is one of the best launching pads for your music career. The beauty of this is that Film/TV transcends every kind of time, place and genre imaginable. Your songs, if well written, will inevitably match one of these elements sooner or later whether your style is folk, pop, rock, jazz blues or Americana. There is a place somewhere for your music. Your forte is writing and performing these wonderful songs while West Coast Songwriters membership and conference attendance opens the door to many opportunities.
Let’s congratulate all the WCS members for their song placement and offer great thanks to Marcus for placing their songs in his latest film.
Stephanie Madison Vocals/co writer "How Old Were You"
Bernadette Conant "Will You"
Beverly Frentress "Time Out"
Gary Nobile "NYC Jane" "Black Dawn"
Robert Crane "Powerless"
Josh Friedman Co writer "When You Lift Me Up" "The Runaway" "Black Dawn; guitar work on score; Recording: Additional Songs Film Credit
Jacquie Joshua "The Runaway" Co Writer Vocals
Iari Melchor "When You Lift Me Up" Co Writer Vocals
Joanie Crombie Vocals/co writer "How Old Were You"
Ian Crombie "Love's Like Lightning"
CONTACT MARCUS if you need production for TV. Special WCS rates!
American Idol meets WCS
It's been a great start to 2014 for West Coast Songwriters Members!
WCS Members have sold their holiday albums and those New Year's Resolutions are being adhered to about those promises to spend an hour a day working on songwriting, right? And then there's the Grammy's and New Season of American Idol to watch. This year, WCS is thrilled to have been a part of both!
On January 15th the 13th Season of American Idol began with a bang. With the second stop in San Francisco, two West Coast Songwriter members spent hours upon hours waiting for their turn to stand in front of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. to prove they deserved a chance to go to Hollywood - and they both succeeded!
David Luning and Remi Wolf were both accepted. Out of thousands of people, the chances of acceptance are slim. But the talented and inspirational WCS members stood in line for the 19 Gold tickets to Hollywood. We knew they would make it. Both David and Remi are talented, confident and well rounded singer/songwriters and we love them!
And let's not forget the past...singer/songwriter Michael Jade (Winner of the WCS Song Contest in 2010) Made Top 40 in American Idol Season 10! Steven Tyler stated "Get Michael Jade on your radar immediately"!
And there's more! Did you see the Grammy's? Sunday night Sara Bareilles up for a Grammy for her song Brave had the great pleasure of performing a duet with Carol King. Sara received her first music award through the WCS International Song Cost in 2007 - with her now famous Gravity. Sara followed on with a benefit concert for WCS in 2011.
All of us at WCS cheer on these great performers and look forward to seeing more of you following your dream!
The do's and don'ts of co-writing
Looking back over twenty years to my first songwriting efforts, I remember my creative process as so personal and fragile that I was dead certain I would never open it up to another songwriter. This would have seemed like co-painting or more like co-dating...just not going to happen. However, two things DID happen. One, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, the co-writing capital of the world, and, two, I wrote a lot more songs which stopped me from thinking of each of my song children as untouchable and precious. Ultimately, I simply wanted to create more and better songs and co-writing became a big part of the process. Over the years, I’ve experienced (sometimes the hard way) a few of the big “dos” and “don’ts” of co-writing and thought I’d cover a few.
1. Decide in advance if you’re going to bring ideas or start “cold”
There are advantages to both approaches. If you’re new to the co-writing process or possibly a little nervous about how your upcoming session will go, preparing in advance with anything from a list of song titles to lyrical and/or musical hooks can go a long way towards a smooth-running session. However, as a more experienced writer, I go into sessions with younger artists without preparing ideas because I anticipate that our initial discussions and time spent getting to know each other will provide the material for our collaboration. All this to say, there is no “right” way to do this.
2. Show up on time and ready to work
I know we’re all artists and we’re all supposed to be flaky, creative types but you’re now writing to hopefully generate income from your music so it’s also a business. Treat it that way. You wouldn’t show up late for work or cancel because you didn’t feel like going so don’t do it with your co-writing sessions either. Showing respect for the process and your collaborator goes a long way towards setting the tone for a productive co-write.
3. Make a plan on how you’ll both promote the song
The reality of the music business is that collaboration doesn’t end with the finished song. There will be subsequent discussions about demo costs, pitch opportunities and any one of a number of other details.What this really means is that in order to make yourself an “attractive” co-writer, you should remember to bring as much to the table as possible. This could mean bringing an industry connection or pitch opportunity or even having a recording studio where you and your co-writer can do the demo for free. It’s helpful to remember that the actual co-write is easy/fun part and it’s all the other parts of the process that ultimately make for a successful collaboration. Truly successful collaborations often extend beyond just writing the song.
4. Discuss percentages for each co-writer
After writing close to a thousand songs, my assumption is that all my “from-scratch” collaborations are even splits. This means 50/50 if there are two of us, 33/33/33 if there are three of us, etc. I consider it bad karma (and frankly exhausting) to count words or try and figure out who created what when the song is done and then try to adjust percentages. Just know that some days you’ll contribute more and some days your co-writer(s) will and that it all evens out in the end. If the song is brought to you mostly (or even partially) finished, then be clear on what the split will be in advance so there isn’t a misunderstanding later on. It’s simply better to just deal with this stuff. Also, it’s considered bad form when discussing your collaborations later to state that you “really wrote most of it” or any variation thereof. The bottom line is that without your collaborator the song wouldn’t be the same song that it is no matter what was directly or indirectly contributed.
Putting the business aside again for a moment, the collaborative process, at its root, is about trust and chemistry. The following “don’ts” are suggestions about how to avoid damaging or compromising that trust.
1. Don’t ever criticize a co-writer’s suggestion
This is the ultimate vibe killer. There is vulnerability in trusting someone with your ideas and it only takes one “that sounds stupid” or “that’s a bad idea” to kill the goodwill that should be part of the process. This is not to say that you won’t hear (and suggest) dumb things in the process of a co-write. It happens all the time but it’s enough for you to simply say you’d rather keep looking for another idea or try something else at that point in the song. There’s no percentage in saying someone’s idea is “bad” or “wrong.” First of all, this is art and it’s subjective but more importantly (and I’ve seen this more times than I can count) you could crush an admittedly weak idea that was only going to be a stepping stone towards a truly great one. Be patient with your collaborator and yourself and you’ll be amazed at the results.
2. Don’t insist on one of your ideas if your co-writer doesn’t seem interested in it
You may be in the middle of a co-write and come up with a snippet of lyric or melody that you absolutely love but for some reason your co-writer just doesn’t get it. My suggestion is to make your best case for it and if your co-writer doesn’t like it, let it go. It’s that simple. There are too many ways to write a song to derail the process over a simple disagreement. The key to collaboration is making sure you’re both on board with an idea before moving forward. That being said, if you feel your collaborator consistently doesn’t like ideas that you feel are strong, there’s no rule that says you have to keep writing with this person.
3. Don’t edit too harshly early on in the session
There’s real value in keeping a co-write moving along. Squeezing too hard on a single line or section of the song too early in the process can take all the creative energy out of a session. Better to either keep in a “good enough” line with the understanding you’ll come back to it when you begin to review what you’ve written or take a break if the line just isn’t coming. There will always be time for editing but I’d suggest not going too deep on that front at the expense of getting the shape and form of the song together first.
4. Don’t push too hard to collaborate with a more established/successful songwriter
As songwriters, we all know who the hot/marquis writers are. We hear their songs on the radio, meet them at music conferences and, in some cases, came up with them from when they were “nobody.” The unwritten rule I’ve observed is that it’s better to be asked to co-write by a more established/successful writer than it is to ask them to co-write yourself. If your personality is such that you just can’t wait for that to happen, my recommendation is that you should ask once, politely and don’t take it personally if the writer isn’t interested or doesn’t have time. It’s abundantly clear what you, as the less experienced/successful writer, stand to gain from the collaboration but it’s up to the more successful writer to decide if your talent, motivation and, yes, connections warrant them taking the time to collaborate with you. It’s simply the law of the jungle. Hopefully, you’ll be in a position to write with a less experienced/successful writer yourself one day and you’ll treat that writer exactly as you’d hope to be treated yourself.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list of co-writing rules but simply a few guidelines to help those new to the game to understand it a bit better. The best kinds of co-writes are the ones where both collaborators feel like they’ve written something better than either could have written alone.
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 monthly online webinars. Go to http://www.educatedsongwriter.com/webinar/ for the latest schedule.
What happens at the Berkeley Location?
Chapter Manager: Nomi Yah
West Coast Songwriters Berkeley chapter has been hosted for 24 years at the legendary Freight and Salvage. The current location at 2020 Addison street is one of the premier performing venues in the Bay Area, with state of the art Meyers Sound system, new grand piano, and acoustically-designed theater. Located in the Theater District across from Berkeley Jazz School and Berkeley Repertory Theater, surrounded restaurants and bars, around the corner from downtown Berkeley BART station, walking distance from UC Berkeley campus and Berkeley High School.
Because of it’s central location and reputation of the venue, the Berkeley chapter has a wide variety of songwriters performing each month, from teenagers to senior citizens, from emerging talent to seasoned professionals. There are usually 2 or 3 judges from the music industry and these have included Steve Seskin (Grammy-nominated, 7 number 1 hits), Larry Batiste (multi-platinum songwriter, previous president of Grammy Association), Andre Pessis (Grammy winner, 16 hit songs, previous president of Grammy Association), David Sikes (bass player for Boston), Bill Spooner (songwriter and founder of The Tubes), Phil Nudelman (lead singer and guitarist for Foghat), Freddie Stone(songwriter and original member of Sly and the Family Stone), and many others.
Berkeley is the only chapter to offer a lyric contest, in addition to awards for Best Song and Best Performance (winners get 3 hours of studio time from our sponsors Ben Leinbach’s Old Bull Studios and Kevin Harris Music Production Studio)
Each WCS Chapter has something different to offer, so be sure to visit all of them for a well rounded experience~
Hope to see you there.
With many thanks to Mark Cawley for sharing his latest blog
On A Dig
I'm getting ready to do a couple of workshops in the coming months which is something I haven't done in a while so I started thinking about what I could share. I've been coaching songwriters and artist for over 3 years and this week was a typical schedule with clients in the US, UK, Australia, Spain and even Singapore. It's been a fantastic learning experience for me and keeps me digging for new things to spark creativity for my clients as well as myself.
The Book Of John:
I thought I'd take a look at some other writer’s workshops and came across a series of John Mayer’s Berklee talks. The series I watched on YouTube has eight episodes with a few of those being performance based. Over the years I read and heard most everything I could get my hands on that has to do with songwriting but these have been a revelation. John is a fantastic hands-on, great teacher. You can tell the students are in awe and he works 'em like an audience sometimes. He can come across as one part cocky guitar hero and one part awkward nerd but, his insights and instincts are always from somewhere way down deep.
He talks about attending two semesters at Berklee in Boston (a little longer than I went, back in the day) and how it shaped his writing. He mentions his first semester was spent trying to be the best guitarist in the world and feeling he failed miserably. The second semester he went back with an aim to write songs. To please people - not other musicians. It was a transformation.
My Own Transformation
I had much the same experience with learning. Set out to be a hot-shot-bass-player who could make other musicians’ jaws drop and cause them to heap all sorts of praise on my ability to play everything I learned, as fast as possible. Technique over taste. Somewhere along the line I realized that writing songs was what really connected me to people.
I'm paraphrasing but John talks about losing the need to tell someone you're great and learning to trust people to let you know if you are. I loved this. His advice was to trust the people who are going to listen to your music, they'll let you know if they love it or not and when they do it's worth more than every compliment you ever got about your fleet fingers and theory re-call .
When someone comes up and tells you what a song of yours meant to them, maybe they were going through something traumatic, maybe they made love to it, cried to it, danced to it or we're comforted by it, It's a high like nothing else. I've had those moments and I wouldn't trade them for a million "dude, you absolutely shredded"!
More Books Or Real World?
One last note, I'm not knocking going to a place like Berklee, in fact I wish I had stayed longer. John puts it in great perspective by saying the things he learned there he looks at as information. What's made him an excellent songwriter is his ability to turn information into inspiration.He feels you should get as much information as possible and then... go out in the world to gain inspiration and then you'll have something to write about. Amen.
He inspired this 'ol boy today check it out!
Cogswell Concert Series includes many WCS Members
Where can you find local talent performing new, interesting and exciting music in the middle of the day? Try the downtown Palo Alto lunchtime Cogswell Concerts, every Thursday starting July 10th through September 11th. Cogswell Plaza is located at the corner of Lytton and Ramona St. Bring your lunch or pick up some great food from the downtown restaurants and enjoy an hour of lively, toe-tapping music.
Concert series thorughout the world provide a great way for musicians of all genres to be seen and heard by thousands, but the Cogswell Concert Series provides the opportunity for local indie bands and local musicians to perform. Stanford Federal Creit Union has generously underwritten the event and West Coast Songwriters has offered support to members who were selected for the series.
Take a lunch break on Thursdays and stroll over to the Cogswell Concerts and enjoy lunch in the park with great music! Below is the full line up for you to review.
July 10th: Jeff Campbell
Jeff has shared the stage with John Mayer, members of Countin Crows, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, opening for multiplatinum selling, multi-Grammy-winning band Train and performing lon the Jimmy Kimmel Live Show.
He recently won the Guitar Center's National Singer/Songwriter 2 Competition - out of 13,000 entrants.
July 17th: Spangalang - featuring WCS Board Member and Lead Singer of Santana Tony Lindsay
Spangalang is a "funky, fusion, R&B, Jazz, Pop Band" led by eleven time Grammy Winner, singer/songwriter and producer Tony Lindsay. Spangalang has opened for Curtis Mayfield, Tower of Power, Gerald Albright, Junior Walker and the Average White Band.
Tony is a talented songwriter. His voice can be heard on Mazda, Hotwheels, Dreyer's Ice Cream and Wendy's commercials as well as touring with the Dancing with the Stars Road Show.
July 24th: Johnny Neri Band
The Johnny Neri Band is a four piece, high energy Rock and Rockin Soul Dance Band. These four musicians have over 100 years of music expertise between them and it shows in every high energy performance. Take one part experience, two parts of versatiliyt and a heaping spoonful of energy and you have the Johnny Neri Band.
July 31st: Hands on Fire Band
James Henry's band is a high energy, funky, charismatic, soulful world beat. Feel the music of global percussion with melodic overtones and world grooves of Reggae, Soca, Afro Cuban, Samba Funk and Hip Hop. James is a master percussionist, soulful vocalist, undeniably charistmatic.
James was awarded the best CD in Northern California out of 1000 bands as well as the Best of San Francisco's World Beat Music. Performances at San Jose Jazz Festival, Bay of Islands Jazz Festival New Zealand and Hamburg Germany World Jazz Festival.
August 7th: Kaitlin McGaw
Jazz, Hip Hop, Blues, Pop Rock, Children's music; stalwart fans of these genres would have trouble finding much crossover or similarities between them, but San Francisco based singer/songwriter Kaitlin McGaw does them all. For the record, she does them all really well. This obviously is a testament to the breadth and strength of a vocal talent being praised as nothing short of "enchanting". Receiving comparisons to Sara Bareilles, Carole King and Liz Phair, McGaw has a gift for finding herself in prestigious company and collaborations.
August 14th: David Luning Band
Northern California based singer/songwriter David Luning is part of a new generation of indie musicians whose genre blurs the lines of Americana/Alternative Country, Folk and Blues. With insights beyond hs years, David's poignant songwriting and warm, rich timbre voice captivate audiences and draws them into an American world both familiar and new.
In 2013, David auditioned for American Idol to receive worldwide exposure to his original music, and to be an advocate for Americana music. Out of 75,000 people who auditioned, he made it to the top 100. He appeared on January 16th, 2014. Jennifer Lopez commented, "I love it. He has a really, really beautiful tone." Keith Urban praised, saying "you have stanch originality no one's doing what you do...you're a good singer/songwriter, story-telling guy."
August 21st: Le Vice
Le Vice is an indie band with very diverse influences; everything from hip-hop to indie pop to electro to chillwave to 80's synth pop/new wave to R&B to classical. It's all in there.
Renzo Staiano Renzo has a profound knowledge of pop, jazz, blues, funk, classical and numerous Latin American musical genres. His guitar studies have taken him through South America, Spain and Mexico. As a perfomer, Renzo has appeared with Joel Ford's Jazz opera; Phil Collin's "Helen of Egypt" and Kurt Weil's "Three Penny Opera". He has also performed with Funkadelic, The JB's, The Dod's, Peru Negro, The Doobie Brothers, Michael Franti (Spearhead) and Santana. He is also composing the film score for the USC documentary "North Pond".
August 28th: T Clemente Band
T Clemente Music message is all about life, caring for our children, environment, our world and humanity. Our music (all original) is influenced by Rock Artists of the 70's, 80's and otherw who still rock the old fashed way.
Teddy might be flying under the radar as an indie artist, but after one listen to what this brother is throwing down on illusions, if the stars manage to align theselves in the right way, Teddy Clemente certainly has what it takes to get his music and his message out on a much larger scale.
September 4th: Roem Baur
"Roem is a singer with a ridiculous vocal range (this is increasingly rare in the music world celebrated by today's media machine and a troubadour's soul. He's used these qualities and his constant touring to develop a solid following in a number of American cities." Ryan Spaulding - Ryan's Smashing Life & Producer "The Bubbler" CBS.
Roem Baur is a San Francisco based singer-songwriter with a "stirring vocal range and a passion for his music" (Nina Ragonese, WMATT) that proves to be worthy of the unusual distinction of his epithet (which came to his young, single mother in a dream shortly before he was born). A classically trained tenor with a four octave range and award-winning singer (MAMA and Elly Awards), Baur has begun to distinguish himself in the San Francisco scene with his unconventional takes on blues, soul and folk music coupled with the wit and energy he brings to his live performances. Baur's song work also draws inspiration from 60's folk music, his early operatic training and years of touring internationally in choirs.
September 11th: Jacob Jeffries Band
Jacob Jeffries Band is an American pop rock band from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Formed in 2006, the band consists of Jacob Jeffries, Jimmy Powers V and several alternating members. The music is piano driven pop/rock.
With Jacob on lead vocals and keys, the talented quartet create a unique musical blend of piano-driven rock and roll deseibed by Miami Herald/Metromix as "bursting with hook-filled melodies and dramatic, instantly likable vocals," that grab at your soul and refuse to let go which, paired with the young songwriter's surprisingly insightful lyrics keep audiences out of their seats and singing along show after show.
As you can see, there's an incredible line up of talented musicians not to be missed! Mark your calendars and enjoy the summer Cogswell Concert Series!
With the generous support of the Stanford Federal Credit Union, this great set of noon concerts offers everyone a chance to sit back, relax in the heat of the day, listen to the music and grab a bite to eat. It's important to keep the local music scene alive, offer a respite from the harried day at the office and enjoy the warmth of the sun. Happy Summer!
Rumours Abound...yes Ken Caillat is coming to the conference!
It's no rumour, it's TRUE! One of our greater moments was enticing Ken Caillat to be a guest at this year's Conference. He's had an amazing career from producing one of the most memorable records of our time, '" Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac, to developing the career of his daughter Colbie, and producing her first two records. This will be our opportunity to find out more about behind the scenes of these great records, get Ken to sign a copy of his book, and to share some of our songs with him. Be there this year September 13 & 14 at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, with a "Kick Off Event on the 12th.
Ken Caillat’s recordings have sold over 50 million copies. His record production and engineering efforts earned him numerous Grammy nominations and include an Album of the Year Grammy and Best Engineered Album Grammy Nomination for Fleetwood Mac Rumours, the third largest selling album of all time. In addition to engineering and producing other Fleetwod Mac titles; Tusk, Mirage, Live, and The Chain Box Set, his credits also include such stars as Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson as well as Christine McVie’s solo album, “In the Meantime” (2002) in London, her first album in over 10 years.
Ken has also been a director, author and musician. In 2012 he released his memoir on his experiences co-producing and engineering the 1977 Rumours album, called Making Rumours.
He is the father of singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat and worked to develop and promote her singing career. He became Executive Producer, co-producer and co-mixer for his daughters Platinum selling album, Coco for UMG Music (2007), Breakthrough (2009) #1 record on Billboard Record Charts, and All of You (2011).
In 2012 Ken founded Sleeping Giant Records, so he could help other talented kids like Colbie to make a career in music. In 2014 Sleeping Giant media Group closed a deal with Alcon Entertainment, to provide his music to Alcon’s films and Television, starting with Johnny Depp’s Sci-Fi thriller, “Trancendence” and the touching film Dolphin Tale 2.
2014 looks like it will be a banner year. Sleeping Giant has announced plans to open weekend conferences called Artist-Max Professional Artist Development Workshops. Slated for 2015 The opening of Landmark Music Education, a non-profit post graduate Mentor driven Landmark Performing Arts Academy will be the first U.S based Finishing school for recording and the performing arts.s
In 1989-1997, Ken was co-founder and president of Highway One Media Entertainments, dedicated to create CD-Roms for the new interactive computer media market with clients that included Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Warner Records, the Estate of Elvis Presley and Angel/EMI Records. Highway One created over 200 hit CD-Roms.
1998-2003, Ken founded and was the president of 5.1 Entertainment Group Digital Production Services, which has worked on 5.1 DVD Audio conversions of albums for Billy Idol, Frank Sinatra, Pat Benatar, Wilson Phillips, the Beach Boys, Herbie Hancock, David Becker Tribune and Alice Cooper, in addition to Fleetwood Mac, remastering in 5.1 DVD audio format. Ken has mixed over 200 songs in 96k/24bit 5.1 six channel music from original multi-track sources including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Beach Boys, Pat Benetar, Wilson Philips, Fleetwood Mac, Herbie Hancock and Alice Cooper.
In 2003 Ken sold 5.1 Entertainment and formed Xepa Digital, to begin the first exclusive audio preservation company. They began working with clients such as Warner Records, Universal Music, BMG, and Sony. During his time there, they preserved more than 10,000 tapes. In 2006 Xepa Digital was purchased by Iron Mountain Inc.
Rocket21 Brings Cimorelli to the Conference
Youth Innovation Platform Rocket21 is bringing Teen Choice Award Winners and YouTube breakout artists CIMORELLI to share their insights & lessons learned about engaging fans through social media.
CIMORELLI: Leveraging Social Media for Inspiration and Engagement
Who better to lead a conversation about Social Media than CIMORELLI? The six singer-songwriter CIMORELLI sisters may range in age from only 14-23, but they're on the music scene everywhere - as one of the TOP 100 Most Subscribed YouTube Channels WORLDWIDE. With 700 million YouTube Views, nearly 3 million YouTube subscribers, 2.5 million Facebook fans, and active communities in a host of other social platforms, CIMORELLI has insights and lessons to share! Hosted by Steve Seskin.
CIMORELLI will also be kicking off the Saturday night West Coast Songwriters Sunset Concert on Saturday, September 13th at the CONFERENCE
Emerging Artists Showcase at The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hillsdale NY.
Blog post compliements of Laura Zucker who will be performing at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival as one of the 24 Emerging Artists!
Laura was recently interviewed by Kathy Sands-Boehmer No Depression Magazine
Laura's Interview compliments of No Depression Magazine and Kathy Sands-Boehmer's blog post
I do a lot of thinking. Probably more than is really necessary. Having written my share of songs, and having heard some amazing writing by other songwriters, I’m always trying to be open to ideas and perspectives that I might not have had on first glance. i’m like a human idea squirrel, seeing things, hearing phrases, having little epiphanies that I tuck away for later use. And while those things are in there, they’re stewing, some might say composting, waiting to be reborn as new ideas, in new ways.
I think a lot about why I write- is it all a big vanity project? Am I capable of having a new, independent thought? Is anyone? Does anyone really care about this? Will what I write make a dent in the social consciousness? Will I actually be able to touch someone’s life? Would my efforts be better spent rolling up my sleeves and serving lunch at a soup kitchen? I think a lot about that one.
I am reminded of a great book I used to read to my kids, called “Frederick,” by Leo Lionni. The story is about a family of mice preparing for the winter. All are hard at work gathering and storing food, except for Frederick, who sits very still. He is disdained by the others, who ask him why he doesn’t work. He protests, and says things like “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days,” “I gather colors, for winter is gray,” and “ I gather words, for winter is long, and we’ll run out of things to say.” And, sure enough, the long, cold winter takes its toll, all of the food eventually eaten, the mice dispirited. They turn to Frederick:“
‘Close your eyes,’ said Frederick, as he climbed on a big stone. ‘Now I send you the rays of the sun. Do you feel how their golden glow…’ And as Frederick spoke of the sun the four little mice began to feel warmer. Was it Frederick’s voice? Was it magic? … And when he told them of the blue periwinkles, the red poppies in the yellow wheat, and the green leaves of the berry bush, they saw the colors as clearly as if they had been painted in their minds.”
It is easy to see how Frederick’s supplies are equal to those of the other mice, how his words sustain them just as surely and fully as the food they had eaten.
I like to think that our songs are food for sustenance of the soul, drink for the parched spirit, rest for the weary mind.
I tell my songwriting students, and myself, that songs are like snowflakes – no one is exactly the same as any other (sorry, George Harrison; you might have proved an exception). No one else brings to writing the sum total of our experiences, viewpoint, choice of words or images. My fondest hope is that one of my songs, drifting in the universe, will to someone, feel like the warm rays of the sun, or conjure up the beautiful colors of the springtime. I hope that one day, I will be Frederick.
Three Good Reasons to Love your Song
THREE GOOD REASONS TO LOVE YOUR SONG
With compliments from Cliff Goldmacher, Educated Songwriter
In order to suffer the slings and arrows which are an inevitable part of trying to generate income from your songs, it’s a good idea to love them first. I’m talking about a very specific kind of love here. What I’m not talking about is the kind of desperate, dysfunctional love where your song is so dear to you that you’re crushed if someone doesn’t love the song as much as you do. The love I’m talking about is where, like a good parent, you’ve put all of your experience and effort into creating a solid, well-adjusted song-child and you feel confident putting it out in the world no matter what anyone else says. I realize this kind of confidence/love won’t come right away and seeking out constructive criticism from more experienced songwriters is a very useful part of your education. However, in the end, this is art you’re creating and the most important opinion is yours. Below are three good reasons why loving your songs can be a huge asset when it comes to getting your songs out there and furthering your career.
1. Maintaining Your Motivation
Writing songs is hard work and requires a great deal of willpower and dedication. In the best of circumstances, it’s a tall order to motivate yourself to create something from nothing. If you don’t feel good about your songs or you’re too easily discouraged by a less-than-glowing comment, it’s twice as hard to get up the courage to dig in. Regarding negative comments, you have to be thick-skinned. Very few non-songwriters can appreciate what it takes to write a song so don’t let a thoughtless or uninformed comment discourage you or shake your belief. And, too, negative or mean-spirited critiques from seasoned, successful songwriters should be taken with a grain of salt. In the end, they’re only opinions and, as I mentioned above, it’s your opinion that matters most.
2. Pitching Your Songs
When it comes to the unromantic, soul-sucking work of pitching your songs for various opportunities, loving what you’re “selling” is a huge help. The more confident you are about your material, the easier it will be to get up every day and subject your songs (and yourself) to the whims of the music industry. If you only love your song when someone else loves it, that means you won’t believe in it if someone says it’s not for them. Our industry is full of stories of successes who were told “no” over and over again. What if they’d listened? Loving your songs gives you the courage to try again when your song is passed over for a given opportunity.
3. Confidence Is Contagious
Loving your songs and being confident in them works on many levels. As I mentioned above, if you love your songs, you’re more likely to want to keep making new ones. But, more importantly, confidence is something people can detect in a million small ways from your body language in a pitch meeting to what words you choose when you’re submitting a song via email. In other words, if you love your songs, people will be able to tell and they’ll be more likely to love them, too. This explains, in large part, why your first cut is the hardest to get. It’s easier to believe in - love - your songs once you’ve gotten some outside affirmation. That being said, it really does begin with you loving your songs first.
Be patient. The kind of love I’ve been talking about is not something that happens overnight. It comes from putting in the countless hours necessary to perfect your craft, incorporating others’ suggestions that make sense to you and ignoring the ones that don’t. Once you’ve done all that, loving your songs, in a quietly confident way, will make your work - and your life - more fulfilling.
How to be a Powerful Songwriter
Knowledge is power, and we live in the information age. So why are so many songwriters still in the dark about some of the most important tools of the trade?
There are great resources out there just a search away. YouTube seminars, free guitar lessons, theory instructors, industry blogs, "behind-the-scenes" books by top artists; mentors, tutors, and coaches.
I’m hearing from songwriters every week, from all over the world. I’m one of those coaches you can work with one-on-one. I’m always excited to bring a lifetime of hard-won experience to someone who’s just jumping in, but at the same time I really urge them to start out by researching as much as possible about the road they’re starting down.
Not everything is free, but it is available. Writers can study Bob Dylan's lyrics, watch someone dissect a Beatles song, listen in to John Mayer talking to students at Berklee, send their lyric to be critiqued by a pro, even pay for one-on-one mentoring from someone who’s actually done what they aspire to. The list keeps growing.
I was powerless
When I started out I didn’t even know you could have a career as a writer. I didn’t know one, and no one I knew had ever met a songwriter. Even if I'd had the money, which I never did, there was no one to pay to learn. Different world. I couldn’t even ask the questions. Now, though, the answers are out there for anyone to find.
So here's my point. Knowledge is power, and it’s easier than ever to get. But for whatever reason, most artists (myself included in the early years) put all their energy into the creative process and view the business as a necessary evil or something that will take care of itself.
Here's a "Top Ten" list of quotes from emails I received this week:
I’m hoping to sell my songs.
Someone offered to demo my song for $2,500 and get it to some people in the business.
I’m looking for a 75-100K job as a staff writer. Will relocate to Nashville if I need to!
My songs are better than 99% of the crap on the radio.
I don’t believe in rewriting. Either the Muse brings an idea fully developed, or it’s not worth it.
You can’t teach writing…but I’m willing to give you a shot. (I love this one).
I don’t know why I haven’t received any royalties on the CD that I sell at my shows. What's a P.R.O.?
I’m only interested in co-writing if I can “write up”.
Networking is for nerds, the song should speak for itself.
Music, intellectual property, and expertise should be free.
Here are my Top Ten responses:
You don’t “sell” songs. You hope to get them published and keep the writers' share at the very least. Fight for your publishing rights!
Me, too! Doesn’t exist these days. Deals are just different.
Really? You're still writing for a listener in the end, the person in the car, find out how to reach 'em.
How many songs have you written? How many have been cut? Rewriting is hard but one thing that can separate the wanna be's from the pro's.
I disagree, but I understand the point. You can give someone tools and expertise. What they do with it is the deal. Information into inspiration!
Google ASCAP, BMI, SESAC. How is money made from songwriting? Understand performance and mechanical royalties, self publishing, Harry Fox, and more.
Get really good at what you do! Network, play nice, and hope you get the shot to show what you can do. Pray that write up writer needs a boost from what you got!
Maybe once in awhile...but if a career is the goal see my response to #8.
Do your research. If someone is offering mentoring, coaching, or demo services; decide if they’ve done what you want to do and are offering attainable goals. What kind of success have they had? How much is thier experiance worth to you? If they promise to get you cuts, a publishing deal, an artist deal, CD release, etc., see response #2.
Power To The People
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking these statements or questions I get from writers , just don't want them to be uninformed when the information is out there. I learned so much of what I know about songwriting the hard way, they don't have to. Power to the people!
Nicole Maguire's Amazing Conference Experience
Last week was a crazy week for the Crombies, but, even more crazy for the past two weeks for Nicole Maguire. After meeting a lot of interested parties at the Conference, Nicole decided to do a quick turn around to take advantage of the connections she’d made over the Conference weekend. She hardly had time to unpack her suitcase in Cork, Ireland before flying back to the West Coast, this time to Los Angeles.
I set up a few places for her to crash while she was in LA. Thanks to the kindness of Kelly Adams for picking her up from the airport and letting her stay at her apartment for the first night. Thanks to Jerome Spence (Conference guest) for giving Nicole a place to crash and also for setting up writing appointments with Peer staff writers including Richard Harris (another Conference guest), plus two guys in a band called New Hampshire. She wrote a song with Richard and one with New Hampshire.
On Saturday, Jerome Uber'd Nicole back to Venice where Kelly lived, and Kevin Fisher (another Conference guest) drove up to write a couple of songs during the day with her. Later that day, Mason Cooper along with Cassidy (both Conference guests) and also his wife Cheryl, came and picked Nicole up and took her to stay at their house in Simi Valley. Nicole and Cassidy hung out together and….wrote a song that night. Sunday, Cassidy, Cheryl and Nicole went shopping (not sure where Mason was, probably relieved to avoid the shopping experience). Later, Mason and Cassidy dropped Nicole back at Kelly’s place where she could rest….well, actually Nicole and New Hampshire busked on Santa Monica Pier. Passing visitors didn’t know what they were witnessing!
Monday morning was the day set for Nicole to meet with Producer Ken Caillat (another Conference guest). They sat down and made a plan for the week. Ken set up writing appointments for Tuesday and Wednesday with people on his team. That same day, Joanie and I drove down to Venice. Robin Rudisill, mother of Karmina (Kelly Adams and Kamille Rudisill), had offered us to stay at Casa Karmina on Venice beach. We gladly took her up on the offer and also offered Nicole a room to stay while we were there. It would allow us to shuttle Nicole to The Village Recorder when she needed to be there.
Nicole’s first co-write with a member of Ken’s team, was with Justin Young, where another song was born. Wednesday she was with hit songwriter, Eric Burden, giving birth to another song. Wednesday night, Nicole played a Genghis Cohen showcase where the guests listed above turned out, plus more, and and New Hampshire backed Nicole on a few songs.
Ken’s comment at the end of the night was “We should have recorded this!”…this from the man who spent three months on the road making live recordings of Joni Mitchell.
Thursday was initially going to be Ken recording a song with Nicole. They had six songs in the can by the time Joanie and I went to pick up Nicole at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles. This not mentioning that in the next studio Elton John was recording. In the other studios John Mayer and The Killers.
Ken asked what time we were leaving on Friday. We didn’t have a set time. Ken asked if Nicole could come in at 10:30am until 1pm so they could finish the songs they were interested in. He also mentioned that they normally only recorded vocals for 2 hours at a time, and Nicole had been singing for 5 hours, the reason they were able to capture so many songs.
So, we dropped Nicole at the studio and came back at 1pm. There was a bomb scare on the street so it was cordoned off by police. We eventually got in. At 2pm Ken and his team and Nicole talked about business with Joanie and I as support and witnesses. We left the studio at 3pm. Eight songs had been recorded. We began the ride home to the SF Bay area where Nicole had 2 more gigs and the flight home to Ireland on Monday morning.
Nicole Maguire is about to be an overnight success…. after only 17 years performing, touring and writing.
There are a number of other success stories from the Conference, but Joanie and I were there while all this was happening. So exciting! It was a great year!