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  • Birthday 20/07/58

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    Talking about, teaching, participating in writing, performing, recording and all things pertaining to music in general, Nashville, Tn. in particular.

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    Country rock and blues
  1. "Try very hard not to suck."-Billy Joel
  2. A thing to remember here. You have one chance to make a BAD first impression. Since you are doing basically a "vanity project" it probably is a good idea to do an "acoustic only" version of your music. Millions do it every month. If your only interest is to hear yourself in a recorded version, give it to friends, and family, that is really the only thing that makes sense. But, if you are wanting to be HEARD by other people, perhaps a publisher, potential co-writers, people that might be interested in recording your songs, the guitar/vocal in this day and age of modern recordings, is the fastest to be turned off by the listening public. That is because of the AMOUNT of product, most of it produced, well polished product, that is out there. It is endless. There are tens of thousands a day released online, billions in a month. So the effect has been one of numbing our senses. If we are not challenged by sound, we are on to something else. Now radically "Stripped down" versions of songs, a couple of guitars, light prescussion, harmonies, etc. are fairly common, even some hit records have been made with light production. But they have very good quality and are well approached and envisioned. The final thing I would say is how strongly do you FEEL about your own songs? If they were your children (and they are) would you send them out in the world with little clothing, food, or things to make them able to survive on their own? You never know where they will end up. In the day where links, forwarding, streaming, and other elements are involved, it only makes sense that if you spend the time conceiving them, writing, them, performing them, etc. then it only seems to make sense that you would want to spend some time, effort AND some money, to make them SOUND the best they could be. You just never know. But without any live approach, it is hard to justify spending a whole lot. Finding a like minded person who can give you a little outside opinions and help where it is needed, is always a good idea. Finding someone with a decent home studio and knowledge, might be far worth spending a few hundred dollars to achieve the proper balance. Only two cents worth: MAB
  3. Dave, Are you old enough to remember DISCO? Do you know why that happened? Because DJ's could play the EXACT SAME TRACK over and over in every song. If you go back to the 50's in doo wop groups, they all sounded the same. If you went to the 60's British invasion, they all had the same sounds. Yes, there was a lot of amazing stuff, but most music are copies of other music. We get nostalgic and wish for it to be like "back in our day" but if we really study this, you find a LOT MORE COPIES of songs than originators. All cycles. MAB
  4. It doesn't "fire me up" as much as make me laugh. Trying to protect anything in this era of music, particularly with things like rampant identity theft, and then wanting to have some sort of protections on songs are just kind of academic excercises. I was once told by a major writer, publisher and record company president, "I used to spend the first half of my career worrying about people stealing my songs. I spent the second half of my career worrying that I had something worth stealing." It gets quite silly really when you start hearing hundreds and thousands of songs that are all pretty much the same song, same titles, same rhymes, same melodies, and you begin to wonder what anybody is even worrying about. On the "pro side" I am sure we have all heard the recent "Mash up" where six of the top country songs laid on top of each other being virtually the same song. And many having the same lyrics. You can do that with pretty much every genre of music, Rap, hip hop, rock, pop, blues, etc, it is all pretty much the same. And a WHOLE LOT OF IT OUT THERE. There are countries, particularly Sweden, that are pushing legislation in their legislative bodies to do away with ALL COPYRIGHTS, ALL PATENTS, ALL MATERIAL. It would simply become the property "of the world" once it was put out in the universe. I sat in a panel discussion in 1998 where several major label and publishing presidents and executives were talking about this "new thing coming called the INTERNET, which was going to enable us to be all over the world." On the other side of the Dias, were two representatives of the "tech industry" who just kind of viewed the whole process of copyrights, trademarks, watermarks, and other things with a certain amount of boredom. Finally one spoke out and said "In the future, songwriters are going to have to get used to doing without royalties. Because they won't be there." A very successful songwriter sitting next to me, raised his hand and said "How will songwriters make a living?" The tech guy said VERY matter of factly... "YOU WON'T." That has been coming on and on and now we are in it. So I don't know what the future is even going to be for copyrights. They may simply be gone like the horse and buggy. But I can tell you this for a fact. When you run into the "No unsolicited material" "not accepting outside songs", or being unable to get ANYONE to listen to anything you do, be it publishers, artists, other writers, etc. You can thank things like the rampant lawsuits, such as the one quoted above this post. Everyone has been trying to SUE somebody for STEALING THEIR SONGS. And since ALL legal issues have to be settled BEFORE any royalties can be issued, and these things getting tied up for years in courts, costing millions in legal fees, NOBODY is taking chances on listening to ANYTHING. They are not going to take a chance on a lawsuit. "Ambulance chaser attorney's don't just chase ambulances. People such as myself, who do workshops, critiques and other business with songwriters, have to buy LAWSUIT insurance to indemnify us in case a future lawsuit arises. I, like the majority of the music industry now ,simply don't listen to anything from anyone we don't know. The unending cases, which are almost ALWAYS totally without merit, are thrown out in court. But it takes money to hire lawyers to file briefs to protect ourselves. And that is just not a cost of doing business we are willing to accept any longer. But the Library of Congress collects MILLIONS and probably BILLIONS of dollars on copyright registrations, trademark registrations, patent applications, etc. on songs, books, magazine articles, pamphlets, inventions, trademarks, etc. on things that NEVER get off the drawing board. They love guys that want to fork over $35 per song for registrations. Easy money. So if you feel so inclined, copyright away. But it is going to cost you ever time you do it. it is the reason professionals write 125-250 songs a year but only go through registering a handful of songs,usually under 20, a year. Gets very expensive. And when you have the situation where even a major cut might not pay for the cost of the demo, you tend to get very picky about what you copyright and at what STAGE you copyright it. What if you have to add more writers in order to get a cut? What if you have to include their publishers, or multiple publishers? Then they are going to want part of everything, and you may end up doing it all over again. Just really depends on how much aggravation you enjoy going through. MAB
  5. Hi, Welcome to the BIGGEST WASTE OF TIME SONGWRITERS GO THROUGH. At least the newer or more inexperienced songwriters, because the more you are around this and the more you deal with proffessionals, you realize that #1. We are ALL WRITING THE SAME STUFF, and #2, THE MAJORITY OF SONGS PAY NOTHING AT ALL, and #3. PROFESSIONAL SONGWRITERS GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO AVOID SOUNDING LIKE OTHER SONGS. You cannot copyright and idea or title. And EVERYTHING HAS BEEN WRITTEN HUNDREDS OF TIMES IF NOT THOUSANDS. Most of the time people are so afraid of someone "stealing their songs" they find out exactly the same thing they are so worried about was written two hundred times BEFORE THEY WERE BORN and probably been a hit in previous decades. Professionals and publishers, rarely even worry about it until something is about to be recorded. One of the reasons is that songs change, lyrically, musically,grooves and different things, EVEN IN THE STUDIO.And you have to attach a form of the song for the library of Congress. So if it changes since you copywrote it, you have to go back and amend the copyright. Exactly HOW MUCH DO YOU LIKE DEALING WITH GOVERNMENT BEUACRACY? The copyright office is backed up about 3 years so maybe you can get your copyright three years from now. But here is the "really big deal." Yuo have to PROVE SOMEONE HAD ACCESS, SOMEONE FINANCIALLY AFFECTED YOU. How are you going to do that? If the song by definition has earned NOTHING then it is not going to affect you. And people in this day and age will just TAKE what they want, and all the copyright forms in the world don't make a difference. That is why you only hear of copyright lawsuits when one major star sues another major star. the Blurred Lines lawsuit would be the most recent. Which never would have even been an issue if the writers, Sam Hunt and Pharrell Williams had not PUBLICLY said that they were PAYING TRIBUTE TO MARVIN GAYE. the songs don't even sound alike.But Marvin Gaye's family thought so,sued, and won. Go to YOU TUBE and find out how many home movies, slide shows, commercials by private people use major hit songs. And find out how much they pay in licensing fees for those. NONE. Google and title and see how many times it comes up. Thousands. And how many people are tuning into your music with the intent on "stealing" your songs? How many million views are you getting? Because that is what it takes to earn enough money to buy a cup of coffee. Would cost you twenty times in legal fees what you would ever make off the song. Or, you could do something like have a rapper, like Frank Ocean, take your existing MUSIC TRACKS that YOU PAID FOR, create a LOOP,and then just put their own lyrics to it, and drop you off YOUR OWN SONG ALTOGETHER. That';s what he did to HOTEL CALIFORNIA and the Eagles had to go through hell and high water to get him to stop it, finally having to get "cease and desist" orders to stop him. And even then, Ocean's response to Frey and Henly were "Screw YOU!!" The only real people that have protection are those that have large legal collection agencies that can monitor and issue cease and desist or collection orders on transgressers. Happens every once in a while, you will see some web site of video with the "removed due to copyright issues" but usually that has already been downloaded thousands or hundreds of thousands of times. The bottom line? Write what you want to write, record what you want to record and DON'T WORRY about someone "stealing your songs." You put it up on web sites, they are pretty much going to do whatever they want to. Not a lot you are going to be able to do about it without spending a LOT of money, and most of that is not going to be recouped.You have to decide how much it means to you. Presonally, as one that has had dozens of titles, ideas, and songs "borrowing" end up on other people's records, and some becoming hits on the radio (WRITTEN BY FRIENDS OF MINE) you know how random all this is. No one conciously steals, as the most famous lawsuit, the GEORGE HARRISON/ MY SWEET LORD/HE'S SO FINE suit proved. Was all accidental. Register songs with the LOC if it makes you feel better. You are technically protected "by the time the pen leaves the paper" according to copyright law. But in the Digital Internet age, trying to monitor over a billion pieces of commuinication a day and police it is physically impossible. Worry about it if you want to, pretty much a lesson in futility. But if you think you have done something no one has done before, good luck. The rest of us would just write more songs. MAB
  6. Dave, You are probably going to find that there is not much in the way of contracts, independent, unsigned artists are going to be interested in. nowadays with CD's, downloads, streams accounting for almost nothing in money, (welcome to the real world of FREE MUSIC) there is not a lot of money or contracts to be dealt with, and having licencing fees, or much in the way of physical agreements are another impediment to getting songs recorded at all. When adding $1000 or more to a small project, artists simply record their own songs. Even with major labels, some of the big streams are paying next to nothing.Pharrel's "HAPPY" was streamed 43 MILLION times on SPOTIFY and made a little over $1200. Most songs or CD projects themselves are paying nothing or you get those magic .0000022 cent checks from SPOTIFY, PANDORA,GOOGLE etc. Get a few hundred million streams and you might be able to buy coffee at STARBUCKS. I would suggest you work on the relationship with the artists, and see what they need. This is not the "writers demand" era anymore. Everyone is a writer, everyone has their own songs and even getting songs considered to be recorded are a pretty tall order. It has been that way for many times where artists are involved more in their songs. You are, however, going about it exactly correctly. Look for up and coming artists, a bunch of them. Andtry to get them involved with WRITING THE SONGS. Giving them a little more proprietary interest is a little more incentive than just trying to shove words in their mouths. The dynamic of the industry has changed radically, and many of the "contracts, rules and regulations, while still being "on the books", in reality no longer apply. it is very much a "do it yourself world" and you have to find your own way to your own niche. Take care and good luck. MAB
  7. Very good thread. Since it is something I do myself and work with others on a pretty much daily basis, I think I can speak to this one. A three song "showcase" set, is the next step up on the ladder. It is telling you that you have demonstrated enough ability that those who are putting these shows on have enough faith in your to take you to the next step. One main thing you need to do is to NOT MAKE THEM REGRET THEIR DECISIONS. Some things most people forget and hit the walls doing: #1. Not being in tune. Make sure you have an inline tuner or will be in tune before. Be aware that temperature can effect tuning. #2. Talking too much and being BORING. You are brand new. Telling them your name, where you are from and a little bit about your music is fine, but you should let your music do the TALKING FOR YOU. #3. Skipping turn-arounds, guitar solos, etc. of things that are NOT THERE. DON'T BORE US, GET TO THE CHORUS. #4. Keeping your songs relative to your audience. If you are in a coffee house, fighting the huge noise of the latte machines will kill a ballad very quickly. #5. Avoiding too many DEPRESSING subject matter. Don't PREACH, VENT OR WHINE. People still don't know you. Don't be on a soap box. #6. Avoid too many BALLADS. Most singer/songwriter nights are BALLAD HEAVY. They will be about loss, anger, bitterness, depression, and everything under the sun. The political "what is wrong with the world" will be flying. Don't buy into it. Will alienate half the audience. #7. If you have humor or lightness, USE IT. Most people take themselves WAY too seriously. #8. Vary your keys and tempo. Subject matter, tone. Be aware of what the people in front of you are doing, avoid doing the same. #9. STAY in the microphone and ENUNCIATE!!! The biggest failure of most singers is that NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. IF PEOPLE CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, THEY CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. #10. "Try very hard NOT TO SUCK." -Billy Joel. #11. Don't let your highs be too high, or lows be too low. This is just a step. You will goof words, miss chords, just keep going. #12. Have fun with it. Be rehearsed but don't over think everything. On being paid. That is not going to happen until you BUILD a FAN BASE. With millions and millions of people all trying to be performers now, the amount of money any of us are paid as almost dissipated. Being paid happens when you can bring people in, make money for the venue, make the hosts look good, bring in BUSINESS for others. This is HOW you build that. This is a chance to be in front of potential friends and fans. Make sure you meet people and say hello OFF THE STAGE AS WELL. Collect business cards. Send thank you emails. Good luck, MAB
  8. John, Yes, this is something very doable. And while I don't want to get into a self promotion here, that is exactly what I do for a living. Music mentors come in all fashions and forms. Often it is people we meet that take us under our wings. Writing or performing with people who are more experienced, will teach a lot by osmosis. But sometimes it is good to sit down with someone to go over specific things you need, just like a sports coach. There are millions who employ golf coaches, baseball, football, soccer coaches to increase their abilities and understanding of the game. My own came before I moved to Nashville,where I met a man who had lived here for ten years before moving to my home town of Birmingham Alabama. Sitting with him for a few weeks, and each day we worked on songwriting. He was teaching me the PROCESS of how to analyze subjects and up my writing level. I had come from the rock world and writing for the country market was very different in the types of songs, story lines and focus. After a few months, he took me to Nashville, showed me around, and produced my first recording session. That led directly to my getting a Shelby Lynne cut my first night in town, so the preparation was definately worth it. It is now what I do for others and has likewise led to people getting publishing and record deals and understanding the nature of the town and business. A lot is about editing, advising, critiques, on all things beyond the song, networking, presentation, and being aware of the political and business nature of all of this. You should look at it from the perspective of getting a guitar, piano or voice lesson. It focuses on what you need to focus on, helps you with what you personally need. But anyone that you work with, should be able to give you some free points first. You should visit web sites, ask for references, see what their own music and efforts have led to. I would do the following: #1. Make a list of some things you personally are having trouble with. #2. Ask questions in an interview form. #3. Contact and get anything you need to know, prices, process, etc. Up front. Whatever you do in music, it is about building relationships. What usually happens is after a little coaching, the mentor, teacher, usually can introduce you to other people, who can take you the next steps and allow you to build your own songwriting universe. Only pay for things if they make sense to you and you get what YOU need. Even if it helps you learn a few things NOT to do, it is usually worth a little expense to find out. If you would like to know more about myself and what I do, or find out other similar services, contact me privately here or MBarne4908@aol.com. Happy to talk to you. Maarc-Alan Barnette
  9. Man, I keep getting logged off this site. Always have trouble getting back on. You "learn' about how to do a channel or pre-chorus, simply by LISTENING. It is pretty common through out the 100 plus years of commercial songwriting. Particularly in the 80's where music frameworks got tighter. Songs had to be faster and did away with verse verse chorus formats. the pre-chorus is just the musical change that comes before the chorus. All you have to do is listen, realize you HAVE to go somewhere else, and then play around with different chords till you find one that works. it is just about doing something DIFFERENT than you have done elsewhere in the song. Not really a LOT to learn about it. For those of us in nashville and elsewhere it just kind of comes naturally. The more songs you write, the more writers you listen to who DON'T do it, the more bored you are with songs that go no where, the more you want to get away from that. So it just pretty much falls into place. I do believe you are overthinking it. It is as simple as going to a different chord in the right place, which tends to be around the fifth line in most six line verses. That is what most channels do. Come around the fifth line. You have your first four lines that set up the scene. They are telling you "who, what where when" you are in a scene. The reality and setting up the story. The "Channel" should be a "But, If, So, Then," type situation that advances the action. THEN you get into the chorus, which most often is the OVERVIEW of the subject. The hook comes and wraps up what the story is. The channel just provides the second act of the verse. MAB
  10. One of the things to remember if you are doing the "loop" type thing, is you really have to elevate your chorus. In the "Petty example" "Free Falling" the chorus is VERY EVIDENT. So he doesn't have to change his chord pattern. Most songs are not like this and particularly the ones who depend on effects to make their changes known. In Nashville, where we have hundreds of people and thousands of songs a night performed somewhere, it can be the most redundant thing in the world listening to song after song after song that doesn't change the pattern at all throughout. People will play the same pattern in their intros, their turnarounds, their solos, and it gets so boring very quickly, that most people tune out, pick up cell phones, go to the bathroom, continue discussions. It is easy to have a "been there, done that,play something else" attitude. A pre-chorus (or Channel in Nashville parlance) is a good way to break up monotony. Usually after repeating a musical phrase four times, the human ear wants to hear something different. So if you can find something that changes up, yet keeping it short and responsive to the audience, it makes it a lot easier to be set for the chorus. MAB
  11. Think of it as a staircase. It builds up from the bottom rung, which is your verse TO the higher levels, and top rung, which is your chorus. You might have a short one, a couple of lines, and build into the "Big singable part." It rachets up the action. SO if you are increasing tension, having your melodic notes build, stepping "up" to the next part of your song. A key it to keep them very short. One or two lines are always the most needed. If you do that, it lessens the amount of notes you need in your melody. Trying to make sure you go to a different chord is a key. Relative minors are one method, personally I use a few minors of anything as I can. But I do a lot with pre-choruses. (Or "LIFT" or in Nashville, "CHANNEL", they all mean the same thing.)It is a good device to get away from "verse/verse" songs. The entire purpose of the channel is to provide a MUSICAL difference that the human ear hears but only thinks 'there is something different". It keeps songs from getting boring, and too much redundancy. But the main factor is for SPEED of a song. It helps move the action along. Some songs don't require them, and less is more. but if you are going to do something, just make sure it sounds different than the verse and the chorus. Most take some trial and error, finding different chords and notes through experimentation. Some just "feel natural" and kind of write themselves. Try to develop your instincts about structure. Study a lot of hit songs and songs on the current radio. Identify what they are doing, break it down and learn to play them on your instrument. If you do it a lot you find some common elements running through them. It's all kind of a "try it and find it" senario. Make it up as you go along, but just remember what it is for. To build the action up. MAB
  12. If you would like an outside opinion,something on this thread caught my eye. I'm paraphrasing,but this is what caught me. "Maybe what we need is a good fight to get things stirred up.' In my experience, that is exactly what drives people AWAY from sites. If you walked down a hall in an Apartment complex and just heard a bunch of people screaming each other, what would you do? Go in and start hanging out? Only if you were insane and wanted a fight. Too many web sites in general simply deteriorate into name calling, insulting, and screaming. Most people that do music are doing music, and they tend to "lurk' on any web sites before they say anything. If there is nothing but arguments going on they will move on. most people would like to find some information they can use pertinate to their situation, see a few sides of an issue and see what they can get out of it. If it is a continuous verbal fist fight between people, it is easier just to move on. This is a good site, with good people. But like all internet based things, you miss nuances, smiles, sarcasm, really getting to know people. So for that reason and many others that have been mentioned, loss of income for the industry, more people involved, less people actually listening to anyone, all has contributed to a slow down in ALL similar sites. Just my opinion though. MAB
  13. Pat Pattison is a friend of mine, a co-writer and I have taken a few of his courses. He does teach at Berklee and has a mostly positive effect on the people he comes into context with. He also makes frequent trips to Nashville to bring students, write, record and interact with the actual business of music so he does practice what he preaches. He is intensely knowlegable on lyrics and is very adapt to breaking down songs to their simplest common denominators as to why many work and don't work. He is a very good guy and I do believe everyone can learn a few things from him. Some of the things, I really am not big fans of, the 'Object writing" excercises, for instance, which work for some, but for me is more of a waste of time that I could actually be writing songs. In his class, getting some technical advise on 'stressed and unstressed syllables', and some practical application advise on near verses true rhymes is something I use nearly every day. Even us 'old dogs' can learn a few new tricks. Sometimes we do them naturally without even realizing it, but when we have the actual examples broken down in front of you, can help you when you get to those speed bumps in writing, getting into a hole, and finding a way you didn't think of. So yes, I would be in the camp that we can all learn from various sources. Most bands, artists, writers, have learned this way, from someone who were more experienced than themselves, writers, mentors, producers, publishers, competing bands and artists, that either formal or non-formal, passed on those lessons. The Beatles relationship with Sir George Martin is a perfect example. They continuously experimented, and it was Martin's direction that enabled them to get what they were looking for. In this day and age, many more turn to the Internet or formal classes, the truth is you get it from a lot of places. Pat is one of those places. MAB
  14. Hello, Sorry I am just reading this. I have been off the boards for about a year as I had password troubles and getting back on was just a weird adventure. As one who has been in Nashville for 28 years, always been from the south, and who now teaches songwriting and techniques for singers as well as writers, one of the thing you have to realize is that now there really is no ONE type of "COUNTRY.' As a matter of fact, we work long and hard with all singers to get them to sound "normal" as in how they speak. When there are forced colloquialisms, (Pawkin' the caa in the yaaad" type 'boston" accent, we actually try to smooth that out as many of those accents will force people into rhymes. One Boston guy I worked with was rhyming 'heart" with "Thought." Worked for him, but with anyone else it wouldn't work so easily. It greatly helps to ENNUNCIATE and practice DICTION, but other than that, it just needs to sound like you. On the "styles of country" they can be a lot of varied influences. And stylistically they are all over the map: Young 'pop country" Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood Edgy country rock: Jason Aldeen Pop/rock country' Lady Antibellum 90's Power pop country: Rascal Flatts Bro country: Fla.Ga Line Chick country rock: Miranda Lambert Power dude country: Eric Church Traditional; Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney. Country rock (Southern) Montgomery Gentry, Luke Bryan Driving country: Keith Urban And kind of everything in between. so if you work on being yourself, sing it like you speak it, and be clear where peopel can understand what you are talking about, you should be fine. The key to them all are the LYRICS, the story, the visuals and the need to be CLEAR and communicative. MAB
  15. Hello Mr. Mulls and all. Sorry to have been away for a while. I had a series of computer meltdowns and had intense problems with my passwords including getting back on here. While I would get notices for a while, every time I tried to sign back in, the hoops I jumped into never seemed to work. I would try from time to time but just couldn't seem to get back on. Today I was able to get back on. Weird things the internet. But glad to be back with you all. The subject here is a very interesting one as the volume of people we all are dealing with who now are songwriters or artists. It is very challenging at any rate to try and get and keep people's attention so it is very important that our lyrics are able to help separate us from the rest out there. Music, grooves, signature melodic riffs, all are things that GET PEOPLE THERE. Lyrics are the things that KEEP PEOPLE THERE. A lot of people get abstract or poetic in their lyrics and often it is very distracting. Just too much to try and keep up with, so a lot is tuned out. Len, I think your comments about 'abstract' being a unique way to say the same thing is exactly right. I think we are using multiple terms to describe the same thing. My version on this subject is that 'abstract" would be somewhat cryptic and allowing the listener to draw their own conclusions. I tend to write more literal and that would be the 'non-abstract' version that I am describing. Good to see all of you. MAB