Notes on Napkins

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Strategies for Pitching Songs (and Meeting The Beatles) with David Stark!

SAVE THE DATE: April 22, 2021 at 1PM EST/5PM GMT. Meet Songlink founder David Stark in the SongU e-classroom and ask him your questions!

SongLink founder and Editor/Publisher David Stark has worked in the music business for over forty years, for such companies as DJM (Dick James Music), Decca Records (as international press officer), MAM Records (head of international promotions), Billboard / Music & Media, and various other music industry and pro-audio magazines, before launching SongLink International music tipsheet in 1993, and Cuesheet (for Film/TV and Ad music) a few years later. His recently released book, “IT’S ALL TOO MUCH: Adventures of a Teenage Beatles Fan in the 60’s and Beyond” is getting rave reviews.

Young David Stark with John Lennon outside Capitol Radio, London, 1974.

In October 1995 David received a prestigious Gold Badge Award at London’s Savoy Hotel for outstanding services to the UK songwriting industry from the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters. He has also served as a jury member at song contests, and/or has attended music industry events as far afield as Australia’s Gold Coast, Copenhagen, Cuba, Dublin, Helsinki, Bali and Jakarta (Indonesia), Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Poland, Prague (Czech Republic), Bucharest (Romania), plus Los Angeles, Nashville, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Vancouver. He has built SongLink up from small beginnings to a recognised worldwide brand name, and has made many friends and industry contacts over the years, hence his reputation as the man who knows (almost!) everyone in the music industry.

In 1999 David co-wrote the book “Inspirations – The Stories Behind The Songs” (Sanctuary Publishing) with DJ/broadcaster Mike Read and Michael Randolfi. The book features interviews with many famous songwriters who donated lyrics for auction by Sotheby’s in March 1999 under the banner ‘Hits Under The Hammer’, raising over £250,000 for childrens’ charities Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and Norwood Ravenswood.

David was also a founding partner of the Unisong Song Contest which ran from 1997 to 2008, and as well as giving cash and prizes worth over $100,000, the contest also made donations to such worthy causes as Amnesty International, the Earth Love Fund and various songwriters’ associations worldwide.

A huge music fan since the 60’s, David has some amazing stories and items of personal memorabilia from meeting many top artists, including all of The Beatles on various occasions, and attending hundreds of concerts and other music events for the past 50 years. In December 202 he published “IT’S ALL TOO MUCH”, a memoir of his numerous encounters with the Beatles in the ’60s and beyond. He’s also a lifelong drummer who has played in many bands, including The Trembling Wilbur’s tribute band for the past ten years.

Registration for the online Meet & Greet on April 22nd starts on April 15th in the SongU Activity Area >> View/Edit Live Courses. If you register at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting, you can submit a question to David ahead of time to be sure that it gets answered.

Author and veteran music business professional, David Stark.


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GOLD STARS Report: Songs Recently Picked Up (latest update)

At SongU.com, our members achieve success through a holistic approach that focuses on education. We work directly with the songwriters to make each song as competitive as possible before spending money on a demo. We do this by offering numerous opportunities to reach their goals, including online Song Feedback sessions, written Coaching evaluations, Private consultations/collaborations with our Music Publisher and Hit Songwriter Mentors, a member-website cowriter search feature, and more. Finally, we offer monthly Pitch opportunities with a guaranteed response from our Street pitch guests.

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs signed or pitched for the following leads during the time period February 11th – March 10th, 2021.

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Film/TV/Media. SongU.com’s own publisher guru, Bob Dellaposta, is looking for some very specific material from some of our more “mature” members: 60’s/70’s MASTERS for his My Three Kids Music Library. Seeking AUTHENTIC 1960’s and 1970’s songs for 50/50 non-exclusive licensing to movies, television and commercials. Any genre, male or female, instrumentals, old school Memphis R&B, 60’s rock and roll, Latin, jazz, etc. Male or female or groups, with horns or without, …

    • Swagata Banerjee “O SUNDORI, AAMAAR” (Date picked up: 2/28/2021)
    • D Toomey “LUCKY ME” (Date picked up: 2/28/2021)
    • John Welch “AIN’T WAITING FOR THE SUMMER” (Date picked up: 2/28/2021)

Pitch For Other. Country. Re-Opened. Several of our members have gotten airplay through this listing. This is an opportunity from our friends at Liva Music Switzerland to get airplay on international radio stations. Liva is connected to over 450 Country stations in Europe, 80 Country stations in Australia, and also about 200 stations in the USA. They have very specific song submission guidelines, so read ENTIRE description before submitting:

– Seeking REAL Country …

    • Terry Smith “OL’ BILLFOLD” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Terry Smith “OZARK RAIL” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)

Pitch For Producer. Country. 3/10/2021: Feedback on submissions from contact, Denis Quilligan: –Looking for hit songs and I personally listen to every song that’s submitted. He says that the quality of submissions must be higher, many are not up to the standard he hears from Nashville independent writers. He said also to remind you that “we have been in the middle of a pandemic and we have not needed songs nearly as much as normal.” — Now, back to the listing…Jersey Shore …

    • Donna Aylor “TIE ME DOWN- WAKE’S VERSION “ (Date picked up: 3/9/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. .Top 40 Female Pop, Soul, Chillout-House, World Music AMURCO MUSIC LICENSING. Re-Opened for submissions! This is an UK-based licensing company with a catalogue of 70,000+ tracks, offering playlisting and syncing opportunities. They are currently interested in receiving submissions for the following types of music: Current Top 40 Pop (Female), Soul, Chillout/Chill House, and World. Here is a note to us from Joel at Amurco: “Our our deals …

    • Swagata Banerjee “CHUPI CHUPI” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Swagata Banerjee “TUMI BHORER PAAKHI (FEMALE)” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Swagata Banerjee “CHUPI CHUPI BHALOBASA (2020 REMASTERED VERSION)” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Louis Cate “DOWN 4 WHATEVER” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Louis Cate “WILD GYPSY SOUL” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • John Cirillo “BITTER SWEET HEART” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • John Cirillo “GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • John Cirillo “COMEBACK KIDS” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Isobel Greenhalgh “LIGHT” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Monisha devi Mohanlal “CAN’T BREATHE” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Monisha devi Mohanlal “WAR OF TWO” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Monisha devi Mohanlal “WITH YOU” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • James Oliver “BETWEEN YOU AND ME” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • James Oliver “IT’S OUT OF MY HANDS” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • James Oliver “I’D LOVE ME TOO” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Michelle Robison “COME UP FOR AIR” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Pat Travers “DON’T GIVE UP” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Tiago Videira “BE THE STORM” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. NATE BARNES. Extended! Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for SONY/Quartz Hill Records artist Nate Barnes. Looking for songs – any tempo that are organic, and a blend of Luke Combs meets Blake Shelton. Barnes writes and sings about faith and family, work and heartache, love and the simple joys of life. Especially needing songs that the ladies will like, radio …

    • Ben Krahne “GOING TO EXTREMES “ (Date picked up: 3/4/2021)

Pitch For Song Plugger. Christian Contemporary (CCM), Inspirational. LAUREN DAIGLE. Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Centricity artist Lauren Daigle. Seeking inspirational/CCM or Christian Country songs that could possibly be pitched for a duet with Dolly Parton. Think Dolly’s “There Was Jesus” for direction. PITCH FOLLOW-UP: If this guest expresses interest in your song they will pitch it with the understanding that you …

    • Cari lynn York “I’VE GOT THIS FRIEND PIANO / VOCAL” (Date picked up: 2/12/2021)
    • Cari lynn York “I’VE GOT THIS FRIEND *****” (Date picked up: 2/12/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. . EMOTIONAL ACOUSTIC SONGS FOR TV & ADVERTISING. Pitch guest, N.P., is seeking simple, stripped down songs for several TV shows. Think Subaru commercials AND the soundtrack to the show “This Is Us”. In the style of Iron & Wine, Goldspot, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Sufjan Stevens, etc. Male or female vocals OK.
Songwriters, important: SONGS SUBMITTED HAVE TO BE CLEARED FOR SYNC LICENSING as per the following guidelines (no exceptions):
– …

    • John Cirillo “KEEP ME IN THE DARK” (Date picked up: 3/3/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Pop, Rock, Singer Songwriter, Soul, Alternative. SONGS OF BETRAYAL FOR NETWORK TV SHOW. Pitch guest, N.P., is currently looking for songs for a CW series about betrayal, lying, breaking a trust; a spurned lover’s torch song for the series. Could sound vintage/retro or modern in the styles of Bon Jovi “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “Bang Bang” My Baby Shot Me Down to Beyonce ft Jack White “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, Justin Timberlake “Cry Me A River”, Madison Beer “Selfish”, etc. Genres: Pop, Rock, Alternative, …

    • John Cirillo “PRETTIER” (Date picked up: 3/3/2021)
    • John Cirillo “HURRICANE AFTER YOU” (Date picked up: 3/3/2021)
    • John Cirillo “HONESTLY” (Date picked up: 3/3/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Contemporary Country, Pop. RICHARD SCHRODER. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Amplifier Records Nashville artist, Richard Schroder who is being produced by multi-#1 producer, Matt McClure. Looking for current sounding UPTEMPO Country Pop songs with big choruses ala Brett Eldridge’s “Beat of the Music”, Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee”, Tim McGraw’s “Humble And Kind”; ‘Four on the floor’ beat; …

    • Jonny Born “MAN, THESE DAYS” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Loralei Ells “ON SATURDAY” (Date picked up: 2/18/2021)
    • Ray Govero “TROUBLE WITH CURVES” (Date picked up: 2/18/2021)
    • Ben Krahne “WANTING LESS” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Brad Mckinney “I’M ON IT” (Date picked up: 2/18/2021)
    • Avrim Topel “MUST BE LOVE” (Date picked up: 2/18/2021)
    • Ed Williams “SHE LOVES GALVESTON “ (Date picked up: 2/27/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. AMY SCRUGGS. Extended! Still Listening. Note: Feedback from Artist’s team is that the songs we pitched are too “young” for her. Need meatier lyrics. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for artist, Amy Scruggs, being produced by hit maker, Fred Mollin. Need 3 more up-tempo songs ala Jo Dee Messina meets Brad Paisley, playful, California-Country, fun Girl-Power, ‘Just …

    • Paul Jarvis “SOMETHING TO PROVE” (Date picked up: 3/8/2021)
    • Ed Williams “IT’S WORKIN’ – DEMO” (Date picked up: 2/15/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. .Pop and Country VIXEN and-or BRIAN GIFFEN. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for great songs for two artists, Vixen and Brian Giffen, both on the CT Entertainment Label in Ireland. The label head Cecil Thompson emailed Bob, “We are looking for Zara Larrson and Dua Lipa type songs for Vixen but maybe a good uptempo Country song for the them and Brian Giffen. Don’t know …

    • Jerry Blackburn “LOOSE CHANGE” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Jonny Born “CRAVE ME” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Jonny Born “MY COUNTRY GIRL – DEMO” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Jonny Born “WARNING ON A WHISKEY BOTTLE” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • John Cirillo “A LITTLE MORE FREEDOM” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Ben Krahne “YOUR HEART HASN’T FALLEN YET” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Rick Lane “BRING IT ON” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • David Nicastro “SHE’S GOT TO” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Bill Ohanlon “CHANGED ME (MALE)” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Ava Paige “RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Rita Weyls “DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH” (Date picked up: 2/22/2021)
    • Rita Weyls “VOWS….DUET “ (Date picked up: 2/28/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Christian, Gospel. JASON CRABB. Extended! Still looking. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for the insanely talented, Grammy award winning Christian artist on Red Street Records, Jason Crabb. Jason has earned 21 GMA Dove Awards including Male Vocalist and Artist Of The Year. Jason’s roots are in Southern Gospel but he can sing virtually any genre of Christian music. Song submissions …

    • Matthew Soileau “YOU MOVED ME” (Date picked up: 3/9/2021)
    • Claire Ulanoff “OUT OF LOVE” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Brad Yunek “THE COLORS AND THE CROSS” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 2/16/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. MaRYNN TAYLOR. Extended! Still looking. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for Black River Entertainment artist MaRynn Taylor. Listening for 90’s style, young female country songs. No drinking, cheating, nothing vindictive. Early Trisha Yearwood meets Stevie Nix and the Dixie Chicks is the lane you’ll want to be in with your song pitches. You can listen to MaRynn …

    • John Cirillo “MAKING IT UP AS WE GO” (Date picked up: 3/4/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. .New Ongoing! Music Publisher and SongU Mentor, Bob Dellaposta, is working with a mechanical licensing company who is looking for male and female vocal songs in ANY genre or language that have the instrumental track available for indie artists to license on a non-exclusive basis. The licensing fees range from $6.95 to upwards of $200.00 or more. If your song is licensed Bob will send you 50% of his share of the mechanical license fee. You …

    • Louis Cate “UNDER EVERY FROZEN HEART” (Date picked up: 2/28/2021)
    • Priscilla Connolly “MY ROCK” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Shawn Fitzgerald “I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU (SEXY)” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Robert Otting “FIRST RIDE_ MASTERED” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Jim Purtell “WALK AWAY FREE” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • D Toomey “I AIN’T CRAZY (BUT MY DADDY IS)” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Ken Wank “AIN’T GONNA WAIT FOR YOU FOREVER” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Cari lynn York “MAKE SOMEBODY SMILE FINAL MIX” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)
    • Cari lynn York “DREAM ME BACK TO HAWAII FINAL MIX” (Date picked up: 2/19/2021)

And a round of congrats to those marked ‘Maybe’ too. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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Featured SongU Mentor: Tom Paden – Follow Every Lead.

All SongU members have the opportunity to forge a creative connection with any of our award-winning coaches. These mentors offer written feedback on songs in progress, focusing on lyrics, music, originality, and commercial potential. Today’s spotlight, Coach #814, aka Tom Paden, is one of SongU’s best-kept secrets since 2005. The insights he offers with his coaching feedback elicit responses from our members, such as, “Gave me chills just now reading your evaluation! Thanks so much for all you said here and saying you are proud. Really makes me feel good! Onward to the charts. Thanks to you and all you do. Nothing would happen without your wisdom!” Our songwriters want to make him proud because he never hesitates to let them know he’s rooting for them.

SongU Coach, Tom Paden

Congratulations on your recent success with the song “Window in the Wall” recorded by Olivia Newton-John and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi. Your co-writers on this song are Eddie Kilgallon and Tajci Cameron. Tajci is from Croatia. Can you talk about how this 3-way Tennessee/Croatia writing collaboration came about and your experience working on a song with someone from another country and culture?

I met Tajci in 2016. I was president of my neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association and her husband came to me with a problem with his house or something, I can’t quite remember. When he found out that I was a songwriter, he showed me all the pictures of when Tajci was a teen star in Croatia and introduced us. Tajci had been living in the states a long time so there was no language barrier or anything like that. She told me that she needed a song for the Eurovision song contest that is held every year in Europe. This is a huge competition. So, I called Eddie we went to her house and and wrote the song “Window in the Wall.” Initially, we wrote this song as a relationship between two people. Then in May of 2020, Eddie and I rewrote the first two lines, both channels, and most of the bridge to give it a broader “world” meaning.

Olivia Newton-John called you personally to tell you how much the song touched her heart. When and how did she hear the demo?

My cousin Cyndie who lives in Bremen, GA has always taken an interest in my songs. I had sent the song to her after I demoed it. This was in early June. (As an aside, Cyndie had breast cancer and met Olivia Newton-John in a clinic in Bremen and became friends over a few months. The director of the clinic is famous and Olivia would fly from Los Angeles to Bremen to go there.) In early October, I was working out at the gym when I got a text from Cyndie saying she had sent the song to her friend Olivia and hoped I wasn’t mad. She told me that Olivia wanted to record it as a duet with her daughter. I had no who this friend “Olivia” was because I had never seen a much earlier text mentioning her full name. By this point, I had pitched the song hard, over 150 times, and had not gotten any takers. So I texted back, sure, why not? I really didn’t care who recorded the song. I asked Cyndie what Olivia’s last name was so that I could get her a mechanical license. She texted back, I think she still goes by Newton-John. Well, I just about dropped the weights on my foot when I read that! Wow, Olivia Newton-John! That night, Olivia called me. She was so sweet and lovely over the phone. She told me that my song had touched her heart and that she was going to record it. She said the song was bringing her out of retirement. The whole thing was blowing my mind.

I’m fascinated by the unconventional route that led you first to Tajci and then to Olivia Newton-John. It really shows that you never know where those serendipitous relationships are going to come from.

I have always made it a point to follow every lead. When I was leaving home for Nashville in 1985, my grandmother, Nannie, told me to get in touch with a songwriter in Nashville. Her friend had sold him a house. I thought to myself, whatever, I certainly don’t need any help from Nannie. I loved my grandmother, but… Well, about two months in, I called that songwriter and for the next four years he was my mentor. He helped me write songs and I’ll always be indebted to him. His name is Layng Martine Jr. He wrote songs for Elvis, The Pointer Sisters, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, and many others. I told myself then that I would always follow any lead that I was given because you just never know. Thanks Nannie!

Gotta love the Nannie! When I first moved to town in the early 90’s I met Layng at the Nashville Songwriters Association. He was always so humble and friendly. His song “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” (co-written with Richard Leigh) is one of my all time favorite songs.

Tom, as a producer, what’s your process? Do you have certain gear and/or software you prefer? Have you been writing and/or tracking songs with new artists?

As a producer, I rent a studio. It’s usually County Q because they do such great work. I’ve been producing independent artists since 1989. I’ve done a lot of projects over the years. If I’m working with an artist, I will pitch them over 100 songs from some of the best songwriters in Nashville. I always send a detailed budget and keep a balance statement. If there’s money left over after everything has been paid, then I send them back a check. I want to always be transparent with my clients. Many times I write with the artist and we record those songs as well.

If you could give emerging songwriters and producers one great piece of advice, what is it?

Join SongU! Haha. I would say a couple of things. Spend more time on your ideas. Artists are looking for fresh, new, different, and unique ideas and titles. Writing another “I love you” or “I’m broken hearted and blue” song will not get you anywhere. Once you have a pitchable song, pitch it to everyone and anyone. The music business is a numbers game. The more pitches, the more chances your song will be recorded. Also, pitch to the independent artists. I’ve probably had over 600 indie artists cuts. Some were great and others…well not so great. I still got paid and you never know who will be that next super star.  

How have you been holding up during the quarantine? Besides your musical pursuits, what keeps you occupied? Any TV shows, books, activities you’ve been enjoying?

I always stay busy. I have my two kids, Thomas, who is 21 and attending MTSU and Grace Lee who is 19 and attending Birmingham Southern College. I love to write songs, workout and play racquetball and pickleball, hunt and fish, and I’m an avid book reader. My friends and family occupy my time. I am never bored. I am grateful for everyday and keep a positive outlook on life. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat about songwriting with us today, Tom! As always, we appreciate your dedication and great mentorship to the SongU members!

What Our Members Are Saying:

1/8/2021 – “Yours is probably the most helpful and constructive evaluation I’ve ever had. I will get back to work on this! Thank you!! ” — Grahame M. (FL)

9/2/2020 – “Thank you SO MUCH for your encouraging words and the [Best of SongU] star! Stay well! ” — Robbi A. (TX)

8/14/2020 – “Thank you so much for the great thoughts! I always appreciate your insight! Take care and I have sent you a couple other things, so I’ll look forward to getting those back, as well.” — Kerry J. (KY)

6/30/2020 – “I’m beyond thrilled!! I was afraid you’d tell me it was too sad. This means so much to me and after I get the music and demo, I will send for you to listen. Thanks a million for this review. As always, you’re the best!” — Rita W. (OH)

About Coach #814: Tom Paden has had songs recorded by major artists, including Aaron Neville, Tammy Wynette, Restless Heart, Ricochet, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, and most recently Olivia Newton-John. This coach is also a producer and has a strong background in music and specializes in evaluating country and adult contemporary songs.

Coaching Philosophy: “I enjoy working with all songwriters. I will point out the positive things a writer does, but I am also honest and to the point, so the writer can learn and grow. I enjoy hearing new songs and I give my best on every evaluation.”


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Spotlight Mentor/Member Success Story: Dallas Gregory and Tommy Patterson

Congratulations to SongU Member Tommy Patterson (TX, member since 2018), who is having a banner week. He received good news from SongU publisher pitch guest and mentor, Dallas Gregory, of his first artist cut and his first royalty check! His song “This Little Church I Grew Up In” has been recorded by Daywind Recording artist Debbie Mills. The story behind the pitch is an affirmation that the system can work when the right song gets to the right person at the right time. In Dallas’s email, he reminded Tommy that it was precisely one year and four days prior that Dallas heard the song through the pitch area at SongU.

It’s not uncommon for a song to find its “home” long after being pitched and longer still after being written. That’s why it’s good practice to have patience while we continue to persevere and write the best songs we can in this “hurry up and wait” industry. The good news for this particular cut is that the artist wanted to go ahead and pay the licensing fee upfront even though the license is still “in process.” So, Dallas says he’s put the royalty check in the mail.

From Tommy: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’ve been trying to get a song cut for years. I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I’m not a performer, I don’t play in a band, I don’t have any connections in the music business. SongU provides an indispensable service to someone, such as myself, who has been trying to get their songs heard.”

SongU Member, Tommy Patterson

“Dallas” must be Tommy’s lucky word; he also won First Place this week in the Folk/Americana category of The Dallas (TX) Songwriters Association’s Song Competition for a different song, “1309 North Austin.” Tommy tells us that SongU Coach and Feedback instructor, Randy Klein, suggested that “I make a couple of changes and I remember seeing his notes stating that it would be a good candidate for song contests. I made the changes and he was right! Thank you Randy!”

Keep up the great work, Tommy, mentors, and everyone on campus! As Dallas emailed to me today, “we all celebrate when a member of the SongU family gets a cut!”

To hear the demo of “This Little Church” go to Tommy’s SongU Member Website.


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GOLD STARS Report: CONTENDERS Edition

For the most recent “Staff Writer for a Day with Deluge Music Group,” we invited Creative Director Emily Dryburgh to our virtual campus to listen to our members’ songs, which were submitted anonymously, for over two months and choose her favorites among them. Below is the list of songs she chose. We call the writers of those songs the Contenders and award their songs with a Rising Star emblem! Only one of the writers was also selected as a Staff Writer for the Day to co-write with hit songwriter Danny Myrick.

As an important educational component to our event, Emily joined us in our e-classroom for “The Big Reveal,” which included a candid hour-long discussion about her listening process. She also discussed the current climate of the music industry and her list of Contenders and the Staff Writer for the Day winner. While discussing craft and genre, Emily pointed out that, “we live in a world now where even the ‘countriest’ of Country writers have access to technology and can consume whatever music they want to.”

We live in a world now where even the ‘countriest’ of Country writers have access to technology and can consume whatever music they want to.

She pointed out that there is a lot of cross-over between genres because of this ability to listen to all kinds of music at any time. She also stressed the need to work on the craft of lyric writing. Emily admitted that while this is an extremely competitive industry, every time she has coffee with a new writer, she thinks about how many people underestimated [her good friend] Meagan Trainor when she first arrived in Nashville. Now Meagan is one of the most successful artists of the decade. So, continue to follow every lead you can. Speaking of which…

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs chosen by Deluge Music Creative Director Emily Dryburgh as a Rising Star Contender from almost 200 songs submitted:

Jonny Born – A WHISKEY KIND OF LOVE
Julie Broschard – A WOMAN’S TOUCH
Steve Bryant – SHE SANG EVERY SUNDAY
Jason Caraway – THE LAST GOOD PIECES OF ME
Elvira Cawthon – SAVE A LITTLE SIP and STIR IT ON UP
Priscilla Connolly – OPEN ROAD
Ray Govero – (WHISKEY) YOURE GONNA MISS ME and HILLBILLY YARD SALE
Bill Gue – WE THE PEOPLE
James Hoppe – LEARNING HOW TO LIVE and ONE SHOT and PICTURE PERFECT and SEEING EACH OTHER and TRUST
David Johnson – LIFE’S NOT A DEAD END ROAD
ben krahne – A WOMAN’S TOUCH
Carey Latham – LEVIS and WASTED SUMMER
Brad McKinney – I’LL GET OVER YOU and NEVER GOOD AT MATH
David Nicastro – A MILLION MILES AWAY and GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT and OUR FIRST EVERYTHING and THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT
Ava Paige – SOUNDTRACK
Trevor Peverley – MOVING TO CALIFORNIA GIRL
Rhondalynn Pisanello – THINGS I NEVER KNEW
Wiley Siler – SWEET SUMMER BREEZE
Frank Stopak – AUTUMN WIND
Avrim Topel – WE BAD LIKE THAT
Mitch Townley – THE FIRST
Rita Weyls – FIRST and I’LL BE HOME SOON
John Winters – DOWN THE LINE

Additional congratulations goes to the winner of the Staff Writer for a Day co-write session …BRAD MCKINNEY (KY) with his song “Never Good at Math!”

Members can listen to all the contenders’ great songs in the Highlights & Happenings area on the SongU Homepage.

And a special round of applause to EVERYONE who courageously put their songs out for this competitive song challenge. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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In One Day at SongU, You Can Meet With, Get Song Feedback From, and Pitch To Music Publishers.

Those of you who have been “on campus” for a while, know that at SongU our focus is on education, personal attention, and connections, even when it comes to PITCHING. That’s why the same pitch guests that are listening to your songs for their own meetings with artists and labels are also available to help you reach your songwriting goals. At SongU on any given day you can:

  • Run your demo by a publisher before pitching it…just to get a sense of whether or not you’re on target.
  • Play a simple work-tape of a song for a publisher before spending money and time on a demo.
  • Bring in a song or part of a song, even a lyric that you’ve been stuck on to get some professional direction.
  • Network directly with publishers, music licensing agents, and song pluggers.
  • Hear back about the song you pitched to them, even if they pass on it.

Featured pitches: Do you have a female Pop song that would be great for TV Shows? An incredible Contemporary Country song with harmonies that would be perfect for a newly signed trio? An interesting song with a Singer-Songwriter vibe for a major label artist? Right now we have publishers looking for those songs and more to pitch for their upcoming meetings. And we want you to put your songs out there in the music industry and pitch! But before you do…

We would also like to suggest that in a competitive industry, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity; whether it’s making your songs the best they can be, connecting with music industry professionals to find out what they’re looking for, or meeting a group of musical cohorts and peers, as well as experienced writers and publishers who will be there for you when you’re feeling a little discouraged.

woman in gray sweater typing on laptop
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

If you are not already a member of SongU, come check it out. Book a private consultation with a publisher, hit songwriter, or producer, take one of our monthly small-group song feedback sessions led by industry pros, submit a song for written feedback from an award-winning coach and pitch a song or two.

If you have any questions, see our extensive FAQ or send a “contact us” support form and we will respond directly within 48 hours (usually less).

Stay safe and have a great and inspired day!


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Pitching: It’s All About the Right Fit

Recently, we received an insightful observation in an email from SongU member, Bob Otting from Illinois, who wrote:

“I have a very, very limited number of songs that are pitch worthy – 6 max. Thus, I am sending the same songs out over and over to the same [pitch guests] on SongU and thinking, ‘These folks must hear that first note and scream ‘NOT AGAIN! WHY DO THEY KEEP SENDING ME THIS?!??” But then every once in a while I get a response: ‘Yes, Selected for this Meeting’, or a ‘Maybe’. It tells me I should keep pitching – its all about the right fit. Thanks for all you fine folks do at SongU!”

Bob’s insight is right on target. Industry pros like publishers, A&R reps, licensing agents, and recording artists listen to a lot of songs, and when listening, they often have a very narrow scope. So, they can frequently tell right away whether a given song may or may not work for a particular pitch. When you cast your song and pitch it again for a completely different project, the same set of ears listens differently. I’ve had songs turned down by an A&R person who two or three months later put the song on hold for another artist.

What does “pitch-worthy” mean? Bob adds an additional insight when he mentions his songs are “pitch-worthy,” meaning that he can objectively deem them competitive for the market place. How does he know this? He has taken the time to get feedback on his songs from mentors (that include hit songwriters, publishers, producers, and licensing agents) who have given him the thumbs-up. He probably has had to do some re-writing and tweaking to get them there, but once he got an okay, he knew his songs would be on a level playing field with the other songs being pitched in a professional arena.

Photo by Paulo Victor on Pexels.com

This Month’s Featured Pitches

Christmas/Holiday Songs. Pitch For Licensing Agent. Americana/Folk, Indie Pop, Jazz, Pop, Singer-Songwriter. Extended through August! Keep them coming! Holiday-themed songs needed now for film and advertising. Street Pitch guest, N.P., says productions are starting up for the holidays. Here’s what we need:
a. Cover songs of popular holiday songs and Christmas carols.
b. Original songs with great hooks, fun, upbeat, warm and positive…

Rose Falcon / Rodney Atkins. Pitch For Song PluggerAlternative, Americana, Singer Songwriter.  Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Curb artists Rose Falcon and Rodney Atkins. Seeking solo songs for each as well as duets as per the following:
–Solo songs for Rose Falcon ala American singer-songwriter, Caitlyn Smith.
–Solo songs for Rodney Atkins with a Jason Isbell…

SongU.com: Online songwriting courses, co-writing, pitching, connections

Learn More About Pitching at SongU.com

Pitching at SongU is all online. Your songs go directly to our pitch guests. We’ve designed our Street pitch opportunities to connect members with several dedicated music publishers, song pluggers, and licensing agents looking for specific projects in order to mimic how almost every publishing company works. The truth is, unless you’re writing with the artist or producer, this is still a primary mode for “outside” songwriters to get a cut. It’s certainly better to have a plugger who can play the song for the A&R team, the producer, the manager and/or the artist rather than strictly have an A&R rep on who might not hear the song or have the final say in the decision making process. We also make direct connections to independent artists who are listening for their own projects. We’re really proud of our members when they have success with their writing, much like any teacher would be who sees their students successes.


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The Big Reveal! Staff Writer for a Day with WinSongs Music.

Recently, we invited Kirby Smith, Creative Director of WinSongs Music to the SongU virtual campus to get to know our writers. She listened to over 200 songs submitted throughout May and June and chose what she felt were the strongest of the bunch. That group of 22 songs became the list RISING STAR CONTENDERS. One final song rose to the top as the winner of “Staff Writer for the Day”. Congratulations to Kelly McKay with her brilliant song “Kiss the Hell Out of Me.” Kelly will be set up through WinSongs for a co-write session with hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos.

Because the primary goal of SongU is always to inform and educate, this week we had Kirby visit our e-classroom to find out about her work as a Creative Director (particularly in the time of Corona), as well as her listening process and what pros and cons factored into her choices for choosing the contenders, and finally to reveal her choice for Staff Writer for a Day! Thanks to Kirby for being so generous with her time, information and insights into the song selection and pitching process! Without further ado…

CONGRATULATIONS to the Top Contenders who all received the SongU “Rising Star Award”!

*Wes Bullock (4 songs)
*Elvira Cawthon (3 songs)
*Bill Gue (2 songs)
*Brenda Kornblum (2 songs)
*Brad McKinney
*David Nicastro (2 songs)
*Kenneth Riggins
*Becky Smith (2 songs)
*Dempsey Watson
*Rita Weyls

And to Kelly McKay (2 songs) from TN, SongU member since 2013, for winning the top spot of “Staff Writer for a Day” with WinSongs Music.

A round of applause to every one who submitted their songs to this challenge. As the maxim says, you can’t win the game if you’re sitting on the bench. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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Why Should I Get Feedback Before Pitching My Songs to Film and TV?

At SongU.com, we offer a variety of of small group feedback sessions that focus on different aspects of songwriting and the music business. Writing songs for synchronization with film, TV, and other media takes unique skills beyond crafting a great song. For example, do your vocals and instrumentation work to the benefit of your production? Is your hook relatable for certain situations? Do you know the specifics of the sync licensing market in order to submit your songs appropriately to music supervisors?

Today we’re shining the spotlight on “FDBK 330 – Song Feedback for Film-TV-Media.” Join us to learn from the pros and your peers.

About: This 1-hour advanced feedback session is geared toward analysis of how your demo recording will compete in Film, TV, and other media-related pitches. Focus is given to your songs’ production as it pertains to pitching successfully for sync licensing opportunities in TV, Film, and Media. Limit 5 participants.

Our Facilitators: Nancy Peacock, CEO and Owner of Washington Street Publishing which focuses on securing placements in Film, TV, and Media; and Creative Director for Washington Street Publishing, Queenie Mullinex.

“Queenie and Nancy are soooo good. They are encouraging and yet candid when they hear things that need improvement. I learn a lot from their feedback on my song and the feedback that they give others. Always very, very helpful.” -Becca B. , SC

Always a joy to learn from them.” –Ricki B. , WI

“Great insight for tailoring your songs for music supervisor pitches.” Shawn F. , NJ


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Special Event Pitch: Staff Writer for a Day!

Between May 1st and June 30th 2020, SongU.com is running a special event: Staff Writer for a Day.  This is an opportunity to pitch your songs for a chance to see what it would be like to be a staff songwriter which includes getting set up by our guest publisher for a CO-WRITE SESSION with a hit songwriter! 

If you aren’t sure what the term Staff Writer means, you’re not aloneWhen I moved to Nashville in the early 1990’s and got serious about my songwriting, many of my peers were hoping to become a full-time paid songwriter for a music publishing company (aka a staff writer). The concept was so strange to me that I had to wonder if I ever had the chance to be a staff writer, would I even like it? At the time, I questioned whether I would really enjoy writing songs on demand, on a timetable, with a quota, being “set up” on blind co-writing dates, writing to make the creative director at my publishing company happy, and asking their permission to demo songs.

After about four years of engrossing myself in the Music Row experience of constant writing, re-writing, networking, co-writing, over-coming performance fears, sheepishly meeting with ASCAP reps and music publishers who would listen to my songs, and politely or not-so-politely tell me that I wasn’t quite “there” yet, I built a strong catalog of songs. By then, the idea of being a professional songwriter had grown on me. One day, miraculously, I was hired by a little music publishing company called Zamalama Music as their first staff writer (cue the Rocky theme song).

It turned out that this job gave me valuable lessons in how to prepare myself mentally every morning to “show up and write” whether I was feeling creative or not. I made sure to arrive at those blind date co-writes with lots of potential titles and ideas to jump start our meetings. I learned to leave my ego at the door and do what was best for the song. Most importantly, I found an inner confidence that only comes when your songs have been rejected so many times, you can laugh and moooove on! Here’s a picture of the bay window of the Zamalama writers room on Music Row where I eventually co-penned a hit song!

Check out the staff writer experience for yourself:

A SPECIAL EVENT PITCH – STAFF WRITER FOR A DAY! This is your opportunity to be selected by Kirby Smith, Creative Director of WinSongs Music Publishing, for a chance to find out what it’s like to be a professional staff songwriter for a day, including a meeting with Kirby and a CO-WRITING SESSION with hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos! Read about our guests.

For details about how to submit your songs between May 1st – June 30th 2020 for a chance to win STAFF WRITER FOR A DAY! Go to the Pitching area of SongU.com.

2000 ASCAP Awards. Connie Bradley, Kacey Jones, Sharon Lane, me,