Notes on Napkins

musings for songwriters


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

On our SongU virtual campus, success is achieved through our focus on education and making each song the strongest it can be BEFORE spending money on a demo. We offer numerous opportunities for songwriters to reach their goals, from one-on-one coaching to live feedback sessions, to peer and mentor co-writes.

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs signed or pitched for the following SongU leads during the time period August 26th – September 22nd, 2020.

Pitch For Publisher. Christian. VARIOUS CHRISTIAN & POSITIVE COUNTRY ARTISTS. Extended! (“I’m finding some great songs from these SongU writers! Keep them coming.” – D.G.) Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs to pitch to Christian labels Daywind Records /Mountain Fever Records / Red Hen Records – 65/40 Records. Submit the following: Southern Gospel / Bluegrass and Positive Country songs, male …

    • Adam Avery “IF I SANG HALLELUJAH” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Priscilla Connolly “I WILL BE STRONG “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Tonia Dyer “HOLY SPIRIT” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Gordon Ellis “MAMA HOLD ON” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Matt Glickstein “STONE BY STONE “ (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Johnson “I WAS TOO WEAK” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Carey Latham “I’M NOT DONE CRYING YET” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Alexsi Mallory “TEN FINGERS TEN TOES” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Karen Mitchell “WORK OF ART “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Tim Morgan “EMPTY VESSEL (DEMO)” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Pellegrini “ALL MY DAYS” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • David Pellegrini “LET IT GO” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Ken Wank “TOGETHER(WE’RE BETTER)” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “LOVIN’ LEAD” (Date picked up: 9/2/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “ON MY OWN DEMO” (Date picked up: 9/16/2020)

Pitch For Other. Country. 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…

  • Roger Brantley “NO PLACE FOR COUNTRY” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • John Murphy “DON’T LET GO (TROY ERVIN CUT)” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Ava Paige “I’LL BE GONE “ (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Joanne Stacey “HE LOVES HER STILL” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Joanne Stacey “THE SCENT OF A GOOD MAN” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Jamie Trent “THROWBACKS AND KEEPERS” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)
    • Jamie Trent “TUBE SOCK AND CROC” (Date picked up: 9/10/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. REBA. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for Universal artist Reba McEntire. Looking for songs, any tempo, in the classic style and sound of Reba McEntire. Specifically, songs that are bold, fresh, sassy, fun, lively, uninhibited and full of spirit a la “Take It Back”, “Why Haven’t I Heard From You”, also story songs, a la “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” …

   • Loralei Ells “IF I LIED” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Americana, Country, Singer Songwriter. LEE ANN WOMACK. Extended! Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for ATO Records artist Lee Ann Womack . Looking for songs, any tempo that meet at the intersection of Americana and Singer/Songwriter. Think about songs that with lyrical introspection, veiled by elaborate metaphors and memories, and songs with a distinctive roots oriented sound. Pitch Follow-up: Publishing …

    • Wes Bullock “FELL RIGHT” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • John Cirillo “OH MY HEART” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN- FEMALE” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020)
    • Carol Hashe Rainone “HOUR OF LETTING GO” (Date picked up: 8/28/2020)
    • Mitch Townley “IF LOVE WAS A HOUSE” (Date picked up: 9/21/2020

Pitch For Song Plugger. Americana, Singer Songwriter, Alternative. ROSE FALCON/ RODNEY ATKINS. Extended! 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 vibe.
–Additionally open-minded …

    • John Cirillo “OH MY HEART” (Date picked up: 9/5/2020)
    • John Cirillo “HURRICANE AFTER YOU” (Date picked up: 9/5/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Americana, Traditional Country. JON WOLFE. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. SUBMIT all tempos of Traditional Country/Americana songs. For more about this artist go to http://www.jonwolfecountry.com/#home. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching …

    • Ricki Bellos “BLUE SKY RAIN” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Brad Mckinney “I’M ON IT” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. MATT FARRIS. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. MATT NEEDS: a “career breaking” Radio-friendly Country single. Mid or Uptempo. For more about this artist go to https://mattfarriscountry.com/. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your …

     • John Condrone “LYIN” ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Brad Mckinney “I’M ON IT” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • John Prichard “CRUSHING ON YOU” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. 90’s Country. CHRIS WEBB. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for several indie acts from Nashville for a better chance of getting a cut while many of the majors are on hiatus. SUBMIT: upbeat 90’s Country with a modern feel ala “Life In a River Town”. Listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxOxu0LMTgc. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest …

    • Loralei Ells “ON SATURDAY” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)
    • Chelsie Taylor “EVER HOPED FOR” (Date picked up: 9/4/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Americana, Singer Songwriter. Pitch guest, N.P., is looking for an emotional and commiserating song about never giving up, daring to speak out, fighting for a better tomorrow, wise leadership, equality, love vs. hate, etc. Songs that wear hearts on their sleeves, but nothing angry or bitter. The characters are warm, diverse and good humored and so our aim is to close with a powerful song that not only motivates, but also unites. Indie Pop, Singer-Songwriter, Americana. Male …

    • John Cirillo “COMEBACK KIDS” (Date picked up: 9/1/2020)
    • John Cirillo “I AM A FORCE” (Date picked up: 9/1/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Contemporary Country. TRACK 45. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for incredible songs for BBR Music Group/Universal Records artist Track 45. This is a sibling trio (Ben, Jenna and KK) from Mississippi. Three voices with an amazing blend, ‘blood harmony’ as we call it in the south. All are great vocalists, instrumentalists and songwriters so pitch your very best songs, the bar is high! Their …

    • Rita Weyls “HEARTBEAT” (Date picked up: 9/17/2020)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 9/17/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Pop, Soul, Hip Hop. Pitch guest, N.P., is is looking for two types of songs for sync licensing for this show:
1. Emotional and uplifting, but not too sweet or schmaltzy – a story of a man trying to get back to his family and clear his name.
2. Determined, swagger, willing to do anything to beat the odds, won’t be held back, Nothing that sounds angry/aggressive, it’s more about resolve and strength of character.
Themes: …

    • Adam Avery “COMING HOME” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • John Cirillo “FEELING HOLY” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. DAILEY & VINCENT. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for BMG Rights Imprint Label artist Dailey & Vincent. These Bluegrass stars are doing a Country album. SUBMIT radio-friendly hits. Harmony with great lyrics and melody. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for publishing if a major recording results …

    • John Cirillo “PRETTY IN BLUE” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • Rita Weyls “TAILLIGHTS IN THE DARK. DEMO” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 9/22/2020)

And a round of applause to those marked ‘Maybe’ too. 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, 


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Pitching in the Time of Corona: A Dispatch From our Publishers

With all the transitions and changes going on these days, I asked the music publishers and song pluggers we work with regularly to give us an update on pitching in the time of Corona. Here’s what they said:

“Still pitching strong and I think our decision makers are more at their computers listening to songs than perhaps ever before.”

Jeffrey Nelson, Song Plugger

“Song pitching continues uninterrupted…The dynamics of pitching have, of course, changed recently in that social distancing has made in person pitch meetings, at least for the moment, not possible. I do however, continue to maintain communication with industry decision makers and continue to pitch them songs via links and mp3’s, much of which I already did anyway.”

Additionally worth noting, “This is the time of the year that acts who are going to record Christmas records are beginning to look for songs.”

Dallas Gregory, Publisher, Song Rocket Music

“There will be no personal one-on-one meetings but the selected songs will be sent to my contacts and they will be considered. Recording dates etc have been altered and moved to unspecified dates due to the coronavirus. Keep writing great songs and keep the faith.”

Bob Dellaposta, Publisher, My 3 Kids Music

“There has been a definite halt in some of the film / TV show productions. The music supervisors are emailing and saying that we have a couple weeks to send in songs rather than 24-48 hours. But there are lots of TV shows already in post production so we are continuing to get requests for songs. The ad agencies work a long time on a client’s branding so we are getting requests for those also.”

Nancy Peacock, Licensing Agent, Washington Street Music Publishing

Thanks to all these sincerely dedicated music professionals for keeping our songs out there and getting us placements and cuts!


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Dear SongU, Can We Talk About Pitch Submission Deadlines?

I’d like to share a SongU member inquiry that recently landed in my inbox: “Dear Songu, can we talk about extensions for deadlines on pitch submissions on songu? How do they occur? What kind of relationships do you have, that ever cause to allow this? What actually happens? Thank you kindly.” – J. (Vancouver, B.C. Canada)

Dear J.,

What a great question! Let me explain the process we use at SongU.com. To get the leads and submission deadlines for our Street Pitches, I communicate directly with several song pluggers, music publishers and licensing agents that are out there “on the street” making appointments with the artists, record labels, and such to find out who is looking for songs, what kinds of songs they want or need, and when they will be in the studio recording.

After you’ve been working in the industry for a while, you learn that most artists search for songs over a period of time from a couple of months to even a year or more. It is often a moving target as the artists  find songs they like, target songs they hope to find to fill out the album, or “change direction” from what they thought they originally wanted.

Based on the information our pitch guests relay to me each month, I post the Street pitch leads and submission deadlines. Then, a few days before the deadlines (which generally fall either mid-month or end of month), I send out an email asking if they want to extend any listings or send new ones. Here is an example of an email I received this week:

Good Morning Sara!

Sorry I’m just getting back to you.  Let’s keep Mark Wills and Chris Golden active through the end of May if that’s o.k. as they continue to be very engaged in receiving and listening to songs.  We can pull Hannah Dasher on the 15th, but I may re-list Hannah in a few weeks IF she is still looking for songs.  They’re assessing what they have at this time.  I’ll get with you later today with fresh pitch opps.

Have a wonderful day 🙂

DG

Thanks for taking the time to check in with us and find out more. I hope this explanation helps clarify.

Best wishes,
Sara
————————————————————————-
Sara Light, Co-Founder & President
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“Wherever you are, we bring the music industry to YOU”


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10 Facts About Music Licensing That Will Put You In a Good Mood by Diona Devincenzi

Let me introduce you to my friend, Diona Devincenzi (isn’t that one of the lovliest names you’ve ever heard?).  I met Diona, a talented singer-songwriter, in the early 1990’s when we were both fairly new to the “Nashville thing.” Perhaps she’ll remember the story about how back in the day, when we were all pretty broke, she invited Danny and me for a dinner at her place. Having gotten used to eating a lot of vegetarian Pot Lucks with friends, I was shocked that she and her fella, Jerry, served us a REAL meal…appetizers, main dish with meat, dessert…the whole kaboodle! She chuckled at my delight. Ah, those fond memories of being a starving artist. 

Diona has remained on the cutting edge of the songwriting business, traveling back and forth from Nashville to the West Coast.  I’ve always admired what a hard worker and go-getter she is. Here’s one of my favorite articles from her blog Savvy Songwriter. You can find out more about her (besides that it’s grand to be invited to her house for dinner) at her website dionadevincenzi.com

-Sara


10 FACTS ABOUT MUSIC LICENSING THAT WILL PUT YOU IN A GOOD MOOD

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot of doom and gloom about the music industry lately. Articles which lament the demise of the value of music and the dwindling earnings from making and selling it. So I wanted to present a different perspective in an area of the music business that is actually thriving: MUSIC LICENSING.

Here are 10 facts about music licensing that will put you (or should put you) in a good mood.

1. YOU CAN ACTUALLY MAKE SOME MONEY AT IT
Yes, you actually can. You’re not going to get rich with just one placement, but if you are a prolific writer with many songs that are placeable, you can make some decent money. BUT, be prepared to be patient because it won’t roll in over night.

2. THERE ARE MILLIONS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO PLACE YOUR SONGS IN FILM/T.V. AND MULTI-MEDIA EACH YEAR
According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database) there were over 2,000,000 opportunities to place your songs in film & television just last year alone.

3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE 20 SOMETHING.
Those years are past me and many others I know in the music licensing business, but that doesn’t matter because what people need desperately are songs to place with their visual production. And they don’t care how old you are. They only care how good your song is and how it might fit their project.

4. IT’S A RAPIDLY GROWING INDUSTRY.
In fact, it’s the only part of the music industry that is growing, besides touring. Need we talk about CD sales? No, already done. But as content is king, so are songs.

5. YOU CAN WRITE IN MULTIPLE GENRES.
If you want to, you can write in every genre imaginable, and even some that are new hybrids. If you want to write a pop/rock song, go for it. If you want to tackle a Bollywood tune, no problem. You get to write whatever you want, as long as it’s commercial.

6. IF YOU WRITE BOTH LYRICS AND MUSIC, THEN YOU BASICALLY HAVE YOURSELF TWO TRACKS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE.
Many times a music supervisor (decision maker) will ask for and use the instrumental track versus the vocal one. Well, no problem, you literally have 2 songs – one with both lyrics and music and one with just the music. You double your opportunities as well as your catalog. And that’s just a side benefit.

7. YOU’RE GOING WHERE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS HEADING.
We all see the writing on the wall when it comes to CD sales. It’s all about streaming these days. If you’re writing for the music licensing opportunities, then you’re at the forefront of where music will be in the future. Sure, no one can really tell the future. But with all of the cable channels and new networks and “screens” popping up to enjoy content, there is a growing marketplace for usage of songs. If you’re not thinking about music licensing then you’re out of the game.

8. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A PUBLISHING DEAL.
Middlemen are disappearing in the music industry, much like a lot of other industries. There are more and more opportunities to pitch your songs directly to the gatekeepers, thanks to technology allowing for direct access.  You couldn’t do this 20 years ago. So welcome to the directness. Just make sure you are prepared when you do pitch your songs though, because as the saying goes, “You only one chance to make a first impression”.

9. THERE ARE RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MUSIC LICENSING.
I scoured the four corners of the earth to find out all I could about music licensing when I started getting involved. I still consume all things music licensing in the way of books, blogs, articles, podcasts etc. In fact, I’m in the process of writing an e-book right now on it.  And thanks to Google search and the like, all the stuff you need to know about music licensing is at the tips of your fingers.

10. IT’S A THRILL WHEN YOU HEAR YOUR SONG IN A FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW, MOVIE OR AD.
We all write songs because we love it. Well, this part of the glory of your hard work is really gratifying. ‘Cuz you get to tell all your friends and family about your latest rockstar placement.

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Diona Devincenzi is a songwriter/producer born in San Francisco and hanging her hat in Nashville. Check out her blogs at Savvy Songwriter .


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Standing On The Shoulders: A Tribute To My Mentors

“We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us
They are saints and they are humans, they are angels, they are friends
We can see beyond the struggles and the troubles and the challenge
When we know that by our efforts things will be better in the end”

-Excerpt from “Standing on the Shoulders” written by Joyce Royce

The poignant song, “Standing on the Shoulders”, was written by a lovely songwriter friend of mine, Joyce Rouse, and recently sung in it’s entirety by another dear songwriter friend, Lisa Silver, at the unveiling celebration of the new Women’s Suffrage Monument in Centennial Park in Nashville, TN. The lyrics were such an appropriate tribute to those women who bravely stood up for women’s right to vote.

kaceyjonesportraitHowever, this lyric took on an even more personal meaning for me earlier this month when my former creative director and publisher at Zamalama Music, Kacey Jones, sadly lost her battle against cancer on September 1st. I felt heartbroken when I heard the news. Kacey was one of the women whose “shoulders  I stood on”, in other words, one of my mentors. She probably didn’t realize it, but she was my “fearlessness” coach. Watching her “go for” whatever she set her mind to, helped teach me to reach further and be braver. On her Facebook page, there are memories and tributes posted from those who knew and loved her from the 1970’s to the present. She was: Kacey, the recording artist, the comedian, the singer-songwriter, the Shameless Hussie, the Sweet Potato Queen, the business woman, publisher, and record promoter, and the list goes on. To me, she was Kacey, the first person to believe in me and my songs enough to hire me as a staff songwriter for the few years that she ran a small indie publishing company between 1999-2001. She guided me toward my first hit song and we celebrated that accomplishment together.

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At the 2000 ASCAP Awards. With Kacey Jones – a rare picture of her short-lived, short haircut – and Sharyn Lane, owner of Zamalama, and me second to the right, accepting an airplay award for “Home to You” recorded by John Michael Montgomery. (Excuse the poor picture quality, it’s been sitting on top of our piano for a long time).

After my stint at Zamalama ended and the company catalog was sold, Kacey and I stayed in touch mostly through emails and Facebook. What I’ve realized through my grieving was that on a day-to-day level, I played a very brief and relatively minor role in Kacey’s diverse and well-lived life, yet her direct impact on my life was enormous. Did she know that?

This led me to think of other women early in my music career who unwittingly have helped shape who I am. They are the ones who showed me (not told me!) how to conduct myself and move forward in this crazy music business. One of the first, Lisa Palas, who in the early 90’s was already a hit songwriter and signed with Reba McEntire’s publishing company, invited me to stay at her home while I was researching a possible move from New Jersey to Nashville, TN. She invited me to tag along with her to cool gatherings and let me know that I would have a friend if I moved here. This taught me that no matter how successful you become, it’s important to keep it real and be kind.

Around that same time, Debbie Hupp, who co-wrote the Kenny Rogers mega-hit song “You Decorated My Life” took the time out of her life to sort through the pros and cons of being a woman in the music business and without mincing words let me know that if I didn’t move to Nashville and try, I’d regret it. She showed me that despite the odds, it’s okay to follow your dreams.

When I actually did make the move to Nashville in 1992, I was quite timid about the whole songwriting thing. Then I was hired by the power-house then-Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association, Pat Rogers, who taught me that being timid was a complete waste of time. She showed me that if you know something has to get done, make it happen even if it means being the tough one. What a great example of business moxie and fortitude which I needed to summon over and over again as I slugged away at the music industry beast.

In my nascent efforts to become a professional songwriter there was one publisher, Karen Conrad, who was running a very successful independent publishing company, BMG, who always returned my phone calls even though I didn’t write for her company or have anything she truly needed or wanted from me. She returned my calls because it was the respectful thing to do, regardless of whether I was on my way up or down the ladder. That show of respect is something I’ve never forgotten and try to emulate in my own business dealings.

To be fair, there have definitely been a few good men out there mentoring me and nudging me forward, not the least of which was my husband, Danny Arena. I’m not embarrassed to use the cliche that he is the wind beneath my wings. We formulated our songwriting dreams together. Moved to Nashville together. Every song I brought into my publishing deal with Kacey Jones had Danny’s name on it as a co-writer, and every songwriting and/or music business success I’ve had, has his mark on it, including our songs in “Urban Cowboy, the Musical” for which we were both nominated for Tonys. Danny taught me take it slow and to keep learning and growing along the way.

 

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Playbill from the 2003 Tony Awards. Danny and I were part of the composing team for Urban Cowboy, the Musical, nominated for Best Original Score. Danny was thrilled that among the nominees that year was one of his composer idols, Michel LeGrand.

Learning along the way was exactly what kept me going when the going got tough, and still does. Losing Kacey has given me a reason to pause and reflect on how much I appreciate all the people I learned from (and continue to) and the positive influences in my life. There are a multitude of other friends, teachers and mentors, both women and men, even serendipitous encounters with helpers whose shoulders were there for me, maybe not always to stand upon, but at least to lean my head on for awhile, and for all of them, I’m grateful.