Notes on Napkins

musings for songwriters


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How Do You Measure Songwriting Success?

Guest post by Mitch Townley

Picture: Karen and Mitch Townley with Sara Light in Nashville

We write songs for a variety of reasons. It could be to share a story or relate an emotion. Sometimes it’s to honor someone, describe a relationship, or bring an issue to light. We could be testifying to God’s work in our life through a worship song or a song designed to encourage someone else. But what does it mean to be “successful” with the songs we write?

Our motivation to express ourselves is primarily our purpose for writing a song. So, we are successful when what we desire to communicate in our song is what the listener feels or experiences when they hear it. In simple terms, the listener “gets it.”  This accomplishment is what I like to call “expressive success.”  Expressive success is rooted in understanding the fundamental concepts of songwriting. It takes practice and work at the craft to get there and should be enjoyed and celebrated when achieved. Any other success we experience with a song is icing on the cake and essentially out of our control.

Some of us may experience an additional “layer” of success that I refer to as “complimentary success.” Examples of this type of success are when a song is recorded by an artist, placed in a movie or TV show, or performed in a venue. It may win a contest, be used as a theme song for an organization, or perhaps even win an award. These examples are remarkable moments of encouragement for a songwriter but don’t have to be what defines us as “successful” in our writing. For me, complimentary success is undoubtedly a blessing to enjoy, but not the reason why I write. It is not an expectation I have for every song. While we can certainly aspire to write quality songs that contend for complimentary success, I don’t think it is reasonable to expect something that is so far out of our control. There is no shortcut to the destination of this type of success. It takes practice, patience, and perseverance even to consider it.

I would be remiss if I did not mention an even more elusive form of measuring songwriting success: commercial success. Typically, it means a famous or emerging artist has recorded your song, sold many CDs or downloads, done well on major music industry charts, and generated revenue. Most songwriters who enjoy a viable professional income from their songwriting are staff songwriters at music publishing companies. However, the percentage of songwriters who earn a living as a songwriter is extremely low. Does that fact make you want to stop songwriting immediately? I certainly hope not! It is just the nature of the music industry. It’s essential to understand your motivation for writing songs. A person whose aspiration is to be a professional, commercially successful songwriter has restrictions. They can’t always choose what, why, and when they write.

“The percentage of songwriters who earn a living as a songwriter is extremely low. Does that fact make you want to stop songwriting immediately? I certainly hope not!”

I write songs because I “cannot not” write them (pardon the grammar). It is something I love to do. I get so excited when I have written a song that emotionally affects someone in the way I intended. When a listener “gets it,” I am a successful songwriter. I suspect that many of you can become or already are successful too.


Mitch Townley is from Knoxville, TN, where he has served as a Children’s Pastor since 1996. He has over 40 independent artist cuts, including a song featured in a documentary about the Vietnam Memorial and a song placement in the TV show “Nashville.” His song, “This Side Of Sunday” (co-written with Scott Parker), was recorded by Brent Harrison and spent eight weeks in the Number 1 spot on the Christian Country Countdown in April/May of 2018. In April of 2019, it received the 2018 Inspirational Country Song Of the Year award from the Inspirational Country Music Association at a ceremony held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. Mitch is the Knoxville Chapter coordinator for the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). He performs his songs regularly in songwriter rounds in the greater Knoxville area as a solo artist and with the acoustic duo “The Back Pew Poets.” Mitch has been a member of SongU.com since 2006 and hosts the regular SongU Open-Mic Experiment, virtual writers’ nights. 


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SongU Top Marketer: John Cirillo!

Congratulations to all of our Top Tier Marketers who pitched their songs the MOST times at SongU.com in 2021, including our SongU “Mover & Shaker” John Cirillo who pitched 634 times and says that SongU.com has been the best investment of his career.

About John Cirillo: Personally, John has impressed me not only with his determination but his modesty. He routinely highlights his cowriters’ participation and talents, heightening their abilities and profiles. But what truly sets John apart is that he makes time to help other songwriters, at every level, reach their own goals by setting up collaborations and connections, sharing leads, and frequently referring writers to SongU.com (thanks, John). His spirit of mentorship and community is what SongU is all about and what truly earns him his SongU Mover & Shaker title. Below, John tells us about his SongU experience in his own words.

Songwriter, John Cirillo (TN) and his writing buddy, Mickey.

John says: About a year or so ago I was fortunate enough to win a one year membership with SongU (I have since renewed!). I was curious as to the value and the potential of the tools that SongU had to offer and was anxious to get my account up and running. I have worked with several different publishers and organizations in pitching my songs into this ever-changing market. With SongU I found an organization that posted what current successful independent songwriters were looking for; both with artists and with Synch opportunities; which basically covers my catalog.

I was also looking to find a site that was simple to use for any kind of changes or opportunities. SongU’s web site and applications definitely made my efforts easier to get my songs into the right hands. Because of the industry pros that SongU has developed relationships with, I have been able to pitch to opportunities almost every week. Also, the cost of doing so is much more affordable than many other organizations. This has allowed me to submit songs to a solid list of artists and synch opportunities. I have known a few of the industry pros prior to my subscription to SongU. But because of the opportunities to work with each other through SongU, I feel I have strengthened my relationships with a few Pros and started building new relationships with others.

Because the info that SongU provides from the Industry Pros, along with the deadlines and any other important information, I feel that I am able to present my best material for each particular opportunity. Sometimes I don’t have anything, sometimes I have several. But with SongU I feel much more confident that the songs I do pitch fit the opportunity.

Over the past year I have been able to sign several non-exclusive single song contracts with different Industry Pros. Because I am an independent songwriter, it is almost impossible for me to reach the level of artists that I would like to reach without paying a pretty hefty price for a quality sungplugger. But SongU has basically put me in touch with Industry Pros that can help me reach these artists. That is a valuable asset that not all songwriting organizations can provide.

Overall, between the ease of use, their connections to the right Industry Pros and the cost of using SongU, I feel that it certainly has been my best investment in my career as a songwriter.


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SongU Top Tier Learner of 2021: Karen Mitchell!

Congratulations to all of our  SongU Top Tier Learners for participating in the most instructor-led and private mentoring sessions this year! This is a huge accomplishment at SongU where our philosophy is that education leads to success. Our members, like our Valedictorian Karen Mitchell, have proven there is a direct correlation between furthering their knowledge of the craft and business of songwriting and meeting their personal songwriting goals.

About Karen Mitchell: I have had the pleasure of getting to know Karen since she joined SongU in 2019 and has participated in over 115 live courses this year. She has always impressed me with her humor, humility, and hard work. That combination has made all the difference. Below, she tells us about her SongU experience and successes. She even mixes in several of her song titles to prove she has learned to write her truth! 

Songwriter, Karen Mitchell (CA, SU class of ’19)

Karen says: I am honored to be at the “head of the class” for “Top Learners” in 2021. My SongU journey started in July 2019 at the suggestion of another member, co-writer and special friend. She thought I’d benefit from a membership and she was so write (pun intended)! Since that time I’ve had the awesome privilege of having songs I’ve written or co-written signed to numerous exclusive and non exclusive agreements! The SongU format of having a professional mentor(s) and five members in the live feedback classes is so valuable! It’s great to work with exceptional people who willingly share their thoughts and encouragement! I’ve also benefited from DIY classes, private sessions and written critiques. All services offered are extremely valuable and add to the in-depth learning experience! SongU has been instrumental in helping me see personal growth and I plan to continue with that process! Some critiques can be tough and when I can’t “Escape the Sad” I’ve learned to pour those emotions into a new song. In fact, I’m “Stronger Than I Think” and “Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been.” This year I started co-writing with an amazing and talented musician! We met in a SongU class. Writing with him has made me a “Better” writer! SongU has changed my life and I’m confident there’ll be many more incredible songs in the near future! In fact (for one mentor in particular) I’m just “Waiting” to see what new doors open in 2022!


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

Hi Everyone,

Our summer Gold Stars Report is here! For those of you who are not familiar with SongU.com, here’s how it works. Our members achieve success using a holistic approach focusing on education and numerous opportunities to reach their goals. These include online Song Feedback sessions, written Coaching evaluations, Private consultations/collaborations with our Music Publisher and Hit Songwriter Mentors, a Member-Website with a Cowriter search feature, and more. Our personalized approach gives every writer an opportunity to make each song as competitive as possible before spending money on a demo. Once their song is ready, we offer monthly Pitch opportunities with a GUARANTEED response from our Street pitch guests. And here are the results!

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs signed or pitched for the following leads during the time period MAY 27th through AUGUST 12th 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 …

    • Rachel Amidei “HOLDING OUT HOPE” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Rachel Amidei “DIGGING” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Robbi Atkins “GET IT DONE” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Robbi Atkins “FABULOUS**” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Robbi Atkins “DEAR BOY” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • David Chong “IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Priscilla Connolly “CHRISTMAS WITH YOU “ (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Sally Edwards “I NEVER LIED” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Sally Edwards “FASHIONISTA” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Sally Edwards “CHANGING MY ECOLOGY” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Shawn Fitzgerald “BLACK SATIN SHEETS” (Date picked up: 6/16/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “BITTER LOVE” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “SNOW ANGELS “ (Date picked up: 6/16/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “RIVERS FLOW” (Date picked up: 6/16/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “BIRDS” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “HIRAETH” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “LOVE RAT” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Beerand Flies “I’M AWESOME!” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Janet Herring “AND THEN I TURNED AROUND” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Janet Herring “SHE’S A JEWEL” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Janet Herring “I’VE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Kevin Kenney “BABY STEPS” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • James Laev “TALKING TO AN OLIVE” (Date picked up: 6/23/2021)
    • Bob Love “DIAMOND SOUL” (Date picked up: 6/23/2021)
    • Pete Papageorge “FUNDAMENTALLY BLUE” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Stephen Peters “ANGRY AS HELL” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • Tina Rivera “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME” (Date picked up: 6/16/2021)
    • John Schutt “MORE LIKE THAT” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Shaun Thomson “SEKAI HEIWA (WORLD PEACE)” (Date picked up: 8/9/2021)
    • David Will “DON’T DISMISS ME” (Date picked up: 6/23/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Christian, Gospel. JASON CRABB. Extended! Still fully active. UPDATE: 7/1/21: “I spoke with Jason’s manager Philip the other day and he said what I’ve sent them is great, and they still continue to listen to songs, but nothing as definitive as a ‘hold’ has materialized. They’re asking me to send more songs, so I’m hoping something will ultimately stick.” Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members is looking …

    • Rick Burge “HE SHOWED LOVE” (Date picked up: 7/27/2021)
    • Krystal Kuehn “THE LORDS PRAYER (THIS IS HOW WE PRAY) – KK” (Date picked up: 7/27/2021)
    • Abigail Marmion “PRAY YOU HOME” (Date picked up: 7/27/2021)
    • Abigail Marmion “TRUST YOUR OUTCOMES TO GOD “ (Date picked up: 6/22/2021)
    • James Oliver “LET GO LET GOD*” (Date picked up: 7/22/2021)
    • Ava Paige “WE CALL THE PRODIGALS HOME” (Date picked up: 7/22/2021)
    • Mitch Townley “NUMBERED (SDB)” (Date picked up: 7/22/2021)
    • Tery Wayne “SOMETIMES” (Date picked up: 7/27/2021)

Pitch For Song Plugger. Country. JULIA COLE. Extended! “Send me your A-list songs.” Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for independent artist Julia Cole. Julia has had over 20,000,000 streams and has been featured on CMT, Audience Network, The CW, Radio Disney and others. Seeking songs in the Florida-Georgia Line musical style (and perhaps lyrical direction of subjects they’ve covered), but that …

    • Noel Cohen “WHO IS THIS GIRL?” (Date picked up: 6/9/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Adult Contemporary, Singer Songwriter, Indie. ROMANTIC BACKGROUND MUSIC For CBS TV Sitcom. Extended! Pitch guest, N.P., is seeking two types of VOCAL songs for season 2 of this charming show:
1. Soft Pop style songs that have a romantic feel. Think warm and honest (not cheesy) current adult contemporary/soft pop that could be playing in a restaurant. Nothing too electronic, rocking or distracting as it is laying under dialogue.
2. Acoustic Indie Singer-Songwriter songs that have …

    • John Cirillo “STARS DON’T LIE” (Date picked up: 6/3/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. TENILLE ARTS. Deadline approaching. They’re in the studio reviewing what they have. Will still be listening briefly for the undeniable hit that might beat what they already have. Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for songs for Reviver Records artist Tenille Arts. Looking for radio friendly songs, specifically up tempo, or the right mid-tempo that fits the project. Need …

    • Alexsi Mallory “GIRL HEART” (Date picked up: 6/8/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. JOE NICHOLS. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for the first album in three years from Quartz Hill Records and multi-platinum selling artist Joe Nichols. Looking for radio-friendly Country HITS. All tempos. His newest release this month is “Home Run” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adUpbiLy-Qs . For the latest news on Nichols visit: http://www.JoeNichols.com and follow …

    • Ricki Bellos “BLUE SKY RAIN” (Date picked up: 7/5/2021)
    • John Cirillo “DRIVE SLOW” (Date picked up: 7/5/2021)
    • Jamie Trent “AIRPORT MARGARITAS” (Date picked up: 7/5/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. Troy Cartwright. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Warner Music Nashville artist Troy Cartwright. Looking for Country RADIO songs and VULNERABLE songs. Research artist before pitching https://www.troycartwright.com/about . This pitch will stay open on an ongoing basis until artist is no longer seeking outside songs. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses …

    • Avrim Topel “LOVE YOU LIKE THAT” (Date picked up: 7/14/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Film/TV/Media. LULLABIES FOR PSYCHO KILLER TV SERIES. Street pitch guest, N.P., needs original lullabies and public domain covers that will sound ironic/paradoxical to scary, tense, stalker scenes that lead to murder. Think sweet childlike lyrics with simple/sparse production that lull the listener into a false sense of security. Songs with slightly sinister/dark undertones or instrumentation can work as well. Ballads and midtempos. Male or female vocals. GENRES: …

    • Beerand Flies “LULLABY FOR A KILLER “ (Date picked up: 6/10/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. EDDIE MONTGOMERY. Back on the board. Still looking! Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Average Joe Entertainment Group artist Eddie Montgomery. Looking for rowdy, rough, up-tempo Country radio hits Ala Montgomery/Gentry. 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 …

    • Jonny Born “RAIN AND RUST” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)
    • Ronald Brown “YOU’LL BELIEVE IN THE RIDE” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)
    • D Toomey “DRINK IT IN” (Date picked up: 7/16/2021)
    • Thomas White “SHOOT MY TRUCK” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Country, Pop. MACY MARTIN. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for label-shopping artist Macy Martin. Looking for YOUTHFUL POP CROSSOVER songs. Think Disney. Speaking to girls and her generation. For artist sound watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imhdgiAv_Bw . Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for …

    • Adam Avery “DOING THAT” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)
    • John Cirillo “GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)
    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN- FEMALE” (Date picked up: 7/25/2021)

Pitch For Manager. Holiday Themed. BRIANA DOMENICA. UPDATE, SongU mentor Dallas Gregory manages this artist. “Keep songs coming. I’m planning to meet with her in person mid-July.” Looking for a Christmas single to be recorded late summer/early fall for release in November. She will also be filming a video of this single for release, which will coincide with the single release. Briana is a CCM artist, so nothing risqué or off-color will be considered. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause” …

    • Robbi Atkins “LITTLE SIMPLE CHRISTMAS THINGS (V4)” (Date picked up: 7/7/2021)
    • Steve Bryant “A MAGIC CHRISTMAS EVE” (Date picked up: 7/7/2021)
    • John Cirillo “THE SOUND OF CHRISTMAS” (Date picked up: 7/7/2021)
    • John Cirillo “TINSELTOWN” (Date picked up: 7/29/2021)
    • Bill Gue “HALLELUJAH (GLORY TO GOD)” (Date picked up: 7/29/2021)
    • Bill Gue “THE GREATEST GIFT” (Date picked up: 7/29/2021)
    • Sarah Motes ashley “I HEARD THE BELLS / BE STILL” (Date picked up: 7/7/2021)
    • Daniel Obrien “NOEL D’AMOUR” (Date picked up: 7/29/2021)
    • Bill Ohanlon “ONE CHILD” (Date picked up: 7/7/2021)
    • Jeff Roe “LIGHTS” (Date picked up: 7/29/2021)
    • Melanie Smith “MARY, JOSEPH AND JESUS” (Date picked up: 6/29/2021)
    • Perry Walp “HEAVEN’S LIGHT “ (Date picked up: 6/29/2021)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Pop, Rock, Indie. PROMOS FOR DISNEY+ SHOWS. Street Pitch guest, N.P. is Looking for two types of songs for these (see below references). The theme is: You can come to Disney+ for your favorites, but also new original content. The vibe/tone is: awestruck/wonder. Songs are aimed at ADULTS – sophisticated, and modern. Excellent productions. Male or female vocals. Specifics:
1. Fun, Wondrous, Adventurous. Think Misterwives – “The End”, Florence + The Machine – …

    • Isobel Greenhalgh “BEAUTIFUL WORLD” (Date picked up: 6/30/2021)

Pitch For Publisher. Traditional Country. DAN SMALLEY. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Big Machine Label Group artist Dan Smalley who is being produced by veteran Keith Stegall (Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band). Looking for traditional Country HITS ala Chris Stapleton. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for publishing if a major recording …

    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • Patrick Mcwilliams “LET IT BURN” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)
    • D Toomey “HOLDIN’ OUT FOR HEAVEN” (Date picked up: 7/9/2021)

Pitch For Music Supervisor. Pop, Rock. BACKGROUND & SOURCE MUSIC FOR CABLE NETWORK SERIES. Pitch guest, N.P., is seeking two types of We need 2 types of songs here:
1. Pop in the style of Ava Max, Camila Cabella, Zayn, Harry Styles, etc.
2. Pop/Rock songs – Think upbeat and fun everything from produced pop to songs with organic instrumentation. Lyrics are not important, as long as the tone is upbeat and modern. A la Olivia Rodrigo, American Authors, “Fitz & The Tantrums “Head …

    • Beerand Flies “LOVE RAT” (Date picked up: 7/13/2021)

A special shout-out to those you whose songs are on the report for the very first time! And a round of applause to those whose songs were marked ‘Maybe’ too. Keep up the great work, everyone!


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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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Featured SongU Mentor: Alan Roy Scott – Oh, the Couches He Has Known

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. They often become creative sounding boards on rewritten drafts of a song until it has reached its full potential. Some, like today’s spotlight Coach #3762, aka Alan Roy Scott, also serve as instructors of our online song feedback group sessions and offer private consultations.

Alan Roy Scott has been one of our most beloved feedback instructors and coaches since 2009 when he became a SongU.com mentor. During that time he has worked with literally thousands of songwriters at SongU. He has a self-proclaimed “gift of gab” and is known for his sense of humor, personal engagement, and wisdom. This often means that his “1-hour” group feedback sessions last quite a bit longer than an hour! I took some time to ask him about his personal mentoring philosophy and his UNIQUELY 2020 EUROVISION experience. Make sure to listen below to his song ‘Cleopatra’ recorded by Azerbaijanian contestant Efendi.

Alan, one of the things the SongU members seem to appreciate the most is that, even though all our coaching and courses are (and always have been) online, you really take the time to get to know them as people — their likes, dislikes and goals. Can you tell us how you make that personal connection and why you feel that is important?

Being a songwriter myself for such a long time (professionally since 1978) and having gone through so much in my own life and career over that time, I just have a lot of empathy and respect for all the SongU members overall,  and especially when they come to me for feedback and guidance and put their trust in me. I like to give them a full and thorough response with TLC they deserve. I have always felt that if we songwriters can’t support each other as creative people and lift up our own community first and foremost, it will be hard to expect that same level of camaraderie and compassion coming from anywhere else. In my case, how that plays out and how I deal with the writers is I get excited to know about THEM — where they’re from, how they feel about things, their lives and experiences, what their own goals are, and just being friendly and supportive of them and with each other about a myriad of things — in connection with the nitty gritty nuts and bolts of evaluating their songs when we get to that. So, when we do get to that whether in a live online feedback session, a private one-to-one, or in written form, I pride myself on dishing out my own brand of ‘tough songwriter love” when needed. With emphasis on the love.

I have always felt that if we songwriters can’t support each other as creative people and lift up our own community first and foremost, it will be hard to expect that same level of camaraderie and compassion coming from anywhere else.

You bring a unique international perspective to your song feedback, having travelled all over the world, judging song contests, doing seminars, and writing with up-and-coming artists. Can you tell us some of the places you’ve been and what you have learned by working in the international music scene?

Well, believe it or not, since my international travels started in 1984 with Japan as the first country I visited outside the USA, I have been to 124 countries and counting. I know this because I once sat down and literally counted all the countries I’ve been to with the guidelines that just being in airport transit doesn’t count, and at least 24 hours has to be spent in a country for it to qualify. So, among those 124 countries visited would be every continent except Antarctica (a song seminar for the penguins coming soon?), every former Communist country except North Korea, exotic places from Greenland to India, Bali to Ghana. Almost ALL of them for music activities, writing trips, writing camps, seminars and/or workshop events, concerts, or some kind of musical application. Quite often without much money in my pocket. So, the name of my eventual book I hope to write will either be “Couches I Have Known” or “Passport To A Musical Planet.”

Hah! I’d love to read that book…please write it! Tell us more about co-writing with writers from all over.

I have collaborated along the way with people in a variety of markets, styles of music, and languages. Although I could write a multitude on all the things I have learned along the way, one striking and overriding truth that I have found to be so by walking the walk is that truly music IS the universal language! Many differences and nuances abound in that, but in the end we are much more the same than not. I know this answer may sound a bit Disneyesque or “Koom-ba-yah”, but I don’t know how else to answer it.

Alan Roy Scott collaboration session

I know you had a big disappointment with one of your own songs, “Cleopatra” that was headed to Eurovision. What happened?

The answer to that is the pandemic happened. Eurovision was canceled for the first time in 64 years! Of course, there were some positives. For example, the video of my song ‘Cleopatra’ by the Azerbaijan artist Efendi got over 8 million views on YouTube among other good things. And most of the various reviewers and broadcasters from around the world had said that my song would surely have been in the Top 5 or 10 of all the entries, with a few even saying they thought it would win. So, all that at least is some consolation.

Congratulations! That’s no small accomplishment! Tell us how that came about.

As always, is the story behind the scenes is always the most interesting. Some of that unknown backdrop and saga is as follows: The writing of the song is a lesson in itself for all songwriters because the day we wrote it at Las Negras Camp in Spain in November 2019 ( a collaboration between myself, Dutch writer, Luuk Van Beers, and Norwegian/British writer, Sarah Lake) was just a magical three-nation writing collaboration experience where we were laughing hysterically the whole time, and just having pure fun around the joy of songwriting without any other thoughts in mind. Surely, we were not thinking about Eurovision. If we had TRIED to write for Eurovision, it might never have come out the way it did.  So, after the writing and production of it, we then moved into the whole politics and international business portions of Eurovision. In Eurovision, every song that makes it to being the song for a country literally ends up having like a whole team of people involved, and ours was no different in becoming “Team Cleopatra.” Some countries pick their artist and song the artist will sing to represent them through extensive and high profile national competitions and TV shows to pick the national winner before they head off to the finals to represent that country. But some other countries just pick their artist and song WITHOUT open competitions through a private process known as “internal selection.” This also involves team connections and private resources. That’s the way it was for us.

First, our song was submitted internally to the small country of San Marino for their artist Senhit. My collaborators flew to Bologna, Italy to work with her on the song and see how she sounded on it. In the end, although her team and committee wanted her to do “Cleopatra,” the artist didn’t think it was right for her, and she went with a different song. Then it was pitched to the last country choosing via “internal selection”, Azerbaijan.  They had selected an artist named Efendi to be their artist and so “Cleopatra” was chosen to be their song. My collaborators then flew to Baku, Azerbaijan to try Efendi out on the song and it worked out. Therefore, after all that when the many months of preparation time and money spent by 51 country “teams” to get to that point of being in Eurovision, besides the cancelation of the whole event, it is the final chapter that should come as no surprise in the annals of the way songwriters are so often treated. After the cancelation of Eurovision, the ruling was made that for 2021 the ARTISTS for each of the countries who were to be involved would be allowed to come back again if they chose to (and most of the artists from 2020 ARE returning in 2021), but NOT THE SONGS !!! All the songs have to be NEW songs and all the effort and competition it takes to make it, plays out all over again for the songwriters. Fair, right? The Artists get to return automatically, but the songs and songwriters involved this year get thrown under the bus. Every heard that before? My Azerbaijan artist Efendi WILL be returning in May to again represent Azerbaijan, but with a different song!!! And as they say, that’s that!!!

Thanks for sharing your story. Let’s get you some more views on YouTube. Maybe we should start an international SongU movement to save Alan’s song in 2021! 😉

When offering song feedback to emerging songwriters, do you find that there are certain pieces of advice or suggestions that seem to come up a lot? If so, what are some of the most common?

Surely when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of song craft part, I find there are a lot of common and recurring themes I encounter quite often that I talk about, that many people who are reading this who have worked with me might have heard already. Such as how as beginning songwriters, we often come up with a really good idea that we don’t fully develop before moving off it too soon, or leaving it feeling unfinished or jagged. I call this “not milking your own good ideas” as fully as possible. And I also find that quite often songwriters who are not great singers (or even some who are) will write their melodies to fit within the limits of their vocal range, which often means melodies may get squashed because of those limits from the full range of what they could be. As for me, I call it not being afraid to sound like a “shrieking chicken” in reaching for notes I hear in my head if the right melody is out of my range for my ‘songwriter singing his own songs the best he can” voice. So don’t let any vocal limitations stop you from reaching for the best and most contrasting melodies possible. And surely I find a big part of my job is editing with my big scissors hence “song surgery.” That’s because you need to remember in the end as much as it is about expressing ourselves and writing the best song possible, it is also about communicating our songs to the listener we want to embrace our music,  and speaking to them in ways and methods they can follow and appreciate. Attention spans are short and getting shorter all the time. So great old adages like “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” still apply even today. But also as nothing is cast in stone and every rule is meant to be broken, my only “golden” rule of songwriting as I call it is….”if it works, it works.” So when it feels right to me, I will go with it even if it goes against my usual judgement of such things.

Besides writing songs and mentoring, what have you been doing to pass the time during the pandemic?

What? Has there been a pandemic ? What’s that? LOL !!!   Really, I just want to say that my job at SongU.com is made so much easier by the fact that, by any measure, we just have so many talented and wonderful members as songwriters and people. Because of that, it’s never stopped being as joyful to be a part of SongU from the very beginning until now. All that is equally made possible by the wonderful ongoing relationship I have with the SongU.com administrative staff (Sara, Danny, Martin, and the ever awesome Benn), and to the caring, giving, faculty alongside me, all combining to make Songu.com the magical place it has always been and continues to be. Here’s to 2021 and beyond !!!

Awww, thank you for saying that. Of course, thank YOU for your countless hours providing professional advice and songwriting education to the SongU writers and to so many writers around the world! You rock!

What Our Members Are Saying:

1/8/2021 – “Thank you SO much!! Your evaluation got me there to that finish line almost right away after sitting on those lyrics being all over the place with it for a few weeks. I so appreciate it!!!” — Robbi A. (TX)

12/1/2020 – “Thank you so much Coach for all your help and I’m so happy with the final result and the reworked chorus per your suggestion. It’s been a labour of love with the subject matter and all. So, thanks again!!” — Mike R. (UK)

12/20/2020 – “Alan’s classes are about as much fun as you can have legally, and you can always count on a good honest critique. I love it when he sings along often forgetting to turn his mic off. Ha. Fun stuff. Go Alan!” — Lon C. (NY)

12/20/2020 – “Alan is a perfectionist. He listens, remembers, and knows. I am grateful for such opportunities.” –– Ewa R. (Poland)

About Coach #3762: Alan Roy Scott has had over 200 songs recorded across multiple genres by various artists around the world including, Celine Dion, Notorious B.I.G, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle, Gloria Estefan, Oak Ridge Boys, Journey, Ricky Martin, Luther Vandross, The Neville Brothers, Cher and Ray Charles. This coach also has significant credits in Film/TV, including “Top Gun,” “Fame,” “Coming to America,” “First Wives Club” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” This coach is comfortable in evaluating songs in virtually all genres, including Film/TV, Pop/Hot AC, R&B, Urban, Christian, Country, World Music, Singer/Songwriters and Rock

Alan’s Coaching Philosophy: “I consider myself a real colleague and advocate for songwriters and will give whatever I feel is needed in each individual situation from “tough songwriter love” in a direct fashion, to being a cheerleader. I enjoy working with all levels of writers and have been known to throw in some stories from my own songwriting career when needed.”


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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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Featured SongU Coach: A Conversation with Michele Vice-Maslin.

Today, I have the pleasure of talking with one of SongU’s long-time mentors and coaches, two-time Emmy Award winning songwriter and producer, Michele Vice-Maslin.

Michele Vice-Maslin

Michele, I’ve got to start by asking what’s helping you cope during this time of Corona?

Well I am a complete hermit so besides my lack of a hot tub to slip into I’m doing just fine and feel blessed! Also I really aspire to be a “Happy Girl” as one of my songs is called. That always helps one c ope, finding and holding on to their “happy”. A little “hippy dippy” I know but it’s true!

…But first off what helps me cope are my amazing Students at SongU and in my FROM SONG TO SYNC course! I am so busy coaching, mentoring, teaching, guiding, hand holding and seeing “light bulb moments” go off!… It is beyond rewarding and fulfilling!

I’ve actually never been busier so I think I am too tired to have to cope. LOL. In addition I’ve been writing with my favorite artist smooth jazz R&B legend Jonathan Butler for his new album and writing /producing songs for my own little pet artist project (2 of the songs appear on the Mpath PHENOMENAL WOMEN album series), plus other productions so I’m busy with that. I’m busy guiding my new intern Jeremiah. I’m busy pitching. I’m busy participating in tons of webinars mostly about all things music biz like Neighboring Rights, The MLC, Music Licensing, and so forth. I’ve been speaking on a bunch of webinars too… and so on and so on. All a great distraction from the difficult “mess” at hand that we all share.

And to top it off, as you and I discussed a little while back Sara…all the cooking. OH MY! Right now it’s after midnight I’ve been up working since 7am and I still have dinner to cook. Hahaha No time to think of coping

How has the current state of the world affected your writing, production, and pitching?

It hasn’t much affected the producing and pitching and solo writing. I am still doing that. Yes there are much less specific projects in production but still I always have backlogs of new songs that need to be pitched and brought to the attention of the “powers that be”. It has however very much affected the co-writing for me. I don’t like to collaborate virtually at all!  In fact I usually have a strict policy of “in the same physical room at the same time from complete scratch”. The only person I write virtually with is my main collaborator Larry Treadwell whom I’ve worked with for 39 years and know so well. I’ve also made an exception with Jonathan whom I’ve worked with for 20 years.  

Actually I’m always impressed by the Songu members I coach and their ability to co-write virtually even before the pandemic.

What qualities do you look for in a co-writer?

Of course if they are what I consider a good writer, which is subjective any way but after that mostly I look for someone I like, who is a nice human, a good human, an honest human. 

As a coach and mentor, you inspire so many songwriters. What inspires you?

The songwriters I coach and mentor! They inspire me everyday!  Some of them are soooo talented they could be teaching the class!  In the last 2 weeks alone I have heard some really amazing songs from them!  Life itself as well has always inspired me! Paying attention to all that is going on. Listening, watching, participating.

Do you have a favorite story you can tell us about one of your song placements? 

I have so so many but probably it’s my first one. That is what is coming to mind. It was 1987 and I was the songwriter, producer, arranger, creator of a “performance art project”. I had films and slide shows and actors doing skits accompanying the songs. The songs themselves and the whole project made Bjork look “normal”. 🙂 The whole thing was beyond alternative and avant-garde. I had a friend who was directing his first feature film TAPEHEADS. It stars Tim Robbins, John Cusack and the R&B/Soul legends Sam Moore (Of Sam & Dave) and Junior Walker (Of Junior Walker And The All Stars) Sam & Junior were playing the fictitious duo “The Swanky Modes” in the film. The director(my friend) asked me if I had any friends that created R&B/Soul music and if so could they submit some tunes for the film. So I grabbed my writing partner Larry, whom I previously mentioned, and we wrote and produced up (after much careful research and listening) a song to submit. Now remember I am a weird “Performance Artist”  who writes very odd songs, so what to do what to do… how to submit…? The director (who actually directed the films and slide shows in my performance art project) would never have considered any R&B/Soul song I might come up with so…I submitted it under a pseudonym… and voila!! In the movie. With the legendary Sam Moore and Jr. Walker recording it. My first cut and placement at the same time. In a major big budget film…and then haha I became knows as an R&B writer. Crazy stuff! I think the moral of that story is just go for it!!! Give it a try! Ya never know…

What music have you been listening to lately?

I listen to so much music. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop as I am producing a really cool hip hop/rapper artist. Khalid, Kanye, Money Can’t Buy, A.J. Tracey, Troye Sivan, and others. Also a lot of pop music. Katy Perry, Halsey, Dua Lipa, Sean Mendez, Jonas Brothers, Charlie Puth, Kim Petrus, Tov Lo, Hayley Williams, Ellie Goulding… so so many and the songs of my friends, colleagues and students. Every day I listen to new music. I subscribe to some online newsletters that are always introducing me to new music.

Thank you, Michele, for offering professional advice and songwriting education to our SongU writers ! You rock!

Thank you for these really great questions Sara and thank you so much to you for having me. It’s really an honor. This is my 14th at Songu and it has enriched my life beyond measure. I’m so proud to be a part of the Songu family! I love my students!

I can’t believe it’s been 14 years already! Time flies when you’re having fun (and learning new things all the time). Thanks again for your time, Michele!

ABOUT COACHING AT SONGU.COM

In addition to our 20+ live audio/video small-group song feedback courses each month, our members have the opportunity to forge creative relationships with any of award-winning coaches in the form of individual written feedback with detailed song (or lyric-only) evaluations and constructive suggestions emphasizing lyrics, music/production, originality, commercial potential, and even a chance to be awarded “Best of SongU!”

HERE’S WHAT OUR MEMBERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH #2245 (aka Michele Vice-Maslin)!

“I am really thrilled with your Best of SongU recognition – you had awarded that for [my other song] ‘Marisol’ as well – and it means a lot. Both were probably more work than I would care to admit so it feels great to be recognized. I’m so happy that you liked it and found it relatable – THANKS!” -J.M., CT

“Thank you for the feedback. Once again you’ve opened my eyes through your insight. I definitely want to get away from cliche writing and hope to look get better at recognizing it when I write. Thx again!”D. Brown, GA

About Michele

About Michele: This coach is a two-time Emmy Award winning songwriter and producer who has written hit songs in multiple genres for artists all over the world, as well as having several thousand film/TV placements. This coach is also a music producer and music publisher who is well versed in song pitching and placing, and business issues pertaining to the music industry. Specializes in evaluating Pop, R&B, Hot AC, Top 40, Dance, Alternative, Urban, Country, Singer-Songwriter, Film/TV/Songs for Sync Licensing.

Michele’s Coaching Philosophy: “My coaching philosophy is one of empowerment and inspiration along with some real and straightforward honesty about what I believe is important in the way of crafting a great song – for personal satisfaction of course – but also for commercial success.”


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The Open-Mic Experiment

A couple of years after we got married, Danny and I packed up our hand-me-down couch, dinette set and mattress, and moved from Edison, NJ to Nashville, TN with a notion to eventually make our living as songwriters. We had at least thought ahead enough to have saved some extra money to open a savings account, and had acquired employment to give ourselves a steady income in case the “songwriting thing” didn’t happen right away. Big dreams can take awhile, as you might imagine.

Most nights we’d head out to “writer’s nights”, often to the infamous Bluebird Cafe, to listen to songwriters sing their original songs and tell the stories behind them: “Well, about a year ago my co-writer and I got together and he was telling me about his wife’s grandma and grandpa and how after 60 years of marriage, they’d been separated in a nursing home on different floors. She’d stopped talking until one day they wheeled him into the room and she asked, ‘where have you been’, and we just started writing a song about it.”

Night after night the writers would start strumming their guitars and singing a few bars until the audience realized they were listening to one of their favorite songs recorded by Kathy Mattea or Garth Brooks or Reba McEntire or Tim McGraw or Bonnie Raitt and so on. There would be an audible sigh and an eruption of appreciative applause. There’s really nothing more breathtaking then hearing a hit song sung in its simplest form by the person who wrote it.

It didn’t take long to realize that singing one’s original songs at open-mics and writer’s nights was a right of passage in Nashville…whether or not you were a performer. There were opportunities to “play out” for every level of writer from those who were fresh-off-the-turnip-truck to those who were polished and perfected. As newbies, we’d go out to listen and support the other newcomers, our incoming class, as it were.

The first time some friends asked us to perform at a writer’s night they were hosting, I was TERRIFIED. It took some serious self-talk to step up on that stage. But when it was all over, after I had heard my shaky voice coming back through the monitor and I kept going, after Danny played the last chord on his keyboard and I heard some clapping, after I had not spontaneously imploded, I had my “aha” moment. Great songwriting requires you to be at your most vulnerable and your most courageous at the same time.

Those writer’s nights were a big part of my songwriting education. They forced me to face my fears and time and again push beyond my comfort zone. They allowed me to test out new material and get better at what I was trying to do. Most importantly, playing out gave me the opportunity to interact with my peers in a supportive and constructive way, as well as to meet co-writers and friends who have lasted a life time (Shout out to Carol & Dale, and Nancy & Fett).

On August 14th, we’re inviting our SongU members to take part in this same kind of educational experience with a virtual open-mic experiment, hosted by long-time member, Mitch Townley. Whether we’re experienced or aspiring, whether we’re singers or vocally “challenged”, ready or not, here we come!


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Featured Coach: A Conversation with Michele Vice-Maslin

Today, I have the pleasure of talking with one of SongU’s long-time mentors and coaches, two-time Emmy Award winning songwriter and producer, Michele Vice-Maslin.

Michele Vice-Maslin

Michele, I’ve got to start by asking what’s helping you cope during this time of Corona?

Well I am a complete hermit so besides my lack of a hot tub to slip into I’m doing just fine and feel blessed! Also I really aspire to be a “Happy Girl” as one of my songs is called. That always helps one c ope, finding and holding on to their “happy”. A little “hippy dippy” I know but it’s true!

…But first off what helps me cope are my amazing Students at SongU and in my FROM SONG TO SYNC course! I am so busy coaching, mentoring, teaching, guiding, hand holding and seeing “light bulb moments” go off!… It is beyond rewarding and fulfilling!

I’ve actually never been busier so I think I am too tired to have to cope. LOL. In addition I’ve been writing with my favorite artist smooth jazz R&B legend Jonathan Butler for his new album and writing /producing songs for my own little pet artist project (2 of the songs appear on the Mpath PHENOMENAL WOMEN album series), plus other productions so I’m busy with that. I’m busy guiding my new intern Jeremiah. I’m busy pitching. I’m busy participating in tons of webinars mostly about all things music biz like Neighboring Rights, The MLC, Music Licensing, and so forth. I’ve been speaking on a bunch of webinars too… and so on and so on. All a great distraction from the difficult “mess” at hand that we all share.

And to top it off, as you and I discussed a little while back Sara…all the cooking. OH MY! Right now it’s after midnight I’ve been up working since 7am and I still have dinner to cook. Hahaha No time to think of coping

How has the current state of the world affected your writing, production, and pitching?

It hasn’t much affected the producing and pitching and solo writing. I am still doing that. Yes there are much less specific projects in production but still I always have backlogs of new songs that need to be pitched and brought to the attention of the “powers that be”. It has however very much affected the co-writing for me. I don’t like to collaborate virtually at all!  In fact I usually have a strict policy of “in the same physical room at the same time from complete scratch”. The only person I write virtually with is my main collaborator Larry Treadwell whom I’ve worked with for 39 years and know so well. I’ve also made an exception with Jonathan whom I’ve worked with for 20 years.  

Actually I’m always impressed by the Songu members I coach and their ability to co-write virtually even before the pandemic.

What qualities do you look for in a co-writer?

Of course if they are what I consider a good writer, which is subjective any way but after that mostly I look for someone I like, who is a nice human, a good human, an honest human. 

As a coach and mentor, you inspire so many songwriters. What inspires you?

The songwriters I coach and mentor! They inspire me everyday!  Some of them are soooo talented they could be teaching the class!  In the last 2 weeks alone I have heard some really amazing songs from them!  Life itself as well has always inspired me! Paying attention to all that is going on. Listening, watching, participating.

Do you have a favorite story you can tell us about one of your song placements? 

I have so so many but probably it’s my first one. That is what is coming to mind. It was 1987 and I was the songwriter, producer, arranger, creator of a “performance art project”. I had films and slide shows and actors doing skits accompanying the songs. The songs themselves and the whole project made Bjork look “normal”. 🙂 The whole thing was beyond alternative and avant-garde. I had a friend who was directing his first feature film TAPEHEADS. It stars Tim Robbins, John Cusack and the R&B/Soul legends Sam Moore (Of Sam & Dave) and Junior Walker (Of Junior Walker And The All Stars) Sam & Junior were playing the fictitious duo “The Swanky Modes” in the film. The director(my friend) asked me if I had any friends that created R&B/Soul music and if so could they submit some tunes for the film. So I grabbed my writing partner Larry, whom I previously mentioned, and we wrote and produced up (after much careful research and listening) a song to submit. Now remember I am a weird “Performance Artist”  who writes very odd songs, so what to do what to do… how to submit…? The director (who actually directed the films and slide shows in my performance art project) would never have considered any R&B/Soul song I might come up with so…I submitted it under a pseudonym… and voila!! In the movie. With the legendary Sam Moore and Jr. Walker recording it. My first cut and placement at the same time. In a major big budget film…and then haha I became knows as an R&B writer. Crazy stuff! I think the moral of that story is just go for it!!! Give it a try! Ya never know…

What music have you been listening to lately?

I listen to so much music. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop as I am producing a really cool hip hop/rapper artist. Khalid, Kanye, Money Can’t Buy, A.J. Tracey, Troye Sivan, and others. Also a lot of pop music. Katy Perry, Halsey, Dua Lipa, Sean Mendez, Jonas Brothers, Charlie Puth, Kim Petrus, Tov Lo, Hayley Williams, Ellie Goulding… so so many and the songs of my friends, colleagues and students. Every day I listen to new music. I subscribe to some online newsletters that are always introducing me to new music.

Thank you, Michele, for offering professional advice and songwriting education to our SongU writers ! You rock!

Thank you for these really great questions Sara and thank you so much to you for having me. It’s really an honor. This is my 14th at Songu and it has enriched my life beyond measure. I’m so proud to be a part of the Songu family! I love my students!

I can’t believe it’s been 14 years already! Time flies when you’re having fun (and learning new things all the time). Thanks again for your time, Michele!

ABOUT COACHING AT SONGU.COM

In addition to our 20+ live audio/video small-group song feedback courses each month, our members have the opportunity to forge creative relationships with any of award-winning coaches in the form of individual written feedback with detailed song (or lyric-only) evaluations and constructive suggestions emphasizing lyrics, music/production, originality, commercial potential, and even a chance to be awarded “Best of SongU!”

HERE’S WHAT OUR MEMBERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH #2245 (aka Michele Vice-Maslin)!

“I am really thrilled with your Best of SongU recognition – you had awarded that for [my other song] ‘Marisol’ as well – and it means a lot. Both were probably more work than I would care to admit so it feels great to be recognized. I’m so happy that you liked it and found it relatable – THANKS!” -J.M., CT

“Thank you for the feedback. Once again you’ve opened my eyes through your insight. I definitely want to get away from cliche writing and hope to look get better at recognizing it when I write. Thx again!”D. Brown, GA

About Michele

About Michele: This coach is a two-time Emmy Award winning songwriter and producer who has written hit songs in multiple genres for artists all over the world, as well as having several thousand film/TV placements. This coach is also a music producer and music publisher who is well versed in song pitching and placing, and business issues pertaining to the music industry. Specializes in evaluating Pop, R&B, Hot AC, Top 40, Dance, Alternative, Urban, Country, Singer-Songwriter, Film/TV/Songs for Sync Licensing.

Michele’s Coaching Philosophy: “My coaching philosophy is one of empowerment and inspiration along with some real and straightforward honesty about what I believe is important in the way of crafting a great song – for personal satisfaction of course – but also for commercial success.”