Notes on Napkins

musings for songwriters

Leave a comment

SongU Top Marketer: John Cirillo!

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

Leave a comment

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!

Leave a comment

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

At, 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