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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: Songs Recently Picked Up (latest update)

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

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members for having their songs signed or pitched for the following leads during the time period OCTOBER 28th – DECEMBER 31st 2020.

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

– Seeking REAL Country …

    • Kimberly Jakubicki “TOGETHER STRONG” (Date picked up: 12/15/2020)
    • Brenda Kornblum “STAMP COLLECTOR” (Date picked up: 12/14/2020)
    • Jeff Roe “TALK TO HER-JEFF ROE” (Date picked up: 12/13/2020)
    • Phillip Sandifer “STAY IN YOUR LANE” (Date picked up: 12/13/2020)
    • Phillip Sandifer “THE TROUBLE WITH GUITARS” (Date picked up: 12/13/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country, Rock. JAY ALLEN. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Verge Records artist Jay Allen. Looking for real, raw, in your face undeniable SMASH Country hits with meat on the bones! For more on this artist go to https://www.jayallenofficial.com/. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for publishing if a major recording …

    • Brad Yunek “SINCE YOU FIRST SAID I DO (CHERYL’S SONG)” (Date picked up: 10/28/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. REBA. Extended! Still looking! 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 …

    • James Hoppe “WINDSHIELD” (Date picked up: 11/23/2020)
    • Avrim Topel “I LIKE WHAT YOU SEE” (Date picked up: 12/21/2020)
    • Claire Ulanoff “DIG A NEW WELL” (Date picked up: 12/21/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. .Acoustic Country / Modern Bluegrass. WESTWEND. Re-Opened! 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: male/female duets, acoustic country, modern bluegrass ala Alison Krauss & Wade Bowen. For more about this artist go to https://www.westwendmusic.com/home. …

    • Julie Broschard “IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU” (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)
    • John Cirillo “DIAMONDS TO DUST” (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)
    • Sandy Sherman “RHYTHM OF JOY” (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Contemporary Country. TRACK 45. Extended! 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 …

    • Julie Broschard “IT’S ALWAYS BEEN YOU” (Date picked up: 12/1/2020)
    • John Cirillo “MOONLIGHTING” (Date picked up: 11/11/2020)
    • Luke Denison “ONE INCH AT A TIME” (Date picked up: 12/1/2020)
    • Carin Fradin “CRUSH ON MY HOMETOWN” (Date picked up: 12/21/2020)
    • Kelly Mckay “YOU REWIND ME” (Date picked up: 12/1/2020)
    • Phillip Sandifer “FIND YOUR OWN WAY” (Date picked up: 12/1/2020)

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 …

    • Claire Ulanoff “THE LESS TRAVELED ROAD” (Date picked up: 12/31/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. MaRYNN TAYLOR. Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Black River Entertainment artist, MaRynn Taylor. Submit Classic 90’s Country songs along the lines of young Dixie Chicks meets young Trish Yearwood. Keep it organic. Pitch follow-up info: If this guest expresses interest in your song, before pitching it, they will ask for publishing if a major recording …

    • Paul Jarvis “SOMETHING TO PROVE” (Date picked up: 10/28/2020)

Pitch For Song Plugger. Country. ABBY ANNE MILLER. Street Pitch guest, J.N., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for indie recording artist Abby Anne Miller. She is being co-produced by LeAnn Rimes’ dad, Wilbur Rimes. Seeking clean lyric (no drinkin) country songs, uptempos preferred. Don’t be afraid of pitching songs in the traditional George Strait direction, but contemporary country pitches are welcome also. Listen to …

    • Matthew Soileau “HE’S A KEEPER” (Date picked up: 11/11/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. .Top 40 Female Pop, Soul, Chillout-House, Oriental Music AMURCO MUSIC LICENSING. 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 Oriental. Here is a note to us from Joel at Amurco: “Our our deals are completely non-exclusive …

    • Elizabeth Adams “HANGING BY A STRING” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Elizabeth Adams “EARTHQUAKE” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Elizabeth Adams “YOU’RE SO GOOD LOOKING” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Ricki Bellos “DOING THE SAME (FEMALE)” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Ricki Bellos “EITHER WAY” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Ricki Bellos “IT’S LIKE THAT (LOSS)” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Julie Broschard “DON’T PUT THAT ON ME” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Ted Hanson “SOLIDER BOY- SG STUDIOS” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Ted Hanson “THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME- SG STUDIOS” (Date picked up: 11/26/2020)
    • Aaron j Hooks wayman “YOU WILL WIN” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Steve Matthews “THE SONG IN MY DREAM “ (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Bill Ohanlon “LIVE LAUGH LOVE” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Bill Ohanlon “UNGLUED “ (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Donna Opfer “BREAKABLE” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Donna Opfer “ON THE OTHER SIDE” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Donna Opfer “STAND-UP YEAR” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Jim Purtell “GET TO YOU” (Date picked up: 11/17/2020)
    • Schantell Wharton “INSTEAD” (Date picked up: 11/26/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. TRACE ADKINS. Extended! Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for incredible songs for Verge Records artist Trace Adkins. Trace is currently recording a 25-song album to celebrate his 25th anniversary in country music. There are numerous collaborations with other multi-genre artists already underway. Looking for songs, any tempo. Think about songs you would expect to hear …

    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN” (Date picked up: 10/30/2020)
    • Bill Havens “STUMBLE “ (Date picked up: 11/5/2020)
    • Cari lynn York “KEEP AMERICA ALIVE MALE VOCAL “ (Date picked up: 11/18/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Contemporary Country. LEXIE HAYDEN. Extended! Street Pitch guest, D.G., veteran music publisher, who has already generated income for SongU members, is looking for incredible songs for Step Side Records artist Lexie Hayden. Looking for songs, any tempo with an organic / vibey feel that fans can connect with. Think inside and outside of the box, even to songs that don’t necessarily cater to current country trends. Think Kacey Musgraves meets Kelsie Ballerini. Check out …

    • John Cirillo “BREAKUP BREAKDOWN” (Date picked up: 10/30/2020)
    • John Cirillo “HURRICANE AFTER YOU” (Date picked up: 10/30/2020)
    • Luke Denison “ONE INCH AT A TIME” (Date picked up: 11/13/2020)
    • James Hoppe “SIP IT OFF MY LIPS” (Date picked up: 10/30/2020)
    • Jill Smith “STORM CHASER” (Date picked up: 11/13/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Americana, Folk, Pop, Singer Songwriter, Alternative, Indie. Pitch guest, N.P., is seeking Lullabies And Family Friendly Music for sync licensing for film & TV. We need ORIGINAL lullabies and songs about family and friendship: parent/child relationships, brothers/sister and friends that are like family. *Lullabies are especially versatile….besides the obvious use, they can be used for general comfort and in juxtaposition to a scary, tense or horror scene. Mid-tempos and ballads work best for these themes. …

    • Robbi Atkins “HELLO, YOU” (Date picked up: 11/12/2020)
    • Robbi Atkins “SWEET AS YOU” (Date picked up: 11/12/2020)
    • Karen Mitchell “DON’T MISS THIS” (Date picked up: 11/19/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. .Genres in order of importance: Pop, Singer-Songwriter, Acoustic Pop, Jazz/Standards Pitch guest, N.P. says, “Yes, we still need Christmas songs!” Hallmark & Lifetime movies have dozens of movies in production and they need your fun, fresh originals and especially unique versions of classic public domain songs. Uptempo and upbeat mid-tempos ok but NO BALLADS please. Prefer female vocals, but awesome male vocals are welcome. Genres as listed …

    • John Cirillo “YOU MAKE MY CHRISTMAS” (Date picked up: 11/16/2020)
    • John Cirillo “THE BEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL” (Date picked up: 11/16/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. Country. STEPHANIE QUAYLE. Extended! Street Pitch guest and publisher, Bob D., who has already generated income for SongU.com members is looking for songs for Reviver Records artist, Stephanie Quayle. Submit meaty story songs/strong women songs/no man bashing/all tempos including ballads. Listen at https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Quayle/e/B00DJAH0YM . 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: 11/14/2020)
    • Julie Broschard “A WOMAN’S TOUCH” (Date picked up: 11/14/2020)
    • John Cirillo “I AM A FORCE” (Date picked up: 11/14/2020)
    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN- FEMALE” (Date picked up: 11/14/2020)
    • James Hoppe “WINDSHIELD” (Date picked up: 12/3/2020)
    • Brad Mckinney “COUNTRY IN MY CITY” (Date picked up: 12/3/2020)
    • Tim Morgan “AFTER PARTY (DEMO-FEMALE)” (Date picked up: 12/3/2020)
    • David Nicastro “SHE’S GOT TO” (Date picked up: 11/14/2020)

Pitch For Publisher. .Soulful Country with Contemporary Production ROMAN ALEXANDER. Extended! Street Pitch guest, Bob D., who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Reviver Records artist Roman Alexander. Submit Soulful/contemporary production. Think Billy Currington Vibe. No boy meets girl in bar lyrics. To hear this artist check https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7VnLC0-HWLrEY8HDdZzEaQ. PITCH FOLLOW-UP: If this guest expresses interest …

    • Robbi Atkins “ANOTHER CHANCE TO CHOOSE” (Date picked up: 12/6/2020)
    • John Cirillo “FALL INTO YOU” (Date picked up: 12/6/2020)
    • Tim Morgan “A WOMAN IN LOVE (DEMO)” (Date picked up: 12/19/2020)
    • David Nicastro “THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT” (Date picked up: 12/6/2020)

Pitch For Song Plugger. Country, Rock. ANDY PURSELL. Street Pitch guest, Bob D., veteran independent songplugger who has generated income for SongU members is looking for songs for Florida-based indie artist Andy Pursell. Submit tempo Rockin’ Country Uptempos ala Kenny Chesney. Learn more at http://andypursellmusic.com/ . PITCH FOLLOW-UP: If this guest expresses interest in your song they will pitch it with the understanding that you will be asked to sign a single song agreement with …

    • Jonny Born “A WHISKEY KIND OF LOVE “ (Date picked up: 12/9/2020)
    • Jonny Born “WARNING ON THE BOTTLE” (Date picked up: 12/9/2020)
    • John Cirillo “DON’T LAST LONG” (Date picked up: 12/9/2020)
    • Dwayne Fisel “THE GETTING DOWN TO IT” (Date picked up: 12/9/2020)
    • David Nicastro “VARSITY REDNECK LETTER” (Date picked up: 12/9/2020)

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

    • John Cirillo “LOST AMEN” (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)
    • Matthew Soileau “MIX IT UP “ (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)
    • Andrew Trotter “RED WINE” (Date picked up: 12/17/2020)
    • Brad Yunek “KEEP KEEPIN’ ON” (Date picked up: 12/7/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Pop, Indie. Pitch guest, N.P., is looking for romantic, love songs for Valentine’s Day and others films for 2021. Upbeat and slow dance songs. Must be wholesome, clean lyrics, female & male vocals. Genres: Pop/indie pop, very pop-leaning-country. References: Taylor Swift ‘Me’, Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber ‘Stuck With You’, Gabby Barnett ‘One Of The Good Ones’, John Legend, Shawn Mendez, Harry Stiles, Ed Shearan, etc.
Songwriters, important: SONGS …

    • Robbi Atkins “LA LA LA LA LOVE” (Date picked up: 12/14/2020)
    • Adam Avery “COMING HOME” (Date picked up: 12/14/2020)
    • Isobel Greenhalgh “SAFETY” (Date picked up: 12/21/2020)
    • Cari lynn York “LOVING THIS LOVE (FINAL MIX) “ (Date picked up: 12/14/2020)
    • Cari lynn York “LOVIN’ THIS LOVE PIANO / VOCAL “ (Date picked up: 12/14/2020)

Pitch For Licensing Agent. Pop. Pitch guest, N.P., is looking for a HUGE, inspirational Pop song. It should start small and grow into a big release, picking up tempo and energy before the climax. Most importantly we are looking for a great lyrical hook that hints on themes of starting again, coming alive, changing, growing, new outlook, new day, out of the darkness, braving the unknown, the future is bright, etc. References: Ruelle “Where We Come Alive,” Florence + The Machine …

    • Noel Cohen “FALLIN’ IN” (Date picked up: 12/28/2020)
    • Isobel Greenhalgh “BEAUTIFUL WORLD” (Date picked up: 12/21/2020)
    • Matthew Soileau “COME BACK STRONG” (Date picked up: 12/16/2020)

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


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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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Kelly McKay, Winner of “Staff Writer for A Day,” Tells Us About Her Experience.

I was thrilled to speak with Kelly McKay, SongU member since 2013, and the winner of our Spring 2020 Special Event Pitch, “Staff Writer for a Day” with WinSongs Music Publishing! Kelly is clearly a talented songwriter, but she is also a role model for what it takes to succeed in this business:

  • the desire to keep growing and learning
  • the ability to network bravely yet humbly
  • the persistence to carry on in the face of daunting odds 
Songwriter, Kelly McKay

Kelly, I’m so excited to hear about your co-write session and listen to the song that you wrote. But first, tell me about the pitch. How did you decide which of your song(s) to submit to the “Staff Writer for a Day” Special Event Pitch with WinSongs’ Creative Director, Kirby Smith?

I submitted four songs. Kirby said she likes fun, uptempo songs and unique hooks that surprise her, so I kept that in mind. I submitted “Kissed the Hell Outta Me” mainly because it was brand new and I was excited about it and that was the one she picked. 

What were your first thoughts when you found out that you were the winner?

I was just excited. Little victories are a big deal to me (see what I did there?), so any time someone digs a song, it’s a great feeling. 

What was it like when you first contacted WinSongs’ Creative Director, Kirby Smith, after the event?

Kirby was really nice and got a date locked in really fast.  

Your co-write session was supposed to be with hit songwriter, Sandy Ramos, but Kirby added Winsongs’ staff songwriter, Chase Fouraker. Why?

She added Chase so that we could write to a track. 

How did you prepare yourself ahead of time for the co-write session, which was online, I assume?

Yes, it was over Zoom. I had a bunch of ideas ready to go, some deeper ones and some fun ones. I basically wanted to have all my bases covered so if they wanted to write a certain vibe, I had a hook that could fit. I also listened to Chase’s material that he’s released as an artist to get a feel for what he does. 

How long was your writing session? Can you walk us through the process a bit?

We finished in about 2 hours, 45 minutes. We talked a little when we first jumped on. Sandy and Chase hadn’t written before, so we all introduced ourselves and got to know each other a bit. Sandy said she wanted to write a fun uptempo and they both liked the first idea I threw out, so we were off and running pretty quickly.

What do you feel is your “strength” as a writer? In other words, are you more lyric-driven or music-driven, or something else? What did you feel your co-writer’s strengths seemed to be?

I can be more lyric-driven or more melody-driven depending on the team I’m writing with. I think that’s probably true for Sandy and Chase too. Just based on that session, Sandy focused mainly on lyrics while Chase focused more on melody and track. But I got the feeling they both probably play different roles in the writing room on any given day. 

Did you learn anything new about the craft of songwriting during the session?

I loved seeing how Sandy approaches a lyric and how she would go back and make little changes that made a big difference to the song. It reinforced not to settle for the first thing that sounds cool, but to make sure you nail it. And Chase was sharing his screen so we were able to watch him build the track along the way. That was actually really cool. I’ve written with a lot of different track guys and girls, but I’ve never really had the chance to watch that process that closely while the song is being written. 

When you say you watched Chase build the track along the way, how did that fit into the writing?

We started with a chord progression and a loose melodic direction and he started building the track from there. At times, he was focusing on the track while Sandy and I were working on lyrics. For the most part, it was all happening simultaneously.

Any other thoughts or feelings you’d like to share about these two pros and/or the writing session itself?

Sandy was the first person to critique one of my songs at NSAI years ago. I’ve learned a lot from her, so I was really excited to write with her. She’s an amazing writer and just made the whole session so easy. And Chase is a multi-tasking wizard. I had a starting melody for the chorus and he took it to another level while he was building the track and helping with lyrics. He’s got a killer voice too. I could listen to him sing all day. 

Your overall experience with the Staff Writer for a Day Special Event?

It was an awesome experience that I’m truly grateful for. The Big Reveal session itself was really helpful. Sara, you asked a lot of great questions and Kirby offered a lot of insight. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from two pro writers, the chance to connect with Kirby and to add another song to my catalog all at the same time. I can’t say enough good things about it. Thank you Sara, Danny, Sandy, Kirby and Chase! 

Kelly, you’re so welcome! Thank YOU for sharing your experience so we can all learn from it.

And now, without further adieu, here is the work tape of the awesome song that came out of the session…

“Heart’s A Drunk” by Ramos/McKay/Fouraker

Great work, Kelly! I’m imagining myself on the dance floor right now with the one I love. I hope we will hear this on the radio soon!


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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 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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Getting the Demo You Want: A Conversation with Producer, Justin Morgan

My guest today to talk about demo production is the owner of Pearl Snap Studios in Nashville, TN, Justin Morgan. As a singer-songwriter and producer, Justin is a sought-after mentor, teaching his monthly small-group live session: “FDBK 160 Song and Production Feedback.”

Justin, tell me how is your personal journey going in this time of Corona?

Thankfully, my immediate family has been able to avoid getting COVID but we have definitely had close friends and extended family get it which hits close to home. Industry wise, a lot of co-writes got cancelled when COVID entered the scene, which gave me space to slow down and really focus on writing for projects that I had put on the back burner. Now, my co-writes have moved to Zoom, which can be challenging, but it also opens up new opportunities to write with people who can’t be in the same room.  

Songwriting is such a personal and community driven industry and experience that this has definitely been a challenge. BUT it has a silver lining. I think difficult times breed some of the best art. It’s always been this way. I’m trying to use this time to be focused on creating great music! Luckily, technology has made that possible.

How has the pandemic affected your ability to produce demos?

We’re super thankful that our process isn’t terribly interrupted by the pandemic. Myself and my little team of players and producers are able to work remotely and still get great sounding recordings to our clients. We’ve seen an increase in songs being submitted, which I think is largely in part to writers having things they need to say about everything going on in our world.

Speaking of recordings, can you tell us what exactly is a “demo”?

When I was just starting out as an artist and writer, the word “demo” was thrown around a lot, mostly to describe rough recordings that my band would make and try to sell for $5 at our merchandise table. Now, years later I realize that the word “demo” is still a puzzling thing for a lot of writers. It’s actually an abbreviation for the word “demonstration.” A demo is a recording of a song used to demonstrate what the song might sound like if recorded by an artist. Think of it as a prototype. Car companies use prototypes to show off a car before it goes to market. They then take any feedback from trusted sources and various testing to perfect it before it takes its final form (ready to sell). A demo acts in the same capacity. A writer finishes a great song and needs to be able to show it to publishers, A&R executives, artists, or producers, hoping that ultimately an artist will fall in love with the song and record it on their album. In the songwriting world, we call it “getting a cut” when an artist chooses to record your song and put it out on an album.

Can a demo help you get a cut?

Demos can be pivotal in helping land a cut with an artist. I have personally seen songs not get cut because the demo wasn’t right, and then later, the song gets cut after the artist or A&R person hears a new demo of the same song.

Is there a difference between a demo and a master? Can you explain those terms a little bit?

It’s important to note that the artist does not typically use the demo track to record their vocals over.  The record label will use their own musicians, producer, and vocalist to create the final recording. Since demos are not intended to be used as the final recording, they will usually have restrictions from the producer or studio stating that they cannot be released commercially. A recording that is commercially released is considered a “master” and generally will cost quite a bit more to create than a demo. Sometimes a writer will negotiate a fee with the studio or producer in order to release the demo as a master, however permission will need to be granted from the producer, any players, and the vocalist who performed on the recording. 

How much does a demo cost?

Demos vary greatly in price from $150-$2,000 or even more depending on who is creating the demo and how it is being recorded. Sometimes just having an acoustic guitar or a piano along with a killer vocal is all a song needs to shine. Other times, a full production with a string quartet can be needed. It just depends on the song. Talking with your producer and mentors about what the song needs is always a good place to start.

What part does a producer like you play in the demo creation process?

Personally as a producer, I appreciate when a writer lets me have some creative leeway in the production process. I always welcome notes and reference tracks, however, being right in the middle of Music City and creating demos on a daily basis gives me a leg up on knowing what is and what is not working currently. It’s our job as producers to stay current and help your song shine like it should. This is why finding a producer you trust is very important to the process. A demo is an investment in your song and should be treated as such. 

What makes a successful demo?

A demo recording should be interesting and engaging, but should have room in the production to leave the song open to interpretation. I like to caution writers about wanting too much unique character in a demo. Some is needed and can be a great way to catch ears, but too much can pigeon hole a song and make it less recordable by a broad spectrum of artists. Here are some things to consider when you are looking to have a demo made:

  • Does this producer specialize in this style of music? 
  • Does this producer create current sounding recordings that sound similar to what I hear from current artists? 
  • Do I trust this producer’s work?
  • Is my song ready to be demo’ed?
  • Are all the lyrics how I want them?
  • Are all of the melodies dialed in? 
  • Am I financially able to make the investment in this song right now? 

Answering these questions will help you decide if it’s time to look for a great demo for your song!  

Thanks for taking the time to talk about the process of demoing songs, Justin, and for your great work mentoring the songwriters at SongU.com! I should mention that you also graciously offer a special discount to SongU members when they request a demo from Pearl Snap Studios directly from the SongU website portal.


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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!