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5 Things to Do in the First 30 Seconds of Your Song

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From MusicWorld, posted 8.14.19 During a recent song critique, I turned off the recording after listening to the first verse and chorus. The writer protested, “But you’ve got to keep listening. It all comes together in the bridge and then the last chorus explodes!” That might have been the case, but the chances are… Read more...


Tips for Writing Songs About Anything…But Love

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From MusicWorld, posted 6.19.19 At my BMI Nashville Songwriters’ Workshops, I screen and critique songs from each attendee. When I find songs that I believe are competitive with those being written by today’s top hitmakers, I forward them to ten music publishers who have agreed to listen. After the last BMI Workshop, I forwarded… Read more...


Casting Songs: How to Gauge Which Artist Might Record Your Song?

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From The Weekly, posted 6.11.19 Casting a song refers to making the determination of which artists your song is best suited for. To do it effectively requires an ability to intuit what attributes various artists are likely to be drawn to – melodically and lyrically – in the songs they choose. Just as a casting… Read more...


10 Tips for Switching Gears When a Song Isn’t Working

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From The Weekly, posted 5.07.19 A songwriter recently posed an intriguing question: what can we do when we have a strong idea for a song, but realize that the song we’re writing is not turning out nearly as well as we hoped? How do we change direction? How can we switch gears when we have… Read more...


5 Tips for Songwriting Success in Today’s Music Industry

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From MusicWorld, posted 4.18.19 I taught my first songwriting class at Los Angeles’ Pierce College in 1991. Back then, if my car radio were tuned to a pop station, it was likely I would hear chart-topping artists such as Michael Jackson, Wilson Phillips, Janet Jackson, Michael Bolton, Poison, and Roxette. During that same era,… Read more...


Breakthrough Hits and Signature Songs: What Can They Teach Us?

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From MusicWorld, posted 2.21.19 Although it was more than sixteen years ago, I still recall chatting with a twenty-something guy who stood in front of me in line as we waited to attend the taping of the David Letterman Show. The guy was excited because his brother Adam would be performing on the show,… Read more...


How to Use the “List Technique” in Your Song

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From The Weekly, posted 2.19.19 What do the songs in the list below have in common? “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (traditional) “Achy Breaky Heart” (recorded by Billy Ray Cyrus, written by Don Von Tress) Sting’s “If I Ever Lose My Faith” (written by Sting) Carrie Underwood’s “ Read more...


What Makes a Song a Hit?

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From MusicWorld, posted 1.23.19 When I worked in the A & R Department at a major record label, and later, as production coordinator for albums by hit artists, in many cases, my ears were the first barrier that had to be crossed when a song was submitted for those acts. Almost all the songs… Read more...


What Skills Do You Need to Be a Successful Songwriter?

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From MusicWorld, posted 11.28.18 An aspiring songwriter recently asked me several intriguing questions: “What abilities do I need to write songs? Do I need to be able to read and write music? Play keyboards or guitar? Sing in tune?” He followed up by asking what additional skills he would need in order to record… Read more...


Country Music: What’s New—and What’s Next

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From The Weekly, posted 11.06.18 Music in all genres is constantly evolving, and that is certainly evident on today’s country music charts. Hits by artists such as Keith Urban, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, and Thomas Rhett bear little resemblance to those by country music legends who paved the way, such as Willie Nelson, Dolly… Read more...


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