Now that the flap over Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality and race have abated, ending with A&E reinstating Phil, I thought I’d throw in my two cents.
There was no doubt how this would turn out. Have you walked through a Wal-Mart lately? Every turn reveals a new Duck Dynasty themed product. The powers that be weren’t about to kill the goose that laid the biggest golden egg in history over principles, be they right or wrong. A&E definitely had a huge stake at risk and also surely got pressure from high rollers with money invested in those products.
As to Phil’s comments, if he did get off base a pinch he brought it back to ground zero with, “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.” Why didn’t that get more press?
The Bible is the source of wisdom. It should be studied and sinful behavior should be avoided. However, we believers are not charged with the task of pointing out other’s faults and sins. Rather, we are charged with bringing others into the fold and letting them work out their own relationship with The Lord. If something isn’t right in their life He has a way of bringing it to the forefront and sifting it out. Our intervention isn’t needed. Or wanted.
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus said plainly, “He who is without sin cast the first stone.”
My favorite book of the Bible is 1st John. It takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes to read, but invest the time and you’ll put it down a better person than when you picked it up. If I read it seventy times in the next year it will be too few.
Written in approximately A.D. 85, through the ages John speaks directly to us:
“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God our love grows more perfect.”
Jesus, The King of Kings, the only king that never took physical territory, only hearts and minds, and likely the only king that ever washed the feet of his subjects said to us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
With those five words Jesus laid out his Plan A Gospel Template; our mandate is simple: Love others unconditionally as we are loved unconditionally by Him.
There is no plan B.
b. e. watson
Once you’ve had a pro demo made by a demo service that meets industry standards it’s time to find a home for your song, also known as song marketing.
(Click here to hear a demo that meets or surpasses industry standards. Compare. Do your demos sound this professional? If you want to do more than spin your wheels, they need to.)
Where can you find pitch opportunities, especially publishers who are looking for songs?
Start with free songwriting tipsheets available through SRN and PIAD:
PIAD Not genre or area specific but predominately it lists Country, Contemporary Christian and Pop album recording sessions on tap in Nashville. Basically a “who’s looking for songs right now?” blog with tips. You’ll need to follow the blog to find out the latest artists are in need of songs with a little of your own required followup research. Tips are accurate and current when posted.
SRN Quite a few “producer’s looking” type listings. Beware though, anyone can post so quality is suspect and song sharks likely swim the SRN waters.
The book Songwriter’s Market isn’t as useful as it once was and needs updating badly but it does contain a few valid pitch opportunities and it’s not super expensive: Amazon.com 2014 Songwriter’s Market
I just read the review, ouch! But it echoes what songwriter’s have been saying as far back as the 2011 edition!
Paid Subscription Songwriter Tip Sheets tend to have valid tips but also have a long history of slacking off and repeating old tips as the publication ages. They are usually pretty expensive.
Songlink There are various subscription levels starting at $385 per year. This is a well respected sheet but it tends to list more independent artists throughout the world, not many of the coveted major label artists.
Tune Data $750 per year. Tune Data’s tips started great but have declined in quality and quantity. Caution: It’s unclear if their business model is even sustainable much longer.
Taxi The Taxi song pitch service has an interesting business model. Songwriter’s pay over $300 per year ($299 + $5 per pitch) for the opportunity to pitch songs directly to Taxi. The listings being pitched to are disguised so the songwriter has no way of knowing exactly who they’re pitching to other than “Producer huge in TV and film seeking hard rock song for movie scene involving…”
With no accountability it’s hard to say just how legit Taxi is.
If your song is good and your demo sounds great (meets or surpasses industry standards) it’s not that difficult to get a song signed. My firm recommendation is to sign with a music publisher if possible. If you sign your song directly with the producer of a big name act they’ll want a cut of the royalties and the artist will want a cut. That’s why you’ll sometimes see many names listed after “written by” in credits. The song was likely written or co-written by one to three people with an additional person or two who added nothing to the songwriting process except their name.
Refuse to give up a cut of the $ and they’ll go to the next best song. Pitch to producers certainly, but when they show interest and it’s time to sign you’ll have the leverage to quickly pull in a music publisher and will get a better deal.
If the song isn’t a hit and it’s contracted with a specific artist’s camp, it’s then permanently tied up with a producer who spends his days producing artists, not pitching songs. A music publisher will keep pitching it and has leverage to keep hands out of the pie that don’t belong there.
In any case my firm opinion is if you aren’t pitching demos that meet industry standards it’s just not likely paying big money for a tip sheet will benefit you. Be honest with yourself and get three or four quality demos made before wasting money that should have been spent on bringing your work up to pro level. Once you do have pro level demos get some songs contracted through free or nearly free avenues then let your music publishers pay for these expensive sheets while you focus on writing songs – b.e.
A second song in queue at Play It Again Demos is by Michael Jackson, titled “Gone.” It’s a wonderful song with some interesting chord and lyric twists.
This would be a song I could hear Jamie Grace doing. I’m excited and looking forward to experiencing what I hear in my head coming to life.
The charts are finished and we’re tracking tomorrow, it should be mixed the first week of December!- b.e.
Update 12-1-13: The rhythm and overdub tracks are cut for Gone, the singer delivered some truly exceptional vocal tracks, now it’s on to mixing which is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon/Thursday!
Update 12-5-13: You can listen to the finished mix version here!
Word around town is that Josh Turner is going to be recording this coming spring and appropriate songs can be submitted to his producer, Frank Rogers through various independent Nashville music publishers.If you’re not familiar with Turner his work is defined largely by his baritone voice singing gospel and country that’s more traditional than most of what currently plays on country radio.
If you need a great drum track you need go no further than William Ellis of Montgomery Gentry and he’s available through Nashville Trax. Besides MG, William has performed and/or recorded with:
Hunter Hayes, Travis Tritt, Keith Anderson, Blue Merle, Steve Cropper, Aaron Goodvin, Matt Kennon, Lisa Brokop, George Ducas, Rick Derringer, Jimmy Johnson, EMP Project, and more.
He’s a fantastic choice for either live or session work in all styles.
Another great choice also available through our studio? David Northrup, the groove king. If you need drums on a pop or rock song, he’s the man. He’s also great at swing, blues … you-name-it.
David has toured with many major acts including a multi-year stint with Travis Tritt. When Wynnona Judd’s drummer/husband was injured in a motorcycle accident David was the drummer called on to fill in. He’s been with us since we first opened doors in Nashville 10 years ago and has been a part of numerous recording projects. See our website and this blog for more information about David!
Both drummers are available on projects recorded in our studio (why not come in, record and meet them?) or through our drums over the Internet service, Drum Tracks Online.
All at NashvilleTrax.com
Before we start the review of the FMR Audio RNC 1173 I want to mention the new service available from Nashville Trax Recording Studio for people who produce their own recordings at home as well as for commercial studios who have clients that need session quality musicians and singers. Nashville Trax offers session quality custom tracks you can easily add to your project: drums, bass guitar, guitar, violin, cello, mandolin, piano, synthesizer, Hammond B3, lead vocals, background vocals, harmony vocals, harmonica, sax, flute, you name it!
Here are a few of the vocalists available. Or how about bass guitar? For the other options simply go to the main Nashville Trax site and click on “More” in the upper right corner which will open all the various instrument and vocal options as well as mixing and mastering services.
A Quick Review of the FMR Audio RNC 1173 Compressor
The 1173 is interesting because it’s designed by a husband and wife electronics operation whose philosophy is “put money into components, not packaging.” They also have incorporated a proprietary “cascading compression circuit” they call “Really Nice” mode, that can be switched into and gives controllable compression that builds incrementally as the signal passes through each stage.
When I say little, it’s little! It can just about fit in the palm of your hand.
It compresses signals. If you’re not into electronics the best way to explain that is when you record a sound source, guitar, fiddle or whatever, it can be uneven in volume. Compression raises the lowest amplitude sections and squashes the peaks resulting in a more even, more easily controlled sound.
Tests: It’s not pretty, it’s not all that sturdy but it’s easily the best “under $600” compressor I’ve used and the cascading stage is liquid. It’s already aced a test on fiddle, snare and bass guitar. It does a decent job on vocals, but if that’s your principle application and you can afford to go above $600, keep looking.
Why mess with a cheap compressor with a $2,500 Avalon and other more expensive outboard, as well as software based, compressors available? Because it’s not about money, it’s about sound! I’m keeping it! It won’t be my go-to unit and if it’s your first and only compressor you’ll replace it someday but I think this is a good tool to add to your bag of tricks. Sometimes cheapest sounds best. You never know until you try it!- b.e.
Rhythm tracking sessions have been scheduled for Wednesday December 11th and Monday December 23rd. If you’d like to get a song on either session, please send your MP3 rough to email@example.com or your CD to the address on the website.
There’s a three song minimum on these sessions if you wish to be present and watch your song being recorded. No minimum if you just want to get a song on the session.
Note that it’s far too late in the year to record songs about Christmas for 2013 unless it’s for a personal project. If you intend to pitch a Christmas song for one of the numerous Christmas projects released each year by movie companies and major label or even independent artists, record now, but aim for Christmas of 2014.
R. C. Rhimes of Lebanon, TN is looking for songs for artist Rachel Holder who’s signed to Curb Records which is one of the bigger labels on Music Row. Take a look at their site and you’ll recognize at least a couple of well established artists on their roster.
Submit your song to:
Or C, F, G7, C,
Or F, C, G7, C, Any order you like is fine, note that even though here we started with the F chord, the key is still C, not F.
To write a song using a three chord group in a verse/chorus type song, establish a pattern for your verse and a pattern for your chorus. A quick example using the key of G three chord group group:
C, D7, G, G,
C, D7, G, G,
C, D7, G, G,
C, D7, G, G,
D7, C, D7, C, D7, C, D7, G
It’s common to add a 2 minor to the 3 chord group. The 2nd note in the C Major scale is D so the 2 minor is D minor.
Play C, Dm, F, G
Another common chord to add is the 6 minor. In C that’s A minor.
So you could play C, G, Am, F, G7, C, G7, C.
To be sure you grasp the concept let’s try an example in another key, the key of E.
Ascending the E Major Scale we have:
E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D# and E again, up an octave.
1-4-5dom7 = E, A, B7.
The 2 minor and 6 minor in the key of E are F#m and C#m.
To apply this to songwriting you might choose a chord progression for your verses and alter it for your choruses, climbs or bridge sections, play 4 beats per letter:
E, A, B7, E – E, A, B7, B7
E, A, B7, E – E, A, B7, E
A, B7, A, B7, A, B7, E, B7
E, A, B7, E – E, A, B7, B7
E, A, B7, E – E, A, B7, E
A, B7, A, B7, A, B7, E, B7
C#m, B7, A, A, C #m, F#m, A, B7
A, B7, A, B7, A, B7, E, E
Thinking in terms of chord progressions brings order where there once was chaos.
Now for something far more advanced.
There are thousands of chords but, according to the acknowledged authority on the subject, Ted Greene, the author of Chord Chemistry, every chord can be grouped into one of three basic categories: major, minor or 7th. If you understand that then you can start experimenting with simple chord substitution (pursue this subject very far and it gets much more complex).
The rule: Any chord in a category can be subbed for another in the same category provided it sounds good to the ear. Does the sub serve the song? Does it support the melody?
Majors, major 7ths, major 9ths, major 13ths, etc. are in the Major category.
Minors, minor 7ths etc. are in the Minor category.
7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc. are in the 7th category.
Extended and altered chords are grouped by their root classification. In other words, generally, the first alteration to appear dominates. A B7+5 (B seventh sharp five means to raise the 5th a half step so the F# becomes a G note). But because the 7th appears first B7+5 would be classified as a 7th type. Ted groups augmented 5th chords as 7th types also.
So if you write a basic progression: C, F, C, F, G7
You could rewrite it: Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Gdom9th.
Another variation: Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Cmaj7, Fmaj9, GAug5
Or perhaps you have a basic D, Em, A7, D (4 beats each)
Perhaps jazz it up: D, Em7, Em9, A7, A13, D (play 4 beats on the D chords and only 2 beats on each of the Em category and A category chords)
But Em7 is a 7th type, correct? How can it sub for Em?
No. Em7 is a minor type because the minor appears before the 7th, and can indeed sub for Em.
Subs are extremely useful in certain songs in certain spots but it can easily be overdone. Get far beyond something like subbing a 9th for a 7th, which almost always works, and it tends to impart a jazzy flavor that may or may not serve the song. You won’t likely have much use for substitution in a classic rock song like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” that pretty much is what it is. But most ballads in any genre can benefit as well as many uptempo pop, jazz, country swing and…well, let’s not set limits, you never know where just a single substitution might improve an arrangement. Hmmm…”I’m goin’ off the rails on a Jazzy Train?” I like it.
And remember, you only need three chords to write a hit. So if you use 5 or 6 chords obviously it will be a #1, lol.
Here is a post on the minor three chord groups.
We’re barely scratching the surface here. If you want to learn very basic open chord progressions and simple rhythms get my book Guitar Shop. If you want to learn more complicated chords, extended chords, how non-root bass notes work and learn all the chord substitution rules, get Ted’s book– bill watson
And here is our new Lexicon Reverb, part of a $600 bundle that includes everything from concert halls to tiny rooms:
Reverb is one of the more important mix effects and Lexicon verb is the best on planet earth. This is rich, clean, spacious. When I first heard it a wave of contentment washed over my body. (Or maybe I peed myself in all the excitement, lol, not absolutely sure, but I don’t think so).
One thing I am sure about, the Lexicon bundle will raise the mix bar around here even higher.
The above is designed for lead vocal tracks with the intention of imparting tube warmth and saturation to digitally recorded tracks; and man, it does the trick, no doubt. You can dial in just the right amount of tube warmth and/or tube saturation to add a pleasant little buzz to the vocal track.
Tube pre-amps and/or old multi-track tape recorders can be purposefully pushed into distortion but with the digital recorders almost all studios use these days, the signal is either on or off, push them into the red and the sound becomes harsh.
I wouldn’t pull this out for every song or every vocalist, but there are plenty of times I wished for the warmth of tubes or some slight clipping to give vocals that warm fuzzy edge. Now instead of “I wish I could,” it’s “can do.”
To all this, add several just-acquired types of Antares pitch correction, Antares vocal effects, Tru-verb, Alti-verb, harmonizers and more…. basically, we’re stocked to the ceiling and stoked to the rooftop, ready to make your songs sound fantastic!- b.e.
Looking to have a Contemporary Christian song demo produced that needs to rock? Please give a listen to this. Powerful rock drumming by David Northrup as well as bass guitar, rhythm guitar and lead guitar tracks played by Bill Watson supply energy to inspire the two female vocalists. Jessica Brooks delivers a heartfelt, emotional lead track as Nashville session singer Taryn M, lays down those awesome gospel influenced bgvs. 8 tracks of stacked bgv tracks, no less! Ron Fairchild adds greatly on piano also. We Pray is © 2013, posted by permission. If you’re interested in recording this song; using it in a commercial application such as in a movie or on a website; or singing it in a performing situation please let us know and we’ll forward your request to the songwriter and song publisher. Play It Again Demos version of We Pray:
Vocals: Jessica Brooks and Taryn M
Piano: Ron Fairchild (The Oak Ridge Boys)
Drums: David Northrup (Travis Tritt, The Oaks)
All Guitars and Bass Guitar: Bill Watson
Produced and Arranged by Bill Watson for Nashville Trax and songwriter Dan Mathews.
How about that singer? Clear and emotional, she can put a song like this across! Why not your song?. Pro demos make everyone- friends, family, artists, record company A & R and music publishers- take notice. Have 3 or 4 pro demos to peddle and they’ll brand you as a pro-level songwriter every time you pitch them. We would be thrilled to do that for you! If you would like a quote on making a professional version of your song simply drop an e-mail with your MP3 rough version attached to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of what you want. We’ll likely bat a couple e-mails back and forth before we figure out an exact price. It can be completed over the Internet or you can be present for the entire project. Write in another style? There are more samples of work to your left in Categories > Samples of Our Work. We do bluegrass, rock, country, pop, rap, hip-hop, blues you name it!
An interesting tune came in this afternoon and since I’m charting a few songs now as I write this, I’ve added it to the upcoming session.
It’s for songwriter Michael Jackson but I’m relatively sure he’s not the same guy who wrote Billie Jean and was a member of the Jackson 5. But then again they say Elvis is still alive and singing somewhere…who really knows? Michael, if you send a pic and you’re wearing a single white glove it’ll freak me out a little, that’s for sure.
Anyway I find it very cool and intriguing that this is one of those rare finds that could be translated in several radically disparate styles, and even more so that Michael has given me permission to go any direction I wish, even though I mentioned Little Feat, Train’s Hey, Soul Sister and Johnny Cash as possibilities. Wow!
Update: The song is charted and we’re ready to begin tracking on it this coming Tuesday. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a dramatic transformation from rough to polished demo. I’m excited!