My Sept/Oct Newsletter is out!

My September/October newsletter is filled with great info and it can be yours right now!.

Song Tip: “Steal Like a Songwriter” – I’ve been enjoying a wonderful little book called “Steal Like An Artist” by Austin Kleon. In the book, Kleon points out that no work of art is truly original; all great artists are referencing those who have come before. As I was reading, every page made me think about my own songwriting process. My next thought was: I really want to share this with someone. And that someone is YOU. Find out what stealing like a songwriter means and how to use to to create fresh, exciting songs of your own.

Study the Hits“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” recorded by Meghan Trainor. Question: How do you follow up a platinum, career-launching single like “All About That Bass”? Answer: With two more relentlessly catchy, upbeat songs that build on a similar radio-friendly, retro-blend sound. Which is exactly what Meghan Trainor did. But after the third single – as much fluffy fun as it was – listeners were bound to wonder if things weren’t starting to sound a little same-y. Time for something new: a ballad/duet with John Legend that slides perfectly into Trainor’s throwback sound while revealing more emotional depth.

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July/August 2015 Songwriting Newsletter is out!

Songwriting TipsMy July/August newsletter is fresh off the cyber-press. I’ve got a songwriting tip for you that’s practically a whole eBook. I got so excited about it that I just couldn’t stop writing.

Song Tip: “Write a Song in Four Drafts” – In this article I’ll walk you through a songwriting process that will take you from initial melody or lyric idea to completed song. You’ll be doing it in four drafts, each one laid out for you step by step. In each draft, you’ll blend your inspiration with rewriting techniques that add plenty of listener appeal. It’s  not the only way to write a song, but it sure works. Plus, you can apply these ideas to any songwriting process in any genre.

James BayStudy the Hits“Hold Back the River” recorded by James Bay. This gorgeous Folk/Rock hit uses some simple songwriting techniques to work its magic. Imagery in the title and octaves in the melody create a powerful blend of emotion and energy. You can apply these ideas in many of your own songs. I’ll show you how.

If you didn’t get your newsletter, sign up in the EMAIL FORM at the upper right. You’ll receive a Confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to confirm your subscription, then look for a “Thank You” email with the latest newsletter included. Your email is always private.

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

Ed SheeranEd Sheeran is definitely paying his respects to Van Morrison here. The vocal style, the blue-eyed soul groove and melody, and the personal, honest lyrics all recall hit singles like Van’s “Into the Mystic.” But there are contemporary elements, too – an emphasis on current melody phrasing patterns and tight lyric focus that appeals to today’s listeners.

This song is a co-write with Amy Wadge, a songwriter Sheeran has worked with before. In fact, he wrote an entire EP of songs with her called Songs I Wrote With Amy.  It’s a great example of a first-rate songwriter who certainly doesn’t need a co-writer. There are many reasons to collaborate: speed, new ideas and techniques, another writer’s perspective, and more.

TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:
– Keep your lyric focused on your theme
– Use your melody to make a  basic chord progression

 sound fresh
– Create a simple but effective instrumental arrangement

Read the lyrics here: Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

Buy it now or listen on your preferred music site (Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc.).

Watch on YouTube

Recorded by Ed Sheeran
Writers: Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge

GENRE/STYLE (What is a genre?)

The song’s blend of Blue-Eyed Soul and contemporary singer-songwriter propelled this song to the top of the Mainstream Top 40 charts in the U.S. and global hit status. It has the kind of positive, love-themed lyric and easy melody that suggests it’s likely to be a standard on Adult Contemporary (AC) radio for years to come. Continue reading

May/June Songwriting Newsletter Is Out

Songwriting TipsMy latest newsletter is filled with useful, hands-on songwriting info and a great Country hit song for you to study. It’s so packed with tips, “Try It Now” exercises, and ideas to inspire you, it’s almost like getting a free eBook delivered to your inbox.

Song Tip: “Be An Original In a Play-By-the-Rules World” – In this article you’ll find 10 songwriting “rules” with ideas on how to break, bend, twist, and otherwise mess around with them to create something uniquely your own that still has plenty of listener appeal.

Dierks BentleyStudy the Hits“Say You Do” recorded by Dierks Bentley. Find out how these hit songwriters broke the rules and ended up with a Contemporary Country chart buster.

If you didn’t get your newsletter, sign up in the EMAIL FORM at the upper right. You’ll receive a Confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to confirm your subscription, then look for a “Thank You” email with the latest newsletter included. Your email is always private.

Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin

Joshua RadinI usually feature a hit song from the music charts in this section, but this time out I want to take a look at an artist who has built an extremely successful career on Film & TV placements, Joshua Radin. More than 40 of Radin’s songs have appeared in top TV series, including Bones, Parenthood, Grey’s Anatomy, Beauty and the Beast, Hart of Dixie, 90210, and the list goes on. You won’t find his songs on the mainstream music charts, nevertheless, he has sold over 2.5 million singles and 700,000 albums.

Radin’s songs are atmospheric, mood-based, and emotionally evocative rather than attention grabbing radio hits. They tend to feature refrains instead of big, over-the-top choruses, as radio singles do. The production is simple but carefully thought out, with chiseled performances that lock into a groove.

Each song is a gem filled with insight, fresh twists, and beautiful payoff lines that are perfect for film and TV uses. If you’re a singer-songwriter looking at the Film & TV market, here’s an artist who’s worth studying.

TECHNIQUES TO HEAR AND TRY:
Turn a simple idea into a compelling lyric.
Add interest to a melody with unpredictable phrasing.
Create an arrangement that supports your lyric concept.

Read the lyrics here: Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin

Buy it now or listen on your preferred music site (Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, etc.) or watch on YouTube

Recorded by Joshua Radin
Writers: Joshua Radin & Kenneth A Pattengale

GENRE/STYLE  (What is a genre?)
The song’s genre is Contemporary Folk/Rock. It fits right in with songs by Passenger, Phillip Phillips, Ed Sheeran, American Authors, and Iron & Wine. “Beautiful Day” has been featured in three primetime TV series and a Subaru commercial. Radin recently released a second version of this song featuring Sheryl Crow. You can reference either one since they’re essentially the same. I like his solo version better.

In many of his songs, Radin pays his respects to the Singer-Songwriters of the 1960s. The relaxed, conversational vocal style and harmonies, image-filled lyric language, and strummed acoustic guitar track are reminiscent of Folk Singer-Songwriters like Simon and Garfunkel. Yet Radin’s songs fit right into today’s Indie Folk renaissance. If you’re a fan of the ’60s Folk scene but want to pitch your songs to current projects, listen to Joshua Radin for techniques that will help you update your sound without losing heart and soul. Continue reading