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Songmine: So What’s Commercial? by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

 Songmine: So What's Commercial? by John Braheny

Accession Number: C000000137-032-001 Document/Digital File, “Songmine: So What’s Commercial? by John Braheny by John Braheny”, OCR converted text under same Accession Number

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

Songmine BY JOHN BRAHENY

SO WHAT’S COMMERCIAL?

At some point before, during, or after the writing of a song, it behooves a writer to decide whether the idea itself for the song is “commercial.” Now don’t get defensive! I’m not saying that every song you write must be a potential hit. At the risk of repeating this message too many times, you should write everything and anything your creative impulses trigger. At some point though, you’ve got to develop some perspective on those songs. The one you wrote about your second- cousin’s appendicitis may be impor- tant to you personally but everybody else will say, “So what?” The romance between you and your pet sheep, let us hope, is not exactly a universal theme, nor one that most recording artists (who don’t write their own bizarre songs) are going to record. You need to decide which of these songs are going to be meaningful in some way to a mass audience before shopping them to publishers or producers. Lots of different kinds of songs work. Larry Groce’s ” J unk Food Junkie” was a really “off the wall’ song but everybody identified and it was a #1 hit.

I’m not talking now about putting together a commercial sounding, contemporary groove or an infectious rhythm track. It is important but lots of people know how to do that very well. They know how to make a commercial sounding record. At the height of the disco mania, they were turning them out by the hundreds. The ones that sounded a little different from the rest or that came up with a new electronic sound gimmick would hit the charts and immediately spawn a couple hundred clones that would hit the discos but never make the radio. As popular as some of them were for a few weeks, few of them had any staying power or held the attention of the listener as a song. Some got airplay but few sold records. One of the rare exceptions was “I Will Survive” by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. The reason was that, along with the great groove and production, it had a lyric idea that made its popularity continue long after that groove and production would have otherwise burnt us out by repetition. The lyric was an anthem for women. Something positive their spirits needed to hear from someone who sounded like she knew what she was talking about, with a story that sounded familiar. The message was positive: that no matter how he treated them before, they didn’t have to take it anymore because they had found a new self-respect. They rallied to “I Am Woman” but it was more general and philosophical. without the nitty gritty “real life” feeling that made “I Will Survive” such a hit. So what we have here is an idea that people had a need to hear, a thing they needed to say. I think one of the most important functions of a song is,to give the people a vehicle to express hopes, dreams, and inner conflicts that they might otherwise keep inside; feelings of love, hate, and humor. Songs have a. way of uniting us by those common strings that bind us together. It was great to hear Dan Hill express the apparent contradictions of the love/hate aspects of an intense relationship in “Sometimes When We Touch.” Those of us who’ve been there may have felt like we were a little crazy for having those kinds of feelings and were relieved to hear someone else express them. We were even more relieved that hundreds of thousands of other people loved the song.

“Torn Between Two Lovers” was both a country and pop hit because it expressed an old situation in a new and more sensitive way. Lots of people don’t identify with “cheatin’,” but still have the problem of loving more than one person at the same time. It was also interesting to note that it’s always been okay in country music to talk in a positive way about men having more than one lover whereas only really bad women could love more than one man and I don’t ever recall a woman making a statement like that. Times, values, and mores change constantly and often the more “Commercial” songs are the ones that not only express your most personal situations and feelings, but do it in a way that everyone else can easily understand and identify with.

JUNE 12 -JUNE 25 


See all previous entries in the Songmine Series

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.


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Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 6 Issue 6 – Austin Songwriters Expo – June 1991

Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 6 Issue 6 – Austin Songwriters Expo

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 6 Issue 6 - Austin Songwriters Expo

JB#: C000000062-043-001

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 6 Issue 6 - Austin Songwriters Expo

JB #: C000000062-043-002


Table of Contents

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

FEATURES

SPOTLIGHT –

BMI TRACKS PERFORMANCES ………………………………………………………….. 6

Del Bryant, v.p. performing rights at BMI, explains the tracking

method for collecting royalties for broadcast performances.

PRO • FILE –

JULIE GOLD…………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Harry Styron discusses the lyrical and musical contents of

Julie Gold’s Grammy-winning song, From A Distance.”

MUSICAL NOTES –

POINTS TO VIEW ON VIEWPOINTS – Part 1 ………………………………………… 11

In the first of two parts, Harriet Schock demonstrates some ways

to achieve different viewpoints when writing in or out of character.

AUSTIN SONGWRITERS EXPO…………………………………………………………. 12

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the second Austin Songwriters Expo

about to descend upon the state of Texas, June 22 & 23! WOW!

 

THEORETICALLY SPEAKING –

ARRANGING BASS LINES WITH SLASH CHORDS……………………………………. 14

Musician/teacher Terry Janow gives us an indepth look at examples

that help to explain the use of slash chords and bass lines.

UPBEAT –

SUMMER SCHOOL…………………………………………………………………………. 17

Dan Kimpel investigates some new books and tools that will

help songwriters make the grade.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE –

SUPERGEAR………………………………………………………………………………… 20

What’s this … supergear with tubes? Hank Linderman gets

to test and review the Drawmer 1960 Stereo Tube Preamplifier

and Compressor and loves every minute of it!

LASS NEWS

MEMBER NEWS – NOTEWORTHY – MUSICAL CHAIRS………………………………… 4

News about classes, biz events, where your favorite publishers and a&r reps are this month and good stuff about our members and Pickups.

WEEKLY SHOWCASE SCHEDULE………………………………………………………. 13

Cassette Roulette” (publisher song critiques), Pitch-A-ThonT”

(producers and record company reps looking for songs and acts).

 

See all Previous Songwriter Musepaper Posts

From the Acting Archivist…

Much like the Songmine columns posted earlier, the archives contain a large collection of Songwriter Musepaper publications. With this posting, I am beginning a project to scan the cover and table of contents of each issue and then OCR (convert the scanned picture to text) the table of contents in order to make it searchable. I don’t yet have the staff necessary to create complete scanned issues of the Museupaper, but if there is interest in a particular article or interview, I can scan that and make it available here.

Douglas E. Welch, douglas@welchwrite.com

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Songmine: Ideas – Thinking Them Up and Getting them Down Part 2 by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

Songmine: Ideas - Thinking Them Up and Getting them Down Part 2 by John Braheny 

Accession Number: C000000137-031-002 Document/Digital File, “Songmine: Ideas – Thinking Them Up and Getting them Down Part 2″ by John Braheny”, OCR converted text under same Accession Number

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

IDEAS-THINKING THEM UP AND GETTING THEM DOWN
PART II

You’re lying in bed, half asleep in that twilight zone where great ideas just seem to pop into your head. You’ve got one! It rolls out like a movie in your mind, a great concept, great lines, you see it all. You’ve had a hard day at work and your body doesn’t want to move to get a pen and paper. “It’s such a great idea,” you say to yourself, “Not a chance I’ll forget this one.” The next sound you hear is the alarm clock. You’re up, showered, breakfasted, and on the job. About noontime you remember that you had a great idea but you can’t quite remember what it was. Another hit down the tubes. That could have been the one to pay the rent for the rest of your life! Do you think now it would have been worth it keep a pencil and paper by your bed? Or easier yet, but more ex ensive, a cassette recorder. The advantage of the recorder is t at you can also capture melody and phrasing. You should hav one or the other with you always. Have an extra pad and pencil n your car for those freeway daydreams too.

There will be times you’ll get an idea in a situation where it’s not cool to whip out your pen and start writing. n those situations, like formal social gatherings or in mid-conversation, you can use what Len Chandler calls “The Weak Bladder Syndrome” and depart for the restroom to inscribe it on toilet paper. You may also want to write about someone you’re with at the time. That’s when it’s beneficial to have a personal brand of shorthand. I know one writer who developed a whole code of geometric symbols that only he can understand. Many writers write very candidly about their personal relationships and it gets difficult if you’re expressing negative feelings your lover is not aware of, yet. You can say “This isn’t really about us, it’s just something I’m creating from the memory of another relationship,” or “It’s about a friend’s romance,’.’ or “Don’t get on my case, I’m a songwriter and I make stuff up! I don’t want to have to worry that every time I write something you’re going to think it’s about us.” Of course, depending on the circumstances and what you wrote, any of those approaches could sound utterly ridiculous, so don’t quote me.

I think it’s important here to talk about some different problems and methods involved in just writing the stuff down. A lot of times you’ll have a basic idea you want to explore but don’t really have it in sharp focus. A good way to approach it is to get plenty of paper and start writing in what’s usually described as a “stream of consciousness” process. Write everything that comes into your head about the subject: visual impressions, feelings, lines of dialogue, etc. Don’t worry about the rhymes now, do that later. Also leave a blank line or two between each one you write because you’re bound to look back over and start to shape it up–by thinking of alternate lines or by rhyming lines you’ve already written. What happens during the “stream of consciousness” process is that you pull out a lot of ideas and make a lot of creative hookups and links that you might not ordinarily make when you’re trying too hard. You also avoid getting hung up trying to make something rhyme or make your meter tight at the expense of flow and focus. Once you’ve filled a few pages, you’ll have a better concept of how to structure the idea and you’ll also have come up with some great lines, some rhythmic feels that those lines may suggest and some good rhymes that will feel natural because you’ll be writing closer to the way you think and speak. At that point you can start a new page with the best lines you’ve come up with. Hopefully, you’ve found (1. an intriguing way to start the song, (2. some kind of linear direction for the lyric to develop so you’re not being redundant, and (3. a short, catchy chorus that crystalizes the concept of the song and has a meter and feel that’s different from the verses. One more tip. Don’t erase or throw away anything. That line that didn’t work for this song may work for another.


See all previous entries in the Songmine Series

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.


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Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 10 Issue 12 – December 1995 – Inteview: Jane Wiedlin

Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 10 Issue 12 – December 1995 – Inteview: Jane Wiedlin

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 10 Issue 12 - December 1995 - Inteview: Jane Wiedlin

JB#: C000000062-042-001

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 10 Issue 12 - December 1995 - Inteview: Jane Wiedlin

JB #: C000000062-042-002


Table of Contents

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

FEATURES

INTERVIEW—

JANE WIEDLIN ………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Erich Russek talks with the founding member of the Go-Go’s about

her days with the popular all-female group through her solo career

to her new band, froSTed.

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES—

SONGWRITERS EXPO 18: THE SONG LIVES ON………………………………… 12-13

Journalist Garfield Bandini attends his first Expo and lives to write the tale.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE-

ATTENTION-GETTING TACTICS TO PROMOTE YOUR

MUSIC (ON A LIMITED BUDGET)………………………………………………………… 14

Author Bob Baker offers some valuable tips in the art of self-promotion.

MUSICAL NOTES—

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT…………………………………………………………………. 15

Harriet Schock examines the idea for songwriters that intent and

expertise make the difference between an artist and an entertainer.

LASS NEWS

MEMBER NEWS—NOTEWORTHY—MUSICAL CHAIRS………………………………… 4

News about classes, biz events, where your favorite publishers

and A&R reps are this month, good stuff about our Members and Pickups.

WEEKLY SHOWCASE SCHEDULE………………………………………………………… 6

Cassette RouletteTM (publisher song critiques) and Pitch-A-Thon TM

(producers and record company reps looking for songs and acts).

 

See all Previous Songwriter Musepaper Posts

From the Acting Archivist…

Much like the Songmine columns posted earlier, the archives contain a large collection of Songwriter Musepaper publications. With this posting, I am beginning a project to scan the cover and table of contents of each issue and then OCR (convert the scanned picture to text) the table of contents in order to make it searchable. I don’t yet have the staff necessary to create complete scanned issues of the Museupaper, but if there is interest in a particular article or interview, I can scan that and make it available here.

Douglas E. Welch, douglas@welchwrite.com

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Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 8 Issue 2 – February 1993 – Interview: Michael Omartian

Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 8 Issue 2 – February 1993 – Interview: Michael Omartian

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 8 Issue 2 - February 1993 - Interview: Michael Omartian

JB#: C000000062-041-001

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 8 Issue 2 - February 1993 - Interview: Michael Omartian

JB #: C000000062-041-002


Table of Contents

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

FEATURES

INTERVIEW –

MICHAEL OMARTIAN…………………………………………………………………….. 7

Songwriter/producer still “Sailing” in the ’90s. Scotty Dugan explores the creative process and history of this multi-faceted artist.

THEORETICALLY SPEAKING –

VERSATILITY IN SONGWRITING-PART 1 ………………………………………. 11

David Cat Cohen tries his best to blast us out of our “same old same old” patterns with some helpful hints for staying fresh.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE –

PERFECT BACKUP VOCALS………………………………………………………… 12

So you love those big fat background vocal tracks but you have a low budget. Can you still do it? Hank Linderman tells you how.

UPBEAT-

CREATING CUTS………………………………………………………………………… 14

Dan Kimpel offers nine very practical ways to increase your ability to get your songs covered.

PROFILES –

LASS REINTRODUCES LIVE SHOWCASE……………………………………… 15

It’s back by popular demand! John Braheny provides some history on the evolution of LASS and recalls some of the fine songwriters who shared their songs and brought us magical moments. On February 11, LASS LIVE comes to Highland Grounds (see page 2 ad).

MUSICAL NOTES –

SURVIVING RHYME: MEETING THE FAMILY…………………………………… 16

Are you feeling trapped into using clichés by perfect rhyme?

Pat Pattison shows you how to escape with a simple formula that quadruples your options.

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES –

WHEN BAD GIGS HAPPEN TO GOOD MUSICIANS………………………….. 19

Lis Lewis has some good advice to help you deal with those inevitable nightmare gigs.

LASS NEWS

MEMBER NEWS – NOTEWORTHY – MUSICAL CHAIRS………………………… 4

News about classes, biz events, where your favorite publishers and A&R reps are this month, good stuff about our Members and Pickups.

WEEKLY SHOWCASE SCHEDULE………………………………………………….. 6

Cassette RouletteTm (publisher song critiques) and Pitch-A-Thon” (producers and record company reps looking for songs and acts).

 

See all Previous Songwriter Musepaper Posts

From the Acting Archivist…

Much like the Songmine columns posted earlier, the archives contain a large collection of Songwriter Musepaper publications. With this posting, I am beginning a project to scan the cover and table of contents of each issue and then OCR (convert the scanned picture to text) the table of contents in order to make it searchable. I don’t yet have the staff necessary to create complete scanned issues of the Museupaper, but if there is interest in a particular article or interview, I can scan that and make it available here.

Douglas E. Welch, douglas@welchwrite.com

0

Songmine: Are You A ‘Craft’ Or ‘Inspiration’ Writer? by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

Songmine: Are You A 'Craft' Or 'Inspiration' Writer? by John Braheny 

Accession Number: C000000137-030-002Document/Digital File, “Songmine: Are You A ‘Craft’ Or ‘Inspiration’ Writer? by John Braheny”, OCR converted text under same Accession Number

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

Songmine By John Braheny
Are You A ‘Craft’ Or ‘Inspiration’ Writer?

I’ve asked this question of many hit songwriters in the weekly “Hang-Out” interview sessions at the Alternative Chorus Song-writers Showcase. Some, like Gloria Sklerov (“I Just Fall In Love Again”) view writing as a profession, a job; pure craft. They’re very disciplined about it and never refer to the “Cosmos” as a scource of inspiration. They actively look for song ideas in everything they read, watch, listen to and experience. They give little credit to inspiration and approach songwriting as they would a 9 to 5 job that they enjoy. The craft of songwriting is described, more or less, as a design, word engineering and problem-solving experience. It’s like a big puzzle in which the “pieces” come from rhyming dictionaries, thesauruses and real life, and in which there are several right ways to construct the “picture.” Their knowledge of the most effective construction principles gives them a goal and methods which help them put together this picture clearly. Without this command of the craft, “pictures” are created that may be too complex or abstract to be readily appreciated.

Most amateur writers and many writer/artists fall into another general category. I’ll call them “inspiration” writers which, I should add, doesn’t mean that those in the first category never get inspired. Only that in this one, they rely on inspiration rather than craft. My profile of hard core inspiration writers is that they won’t rewrite, feel that the magic moment that they got from the cosmos and put on paper is sacred, and will only write when inspired. It’s the attitude that will stand in the way of success for these writers, regardless of how wonderful their inspirations are. Publishers don’t like to work with this type of writer. Many “inspiration” writer/artists have had short careers because their first LP contained the best of their songs to date. When they’re faced with turning out two LPs a year they discover that they’re too tired to be inspired when they’re on the road for six months and no longer have the luxury of waiting to be inspired.

People who sit down and write a hit song in 10 minutes are usually those who have the craft down so well that they don’t think about it. It’s automatic. They get the idea, focus on exactly what they want to say and the rest of it comes easily. “If you think of a great title, the song writes itself” is a typical statement for that phenomena. There are writers, like Bill Withers, who find it difficult to discuss their creative processes and downplay the craft involved in their work. They deny consciously making craft decisions. The songs, nonetheless, show organized thought processes and good structure. I believe that many successful writers have unconsciously acquired their craftsmanship by osmosis. They’ve been emotionally affected by so many great songs for so long that they instinctively know, for instance, when there “needs” to be a chorus or bridge, when a lyric line could be stronger, etc. They go by “feel,” but behind it there’s been a subconscious analytical process developing. When a writer plays me a song with 12 verses and the “chorus” occurs only once.and it’s nine lines long and none of it rhymes, I know I’m not listening to a natural writer who has unconsciously learned the craft. I’m prompted to ask whether the writer has ever listened to the radio.

There are inherent dangers with both extremes. I’ve heard writers who are trying so hard to write a well crafted, formula “hit” that they forget about imagination and originality and end up with songs that remind me of the “people” in the movie “Westworld” who look great on the outside but have nothing inside but machinery. On the other hand, Ive heard writers with great ideas but no discipline or knowledge of how to communicate them. All that good inspiration goes to waste.

In contrasting “craft” and “inspiration” writers, I’m de-picting two extremes. Ideally, the inspiration is recognized as only the beginning of the songwriting process. The craft gives you the confidence and a dependable vehicle to communicate those inspirations in a way that an audience can easily understand and enjoy.

MAY 1 – MAY 14

See all previous entries in the Songmine Series

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.


0

Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 10 Issue 9 – September 1995 – Interview: Kostas

Songwriters Museupaper – Volume 10 Issue 9 – September 1995 – Interview: Kostas

Songwriters Museupaper - Volume 10 Issue 9 - September 1995 - Interview: Kostas

JB#: C000000062-040-001

Songwriters Museupaper - Volume 10 Issue 9 - September 1995 - Interview: Kostas

JB #: C000000062-040-002


Table of Contents

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)


 

INTERVIEW –

 

KOSTAS ……………………………………………………………………………………… 7

 

Janet Fisher corners the Nashville hitsmith to discuss his career,

 

demos, collaboration, the Nashville scene and more.

 

U PBEAT-

 

MARK WINKLER’S TALES FROM HOLLYWOOD………………………………………. 11

 

Dan Kimpel reviews a riveting release from Tinsel Town troubador

 

Mark Winkler.

 

EXPO PREVIEW –

 

SONGWRITERS EXPO 18……………………………………………………………… 12-14

 

It’s back…bigger, longer and better than ever! Check it out!

 

MUSICAL NOTES –

 

COOKIES OR NEWSPAPERS?……………………………………………………………. 15

 

Harriet Schock illustrates how collaborators, friends, publishers and

 

mentors can give feedback that will help a song and a writer become

 

stronger, rather than giving criticism at the muse’s expense.

 

LASS NEWS

 

MEMBER NEWS—NOTEWORTHY–MUSICAL CHAIRS…………………………………. 4

 

News about classes, biz events, where your favorite publishers

 

and A&R reps are this month, good stuff about our Members and Pickups.

 

WEEKLY SHOWCASE SCHEDULE…………………………………………………………. 6

 

Cassette RouletteTM (publisher song critiques) and Pitch-A-ThonTM

 

(producers and record company reps looking for songs and acts).

 

See all Previous Songwriter Musepaper Posts

From the Acting Archivist…

Much like the Songmine columns posted earlier, the archives contain a large collection of Songwriter Musepaper publications. With this posting, I am beginning a project to scan the cover and table of contents of each issue and then OCR (convert the scanned picture to text) the table of contents in order to make it searchable. I don’t yet have the staff necessary to create complete scanned issues of the Museupaper, but if there is interest in a particular article or interview, I can scan that and make it available here.

Douglas E. Welch, douglas@welchwrite.com

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Songmine: When in Doubt…”negotiate” II by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

Songmine: When in Doubt... 

Accession Number: C000000137-030-001Document/Digital File, “Songmine: When in Doubt…”negotiate” II by John Braheny”, OCR converted text under same Accession Number

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

When in doubt… “negotiate”
PART II

Last time we covered some of the ways to give producers and artist financial incentives to record your song without giving them a percentage of the copyright. Giving up or snaring your copyright is, of course, your option, and if you go through a publisher, he/she will want to own a substantial portion, if not all of it. The advantage of dealing with a good publisher is that you don’t have to knock on the doors and wheel and deal yourself. You’ll have someone, ideally, who’s a partner and will put lots of energy and creativity to work to justify the control you’ve given him/her over your creation.

If, however, you enjoy or feel capable of hustling your own deals, you should know what your options are. Publishers themselves have a variety of attitudes about splitting the copyright or using the options we’re discussing in these two articles. They range from, “Under no circumstances will I give up anything; I’m doing the work and I deserve it,” to “I’ll give up what I have to to get the tune recorded.” It depends a lot on the circumstances of each situation. How important, for instance, is this recording? Is this the only artist who could cut the tune? Would this cut be very important in the development of the writer’s career in generating interest in the rest of his/her catalog? If I give this producer a piece of the action am I setting a precedent with him that I’ll regret later? And always, how badly do they want this song? So, if you’re doing the publisher’s work, those are questions that you’ll have to consider.

The option I covered last time was negotiating for a percentage of the mechanical royalties. Another type is “perfor-mance royalties.” That’s the term for all the money received through BMI, ASCAP or SESAC for the performances of your songs on radio, TV, juke boxes and in clubs. Those organizations called performance rights societies pay directly to the publisher and to the writer. This is a different situation from “mechanical” royalties for sales of records and tapes which are paid directly to the copyright owner. If your publisher owns the copyright it comes to him/her, who in turn, according to the terms of your publishing agreement, pays you. If you have a hit song, particularly one that gets played on the radio long after it’s been a hit, your “performance” royalties will make you considerably more money than “mechanicals”. For the purpose of negotiation, there is another important difference between “mechanical” and “perfor-mance” income. It’s that when you receive your earning satement from BMI or ASCAP, they don’t let you know which recording of your song you’re receiving royalties from (SESAC lets you know). So you can’t say, “I’ll give you x percent of the publisher’s share of the performance income on this particular record.” There have been many cases where two different versions of the same song are on the charts at the same ,time, or one is a country cover of a pop record. So, in the case of performance royalties,you could say;’,I can give you x percent of the publisher’s share of performance money for the first four quarters (the payments are received quarterly),” or maybe until the quarter before the next recording of this song is released. Whoever you’re negotiating with might say, with possible justification, that, were it not for the success of the first record, the second would not have been made. He/she should be reminded that the odds are against an album cut making much . performance money, and the offering of a percentage on performances should be an incentive for a producer or artist to release the song as a single.

Another factor that can be negotiated is the number of units sold, in the case of mechanicals, or, in the case of both mechanicals and performances, the amount of money received is a parameter. In other words, “I’ll give you x percent of the money until you’ve received x thousands of dollars.”

In closing, if you choose to deal with producers and artists directly, and they want some financial incentive, you just need to know that, as they say, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” and,  “Everything is negotiable.”

APRIL 17 – APRIL 30

See all previous entries in the Songmine Series

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.


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Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 10 Issue 6 – June 1995 – Interview: Josh Leo

Songwriters Musepaper – Volume 10 Issue 6 – June 1995 – Interview: Josh Leo

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 10 Issue 6 - June 1995 - Interview: Josh Leo

JB#: C000000062-039-001

Songwriters Musepaper - Volume 10 Issue 6 - June 1995 - Interview: Josh Leo

JB #: C000000062-039-002


FEATURES

BILLS THREATEN SONGWRITERS’ INCOME…………………………………………….. 5

John Braheny urges you to act quickly on new bills in the House

that threaten our income.

INTERVIEW –

JOSH LEO……………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Janet Fisher catches major Nashville producer Josh Leo on the

West Coast producing Bryndle and gets his unique take on the

Nashville scene and how you need to play it as a writer or writer/artist

knocking on doors.

UPBEAT-

VANTAGE VANCOUVER: A REPORT FROM MUSIC WEST…………………………. 11

Our own travelling author, Dan Kirnpel, visits Canada’s fabled festival.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE –

MANIPULATING METER AND WHITE SPACE…………………………………………. 12

Creative accents give your lyrics definition. Master lyricist Bill Pere

explains it for you.

MUSICAL NOTES –

CHARACTER STUDIES……………………………………………………………………. 14

Harriet Schock shows us how to turn people-watching into song

lyrics via metaphor, long-shot and close-up.

LASS NEWS

MEMBER NEWS—NOTEWORTHY—MUSICAL CHAIRS……………………………….. 4

News about classes, biz events, where your favorite publishers

and A&R reps are this month, good stuff about our Members and Pickups.

WEEKLY SHOWCASE SCHEDULE……………………………………………………….. 6

Cassette RouletteTM (publisher song critiques) and Pitch-A-ThonTM

(producers and record company reps looking for songs and acts).

See all Previous Songwriter Musepaper Posts

From the Acting Archivist…

Much like the Songmine columns posted earlier, the archives contain a large collection of Songwriter Musepaper publications. With this posting, I am beginning a project to scan the cover and table of contents of each issue and then OCR (convert the scanned picture to text) the table of contents in order to make it searchable. I don’t yet have the staff necessary to create complete scanned issues of the Museupaper, but if there is interest in a particular article or interview, I can scan that and make it available here.

Douglas E. Welch, douglas@welchwrite.com

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Songmine: When in Doubt…”negotiate” by John Braheny

A John Braheny Songmine column from the archives…

Songmine: When in Doubt... 

Accession Number: C000000137-029-002 Document/Digital File, “Songmine: When in Doubt…”negotiate”by John Braheny”, OCR converted text under same Accession Number

(Digitally converted text. Some errors may occur)

Songmine
BY JOHN BRAHENY

When in doubt… “negotiate”

A recent incident prompted this article; a writer I know happened to get to the manager of a major R&B/pop crossover group. The manager loved her song and felt it was so good that the group may want to record it despite the fact that the group usually wrote their own songs. He asked her if the group could have the publishing if they recorded it. She said, “No.” He said, “Goodbye.” She said she was totally unprepared to deal with the situation and had no idea what to say. She was excited that he liked it, but thought that when he wanted the publishing he was trying to rip her off.

There were three reactions to her story. The first was, “Right on; don’t let them have the publishing. You did right! You did the job of the publisher by getting it to him in the first place. Does anyone seriously believe that that manager or that group is going to exploit that song beyond the group’s recording of it?” The second reaction was, “My God. Do you know there are writers who’d sell their kids for an album cut by that group? The writer’s royalties alone are worth thousands, especially if it’s a single. Who cares about giving them the publishing? You give it to them and get a guaranteed recording. If you give it to a real publisher, it might never get cut because they are not going to give up their piece of the action to that group. Either way, you don’t get to keep any of the publishing! It’s just one song and it’ll help build your career.”

The third point of view was mine. While I conceded that both points of view had merit, I wondered why she didn’t negotiate. She answered, “I don’t know. I didn’t even think of it. What’s to negotiate? Either you give them the publishing or you don’t, right?”

Wrong. There are several items that are negotiable. First of all, you don’t want any deal to go into effect until a song is released. So, you don’t want to assign them the publishing rights (if that’s what the deal is) and then have them decide they don’t want to record the tune after all. Then you’ve given away the publishing and no one is out plugging the tune. You can put yuour deal in writing and add a clause that says, “This contract goes into effect on the day this record is released commercially.”

The two major sources of income (mechanical and perfor-mance) are negotiable without transferring your ownership of any of the copyright. Generally, when someone says they want “the publishing” they want ownership of the copyright (and/or the right to collect all income earned by the tune). In the “standard” writer/publisher contract, you assign the copyright to the publisher in a contract which gives you half the income as writer, with the other half going to the publisher. But the publisher owns the song and can sell it to anyone else if he wants to. A good businessperson will always want to own the copyright. It’s a commodity whose value will increase with the song’s degree and length of popularity. So you can’t blame them for going after it. They’re not trying to rip you off, just taking care of business. You need to do the same.

“Mechanicals” refers to the income from the sales of records and tapes at the current rate of two and three-quarters cents per song per unit sold, payable to the copyright owner. For a million seller, that’s $27,500. As the writer, you’ll take half off the top right away, and from the remainder (referred to as the “publisher’s share of mechanicals”), you can offer percentages as an incentive only for their limited exploitation of the song. If someone else later records the song, you don’t end up giving them parts of the mechanicals for that new recording.

Next time I’ll write about the “performance” income, which is also negotiable without giving up your copyright.

APRIL 3 — APRIL 16

See all previous entries in the Songmine Series

About Songmine and Music Connection Magazine:

John Braheny met Eric Bettelli and Michael Dolan right before they were going to publish Music Connection magazine. Eric and Michael wanted to get their publication out to as many songwriters as they could. They had already heard of the LA Songwriters Showcase, and of John and his partner, Len Chandler. John’s goal was to advertise the schedule of guest speakers and performers at the weekly Showcase… so they made a deal. 

They published John’s Songmine column (he had never before written a magazine article!) in their very first edition, in November 1977. Trading out the column for advertising, this arrangement continued for many years. Plus, Eric and Michael came to the Showcase each week and distributed free copies to the songwriters!

Those articles became so popular that (book agent and editor) Ronny Schiff offered John’s articles to F&W Media, where they became the backbone of John’s textbook, The Craft and Business of Songwriting. As a follow-up, Dan Kimpel (author, songwriter, teacher), who had also worked at LASS, took on the Songwriting column at Music Connection magazine which continues to this day! You can subscribe to get either hard copies or online.


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