Review: American Songwriter Magazine May/June 2007
Spotlight Book

It’s hard to conceive of a how-to book for songwriters that covers more territory — and does so more effectively — than The Craft and Business of Songwriting. Braheny’s tome is now in its third edition, no doubt owing to its accessibility, thoroughness and practicality — not to mention all of the updates needed to explain new digital technologies and the music industry’s constant shape-shifting. As suggested by its title, the book addresses both the craft of songwriting itself and the goal of getting paid for doing it. But breadth — in this case — doesn’t mean lack of depth. Craft and Business doesn’t just stick to the more obvious topics. The first half offers advice and exercises geared toward helping songwriters glean ideas from all manner of sources, find their natural speech patterns, come up with better titles, beat writer’s block and collaborate successfully. The second half details everything from copyright law to getting past “no unsolicited material” policies. The book may not be able to guarantee a string of high-profile cuts, but it does provide a detailed and reliable road map for the journey. — JEWLY HIGHT.

I’ve just finished going over your book chapter to chapter for the first time in a long while. It’s amazing to me how much of the information that is now a basic part of my writing, teaching and business repertoire is contained in it’s pages. I recall, when I was living in Denver in the 80’s and 90’s with no one to teach me what I needed to know to get to the next level, discovering your book at the Tattered Cover book store. It was a Godsend for someone like me living outside the music business inner circle. Your book basically helped me get what talent I had organized and motivated me to do something with it. It helped me turn my dreams into reality. And speaking of reality, the handwritten 32nd draft/re-write [ see “Rewriting” ,pg. 85 of The Craft And Business Of Songwriting] of “She’s In Love With The Boy” is now sitting in a frame on a wall in the second floor Songwriter’s Wing of the Country Music Hall Of Fame. As I write this, I am struck by how much I owe to my teachers and how grateful I am. Thanks for all you’ve done to teach and inspire me.

Jon Ims (Jon wrote the country classic, “She’s In Love With The Boy” and a description of his rewrites is included in the 3rd edition of “The Craft and Business of Songwriting”)

The Craft and Business of Songwriting offers a practical, street-level look at today’s world of songwriting. It’s essential reading for anyone contemplating a career as a professional songwriter. Read and learn.
Diane Warren – World’s most successful contemporary songwriter

I wanted to let you know that, after the flurry of our own workshop and other Songjourney happenings, I have finally made it around to your book. It’s even better since having met you both! I am so impressed with your wealth and depth of info.!!!! bravo. what a wonderful resource for writers.. it will be #1 on my recommended list for sure!
i loved meeting you guys and hope to see you again soon.
Kye Fleming  Legendary country hit songwriter

I feel compelled to thank you for writing The Craft and Business Of Songwriting. It has changed my life in a very real way. Although I feel I’ve always had a certain proclivity for writing poetry and song lyrics, prior to reading your book I never knew what to do with my words. “The craft” was instrumental (no pun intended) in giving me the tools to express myself – and I can’t thank you enough, John.
Bryan Barnes — Columbus Ohio

As a teacher of songwriting for over 15 years at Austin Community college,I have found John Braheny’s book, “The Craft& Business of Song Writing”,to be the best work of it’s kind on the market today. Students of songwriting in or out of school can find in this text invaluable information on every level of song production both subjective and objective. This book is a gem, both beautiful and practical!
Bravo John Braheny!
Robert Skiles B.A., M.A. Prof. of Music,   Austin Community College,  Austin, Tx.

I met John Braheny during a songwriting workshop in Los Angeles after reading some terrific blips and blurbs written by him in different online newsletters. His workshop was excellent and I made a note to buy his book afterwards.

I’ve been a singer/songwriter/performer for nearly 15 years and I was BLOWN AWAY with the material in this book. In person, Mr. Braheny has a very honest, matter-of-fact presentation style and writes in the very same way…friendly, encouraging, deductive and without one ounce of pretentiousness. Songwriting is very subjective (and frustrating), but Mr. Braheny has really helped me understand the principles and guidelines that successful songwriters follow to achieve success in the competitive music business.

The book is divided into halves (the craft and business sections) and both are amazing. The material is loaded with song examples, excellent material from other authors and straight-ahead logic about what has worked for other creative songwriters and why. Never has this much practical information been explained to me this well before. The chapter on human imagination is the most insightful information I have ever read on ANY topic.

I’ve read this book three times and can’t get enough. Each reading reveals new information that I hadn’t thought of before. Best of all, Mr. Braheny breaks it down and gives it to me straight. I am 100% convinced now that he enjoys helping songwriters become better at what they want to do. I honestly believe that I can write great songs, and that I can compete with the best, and that the messages I want to deliver can reach other people and change their lives.

I’m as jaded as they come, but I am so grateful for this book. My songwriting has improved 300%. I’m excited about my future. I look forward to creating. Thank you, Mr. Braheny, for writing it and helping me.
By Sam Spade “customer #49,128” (San Francisco) – Amazon

Braheny’s book actually does deliver the goods. Presenting practical and artistic advice and information in a manner that will stimulate and inspire the reader, simultaneously providing an education in the hows and whys of songwriting. The book makes use of plenty of current examples of good songwriting and gives you a logical and surprisingly practical path toward improving your own. I found the “business” half of the book particularly interesting; it does a fine job of explaining fairly dry, business-type stuff in clear and easily-understood language. The thing I like most about The Craft and Business of Songwriting is that it’s written evenly and fun to read. Although it concentrates on the basics for beginning writers, there’s enough of the little important things covered to make it a valuable reference tool for even an industry pro.
Dan Fredman – Music Connection Magazine (Regarding the book’s 2nd Edition)

John Braheny’s “The Craft and Business of Songwriting” is the first resource our organization recommends to learn the business legalities and creative techniques of Songwriting. Our Just Plain Folks members agree, citing John’s book as their #1 Favorite Music Industry/Educational Resource Book.
Brian Austin Whitney – Founder of the Just Plain Folks Music Organization

I got the 3rd edition of your book and had a chance to review most of it. I have to tell you, this is a great book, you did a wonderful job with it. Of all the music books I’ve read over the years this is one of the best. I also liked the chapter that David Cat Cohen did.
David A. Roth   NJ/NYC

I just wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation for you efforts in writing your book, “The Craft and Business of Songwriting”. I have just read through its entirety (I don’t know that I’ll ever truly finish it – it is a holy grail of reference material!) and have grown exponentially as a result. I have gone from writing/performing to knowing what I am writing and why I am writing it and that pays a direct dividend to my performances. The referrals to various organizations was a bonus. I didn’t expect all that information in your book.
I’ve since joined, and found myself in a better position to absorb the knowledge I am getting there as a result of your book as well.
Thanks a ton and keep up the great work. It is encouraging to know that the music industry has some John Brahenys in it. If our paths never cross, know you have made a tremendous impact on someone who’s drive has been refueled by your influence. If they *DO* cross, I’d be happy to shake your hand and say thanks in person.
Rodney Hughey — Alaska

Moke…. the guy from Fresno who moved to LA then Nashville… When I was in Fresno someone gave me your book and said that if I wanted to be a songwriter I should read your book. That’s when I started using pictures in my songs cause you said to. I also learned about the SGA… NSAI… song form… anyway, I got a deal because of the use of pictures in songs and networking. Wanted to give you a heads up that the writing gig was official… signed… check cashed and everything back in December.
Moke Cameron – Nashville, TN

My wife gave me two Christmas presents early – a book called “The Song Writers Market” and your book! And I thought your website was fantastic! Your book is like a treasure trove of information! In the past two days I’ve had my nose buried in your book (I was up til 3:00AM last night), and I’ve learned more in the last 48 hours than I did in two years of doing research on the internet. I can only imagine the work you must have put into it; it covers virtually everything a songwriter needs to know. Now that I’ve devoured the whole book, I’m going back and reading it in-depth with particular attention to the parts that are of importance to me right now. It’s already answered so many questions I had and even more that I hadn’t even thought of yet!
I have a lot better understanding of what I’m doing and why some groups of notes that aren’t true chords work whereas others often don’t. The same goes for using an effective pre-chorus and the tension and build up it creates – something I’ve been doing without really understanding what and why I was doing it. A lot of these areas I seem to have an intuitive feel for without really understanding it technically.
. It’s been a very humbling and rewarding experience to communicate with you and others in the music and songwriting industries. Every one is so kind and generous. In a field that requires us to lay our very hearts out there on the line to be critiqued, torn apart and examined, and then so often rejected; the kindness and understanding of so many people has been instrumental in giving me the courage to continue. As songwriters, we leave the most intimate parts of ourselves vulnerable and this surprising “goodness” I’ve found in so many people has been very touching for me (I’m a guy who, as macho as I like to think of myself (LOL!), often makes myself cry while writing a song about an entirely imaginary situation – I get THAT involved emotionally!).
I’m learning many things these days, among them: (1). How to write for everyone, for the mass market, and not just for myself. (2). How to separate myself from the music so that I’m not wearing my heart on my sleeve and thus being emotionally torn apart by critiques and rejections. And (3.) That even the opinions of experienced people in the industry are still just opinions and shouldn’t be taken as gospel – that some of the finest songs ever written have been rejected multiple times.
Through your website, your book, your reply to my email, you’ve helped me enormously, John. I can’t thank you enough. I’m very grateful and I won’t forget the kindness you’ve done me. When I’m giving my thank-you speech at my first Grammy Award, I’ll remember your name and the help you’ve given me!
Don Williams

The Craft and Business of Songwriting is packed with “real” advice and “how-to’s” that every songwriter and artist must have and use. It is a resource that sits in my studio with me as I create and market my music. And what’s better, is that John and Joann are amazingly personable resources as well. Every time I have e-mailed a question, I have received a timely and wisdom-packed reply
Di Cohen, Songwriter and Recording Artist

Your book was what I needed to read at this time. I had been getting kind of feeling like all those songs that I wrote weren’t worth anything to any one because I was not getting the greatest feedback. Thought I was coming from Mars or something. As I read through the first half of the book I found out I was not the only one who comes up with crazy ways to write a song. It is what I need to do to get some of my thought process worked out on some of the situations that pass through my life. The way you write is down to earth and right to the point. I commend you on your writing style as it is very conversational and you have a knack of getting to the truth of a subject in a way that the reader can understand easily.
I can see you have a vast amount of experience with song writers and artists. I am looking at getting some information on TAXI and maybe jump on the bandwagon. As I look into this craft of songwriting, even though I have been doing it for three quarters of my life, there is so much more to learn about this art. This has become part of me long ago and I couldn’t quit if I even tried now. I have just given into it and, with some help with the people in the business, I can come up with some great songs to share and give a little pleasure to those who like to listen.
Once again, THANK YOU for writing the book.
Sincerly, Lyle A Crockford.

A large part of what makes your CRAFT book great is that your pure enjoyment of music and the songwriting process shines through every page. Thank you for the encouragement and sound advice.
A fellow keeper of the craft,

My name is Monica Spendlove and Doak Turner recommended your book to me, and of course, because I do know Doak, I went out and bought it the next day. It looked like a good book, and when I started reading it I fell in love with it.
I am a member of NSAI and when I went to my regional workshop in Salt Lake City a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised when the teacher pulled out your book and gave a lesson right out of it. Because I had already read your book, it was a neat experience to see how to apply it a little.
I really liked your writing style, what a sense of humor. Anyway, I know you hear this a lot, but I’m planning on making a move to Nashville in a few months. Doak is helping me out a lot with the move, but I feel like I am a lot more prepared for my move now after reading your book. It explains the business in a way that even a free-spirited person like like me can understand. Thank you for writing that book. I appreciate it.
Monica Spendlove

I would like to tell you how hard it is for me to read your book… I am at chapter 12 now and I just can’t finish it! The reason is that it is sort of a “get-up-and-go” book. You know: in it is everything I ever wanted to know and you make it look so easy and I just want to go out and do all the great stuff: that I just can’t sit still to read/finish the bloody thing! So I leave it around the house: waiting like a snake that is going to wake up any minute to bite me with another inspirational tidbit!
Thank you so much for a great resource: I can’t decide whether I want to finish the book today or rather work on my “to do” list… now I am sending you this e-mail instead to tell you what you have done to my life! 🙂
Wishing you well on your future ventures: may there be many reprints and million more copies of your book sold!
Marthie Nel-Hauptfleisch Regina SK Canada

I really enjoyed your book. Our local library has it in, awesome! Blessings sincerely! Thanks for writing such an encouraging and helpful book for song writers and Artists!
Freddy Bolen “Song Pitch of Canada ~Catfish Jam”

You are an incredible resource to all songwriters. I have been writing songs for years, have read much material and taught classes on the subject, and in my humble opinion I must say, your book is the “authority”.
Though I’ve been writing for a number of years, and I believe that I’m ready to take my songs to the next level. So, if you are available, I would love to be mentored by you.
David Dirmann

Just a brief follow-up to thank you for your reply and to say that I continue to savour and enjoy your book. I must say again that the good humour with which you write is a tremendous bonus: the story about your friend who pitched his songs in soup cans is a classic and made me laugh out loud! I found it hard to put down and, in consequence, have nearly completed it! To the many plaudits which I know you have justly received, I would like to add my own: it is a wonderfully informative, detailed and often witty book which is a joy to read. I have no doubt that it will prove invaluable to me, not least if I am fortunate enough to reach that stage where the extensive contractual and legal advice becomes relevant. For now, it is especially the artistic sections that command my attention. Having been a member of TAXI for a year and a bit, I am nevertheless grateful to discover the other useful resources you mention.
Dimitri Kennaway

John, I was in Albuquerqe NM for the 4th.Was in Barnes & Noble, Was looking for a guitar chord book. Saw your book. Went to the counter with a rhyming dictionary. But I had to go back & buy your book & I`m damn glad I did. It’s very insightful & I’m only on page 50 & look forward to reading more every night. I will send my song in to Taxi. I`ve already got some feedback from 1 publisher & have it sitting on a few other publishers desks. It’s a long process. Thanks for the great book!!! Keith
Keith Richards

“The Craft And Business of Songwriting.” is one of my favourite reference volumes, I have been recommending it to others for years. I saw your website and just wanted to let you know how much your work is appreciated.
Peter Zaza – IVL Technologies

We’ve added a bunch of new stuff to The Singers’ Workshop website. One is the great book The Craft and Business of Songwriting by John Braheny for sale at’ The Singer’s Store’ John is one of the fathers of the songwriting community in Los Angeles. He and his partner, Len Chandler, were responsible for creating The L.A. Songwriters Showcase which provided songwriters with a place to show their work to publishers and producers, to have it critiqued or even accepted for consideration by artists or record labels.

Those were remarkable years in L.A. There was a strong sense of community that I miss. I met some of the great songwriters of today back then when they were just starting. Unfortunately L.A.S.S. no longer exists, but John has gathered all of his wisdom (a considerable amount) and also information from many other writers and artists in this great book. Not only does he tell you about the business of songwriting but he also has an incredible in-depth analysis of the art of songwriting. If you are thinking about how to get your songwriting skills up to the next level, or if you’ve got some great songs to show to people, this is the book to kick you in the butt and move you to the next level.
Lis Lewis The Singer’s Workshop  Angel City Voice – News For the Pro Singer

I got the 3rd edition of your book and had a chance to review most of it. I have to tell you, this is a great book, you did a wonderful job with it. Of all the music books I’ve read over the years this is one of the best. I also liked the chapter that David Cat Cohen did.
David A. Roth   NJ/NYC

Your book has been a God-send allowing me to get up to speed in just the two years of being in the songwriting world. And last year (only a year and half as a songwriter) I’d already gotten my first single song contract with Rex Benson. Thank you, John.
Christiann Adams

I’ve been reading your book and loving it!!! What a practical, readable ‘bible’ it is!
Randi Wolfe

When I read your book I finally realized that I do have a talent that needs to be explored more – writing lyrics! My dad has given me, in my opinion, all the technological tools I would need to produce a good demo. I am in the process of learning how to write lyrics based on your teachings and experiences. My next step is to piece that together with the programs I own (Fruity Loops or Storm). I will hopefully be able to sing and layer the voice on top of the music I have created. Once I have produced a demo I will send it to you for critique! Thanks for publishing a fine book and making the music industry more understandable.
Aaron D. McMichael – Mission H.S. Concert Band Director

Your book isn’t only informative but it is funny to me. I find myself laughing out loud, but I think it is because I understand what you are talking about and some of the same scenarios you speak of, I have been in or know someone who has.
Lauren Rainey – Broadcasting and Game Operations Assistant Charlotte, NC