songwriting

Opium’s Ooze – (hard to love and so hard to lose)

April 21, 2014

Nashville Work Tape – Opium’s Ooze

This song was written in the fall of 2013 by a man who struggled to hold on to a love that was suffocating whilst soothingly intoxicating.  What ensues is a demonstration of the emotion one battles when trying to let go of a good drug like love.  Video source: http://youtu.be/VSJvUJQT_Gc

I know you’ll take the breath away of so many men with your gum.
I know just a couple minutes with you is better when I’m numb.
Here I go digging my toes back into the ground.
Worrying that someday soon I’m gonna lose everything that I’ve found.

You’re hard to love; hard to lose. You want me to give up but that’s now what I’m gonna do. Nah, I’m foolish enough to keep on pushing through thinking one day I’m gonna earn your trust. Now I have been with you, and like opium’s ooze, you are beautiful but dangerous when used. Oh, oh, oh, opium’s ooze.

I can count on one hand how many times I’m gonna die.
I’m gonna need both of my feet to count the ways you’ve kept me alive.
Sun shines down on a flower that you try to hide.
I cut it up and feed it to my heart and feel it die.

You’re hard to love; so hard to lose. You want me to give up but that’s now what I’m gonna do. Nah, I’m foolish enough to keep on pushing through thinking one day I’m gonna earn your trust. Now I have been with you, and like opium’s ooze, you are beautiful but dangerous when used.

I’m in denial when she cracks a smile. All of the while I’m high.

You are hard to love; hard to lose. You want me to give up but that’s now what I’m gonna do. Nah, I’m foolish enough to keep on pushing through thinking that one day I’m gonna earn your trust. Now I have been with you, like opium’s ooze, you are beautiful but dangerous when used. Oh, oh, oh, opium’s ooze.

 

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Recording Costs in Nashville

July 29, 2013

What are the average recording costs per song in Nashville? About $750.

For full band recordings you can get a decent demo for $250-500, a nice recording for $750, and a master recording starting at $1,000.  But it can get even more expensive.  It depends on how you record. There are some great producers with home studios, who if you catch at the right time, might be willing to give you a sweet deal.  It’s a creative service, so the prices are always subject to change.  The factors that make up the costs are musicians, the recording space, and the biggest variable: time.

There are some services that crank out basic demos for under $200, such as Paramount Song.  However, Paramount Song’s motive is to facilitate song contests and pitches, and in their process, they can run your song through the mill and make a demo for really cheap.  You get what you pay for, but these demos are done by local professionals and will not sound bad.  If you want a better demo, pay more money or make a friend who owns a studio.

Some people don’t pay anything to have their songs recorded because they have a strong network of friends with resources.  I have some friends who took two years recording their own album without paying a single dollar, because they were bouncing it around to each others’ home studios and recording facilities.

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Meeting With Hit Songwriter, Rivers Rutherford:

June 25, 2013

Advice On Becoming A Nashville Songwriter

I’ll never forget some of the best advice I ever got was from Rivers Rutherford.  I had literally just arrived in Nashville that day, and through a vague connection I was able to meet this hit songwriter at his home and later in his office, and boy did I blow it!   🙂

It’s okay, I have a feeling that most people like me blow those good chances at first.  At the time, I simply wasn’t ready to work with someone of the caliber of Rivers Rutherford, despite how ready I thought I was.

But oh how I’ve listened and learned since then, and if you are reading this Mr. Rutherford, I would love to take that second meeting and play Rescue or Broke on Payday.

The simple advice Rivers Rutherford gave me was so valuable that I want to share this knowledge with other new songwriters in Nashville who are wondering where to go.  It’s simple:

Go out and play, make friends, and come up together.

Everything else will fall into place if it’s meant to be.

Have you ever heard stories about how movie stars and comedians all knew each other years and years ago, because they were all hitting the circuit trying to reach their own success?  It’s very much the same way in the music business, and probably many other industries as well.

In my fourth year I can already use all the fingers on one hand when counting the friends I’ve made in Nashville who are slowly but surely moving on to the next level.  If some of us make it to that next level of success, it’s likely that we will remember some of our colleagues from the days when we were in the trenches.  It’s one big network of like-minded people playing to a multitude of audiences, and the cream always rises to the top.

Whatever role you play, the industry consists of all sorts of people working together with different talents: artists, musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, business executives.  There are different ways to make it in Nashville; I have the artist’s passion but I have been learning how to have the songwriter’s mind.  After all, my end-goal is to make a living being a songwriter.  I’ll always be an artist…

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You Can't Sell A Song In Nashville

June 6, 2012

Ever wonder how to sell a song in Nashville?

It’s easy.  Just mail your song to:

City of Nashville
c/o The Song Purchaser 
123 Music Row
Music City, USA

I’m kidding.  Don’t do that.

I want to clear something up for you: There is no such thing as just “selling a song”.

I understand, you’ve painstakingly written this incredible hit song and everyone is telling you how great it is.  You’ve got girls dancing on the bar when you play it.  Now you want to sell the song to a major artist or a publisher here in Nashville.  You’ve heard about this Internet thing and think you can send off a few emails or post it all over Facebook and make $50,000 because Blake Shelton is going to write you a check for this song when he hears it.

It simply doesn’t work like that.  It’s not like manufacturing where you build something tangible and sell it for a profit.

The reason it’s not that simple is complicated to explain but just understand that in Nashville there are thousands of great songwriters who are already here writing great songs for publishers and artists literally everyday.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble but it’s very likely that your song just isn’t that good.  I’m not saying mine are but I will say that everything I had written before moving to Nashville doesn’t hold a candle to the stuff I have written since living in Nashville.

To be a songwriter you have to live, eat, sleep and breathe the craft.  There are so many incredible songwriters here that will inevitably open your mind and make you a better writer.  It’s also partly about who you know.  Sure, you have to have good songs but knowing the right people is what opens those doors to having one of your songs cut by a major artist.  There are many approaches that will get you to where you want to be whether it’s a writing deal or a serendipitous encounter with someone that sets you on the right course.

With the Internet you can certainly build yourself a foundation which will give you more exposure and credibility, and you can pursue certain channels outside of Nashville that will get your songs heard by some of the right people, but actually living here in Nashville is a musical journey that any serious songwriter has to take if they want to improve their chances for success.  You might not have to move here but visit here, stay a week, make friends, go to writers nights.  You have to keep at it. Your bubble will only burst if you have the impression that your song is so good, that anyone who hears it will buy it on the spot.  That just doesn’t happen – it has, I mean, there are stories, but how many times have you played the lottery and hit the jackpot?

In the country market songs are rarely written by the artists.  Taylor Swift is a good example of the exception to that but typically all the creation happens in the big machine that is “country music”.

Around Nashville there are established networks that are in place to keep Joe the songwriter from bombarding executives and artists with crappy songs.  It’s a pretty tight filtration system.  You have to play the game if you want to join the circle.  When you move to Nashville and stick around long enough for people to realize you are a serious writer doors will slowly begin to open.  Think of advertising and how many millions of dollars go into exposing you to a product until you finally remember it and eventually buy it.  It’s the same with songs; the first time someone hears your song they might be distracted or they might not fall in love with it.  So you have to keep playing around town and expose people to your style of writing.  You have to show that you are actually a songwriter and write other good stuff besides that one good one.  Eventually people will begin to recognize you and remember they liked your songs the last time they heard you and they’ll stick around to hear you again.

You’ll meet a lot of smoke blowers and over time you’ll learn how to act around the people who can really open doors for you.  Remember, just because someone has had success in the industry does not mean they can help you.  Your personalities might not match or it might not be the right timing.  Also remember that just because someone has had success does not mean they are rolling in the money – their own professional connections might be dwindling.  Every hit songwriter is searching for their own next big hit so if you do have a great song, they are usually not willing to just introduce you to all their connections.  They’ll likely want to build a relationship with you and help you grow.  If you get signed up under one of the better publishing companies with the stronger connections you are more likely to have your name on the next hit song.  It’s so hard to do this unless you are living here in Nashville for a while.  That’s why songwriters move here.  It takes time.  And it takes a major hit song, or a lot of moderately hit songs to make a living.  Everyone is working hard to make that living.

There are advantages to being with a bigger publisher; they schedule you to write with other great songwriters and when you present them with a good song they will pay to have a demo recorded; with all their major connections they’ll pitch it to be on a major artist’s upcoming album.  There are definitely advantages but if you’re like me – a non-country songwriter – this system is pretty much useless to you.

I’m not in the country market but I see several people who are and I pay attention to their struggles and successes.  If I could write country music I would take my own advice.  I’m taking a different approach with my personal strategy: I record my own music and I am my own artist, I enjoy performing but certainly am trying to become a better writer who gets commercial work.

If you are not going to be just a songwriter and also like to perform then I suggest you take the steps to record your songs here in Nashville; stop making demos and start investing in yourself.  That is the ultimate reason I moved here.  I knew there would be extremely professional musicians, producers and engineers who could capture the sound I wanted for my music, and I knew there would be endless opportunity to grow as a songwriter.

Each of us has our own path but if you are taking the path to being a country music songwriter you are taking the path most traveled, and therefore have a lot of other travelers taking that path with you.  In advertising it’s called “noise”.  However, by taking the country music songwriter’s path you’ll find that you have a solid road map, and if you follow the course you’ll get to a good destination.  Step one: Be in Nashville and find your course. Step two: Stay the course.

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