Welcome to Just Plain Notes
Just Plain Notes: Volume 2.029, September 30th, 2015
Written by Brian Austin Whitney
Visit the Website: www.jpfolks.com
Mail CD's @ 5327 Kit Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46237
Copyright 2015 Just Plain Folks Productions.
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Just Plain Quotes:
"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power." -Shirley MacLaine
"Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry." -George Ade
"When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him." -Jonathan Swift
"When things come too easily, it's often less meaningful in the long run."
-Brian Austin Whitney
"Mistake upon mistake sometimes leads to the longest lasting success."
-Brian Austin Whitney
The more things change... okay, before I offer My Take, please read the following two articles. You should be aware of both and I found them very interesting and think you will too.
This is enlightening as it clarifies the real status of the most sung song in our culture:
Happy Birthday Is Finally Free...Sort Of...!
Notice that the media isn't really understanding the reality of this decision and so most people think the song is official in the public domain. All that has really happened is a greedy corporation has been caught with their hand in a cookie jar that never belonged to them. It will be interesting to see where this goes next. But for now, at least you know "the rest of the story."
This next article tells a story I've often heard which details what it really means to "sell out." Perhaps this will help some of you finally understand the realities involved.
How Signing A Major Label Deal Nearly Ruined My Career!http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/201...d-deal-nearly-destroyed-my-music-career/
If you read the articles above, you may have received a bit of confirmation of what we've been talking about for much of the past 30 years. The industry will always focus on how to make a buck over any other consideration. They don't often have the answers, vision, talent, drive, passion, intelligence or even intent to do the right thing but rather expect you to supply all those things. After all, it is what they are paying you for. It takes more out of you to succeed with their "help" because you have to overcome all your shortcomings AND theirs collectively. They don't lighten your workload, they EXPAND it and with that ideally they expand your REACH as well.
I think those lessons and more were learned by Terra Naomi the hard way. She didn't understand their role, nor did she ask enough OR the right questions to get the answers she needed before signing on the dotted line. Learn from her mistakes.
I have always felt that when things come too easily, they often are less meaningful. Don't be afraid of the challenge of seeing your vision through without trying to hand it off to the big leagues. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or fail on your own. Mistake upon mistake sometimes leads to the longest lasting success. No one will ever care as much, work as hard or frankly do as well with your career as you will. Stick with it.
It used to be centuries before change came to the music world. Then it was decades. With the hyper commercialism that came with recording things turned over in mere years. Today I believe that every 6 months the industry is reinvented with new tools, resources and ever improving competition. I can attest to the reality that the music we've gotten in the past year is head and shoulders better than anything that has come before in our 30 years. It's really exciting popping in a random CD from one of you and hearing something that exceeds all expectations pouring out.
Those of you with the right creativity, passion and tenacity, who are willing to relentlessly persist in pursuing your dreams have the best chance of achieving them in history.
We'll be here cheering you on along the way!
Learn, Succeed, Thrive! We're All In This Together, Just Plain Folks!
Table of Contents:
1. Music Awards Deadlines Set and Approaching. Send us your stuff!
2. Mentor Article: What Are You Really Writing About? By Robin Frederick
3. TAXI Road Rally Reservations, Registrations and Information
Enter Your Music NOW!!!!!!
2015 Just Plain Folks Music Awards: Free Entry Info & FAQ:
Deadlines Have Been Set:
Our entry deadlines for the 2015 Just Plain Folks Music Awards are as follows:
Postmark by Monday, November 30th for all Entries released from 2010-2014.
Postmark by Monday, January 11th, 2016 for all Entries released in 2015 ONLY.
Please be sure to send out your entries no later than the postmark dates above. We expect to have the next Music Awards Show in Los Angeles, targeting a date between April-June, 2016 in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the first ever Just Plain Folks show. Watch the newslettetr and social media for updates.
Note: Though we continue to welcome ALL genres of music, we are currently far behind our target numbers for some major genres of past awards. These include R&B, Rap, Hard Rock, Metal, Industrial, Alternative, Punk, Techno/Electronic, Dance and all Ethnic and Foreign Language genres. If those describe you, please send your music in for consideration!
2015 Just Plain Folks Music Awards: Free Entry Info & FAQ:
For all the instructions and answers to your most common questions about the awards, follow the link below:
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY WRITING ABOUT?
by Robin Frederick
You're Inspired! You woke up in the middle of the night with a killer first verse running through your head. You actually sat up in bed and said: "Man, that's killer!" You managed to write it down before you forgot it. Maybe you even got up and plunked a few chords on the piano. Suddenly you felt like Sting writing "Every Breath You Take." You even recorded your inspiration onto the Voice Memo on your Smartphone before going back to sleep.
Now, in the cold light of morning, you listen back to it. Amazingly, it still sounds good!
So now, you need a chorus. Nothing pops into your head right away, so you go to the notebook where you keep lyric ideas. (Good for you for keeping a notebook!) There's a line you've wanted to use for months and this looks like a good opportunity. Bingo! You've got the first line of your chorus. You can't really think of a second line, so you just repeat the first one a few times.
But wait a minute. Repeating a lyric phrase, even if you change the chords and melody underneath, can feel static. There's not enough development to keep the song moving forward and listeners involved. And you can't think of anything at all to say in your second verse. These are signs that there's trouble ahead.
As you continue to work on your song…
▪ Nothing seems to fit with your first verse.
▪ Everything you write sounds forced and unnatural.
▪ You can't get back to the inspired feeling you had.
▪ Your lyric "voice" has changed. It sounds like someone else is writing the song.
After struggling with a chorus and second verse, writing and rewriting hour after hour, you begin to get tired of this song. You don't like it anymore. You put it away and it becomes one of the Unfinished Ones. But it was off to such a great start. What happened?
Writing from inspiration
Inspiration is a wonderful thing and it always has a big role to play in the writing process. It gives us those gems that add color and life to a lyric, special insights that create depth, unique melody twists that surprise us at just the right time. Inspiration is playful, exciting, and refreshing.
The problem with inspiration is that it is neither linear nor selective. It gives you everything all at once! It might even be giving you ideas for a different song. Inspiration is either ON or OFF. And once it's ON, like dreams, it will work on anything that's happening in your subconscious.
Maybe it will fix itself
Often we hope a song will reveal itself as we write. And sometimes it does. When that happens, say "thank you" to your inspiration and go record it. But far more often, there are lyric or melody lines that are confusing, blur the focus, or create a sense of aimless wandering. Listeners don't like any of that.
Most of the time it will be up to you to fix things. Your conscious mind needs to select and put in order the pile of stuff your inspiration dumps on you. The trick is to enhance your inspired ideas, not destroy them. Keep the leash loose enough to allow your inspiration to explore while you take the goodies and turn them into something you can build on and listeners can relate to.
Here are a few tips on how to do this. Use these techniques to find out what your inspired verse or line is about so you can develop the other sections of your song from it. And, when inspiration drops something new into your lap, you can decide if it belongs in this song or somewhere else.
Find out what you're really writing about
INTERVIEW YOURSELF - Write down the answers to these questions in short phrases (five to ten words). Include any images, words, or ideas that come to mind.
▪ What do you want to say?
▪ How do you feel about it?
▪ When you strip away specific events or details, what is left?
▪ What is the most important thing you want listeners to understand?
Now, in short sentences, express the emotional message at the heart of your song. Write a few lines then take a break. Come back and read over your answers a couple of times. Add a few more short lines.
WRITE FROM A TITLE OR FIRST LINE - Choose the most important line in your chorus OR the first line of your inspired verse (not both). Write the line at the top of a page. Make a list of questions that you and your listeners might have about that line and write out the answers in short phrases.
Answer questions like:
▪ What does that mean?
▪ Why are you saying that?
▪ What happened that made you feel that way?
▪ What does that feel like?
Now, look at the inspired lyric you’ve written so far. Is it answering some of the questions on your list? Do the answers work together or are they in conflict? If the answers are in conflict or unconnected, you may be writing two songs. Decide which song you want to write first. Put the other lines aside and use them to start a new song.
USE LEADING PHRASES - At the end of your inspired verse or chorus, write the phrase "This is what I really need to say…" then finish the sentence. If you can think of several ways to finish the sentence, see if they all work together to express what you want to say. If so, then you can use them all in your lyric. If they're saying unrelated things, start other songs with some of them.
More leading phrases:
▪ What I mean is…
▪ How I really feel is…
▪ If I could say one thing it would be…
▪ I want…
▪ I don't want…
Second Verse Syndrome
Sometimes you can get through both a whole first verse and chorus without having a clear idea what your song is about. When that happens, you might find you get stuck on the second verse and bridge. After all, what more is there to say if you don’t know what you’re saying in the first place?
So, the second verse and bridge may be become static, simply repeating the same ideas in similar ways. Or there may be a change in the emotional message or overall theme. Both are a problem for listeners.
If you’re having trouble developing your second verse or bridge, try these ideas.
INTERVIEW YOURSELF AGAIN - But ask different questions this time. Now you want to know…
▪ What do you think, hope, or fear might happen next? Or…
▪ What caused this to happen? Or…
▪ What images or examples or physical sensations describe what you feel?
RESEARCH CREATIVE SOLUTIONS - If you're really stuck, take a break from your song. Read other song lyrics that you admire and notice how those writers solved the problem. What did they write about in the second verse or bridge? What questions did they answer? How did these sections relate to the first verse and chorus? You don't want to copy their ideas. Just look for techniques and solutions then adapt them to your own song.
RELAX THE RHYME SCHEME - For some reason, it seems like inspiration loves to rhyme. I don't know why but those big inspired ideas tend to have tight rhyme schemes, ones that are very hard to replicate in other song sections without sounding forced and unnatural. But you know what? No listener ever said "I've just gotta hear that song again… I LOVED that rhyme scheme!"
If your inspired first verse has an insanely tight rhyme scheme, you can let it slide a little in your second verse. Use "near rhymes" instead of perfect rhymes. Near rhymes offer a far greater range of rhyming words than perfect rhymes because they only rhyme the vowel sound. Give yourself a break.
As a last resort, if you need to, you can relax the first verse rhyme scheme a little. You don't have to rhyme absolutely every line. If it won't hurt the lyric, change a word or phrase so it doesn't rhyme. With rhymes, more is not always better.
Inspiration can sometimes sound generic and familiar
Sometimes "inspiration" is really just the first thing that popped into your head. It could be the result of habit and familiarity. Inspired melodies, especially, tend to be derivative of others you've heard. If you think you've heard something similar in another song, try making a few changes just to be safe. Raise or lower the pitches in a melody line or change the rhythm of the notes. Replace a tired lyric cliché with a fresh image or idea.
Try It Now
Look through your back catalog and lyric notebooks for unfinished songs, inspired verses, or songs that could just use some added focus. Use some of the suggestions in this Songwriting Tip to develop a second verse and bridge, add focus to a chorus, or clarify your theme so that listeners can understand your song and feel what you felt when you wrote it.
Robin Frederick has written and produced more than 500 songs for television, records, theater, and audio products. She is a former Director of A&R for Rhino Records, Executive Producer of over 60 albums, and the author of several books on songwriting, including Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film & TV and Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting. Her books are used to teach all levels of songwriting at universities and music schools, including Musicians Institute (Hollywood) and Belmont University (Nashville), among others. Robin is a former Vice President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Recording Academy and past President of Los Angeles Women in Music. For more song tips and inspiration, visit www.RobinFrederick.com.
Hotel Rooms for TAXI’s Road Rally Are Already 75% Sold Out!
Dear Just Plain Folks Members,
The hotel rooms for this year’s Road Rally are already 75% sold out! That is by FAR, the fastest they've ever filled up, so that gives you an idea of how quickly the FREE seats at this year’s convention are also filling up!
Why is the Rally filling up so quickly? Because it’s not only FREE, but it’s also the best convention of its kind anywhere! People come from all over the world for the Road Rally because it’s legendary for launching and transforming music careers.
If you've never been to a Road Rally, you almost can't imagine how much great stuff there is for you to do and learn.
Want to learn more about marketing your music? We've got it!
Want to find out what genres Film/TV Music Libraries need most? You'll find out at the Rally!
Want to know how and why Music Supervisors pick one song or instrumental over another? Yep, you'll find that out too!
Want to get your music heard by an A&R person, Music Supervisor, or Publisher? You've got to be there to do it!
Want to see photos of last year’s Road Rally? Click here!
What to Expect at the Road Rally…
16 Panels with Music Supervisors, Music Library Executives, Hit Songwriters, Music Attorneys, Film Trailer Composers, and much, much more, nearly different 100 Breakout Classes, FREE One-to-One Mentoring Sessions, 6 different Open Mics, Jam Sessions, and Music Industry Networking like you've never experienced anywhere else, are all available to every TAXI member and a guest for FREE.
The schedule for this year is almost done, but the best thing you can do for now is to look at LAST YEAR’s schedule, and know that this year will be similar, but BETTER! We deliver on that promise each and every year!
Click Here to See Last Year’s Schedule.
If you're already a TAXI member, click here to register.
If you're a former TAXI member, click here to renew so you and a friend can come to the Road Rally.
If you've been thinking about joining TAXI, but never felt like you were ready, click here to join now, come to the Road Rally, and you'll kick yourself in the butt for not joining years ago!
You can also call us at 818-222-2464 to register for the Rally, Renew your membership, Join TAXI, or get more information.
And while you're at it, check out our latest batch of Industry Listings!
See you soon!
Founder and CEO of TAXI
2015 Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsors!
TAXI: The world's leading independent A&R company, has been successfully helping Songwriters, Artists and Composers get their music heard and signed by top Publishers, Major & Indie Labels, and Film & TV music supervisors since 1992. TAXI, is your best bet! See them at www.TAXI.com.
Future Of Music Coalition: The FOMC is our political action partner in all things involving legislative and technological issues important to our community. They are free to join and all the work they do gives you a voice, through us and them to those in power in the USA. Find them at www.futureofmusic.org
If your company would like to become a Just Plain Folks Community Partner Sponsor please contact Brian directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a note on Facebook!
Copyright 2015 Just Plain Folks Productions