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#1160873 - 01/22/20 11:57 PM Song Casting  
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Dayson Offline
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As a Non-performing Songwriter, I don't always have a particular Artist in mind when I start writing, but I find that by the time I finished with the first draft, I have a few in mind that the song could work for... My question, Do any of you have anyone in mind when you first start out?
Some of the few songs that I have been working on lately that I bounce off to a good friend of mine, we have similar taste in music, and he surprised me, when he thought the song would work for an Artist, that I had not thought of, anyone else have similar experiences?
Noting that I know that Artists are not really motivated to record outside songs, like they once did:)
Thoughts?-Dana

#1160878 - 01/23/20 10:12 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Dana,

Another good question. It is good to have a target area. When I work with artists and other writers, I will find out the music that inspires them. I always ask three questions:

#1. What STYLE OR TYPE of song is NOT in your catelogue?
#2. Is there a style or particular song you wish you had written?
#3. If you could write a song for anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

The idea is to get into the range of a particular artist or type of song. But knowing that you probably won't get to that particular artist, you are actually looking for people who would be the NEXT artist of that type. Artists are influenced by other people, and studying those people give you a good general direction to go. Sometimes it is just randomly writing, but it does help to narrow the type of song you are doing.

Now you have to have it written in the general voice of a particular artist, the pitch needs to sound like what they do. So being very direct and descriptive in that vein, yet have enough leeway for others is always a great idea. And some times you may have to wait a while. For years, back during the "Travis Tritt/T.Graham Brown" era of music, late 80;s to early/mid 90's, I was hired to do a lot of demos for those pitches. I had the same "blue eyed soul" voice and was considered for a couple of record deals based on that. Then the "Garth era" came along and sidelined a lot of those artists, so that type of music was not pitched as much.
Get on down the road to today, and you find modern artists, Chris Stapelton, Eric Church, etc influenced by those artists, and others that come along are influenced by THOSE artists. So a lot will have to do with timing. And having a pretty wide variety of music.

As an artist you have to be pretty narrow in your focus. As a writer, you should be pretty wide in your focus.

MAB

#1160896 - 01/23/20 06:34 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Dayson Offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Dana,

Another good question. It is good to have a target area. When I work with artists and other writers, I will find out the music that inspires them. I always ask three questions:

#1. What STYLE OR TYPE of song is NOT in your catelogue?
#2. Is there a style or particular song you wish you had written?
#3. If you could write a song for anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

The idea is to get into the range of a particular artist or type of song. But knowing that you probably won't get to that particular artist, you are actually looking for people who would be the NEXT artist of that type. Artists are influenced by other people, and studying those people give you a good general direction to go. Sometimes it is just randomly writing, but it does help to narrow the type of song you are doing.

Now you have to have it written in the general voice of a particular artist, the pitch needs to sound like what they do. So being very direct and descriptive in that vein, yet have enough leeway for others is always a great idea. And some times you may have to wait a while. For years, back during the "Travis Tritt/T.Graham Brown" era of music, late 80;s to early/mid 90's, I was hired to do a lot of demos for those pitches. I had the same "blue eyed soul" voice and was considered for a couple of record deals based on that. Then the "Garth era" came along and sidelined a lot of those artists, so that type of music was not pitched as much.
Get on down the road to today, and you find modern artists, Chris Stapelton, Eric Church, etc influenced by those artists, and others that come along are influenced by THOSE artists. So a lot will have to do with timing. And having a pretty wide variety of music.

As an artist you have to be pretty narrow in your focus. As a writer, you should be pretty wide in your focus.

MAB




Hey Mab,

Great insight into this subject!
Those are three really good questions, that I had not thought of…
What Song or Style is Not in your catalogue? Great question. When you ask this question are you speaking in terms of categories like Falling in “Love” falling out of “Love” or as you say “Angry Chick” songs lol or are speaking more in terms of Genre? Like Pop/Country/Metal?

What song do you wish you had written? Love this one too, in-fact, I was out last night at one of my favorite dive bars, and I had taken over the Jukebox, and playing music and everyone was really enjoying the playlist that I had going, so much that people would come over and thank me for it! I was playing a song in particular that I discovered and played it more than a few times, and people loved it every time and I was thinking, this is a song that I wish I had written! There too many to count on that subject, but it is one of the newer songs out that I really enjoy. It was also a great confirmation to the power of Music, man, everyone was just having a great time together listening to great Songs!

If you could write a song for anyone living or dead, who would it be? Another great one!

Mab Quote-
“The idea is to get into the range of a particular artist or type of song. But knowing that you probably won't get to that particular artist, you are actually looking for people who would be the NEXT artist of that type. Artists are influenced by other people, and studying those people give you a good general direction to go. Sometimes it is just randomly writing, but it does help to narrow the type of song you are doing.”


Excellent point! Really important, considering that most Artists’ now are ‘Self-contained’ We have to find Artists’ as you say on the ground floor, so this is a great point!

Artists’ being Influenced by other Artists’, not something you think about every day, but a great point to think about. We hear so little about other Artists influences (I think) maybe because they are fighting so hard not to be compared to other Artists’ especially ones that are legendary or heavily established…
It’s tough to be an original nowadays…

BTW, I personally think we need some more of them “Blue Eyed Soul” Singers! One of my Favorites is Michael McDonald! George Michael and of course Michael Bolton! Lol just noticed all the ‘Michaels” in here!

Researching your Artist to find if they will cover a song in the style you are writing in very important, definitely agree! You don’t want to say your song will fit an Artist like Celine Dion and/or Britney Spears lol
Songwriting homework, is important!
Thanks again for the great insight! -Dana

Last edited by Dayson; 01/23/20 06:36 PM.
#1160898 - 01/23/20 06:43 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Well,
I have never tried to write a song to fit a particular artist. When I was sending out songs to a named artist I would try to imagine if the song or songs I was sending was a song the artist could do. Some Artists I never thought I had anything for them so didn't send anything.

Write a song for someone deceased? I do have one song my publisher thought I should send to Johnny Cash while he was still here. Who knows?

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 01/23/20 06:47 PM.

Ray E. Strode
#1160900 - 01/23/20 07:20 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Marc Barnette  Offline
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Ray,

Writing songs for dead people has served me pretty well. I've written several things in the style of Ray Charles, Elvis, Little Feat (Lowell George), early Temptations, and have gotten invitations to many shows, some benefits, and a few cuts here and there. It's also opened the door for me in writing with hit writers who love those artists as well.
You see, that's another thing you have to keep in mind. Songs also are designed to get MORE SONGS. And this is something you hear over and over again in conversations with hit writers. Many songs they had written, certain styles, etc. allowed them to get writing appointments with someone, and THAT is what led them to their hit.

Dana, part of writing a lot of varied styles, helps you get appointments with writers, artists, pubishers, because you have something they didn't have before.
I have a story on that as well.

In my really big "band" performing days, in the 90's, (at one point I was a pretty big draw in Nashville, and sold out everywhere I played.) In the audience were often some pretty big luminaries. Since I had a pretty wide variety of songs, I would do the show in two halves. The first an all out, blues and country show with the full six piece band. Then I would have them take a break and do three songs on my own, all acoustic. I would do a couple of comedy things, then usually something else.
I got into a pretty big facination with the musical "Les Miserables." Particularly the song "BRING HIM HOME." It's a pretty stirring power ballad with some really big range. It was a pretty big diversion from everything else I did, which was the idea.

One Sunday, after a particuarly successful show the night before, I got a call from a man named Kim Williams. Kim was one of those monster writers who had songs like Papa Loved Mama, and Ain't Going Down till the Sun Comes Up" for Garth Brooks, and later "THREE WOODEN CROSSES" for Randy Travis. The man was a celebrity songwriter, and one of those people you really couldn't get to. He was calling me because he had been at the show, and loved my redition of that song and wanted to write a similar song. He had no real "broadway type power ballads" in his catelogue and loved that musicall also.

So we set up the appointment and he had me bring in a CD of songs from Les Miz. The first thirty minutes were listening to those songs and getting in the mood to write something similar. Our conversation led to me picking up a guitar and finding a chord pattern. Through that, we talked our way into some lyrics and got it off and running. Kim had some serious physical problems that forced him to take medication which made him go to sleep. So we had to stop the appointment right after the first verse.
I got home and actually finished the song and was pretty pleased with it. When we got back together he felt the same and before long we had a demo of it. He would always tell people about that song and I played it on shows for him a number of time. And that led me to writing sessions with other hit writers. WE pitched it and actually got a few cuts on it.

A few years later, I was driven crazy by a friend of mine to go to an audition for a play casting in town. I really didn't want to go as I had given up my acting career a few years before. But I went. There were about 100 people there in one of those cattle call auditions where people would go in and come out almost immediately. When I went in, there were three people behind this big table, kind of like you see on television, and I did one of my songs, an uptempo rocker. I kept thinking they were going to stop me and say "NEXT" and I would be out of this thing and shut my friend up.

I finished my song and one of the men asked "Can you do a ballad with range?" I said yes, and I did the song, Kim and I had written. "ALL ALONE AGAIN." They seemed satisfied and I left, being glad to just get out without being shot down. A couple of months later they called me on my ansering machine (remember those?) to go do the play they were casting in Houston. But I didn't call them back because I was into another project and as I said, I was not really interested in doing a play. A couple of months after that, they called back and asked me if I would be interested in doing the show on Broadway? Again, I didn't call them back.

It turned out that the play, called "THE CIVIL WAR" went on to be nominated for a Tony Award, and ran for a couple of years. They were looking for a early 30's guy from the South for the part they were interested in me for. Travis Tritt ended up doing the part.

But that song was what got me the audition. So you never know where these things are going to take you. Just another interesting aspect of music.

MAB

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 01/23/20 11:53 PM. Reason: Cleaning up
#1160908 - 01/24/20 01:42 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Dayson Offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Ray,

Writing songs for dead people has served me pretty well. I've written several things in the style of Ray Charles, Elvis, Little Feat (Lowell George), early Temptations, and have gotten invitations to many shows, some benefits, and a few cuts here and there. It's also opened the door for me in writing with hit writers who love those artists as well.
You see, that's another thing you have to keep in mind. Songs also are designed to get MORE SONGS. And this is something you hear over and over again in conversations with hit writers. Many songs they had written, certain styles, etc. allowed them to get writing appointments with someone, and THAT is what led them to their hit.

Dana, part of writing a lot of varied styles, helps you get appointments with writers, artists, pubishers, because you have something they didn't have before.
I have a story on that as well.

In my really big "band" performing days, in the 90's, (at one point I was a pretty big draw in Nashville, and sold out everywhere I played.) In the audience were often some pretty big luminaries. Since I had a pretty wide variety of songs, I would do the show in two halves. The first an all out, blues and country show with the full six piece band. Then I would have them take a break and do three songs on my own, all acoustic. I would do a couple of comedy things, then usually something else.
I got into a pretty big facination with the musical "Les Miserables." Particularly the song "BRING HIM HOME." It's a pretty stirring power ballad with some really big range. It was a pretty big diversion from everything else I did, which was the idea.

One Sunday, after a particuarly successful show the night before, I got a call from a man named Kim Williams. Kim was one of those monster writers who had songs like Papa Loved Mama, and Ain't Going Down till the Sun Comes Up" for Garth Brooks, and later "THREE WOODEN CROSSES" for Randy Travis. The man was a celebrity songwriter, and one of those people you really couldn't get to. He was calling me because he had been at the show, and loved my redition of that song and wanted to write a similar song. He had no real "broadway type power ballads" in his catelogue and loved that musicall also.

So we set up the appointment and he had me bring in a CD of songs from Les Miz. The first thirty minutes were listening to those songs and getting in the mood to write something similar. Our conversation led to me picking up a guitar and finding a chord pattern. Through that, we talked our way into some lyrics and got it off and running. Kim had some serious physical problems that forced him to take medication which made him go to sleep. So we had to stop the appointment right after the first verse.
I got home and actually finished the song and was pretty pleased with it. When we got back together he felt the same and before long we had a demo of it. He would always tell people about that song and I played it on shows for him a number of time. And that led me to writing sessions with other hit writers. WE pitched it and actually got a few cuts on it.

A few years later, I was driven crazy by a friend of mine to go to an audition for a play casting in town. I really didn't want to go as I had given up my acting career a few years before. But I went. There were about 100 people there in one of those cattle call auditions where people would go in and come out almost immediately. When I went in, there were three people behind this big table, kind of like you see on television, and I did one of my songs, an uptempo rocker. I kept thinking they were going to stop me and say "NEXT" and I would be out of this thing and shut my friend up.

I finished my song and one of the men asked "Can you do a ballad with range?" I said yes, and I did the song, Kim and I had written. "ALL ALONE AGAIN." They seemed satisfied and I left, being glad to just get out without being shot down. A couple of months later they called me on my ansering machine (remember those?) to go do the play they were casting in Houston. But I didn't call them back because I was into another project and as I said, I was not really interested in doing a play. A couple of months after that, they called back and asked me if I would be interested in doing the show on Broadway? Again, I didn't call them back.

It turned out that the play, called "THE CIVIL WAR" went on to be nominated for a Tony Award, and ran for a couple of years. They were looking for a early 30's guy from the South for the part they were interested in me for. Travis Tritt ended up doing the part.

But that song was what got me the audition. So you never know where these things are going to take you. Just another interesting aspect of music.

MAB



Hey Mab,

Another fascinating read on how all this gets put together! Who knew you would be covering a song from Les Miz, that was reallly surprising to read. I agree, a variety of songs can open more doors for you. That is one of the reasons, I ventured out into different genres of music. How unfortunate that an opportunity like that didn't work out,, but you know that's how it goes right? It was meant for someone else, and we have no real control over that aspect.

I'm hoping that by highlighting these things will help others take full advantage of the things we can control. Sharing these stories are great opportunity for some of us to learn a great deal. I believe when you have a song of interest, they will definitely be asking for more... I think it should also be noted that to make sure the song you are writing is not something you don't feel at home in...

For example, Heavy Metal is not a genre I know anything about, and would really not work for me as a Songwriter. I've seen other writers try to write in genres so foreign to them, that it's quite comical that they think they have pulled it off successfully. Not that we should not all step outside our comfort zones and try, but having something 'believable' is key...As always, I appreciate the perspective.-Dana

#1160909 - 01/24/20 01:43 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Dayson Offline
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Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
Well,
I have never tried to write a song to fit a particular artist. When I was sending out songs to a named artist I would try to imagine if the song or songs I was sending was a song the artist could do. Some Artists I never thought I had anything for them so didn't send anything.

Write a song for someone deceased? I do have one song my publisher thought I should send to Johnny Cash while he was still here. Who knows?


Hey Ray,

The song you wrote for Johnny Cash, who besides him could sing it? Thanks for chiming in!-Dana

#1160918 - 01/24/20 11:00 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Gary E. Andrews Online content
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Gary E. Andrews  Online Content
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I think Songs are just Songs, and almost anyone could sing almost any Song, with their 'interpretation' bending it to 'fit' their general genre.
A 'good' Song should have that Adaptability, enabling a man or a woman to sing it, in a variety of genres.
If you haven't tried playing your Songs as a blues, do it right now.
Get a jaunty Rhythm going and play it as country.
Rock it and see if you can make it work.
I think lots of Songs CAN work in those variations. Try yours and see. Slow them down. Speed them up.
Varying the Prosody of how the Lyrical vocalization and Melody 'marries' to the tempo, the beat, can be very educational.
And that flexibility of how a Song 'can' be executed widens the potential for who could fit it logically into their repertoire.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1160919 - 01/24/20 11:03 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Gary E. Andrews Online content
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Gary E. Andrews  Online Content
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Case in point: Hayseed Dixie. I first heard of them doing AC/DC Songs. I'm not sure where AC/DC is classified, rock, metal, certainly not Bluegrass, which is how Hayseed Dixie 'covered' their Songs.
Explore the possibilities. It only hurts for a little while. LOL
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hayseed+dixie


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#1160933 - 01/24/20 01:27 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Gary,

Those guys were friends of mine. They actually did that whole thing as a joke for a private record company event and it worked. The next thing they had a record deal and were opening some major artists. Led to a whole bunch of similar acts. "Dred Zepplin" "Run C&W", etc. Most of them were hit writers doing some form ot fun project that just took on a life of it's own. But it does speak to doing songs in different ways.

MAB

Last edited by Marc Barnette; 01/24/20 01:28 PM.
#1160935 - 01/24/20 01:51 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Dayson,
The song my Publisher thought was a good song for Johnny Cash wasn't particularly written for Johnny. As stated I never tried to write songs for any particular artist. Yes a lot of Artists could record the song. Maybe not any of today's artists however.


Ray E. Strode
#1160949 - 01/24/20 06:05 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Dayson Offline
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Originally Posted by Gary E. Andrews
I think Songs are just Songs, and almost anyone could sing almost any Song, with their 'interpretation' bending it to 'fit' their general genre.
A 'good' Song should have that Adaptability, enabling a man or a woman to sing it, in a variety of genres.
If you haven't tried playing your Songs as a blues, do it right now.
Get a jaunty Rhythm going and play it as country.
Rock it and see if you can make it work.
I think lots of Songs CAN work in those variations. Try yours and see. Slow them down. Speed them up.
Varying the Prosody of how the Lyrical vocalization and Melody 'marries' to the tempo, the beat, can be very educational.
And that flexibility of how a Song 'can' be executed widens the potential for who could fit it logically into their repertoire.


Hi Gary,

I agree a good song can work for a number of Artists' I am thinking more in terms of Pitching... True, a song can take on many different styles, some can work, but I think you when you write with an Artist in mind, your song can become more focused.. Sometimes when a song can work in other genres, you have to be conscious of the dialect as well... R&B songs can make great Country songs and vice versa but there may be some lyrical changing and phrasing to make it really work...
But more to the point, when focusing on 'Casting' your song, I think you also have to find that Artists' 'Voice' in the song as well...
meaning.. Can the Artists' relate? Is it something they are going through or have been through... is it true to their Character?
what do you think?

#1160950 - 01/24/20 06:07 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Hey Ray,
I see, thanks for clarifying...

#1160951 - 01/24/20 06:15 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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I never could try to write for anyone. I usually end up sounding like the people I listen to, and i guess that's osmosis.

Although my first favorite band were The Who, and I could never write like them.

Keep in mind that a bad song can also be sung, recorded and produced in any genre, and sound great. If you re-arrange a country song into an R&B song, immediately the people who like R&B start to understand it, or not if they dont like it.

The song is important, but how many covers of Beatles songs sound better than The Beatles? Id say none.

Last edited by Fdemetrio; 01/24/20 06:22 PM.
#1160954 - 01/24/20 06:39 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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One of the problems you have in todays world (and actually this has been around a lot longer than today) is that you pretty much have to make the song SOUND like the people you are pitching to. If you don't, songs are weeded out long before it gets anywhere down the road. Nobody has "ears"any more and so you have to be in the ballpark of those artists. But here's a story about that very issue.

A friend of mine, Frank Meyers wrote a song with one of his co-writers, GAry Baker. Over the years they wrote quite a few and demoed a bunch. One of the songs they felt was a big pop R&B song and demoed it that way. They pitched it a lot but never got any attention at all. So they put it aside and sort of forgot about it. After around 8 years they were revisiting songs and pulled that one out. They felt that they should re-demo it and did another one that was very country. THe song immediately started getting attention and was recorded by major artist John Michael Montgomery. It went to number one. Not long after it was a huge hit in the country market, someone found the original pop demo and pitched it to an Urban top 40 group, called "ALL 4 ONE." That song went to number one in the pop market. And won a Grammy for best vocal performance.
But neither one of those artists would have heard through it with the original demo. It had to be targeted exactly how each of those artists sounded. And this was 1993 for the country verson and 1994 for the pop version. And it's only gotten more demanding since.

Oh yeah, the song was called "I SWEAR."
MAB

#1161010 - 01/25/20 05:15 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Dayson Offline
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
One of the problems you have in todays world (and actually this has been around a lot longer than today) is that you pretty much have to make the song SOUND like the people you are pitching to. If you don't, songs are weeded out long before it gets anywhere down the road. Nobody has "ears"any more and so you have to be in the ballpark of those artists. But here's a story about that very issue.

A friend of mine, Frank Meyers wrote a song with one of his co-writers, GAry Baker. Over the years they wrote quite a few and demoed a bunch. One of the songs they felt was a big pop R&B song and demoed it that way. They pitched it a lot but never got any attention at all. So they put it aside and sort of forgot about it. After around 8 years they were revisiting songs and pulled that one out. They felt that they should re-demo it and did another one that was very country. THe song immediately started getting attention and was recorded by major artist John Michael Montgomery. It went to number one. Not long after it was a huge hit in the country market, someone found the original pop demo and pitched it to an Urban top 40 group, called "ALL 4 ONE." That song went to number one in the pop market. And won a Grammy for best vocal performance.
But neither one of those artists would have heard through it with the original demo. It had to be targeted exactly how each of those artists sounded. And this was 1993 for the country verson and 1994 for the pop version. And it's only gotten more demanding since.

Oh yeah, the song was called "I SWEAR."
MAB


Hey Mab,

Yes, I remember reading about this particular story, it's great reminder of where a great song can go. Imagine, having a great song like that
take 8 years to get anywhere? Wow! you're right, nobody has "ears" anymore, especially today! The frustration, they must have felt sitting on a song like that... Pretty amazing the song held up that long to be recorded. I imagine nowadays, that if you write a song, it probably has a far less chance of holding up for eight years, because music seems to change so quickly. I'm always reading about Music
Publishers or Song Pitchers, advising Songwriters to try to write your song ahead of the current trends, because by the time it even has a chance to be recorded, and released, at least 2yrs could go by! All very true, my thing is how the heck does one do that?
Great discussion, appreciate the insights as always!-Dana

#1161011 - 01/25/20 05:22 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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Originally Posted by Gary E. Andrews
Case in point: Hayseed Dixie. I first heard of them doing AC/DC Songs. I'm not sure where AC/DC is classified, rock, metal, certainly not Bluegrass, which is how Hayseed Dixie 'covered' their Songs.
Explore the possibilities. It only hurts for a little while. LOL
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hayseed+dixie


Hey Gary,

this was pretty cool to watch, yeah I think this kind of thing works for a particular group like this, fun watch!

#1161034 - 01/26/20 11:53 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Dana,

One thing about the music industry, it moves very slowly. When you hear of an act getting signed, you are probably looking at around three years in development, recording songs, writing with hit writers, doing press tours, videos, etc. all of that takes a while. And if you consider that there are multiple acts in development all at the same time, hundreds of songs being released to radio, marketing campaigns, etc. all of that can take years and a very small percentage will ever actually see the light of day. And today, if the artist doesn't already have a pretty large internet and live audience following, it's going to be a tough row to hoe, no matter what you do.

The "Eight year" time period is pretty normal, particularly for some of the bigger songs. A few years back was this enormous hit, "THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME", written by Tom Douglas and Alan Shamblin, two very successful writers, and recorded by Miranda Lambert. That song took 13 years. It took about 5 years to write it. They wrote verse after verse, had a ton of them, put the song away, came back to it, took a long time to get it up to their expectations. Then took years to pitch and promote it, got turned down quite a bit. That went on for about 8 years. It was a ballad, which are nearly impossible to get cut. It finally landed with artist Blake Shelton, who was married to Miranda at the time. Blake held on to it for a while then decided not to record it and let Miranda, who was going through a dry period, have it. It exploded and the rest is history.
But that is a rule rather than exception on many songs. They often go through multiple changes in record lables. I've known of songs that were pitched to the same label over 10 years and three or four changes in presidents, staffs, artists, etc. I've known of people who took 20 years to get songs recorded. I myself got cuts last year on songs that were nearly 30 years old.

Now, it is different in the days of the artist/writer, these inside writers groups, publishing and record companies, that have inside connections. Those go a little faster. A friend of mine, Lance Lee Carpenter, was working for Fema, based out of his home state of Arkansas, and making regular trips to Nashville. Through writers nights, he did what we all do, meet and start working with dozens of artists and other writers. It's a numbers game. You write with a ton, in hopes that one or two take off. Lance is also a pretty good artist, big burly ex-football player and good singer, very much in the Toby Keith vein. He met this 18 year old cute Blonde who had just moved to town named Kelsi Ballerini. They had written several songs when they were both signed to a publishing record company called Black River Entertainment, that was being run by a hit writer himself, Doug Johnson, who had produced tons of hit records and had his own song , THREE WOODEN CROSSES" be the last number one for artist Randy Travis.

One of the songs they brought with them was "LOVE ME LIKE YOU MEAN IT" which was put out and caught fire, going to number one and started both their careers.
Having the inside track on artists, can speed up the process, but it also takes a while to get all that going too.

It's why you always have to be cautious when you hear people talking about "getting a hold" or "having a meeting." Even getting a cut doesn't nessasarily mean they are going to be released. My own efforts with Warner Brothers artist Frankie Ballard, I wrote 14 songs with him, some of which got him his writing and record deal. But they were all rejected when his label and publisher got their own writers involved, and often what got them there is the first to be weeded out. I was told a few years later that many at his label thought they should have recorded some of those songs first and they felt that might have been a reason it took him a while to gain traction.

You just don't know. All you can do is step into the batters box. Some times it takes a while, some times it goes fast, sometimes it doesn't do anything. You just keep swinging, and every thing you can do, from writing a lot of songs, making them sound great, getting them to the right people, working with other writers and artists, running in solid circles, surrounding yourself with talent, working at it all the time, all helps you improve your odds.

That's what you do.
MAB

#1161090 - 01/27/20 05:39 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Dana,

One thing about the music industry, it moves very slowly. When you hear of an act getting signed, you are probably looking at around three years in development, recording songs, writing with hit writers, doing press tours, videos, etc. all of that takes a while. And if you consider that there are multiple acts in development all at the same time, hundreds of songs being released to radio, marketing campaigns, etc. all of that can take years and a very small percentage will ever actually see the light of day. And today, if the artist doesn't already have a pretty large internet and live audience following, it's going to be a tough row to hoe, no matter what you do.

The "Eight year" time period is pretty normal, particularly for some of the bigger songs. A few years back was this enormous hit, "THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME", written by Tom Douglas and Alan Shamblin, two very successful writers, and recorded by Miranda Lambert. That song took 13 years. It took about 5 years to write it. They wrote verse after verse, had a ton of them, put the song away, came back to it, took a long time to get it up to their expectations. Then took years to pitch and promote it, got turned down quite a bit. That went on for about 8 years. It was a ballad, which are nearly impossible to get cut. It finally landed with artist Blake Shelton, who was married to Miranda at the time. Blake held on to it for a while then decided not to record it and let Miranda, who was going through a dry period, have it. It exploded and the rest is history.
But that is a rule rather than exception on many songs. They often go through multiple changes in record lables. I've known of songs that were pitched to the same label over 10 years and three or four changes in presidents, staffs, artists, etc. I've known of people who took 20 years to get songs recorded. I myself got cuts last year on songs that were nearly 30 years old.

Now, it is different in the days of the artist/writer, these inside writers groups, publishing and record companies, that have inside connections. Those go a little faster. A friend of mine, Lance Lee Carpenter, was working for Fema, based out of his home state of Arkansas, and making regular trips to Nashville. Through writers nights, he did what we all do, meet and start working with dozens of artists and other writers. It's a numbers game. You write with a ton, in hopes that one or two take off. Lance is also a pretty good artist, big burly ex-football player and good singer, very much in the Toby Keith vein. He met this 18 year old cute Blonde who had just moved to town named Kelsi Ballerini. They had written several songs when they were both signed to a publishing record company called Black River Entertainment, that was being run by a hit writer himself, Doug Johnson, who had produced tons of hit records and had his own song , THREE WOODEN CROSSES" be the last number one for artist Randy Travis.

One of the songs they brought with them was "LOVE ME LIKE YOU MEAN IT" which was put out and caught fire, going to number one and started both their careers.
Having the inside track on artists, can speed up the process, but it also takes a while to get all that going too.

It's why you always have to be cautious when you hear people talking about "getting a hold" or "having a meeting." Even getting a cut doesn't nessasarily mean they are going to be released. My own efforts with Warner Brothers artist Frankie Ballard, I wrote 14 songs with him, some of which got him his writing and record deal. But they were all rejected when his label and publisher got their own writers involved, and often what got them there is the first to be weeded out. I was told a few years later that many at his label thought they should have recorded some of those songs first and they felt that might have been a reason it took him a while to gain traction.

You just don't know. All you can do is step into the batters box. Some times it takes a while, some times it goes fast, sometimes it doesn't do anything. You just keep swinging, and every thing you can do, from writing a lot of songs, making them sound great, getting them to the right people, working with other writers and artists, running in solid circles, surrounding yourself with talent, working at it all the time, all helps you improve your odds.

That's what you do.
MAB



Hey Mab,

This is one of the most frustrating things about the Music Business, but also one of the most hopeful things too. Imagine, a song you've written 30yrs ago, just now getting a cut on? Cool! Some of the songs, I wrote when I started on my journey seriously, I think now, the odds are low, but then again, they were some really good ones, that has potential...could they go somewhere, perhaps, this story is testament to that possibility, that's the cool part. I know this is the exception, not the rule. lol The song, THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME, is such an incredible write! It's one of the songs that I "Study." It's so powerful! I go and watch the video too. When I want to be reminded of what real Songwriting is, I go there.

That song LOVE ME LIKE YOU MEAN IT again, this is a great song to study as for 'Commercial Songwriting,' not putting it down, just a great example of the ingredients you want to make sure your song has! I love this song! I was just playing it for a good friend of mine, in reference for an Artist that could possible record a song I had recently wrote and am very excited about. I wanted him to know who it could possibly fit, sound wise. Plus this song is just a great example of what Publishers ask for. Positive uptempo songs! I do remember your story about Frankie Ballard, I thought how awful that must feel, to know that you can put so much effort into something and it feels like it's about to jump off, and all of a sudden it changes in a heartbeat.

One of the hard things to understand is that, a Major Label, will sign an Artist for the qualities and talents that they have and as soon as they sign on the line, they want to change them into something else altogether. That's a head-scratcher right there. It's like saying I bought this Honda and now I want to make it a Buick! I hope Frankie is doing well and I hope the songs that you guys have written together find another outlet. Great story, frustrating but also inspiring, Get in the batter's box and keep swinging away, like you said! Cool!!
Thanks!-Dana

Last edited by Dayson; 01/27/20 05:47 PM.
#1161109 - 01/28/20 10:04 AM Re: Song Casting [Re: Dayson]  
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Hey Dana,

Nice post. I believe Frankie is doing well, He still is on the road a good deal and has gotten married and had a baby over the past couple of years. I haven't seen him since he dropped into one of my shows about 3 years ago. Everyone runs in different circles and you just move on. Was an enjoyable time and glad he has done well.

Yes, the weird thing about labels are that they do try to change exactly the thing they were attracted to from the begining. A very odd situation. Of course, when they are putting up money, there are a lot of opinions in there. Part of it is about what to record and what to release, etc. Every decision has a lot of input. But also speaks to some things just taking a long time or never get what they deserve. Songs, artists, labels, publishers, producers, etc. there are many things that simply never "make it."
Even the "Sure things" like those songs, are not always so sure.

Trying to figure out the modern music industry is pretty much a waste of time. You can't tell what is going to work at all. So you try to be as good as you can, do everything you can and then just keep going.

MAB

#1161126 - 01/28/20 06:07 PM Re: Song Casting [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Originally Posted by Marc Barnette
Hey Dana,

Nice post. I believe Frankie is doing well, He still is on the road a good deal and has gotten married and had a baby over the past couple of years. I haven't seen him since he dropped into one of my shows about 3 years ago. Everyone runs in different circles and you just move on. Was an enjoyable time and glad he has done well.

Yes, the weird thing about labels are that they do try to change exactly the thing they were attracted to from the begining. A very odd situation. Of course, when they are putting up money, there are a lot of opinions in there. Part of it is about what to record and what to release, etc. Every decision has a lot of input. But also speaks to some things just taking a long time or never get what they deserve. Songs, artists, labels, publishers, producers, etc. there are many things that simply never "make it."
Even the "Sure things" like those songs, are not always so sure.

Trying to figure out the modern music industry is pretty much a waste of time. You can't tell what is going to work at all. So you try to be as good as you can, do everything you can and then just keep going.

MAB



Thanks Mab,

I agree. you know the interesting thing is, there's a lot time and possibly money being spent on why Songs work. I find it fascinating that it seems now, they can figure out what Songs have a better chance at making it. Lots of data now to draw from. Funny thing is that no matter how much time and money is spent, you can't really ever know what will. If everyone could do it they would right?
Thanks for the input!-Dana


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