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#575009 - 01/12/08 02:09 PM When is a demo good enough to call it done?!  
Joined: Jan 2007
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TAMERA64 Offline
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TAMERA64  Offline
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Ok everyone, I would love your thoughts on this one. The past 6 months I have cut about 8 to 10 demo's. Here is what I am running into. I have sent them to different contests and had people in the biz listen to them. I want to know when you can call a demo good enough to be done? I hear from one person, oh that would be great if you cut the song again edgier. (If you know what I mean by that) or recut the song so I can hear a guy sing it instead of a girl or vice versa. (ugh!) Or this is the one I hear sometimes "Oh if you had just taken the melody line up higher on those two lines in the chorus and then it might sell" OH MY GOSH! Here are my thoughts. Is it impossible for a artist to not have the ability to improvise and take the melody up where they want to? Like a diva would do? Do I need to recut the song so they can hear someone else do it for them first? I thought a great artist could do it. Someone just recently commented on a song that Dave and I wrote saying it was a great song but if the chorus just went up higher vocally. First of all it was cut in a low key. I sang it low, because I am an alto and they went ahead and cut it low although I would prefer the demo be cut higher because it is more appealing. I have another song written with a female co writer that some well known people in the biz say it would be a decent pitch but cut it edgier like a Gretchen Wilson style. I talked to our producer and he was appauled and offended that a great artist or other studio musicians couldn't see through that and cut it the way they want it if they truly want the song for it's lyrics and basic melody structure. He thinks people are out for our money. I am finding myself becoming more confused by this process. I feel like a am throwing money down a rat hole. I have spent hundreds of dollars to present these songs only to have so many varying opinions. Is anyone frustrated like this???! When is enough, enough and you just keep pitching the song as is and eventually the right person will like it. I am not growing money tree's in the back yard. The last time I looked there were 3 small pines.

So now I am back to the point of being so disheartened by the demo process that I am currently working on finishing my own pop CD that I have been working on for 5 years now and then try and pitch those tracks for t.v. or movie spots. At least there is some hope in that and they are always looking for bits to use.

Does anyone have some good advice on the demo thing? I would love to hear how you handle it. At this point it makes me not want to cut demo's because all I am hearing is "If ya only... could you redo....if a girl or guy would of....yada yada..."
Thanks!

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

Last edited by TAMERA64; 01/12/08 02:10 PM.
#575018 - 01/12/08 02:44 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Bill Robinson Offline
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Hi Tammy
Seems to me it is a matter of how many folks are telling you the same thing.
If you have one publisher telling you a song needs to be edgier that is one thing. If you have Ten publishers saying it that's another.
I would not take one persons word for it.
I think it is not uncommon for songs to be rejected, more than once. For a variety of reasons.
I think you need to keep pitching the songs. Not getting a cut doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad song but getting the same response from everyone might.

Walt Aldridge said "I Loved Her First" was turned down by every studio in Nashville. It went to number one.

At least you have them listening, LOL.


Bill
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#575021 - 01/12/08 02:47 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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You can't please everyone, one mans meat is another mans poison. I've only re-demoed one song because someone wanted to hear a country song done as bluegrass. It's still not cut but I do prefer the bluegrass version. If someone likes a song but wants to hear it done with little changes, let them make the changes to suit themselves, but no co-write share, that might be what they are hinting at. Please yourself, let the chips fall where they may.


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#575031 - 01/12/08 03:13 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Jean Bullock Offline
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Well, you have to consider the sources. Contests? Isn't it possible that some of those are fixed? Isn't possible that the judges may not be very well qualified? Have you tried joining TAXI and take advantage of their services? Have you sent the demos to actual publishers and producers? In the Songwriter's Market, there are listings which specify exactly what people are looking for. I haven't looked at it for a while but I recall seeing some producers saying even a decent home recording is OK as long as it's a great song and I have seen a lot of listings calling for radio-ready songs.


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#575034 - 01/12/08 03:19 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Nashville Tennessee
Both Bill and Everett are correct. (edit: and Jean too, sorry Jean, you were posting as I was smile )

Some folks in the biz are paid to find reasons to reject. If several people give you the same reason, you might consider making a change.

Also, you can't please everyone...but there may be some people you specifically want to please. If you're looking to develop a positive relationship with a certain publisher, producer, or etc., and they make a suggestion, then you might think it's worth making the change. If someone who you want to impress gives you such advice, you might ask, "Would it be ok if I resubmit this to you after making some changes?" This shows them that you value their opinion enough to follow their advice.

Then, there are the folks who will recommend themselves or their friends to make the changes. Often, they are only looking to get your money, but sometimes they are sincere. A good test is, "Who will pay for it?" Again, if it's someone you and your team (you do have a team, don't you?) KNOW is legitimate and important to your career, it might be worth the investment.

You probably get your demos with both vocals and backtracks. Having backtracks, you can make changes in the vocals without the expense of recutting the musicians. A demo can be redone by emailing the backtracks to an online demo singer, several singers offer this service (I know JPF's own Heather Cowles does this).

Some songwriters demo a song twice, in two keys, usually a fifth or fourth apart, so a variety of singers can do it. At the session, they'll keep the drum track and cut the song again with the other instruments. Some will even cut demos of a song with different grooves, one more "laid back" the other "edgier" maybe even one that rocks and another more like a ballad. I'd recommend this expense to songwriters who are getting decent cuts or who have publishers paying for the demos.

Don't be surprised if, after making changes, some folks come up with other "reasons to reject."

All the Best,
Mike

Last edited by Mike Dunbar; 01/12/08 03:47 PM.

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-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#575042 - 01/12/08 03:30 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Jean Bullock]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Hi Tammy why do you keep beating yourself up? Demos are refused for a whole host of reasons and sometimes the reason they actually give is not the real reason for not wanting the song.
As for competitions well they are very much a lottery for the reasons explained during the A I threads on the same subject and your song not winning is no reflection on its quality.
I agree that anyone in the business used to appraising demos should be able to see past a word change or a key change or a male voice when they want a female voice. They should also be able to recognise that a piano vocal should be good enough to sell a song and hear past that. The problem is most of the time they do not. You just have to learn by your mistakes and make changes as and when necessary. Ask them if I change that or redo this will you accept my song? then see what they say.
You must do your homework before submitting and a lot of these probs will be ironed out. Ask them exactly what they want.

#575048 - 01/12/08 04:02 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Bob Cushing Offline
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I say just do what you do and let the chips fall where they may.


bc
#575053 - 01/12/08 04:13 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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DukeWill Offline
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DukeWill  Offline
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I listened to your myspace songs Tammy and you have talent for sure. I'm a bit surprised by your post... it makes me wonder who is saying these things. OTOH, if you are just burnt out by rejection, that is understandable. Part of the business but it is definitely tough to stay focused sometimes.

P.S. One reason I'm surprised is because some of the comments you mentioned don't seem sincere to me. Like you, I'm thinking that saying "If this line went up" or whatever... that seems silly. They can just sing it the way they want.

#575093 - 01/12/08 07:40 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: DukeWill]  
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TAMERA64 Offline
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TAMERA64  Offline
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Thanks to all of you!! Your comments are very very valuable to me. I can give you a very clear example of something that happened to me and my co writer Natalie just one month ago. Our song "Weapon of Mass Seduction" a catchy up tempo country song placed in the finals of the Texas Songwriting Cruise. We went on the cruise and had a chance to pitch it to well known platinum selling songwriters and publishers. One session we sat in at, a man that is a HUGE songwriter/producer told us the song was not right at all. He said it should not be sung by a woman about a woman. He said a man should be singing it about a girl.He told us the angle was ALL wrong and found it all very confusing. I sat in the back of the room with my mouth shut totally disagreeing with him on this. I really felt he hadn't read our lyrics through completely. It all made sense to me. We were very thorough thinking this through before even cutting the song. The song is about a woman sitting at a bar hoping for a date and suddenly a HOT girl walks in and all the guys head are turning to look at her and the girl at the bar thinks "oh great, now I am out of luck with this girl walking in tonight" You get the idea. Something a girl would sing out of jealousy for another girl. Everyone else in the room got it. My co writer was distraught after they said rewrite it and change the vocal to a man. I agreed with my co writer and not them on this one. I let it roll of me because I am used to rejection. LOL who isn't in this businss??

She later found Jason Blume and had a songwriting critiquing session with him. She presented him our song "Weapon" and he totally disagreed with the Big famous songwriter and agreed with us that is should be sung by a woman about a woman. But he also wanted to hear it edgier. So here we have two different top selling songwriters whose opinions we value telling us two different things. If we want to go with Jason's thoughts on this we would have to spend money to re cut with an edgier track. So once again. Does a "well known artist or producer" need us to hold their hand and recut the song for them so they can HEAR IT just how they want it before they re do the whole thing anyway. Do you see how confusing this whole thing can be? So this is where Jason's advice came in good. If two people say different things perhaps it is a matter of opinion. If several people all say that the same thing is bothering them perhaps a change in the song is needed.

I am with most of you on this. I am going to leave most things "AS IS". YOu like it or you don't. If you want to flavor it up, revamp it. GO FOR IT!! Be my guest. But you can only spend so much money.

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

Last edited by TAMERA64; 01/12/08 07:55 PM.
#575109 - 01/12/08 09:07 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Monica L. Yasher Offline
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Tammy,

I experience your pain as well. I will only redo if I have at least 3 opinions all bringing up the same change. Like that EVER happens (LOL)! To reduce costs, you may want to only do acoustic and then do the full blown after you get some feedback. It saves hundreds. I have also taken a new approach this year. I am meeting with a songwriting coach and critiquing prior to even doing the acoustic. We have 2 hours in one song. One that I have an acoustic version of, we have 4 hours of tweeking-still have one session to go. He goes over it with a fine tooth comb line by line and I am learning a great deal about the business and songwriting by having a one on one with a songwriting coach.

Keep in mind not everyone has the same experiences as you. I am guessing that the one on one with Jason left room for more conversation-more explanation of what is going on. Where the first person did not have that conversation. I had a line in my song that with everything going through my mind and what I already said in the song, I thought everyone would get. It was sailed into the bright sunset-which meant death. The person told me that no one was going to get that. Keep in mind the average listener doesn't want to read into what you are saying. It all has to be stated in what? Maybe 100 words or less? I think just let anyone listen to it-people you don't know, say nothing, ask what it is about? You'll know if you did what you wanted to do or not and whose opinion is more correct. Sometimes you have to pitch 100 times and guess what? you just have a sore arm!

#575116 - 01/12/08 09:31 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Monica L. Yasher]  
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Moker Jarrett Offline
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Moker Jarrett  Offline
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Tammy,
I bleed along with you on this issue. I've had 20+ songs pro demo'd in the last 6 months or so and it is really hard to get a demo perfect spending what we do to get them to that point. I have done a few things to help in the process. SongU has a coaching process you can send your worktape through before you go to demo. These coaches are not the peanut gallery, they are hit songwriters, emmy award winners, etc. and for the most part I trust their opinions. What I am told about my songs must also resonate with me and my co-writer after discussing it. I also have the additional filter of a songplugger who listens at the worktape level too, for a couple of reasons,to pick up on pitfalls, and to help through the plethera of songs we're pumping out and find the most marketable, pitchable, current market trend songs to go forward to the pro demo process with. This sounds like alot of work, and it does take a commitment, but in the long run I think we are going forward with the best songs, and the best version of that song. Now, everyone's a critic, and I post alot of those pro demo's here and on other sites and Lord knows everyone has an opinion. But once I have been through this whole process I've described I'm at a point where I can call it my best effort at that given time for that song, not that I wouldn't revisit it for an artist or publisher. Case in point, Dale and I have a song a young artist is hopefully going to cut this spring, his publisher called me and said hey , he loves this song but the lyric is for a little older artist could we try and edit it to be for a younger singer. Before the day was through they had the revisions and well time will tell if it ends up getting cut, so that answers one of your questions about the artist making changes right there. Write well, trust those whom you know to be very experienced and knowledgeable, but once you've worked and worked a tune don't fall victim to every critic's critique, trust yourself first and foremost, especially once you've developed a system that helps you step back and take a look at your song from a perspective of doing the very best you can, through the very best of your network and then it becomes a marketing effort and you can go on to create something else. Good luck, we all need it...MJ

#575117 - 01/12/08 09:34 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
Joined: Jan 2005
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Jill Sansores/JPJill Offline
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good wishes Tammy, sounds like you've been compltely busy and creative - good going!

i need a muse.... sigh.. hehehehe


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wishes and creative blisses...

Jill Sansores
(a.k.a. Just Plain Jill)
#575118 - 01/12/08 09:37 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Monica L. Yasher]  
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Lynn Orloff Offline
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Lynn Orloff  Offline
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PA of the great USA
Hi Tammy,

I agree that there is generally strength in numbers. If many are saying the same thing there may be some merit to what they are saying. So much is preference and individual tastes. The question is how much do we believe in our song(s). Do we sell our souls or sell the farm, not a good idea. Bill gave a great example above of "I Loved Her First". Turned down by every studio and then suddenly somewhere someone w/discernment and obviously taste heard it as having potential. Stories like that give songwriter's hope and we need it in this business.

As far as the quotes about "going higher in the chorus in a few spots", I must say I can understand that. Although I am not sure what song you are talking about specifically there, I can't tell you the times I listened to a song over on our MP3 forum and the song is going, going and then crash. The verse melodies are fabulous and keep me interested and I'm all excited as it builds toward the chorus and then wham..disappointment. The chorus actually winds up melodically dismal when in just a few spots if they had taken it higher I felt it made the difference between night and day. Minor changes but big results. This has happened several times and I feel bad for the writer because they are so close. I do speak up when I hear that happen. It's like you've had the appetizer, soup and salad and they are delicious and keep you wanting more but then the main entree' comes and it's a disappointment. Those missing high notes are like those special seasonings that could've made the meal excellent. I do have a preference/palet for those high notes so I am partial there.

There will always be differences of opinion/tastes w/publishers, songwriting experts and listeners BUT for the most part... in the end.... a really good solid song will/should find success even if sadly it takes a long time getting there. To quote your song title "Dreams Do Come True"! Hang in there! smile

Best,
Lynn

Last edited by Lynn Orloff; 01/12/08 09:38 PM.

My Music at Soundclick
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=788266

~call it a blessing or call it a curse, but I see all of life in verse~

Always open to collaborations smile

God Bless Our Military!!!
#575121 - 01/12/08 09:44 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
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Hi Guys! I do have a songwriting coach at SongU! It is the best thing I did this past year. I have run all my songs by him first and got his ok. So that is another piece of this whole thing that leave me baffled. I value his opinion. He writes and produces major things and has loved alot of material but he also has told me the songs he didn't care for. I repect his opinion. But it is really getting to the point where I am getting varying opinions all over the place. I think I am just going to go with my gut instinct. If I get one major player that likes it I think I will just stick with what I've got.

Thanks!
Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

#575122 - 01/12/08 09:45 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Monica L. Yasher]  
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Dave Rice Online content
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Hi Tammy:

You are bound to get many opinions on the subject of demos. There are those who would advise you to get a "Pro" demo (especially in Nashville) before pitching. Most of them have an "axe to grind" and are somehow connected to the money trail.

Many would advise you to record the song with just a few (or only one) instruments while making sure that the vocal stands out above the music. IMHO, a listener with "good ears" will recognize a good song played with accompaniment by a kazoo band.

Naturally, all of us need to network well to achieve success. If you don't have a name of somebody at the Publisher or Label, etc. to whom you are pitching, your odds are pretty slim. Even then, you need to send them the type of song/genre/artist they are needing. I rate networking as being nearly as important as talent. Many well-heeled songwriters (with established reputations) will spend the money to have a song demoed by several vocalists (male versus female) in order to better pitch it to the A&R types.

There is no magic formula. Just as others have said, you need to believe in the song, have the courage to pitch it carefully to the right people and let the chips fall where they may. One listener's meat is another's potatoes!

Another factor would be whether or not you are pitching the song as only the writer or as both, writer and performer.

I admire Bob Cushing's approach. If you like the song and are happy with the demo, let the chips fall where they may.

All my best,

Dave Rice

#575123 - 01/12/08 09:52 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Monica L. Yasher]  
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One thing that I could follow up with is... what do I know, first... second... I would think that if one is new to the game, a songwriter who does not have a pedigree... that the song had better be absolutely phenomenal, else, don't waste time on it if you are pitching to the big industry. If one is pitching to the scores of independent artists, I figure it doesn't require such a knockout song.

I'll give you an example and I could name many. Years ago, the first time I heard "I Like It I Love It" by Tim McGraw, I said "That's a hit record." It seems impossible for that not to be a hit. Yet they say the catalogs are full of hits. I don't know, I have not seen into those mysterious publishers' catalogs. But anyway, hopefully, you get my point.

Do YOU believe in the song? In a really, really BIG way? Then trust your instincts.

I just did my first session in Nashville. In studio, the clock is ticking, you can't just jack around and keep recording unless you're rich. Wouldn't it be nice. I like the songs we got done but there are numerous ways I could go with each song. There are also things I would change with more money. For sure! But I don't have the luxury of much experimentation.

It's a tough, tough business, especially paying for your own recordings.

As for disagreeing with an expert, never be afraid to trust yourself. I did this in Nashville. Who am I... it's my first session, haha. The harmony vocal singer was singing a part. I let him do about three run-throughs so that I could confirm what I heard and I finally said "Uh, I'm sure y'all think I'm crazy... but that isn't being sung right." They both looked at me like I'm loony tunes and gave their retort. I said "Nope, I'm sorry, you guys are the experts, but I am just positive about this. Please isolate my vocal and play it back." He did. I said, "Okay, isolate the harmony and play it back." Then I had him play them back together. I pointed out to the them the error. After a minute of jockeying for position, the producer finally said "He's right." And off we went, doing it the right way.

The funny thing about this is that I sat there not trusting my ears at first. But thank goodness, I finally KNEW I was right and spoke up.

The same thing happened with a chart I wrote. The band played the bridge wrong. After they played it, I told them that I think the bridge was played wrong or else I wrote it wrong (I was trying to be nice, haha.) The session leader went over the chart with the song playing and said "He's right, we played it wrong. The chart is right. Let's do it over."

Of course, no big deal, they're trying to nail a song quickly. We just did it over and they got it right away. But it was good to know my chart was right, haha.

So, trust yourself if you *really* feel you are right. And pray that you are. smile

#575124 - 01/12/08 09:52 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Tammy all good advice but one special thing that has not been covered. Trust your own judgement and opinions from someone who knows what they are talking about who you can trust. Do not take things at face value.

#575140 - 01/12/08 10:35 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Tammy you made me feel your songwriting angst and this came. Maybe we need a pick-me-up. Can anyone add to this...


Sometimes it seems we're the only one with dreams,
Still we wonder if they ever will come true,
If we ask the sun to shine alittle brighter,
It might help to chase away a cloud or two.

Shine on us,
Light the way,
Give us hope that we can't always find ourselves,
Shine on us,
Light the way,
Lift us up so we can help somebody else.

We could sing a song that helps to move a mountain,
With a melody that's like a work of art,
And the words would spring like water from a fountain,
Flowing like a stream to heal somebody's heart.




Last edited by Lynn Orloff; 01/12/08 10:43 PM.

My Music at Soundclick
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=788266

~call it a blessing or call it a curse, but I see all of life in verse~

Always open to collaborations smile

God Bless Our Military!!!
#575165 - 01/13/08 01:16 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Lynn Orloff]  
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Very nice Lynn! Thanks for sharing the beautiful words. It is a great start to something beautiful! And to all the rest of you. I value your thoughts and opinions!

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

#575179 - 01/13/08 02:08 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Tammy,

What you are going thru is completely the "norm" everyone in the business has an opinion. Trust yourself. It does sound like you put thought and had business input...and yeah you are going to find people that don't like what you did with the song. That's ok... you asked and he gave his opinion. But after spending time and money working it I can understand how it gets confusing from one opinion to the other.

I work with a pro songwriter and he does not fully demo. He does acoustics only but he has the luxury of fully demoing when he chooses to but he does pitch just a guitar vocal quite a bit...

I think its that old saying of you need experience but they won't hire you till you have experience....I think its similar with demo's. If you have a personal relationship with an artist or manager they take the time to really listen and can tell if the song is something their artist would say but, until that time we are all in the same place, the demos have to be awesome.

one more thought...the bells and whistles don't make a great song
the melody and lyrics do...

Good luck, it sounds like you are off and running...

#575185 - 01/13/08 02:23 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Kathy Bampfield]  
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Hey girl,
A demo is merely to show someone the song. So, a demo is good enough when someone hears it and says, "that's a great song."

Yes, there are industry standards for demos, but a great song is a great song. I've sold songs over the phone by singing them without music. I guess it all depends. Some songs are dependent upon musical hooks which need to be represented. It's hard to show a great guitar or other instrumental hook line without recording it. But, the purpose of a demo is to show the song. That's it. So, if you've done that, you've achieved the purpose. Selling the song is an entirely different subject. It's all about the networking. I've heard some horrible demos of some amazing tunes that later became hits.

Take care,
Heidi


"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Paul McCartney
#575187 - 01/13/08 02:36 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Heidi Thompson]  
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Tammy,

I think Heidi has it!

show the song...


#575190 - 01/13/08 02:46 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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A demo is done when it "demonstrates" the song the way you want it to, in such a way as to achieve the goals you have for it.

If you are pitching to Nashville, you must understand that the producers and A&R people there are used to hearing demos that sound like radio-ready masters.

Comments about "making the chorus higher" are not comments about the demo; they are comments about the SONG. The best thing you can do for yourself regarding demos is to MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE THAT THE SONG IS DONE before you even think about a demo.

Finally, understand that the demo is WAY less important than the song. If you read between the lines, maybe people are really telling you that they don't think your song is ready.

Good luck.

Last edited by TrumanCoyote; 01/13/08 02:48 AM.
#575192 - 01/13/08 03:24 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TrumanCoyote]  
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I've got one question: How much test marketing do you with a song before you start heading out for the punishment?


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#575200 - 01/13/08 03:50 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TrumanCoyote]  
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I think they call it 'having ears.' Some 'ears' can hear an acapella lyric/melody (over the phone, as Heidi attests) and know IF it's a good song. Some can hear it with a single guitar or piano accompaniment. They say Kenny Chesney has to hear a full band production, like learning a cover song.

Production can make a bad song sound like a good song. But odds are when someone is making the 'buy' decision, if the song is flawed, all your efforts are in vain.

If the component parts aren't there, properly constructed in order and timing, no singer or producer or musician can make it a good song.

A song is a lyric and a melody. All else is accompaniment. The 'character' of the 'voice,' literally the vocal sound, but also the persona of the 'character' who is telling the story in the lyric must have 'hook factor.' The listener must be engaged, hooked by the lyric, want to hear the story, identify with the character, or empathize or sympathize with the character.

To do that the word meanings must be communicated. Words can be drowned in the harmonies, the instrumentation, or lost in enunciation. 'Communication' must be 'sent.' And it must be 'received.' Some are sent, but not enunciated well enough to be received. If the listener loses a word they may lose a line. The rhyme word at the end of the line is strategic, usually the object of the verb which serves the noun. If they miss the rhyme word the whole sentence may not make sense, and serve its purpose in 'exposition,' advancing the story, setting the scene, showing the action, the character of the characters. If you lose a line you may lose a verse or chorus. You have a limited number of words and lines to deliver the total message.

If the listener doesn't receive the communication they may not be motivated to buy. As a songwriter, you are the first listener. Your judgment is strategic. Those who hear it can give you feedback, market research. How good is their judgment? What's it based on? It may be good or bad or indifferent. The people you pitch to may have 'ears,' judgment, or not. Anyone, including the songwriter, may have preconceptions the keep them from 'getting' it. What part of this can you control most? You, the first listener. You have to be discriminating, meticulous, ruthless as an editor.

The chorus is the place where the emotion intensifies, and the lyrical communication sums up, makes the point the character wants to get across, to get the listener to relate. You can tweak lyrics, selecting stronger words and phrases, refining your original ad libs and inspirations. You can tweak the enunciation of those words. You can tweak melodies, making the pitch go higher or lower to achieve the demanded communication, or shorten or lengthen the duration of a note. Sometimes a note robs the word of meaning, and becomes only a note and not a word. You can tweak it to correct that.

A demo can be as simple as necessary to communicate the lyric and melody. It can be orchestral, but still has to communicate the lyric and melody.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#575203 - 01/13/08 04:28 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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niteshift Online content
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Yep, gotta agree. The song and the demo of the song are two different things.

If either the song itself is not completed, or the demo is rough ( i.e. not properly arranged, played and sung ) there is not much hope in playing with the big boys.

Would have to agree with Gary, that the standard is exceptionally high these days, as mentioned, near release quality.

Just do the best job you can do with the resources available, and hopefully take it from there.

cheers, niteshift

#575242 - 01/13/08 11:45 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: niteshift]  
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DukeWill Offline
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Wow, Gary, that is quite a post. Really.

#575280 - 01/13/08 02:41 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: DukeWill]  
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Thanks again everyone. And Hi Heidi! I wish I was you and could sing over the telephone and sell a song! Lucky you!

In most cases I will always believe a good part of it is who you know. I will keep plugging away. I just thought someone might have some magic formula to all this. Apparently not. It's just a long road that you have to decide wether you want to walk it or not. I may as well enjoy the journey and try and not be frustrated along the way. Thanks!

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

#575316 - 01/13/08 05:43 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Hi Tammy - the best advice I can give is to echo what others have said - don't spend money on a demo until the song is exactly the way you want it. That means getting a simple, but very well done acoustic worktape of the song & asking 3 or 4 people you really trust to give you feedback on it, then making those adjustments you agree with. Only then would I spend money on a demo.

In the case of the big guy who Jason Blume disagreed with... there's someone who isn't looking at your song's viability... he's looking at it within the framework of how he (a male songwriter) would have written the song. I've learned in voice, that just because someone has a big resume, doesn't mean they can teach effectively. I'd be more inclined to listen to Jason - he's travelled the same road as you.

What would be really cool, is if you were able to talk to one artist for whom you are pitching a song. I know it's a dream, but wouldn't it help so much! If you could have a conversation with them, and ask 'who on your team looks for songs for you, and what do they look for? When the song comes to you, what is it that makes you decide it's the right song for you?" Knowing what an artist looks for in their music might help in designing a song to fit their needs. Having a relationship with one or more artists would be very helpful (networking/who you know). Pitching songs to up & coming artists & bands might help (you may be doing this already).

Lastly, the real truth is that it is terribly difficult to get songs to artists at all, and even if you do, it's very unlikely that, out of all the songs to choose from, ours will be cut. So while I think it is important to be willing to listen & learn, I do think we need to follow our own hearts when considering revising an already good song. It's a balance. And film/tv is a great idea.

Whatever you do, hang in there and trust that you have talent. It's the ones who perservere who make it, IMO.


Vikki Flawith: Songwriter/Composer, Singer/Voice Teacher

12Feb10- *NEW BLOG: "BE YOUR OWN GURU ;)"

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#575398 - 01/13/08 11:24 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Dave Rice Online content
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Hey Gang:

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed replies by DukeWill (Bill) and Gary Andrews. Very well said and extremely nice of Bill to share his recent Nashville experience. Once again, Lynn Orloff has demonstrated her lyrical abilities swimmingly.

You guys and gals are the most!

Dave

#575475 - 01/14/08 09:40 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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tammy

we have to be very tough on our own songs and have a few trusted sources for honest feedback

here's my process:

1 find a great aong idea

2 write a decent lyric balancing inspiration with craft

3 get feedback / self critique considering factors in
Ande's Lyric Writing Tips
http://www.jpfolks.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=537816

4 place the lyric with a talented melody writer

5 get back a first draft rough demo

6 listen and evaluate it

7 get professional critiques

8 consider the feedback

9 let the song sit for a few weeks or months to reapporach it with a fresh perspective

10 rewrite

11 cut a second draft cowriter recording

12 rewrite

13 determine if it's ready and worthy to demo
if so send it off, or have cowrite do it

14 receive the recording and put it up on the internet

15) pitch it

16) (it think i'm going to add this step, put it on a CD and put it up for sale on itunes and such)

writing strong songs is a process
it's hard when you get conflicting opinions from pros

songwriters tend to be tougher on songs than fans


ande



Originally Posted by TAMERA64
Ok everyone, I would love your thoughts on this one. The past 6 months I have cut about 8 to 10 demo's. Here is what I am running into. I have sent them to different contests and had people in the biz listen to them. I want to know when you can call a demo good enough to be done? I hear from one person, oh that would be great if you cut the song again edgier. (If you know what I mean by that) or recut the song so I can hear a guy sing it instead of a girl or vice versa. (ugh!) Or this is the one I hear sometimes "Oh if you had just taken the melody line up higher on those two lines in the chorus and then it might sell" OH MY GOSH! Here are my thoughts. Is it impossible for a artist to not have the ability to improvise and take the melody up where they want to? Like a diva would do? Do I need to recut the song so they can hear someone else do it for them first? I thought a great artist could do it. Someone just recently commented on a song that Dave and I wrote saying it was a great song but if the chorus just went up higher vocally. First of all it was cut in a low key. I sang it low, because I am an alto and they went ahead and cut it low although I would prefer the demo be cut higher because it is more appealing. I have another song written with a female co writer that some well known people in the biz say it would be a decent pitch but cut it edgier like a Gretchen Wilson style. I talked to our producer and he was appauled and offended that a great artist or other studio musicians couldn't see through that and cut it the way they want it if they truly want the song for it's lyrics and basic melody structure. He thinks people are out for our money. I am finding myself becoming more confused by this process. I feel like a am throwing money down a rat hole. I have spent hundreds of dollars to present these songs only to have so many varying opinions. Is anyone frustrated like this???! When is enough, enough and you just keep pitching the song as is and eventually the right person will like it. I am not growing money tree's in the back yard. The last time I looked there were 3 small pines.

So now I am back to the point of being so disheartened by the demo process that I am currently working on finishing my own pop CD that I have been working on for 5 years now and then try and pitch those tracks for t.v. or movie spots. At least there is some hope in that and they are always looking for bits to use.

Does anyone have some good advice on the demo thing? I would love to hear how you handle it. At this point it makes me not want to cut demo's because all I am hearing is "If ya only... could you redo....if a girl or guy would of....yada yada..."
Thanks!

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2


Ande Rasmus sen
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#575486 - 01/14/08 11:09 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Ande Rasmussen]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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To many cooks spoil the stew. People are very diversified with many different tastes, be it in clothes, food, art, cars, music,etc. Give 100 people something to critique and you'll get at least 50 different opinions, and each one might be right for their taste. It comes down to what should be the toughest critic of all, you. When you are happy with it, go with it. After it is said and done, you will still spot little changes that you wish you had made, but they are likely only cosmetic changes that have little bearing on the over all song.

I've heard songs on the radio and I could spot things that I would say differently, but that's just me, others might miss it all together. Other big name songwriters would likely be your harshest critics, could be a little jealousy creeping in or just showing you how well versed they are in the art, or wanting you to jump through hoops that they had to jump through, and sometimes they just might be right and spot something you missed because you are so close to your song.


The more you taste the bitterness of defeat, the sweeter final victory will be

May the flowers of love forever bloom in your garden of life

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#575492 - 01/14/08 11:26 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Probably the best critique you can get is from someone who is not a pro writer, someone who does not have an axe to grind, someone who is not a pal or a relative, someone who does not have a musical background, someone who is not narrow minded, someone who is truthful and fair.....Who is this person?.... a stranger. Hey pal what do you think of this record (don't tell them it is yours).... anything you would change? what do you like best/least? what kind of music do you normally buy? would you buy this? etc.....try it you might be surprised by the resullts. Some people call this market research. Billions are spent on this throughout the world and most products are developed,launched or scrapped depending on results.
I think jody touched on this earlier but I thought I would spell it out.

#575612 - 01/14/08 07:49 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
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Since it got ignored earlier:
Originally Posted by Jody Whitesides
I've got one question: How much test marketing do you with a song before you start heading out for the punishment?

Don't use "industry pros" to be your guide to a great song. All you'll get is their perspective. They don't buy music. Get yourself several people, I'd say around 10 is minimum, 20 would be ideal. People who can give you the straight dope, who won't tread lightly on your feelings. People that actually buy music, not create it. You have to make sure that they know good music and you can trust their judgement.

For me personally, I write music and lyrics separately. Thus what I'll do is write the lyrics and get feed back on them until the message I'm going for is not in question. Then I'll work the words to the music. I generally will do 3 versions of melodies. Then I repeat the process with testing it with people to figure out which melody works best with the music. Once I've done that I know I have a great song.

It is also the process that I use for writing songs at this point, especially if I'm thinking of releasing them for sale. Some may think it's technical and non-creative, but I don't see it that way. I see it as getting my point across in a package that consumers would want.

That is why I asked if you test market your songs at all.

p.s. - I still do much of this when I'm co-writing with someone too.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#575645 - 01/14/08 10:48 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Hummingbird Offline
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Jody has some good ideas about getting feedback on the song itself, in particular, IF you are an indie artist looking to sell your CDs at gigs, concerts, CDBaby, etc.

If you are a songwriter pitching songs to artists, then it's another kettle of fish, because, like it or not, the "pros" are the gatekeepers, and if you can't get by them, then you can't get very far.


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#575671 - 01/15/08 12:08 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
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Originally Posted by Hummingbird
Jody has some good ideas about getting feedback on the song itself, in particular, IF you are an indie artist looking to sell your CDs at gigs, concerts, CDBaby, etc.

If you are a songwriter pitching songs to artists, then it's another kettle of fish, because, like it or not, the "pros" are the gatekeepers, and if you can't get by them, then you can't get very far.


Actually if the song is strong/great it will always get by gate keepers (the "pros"). In reference to shopping to a particular artist - a song has to have elements that reflect that artist's musical personality. That's the only addition needed to the method above.

My method is about the song. Which is all that matters.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#575679 - 01/15/08 12:43 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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TAMERA64 Offline
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Well Ande, if I followed your process that would put me at about 80 years old haha! before I ever finished a song. I don't work quite that slow. I do have a process that I follow and I think it is a fairly good one. Just not as long as yours.

Jody, I am sorry if I didn't answer your question. I guess I have gone through this process. I didn't pick out 20 people, but a handful. And if I went by what they said, everything would be a go. They have all loved what I am doing. Thank God for the normal listeners who buy the music! It's the industry people who are so darn tough.

It's like I once talked to a sound engineer that was always behind the board during the concerts for a band. I asked him "Wow! Don't you enjoy the show all the time?!!" He said he could never sit back and enjoy the band, every moment was spent being so knit picky. UGH! I say no thanks! What a bummer! It is so bad when music becomes such a technical anal thing that you can't just sit back and enjoy it. I don't want it to be that way. I think one of the best songs I have ever written I wrote simply from the heart. I just let it flow and didn't really change a thing.(there are two like that of mine, one happy and one sad/mad) And I haven't had one complaint or request to change a thing. I just wrote from the heart and who cares about the rules!!

I once heard a comment by an industry person at a music seminar say YOU MUST LEARN TO FOLLOW THE SONG WRITING RULES BEFORE YOU BREAK THEM. Who thought this up??? This is crazy?? Who is the who behind the curtain? (Like the man in the wizard of oz behind the curtain) Have you heard some of the crazy songs out there that have brought in millions of dollars?? They follow no rules at all. They say crazy things or absurd things with no rhyme or reason or structure to them at all. Yet a big famous artist can cut them or write them and get away with it. Again, it is WHO YOU KNOW!!! If I was famous I could write "Gimme Gimme Gimme some... ah huh..." Or I have junk in my trunk! haha! Or whatever and cut it because of who I was. The rules are completely different folks for those of us who have not reached that position in the songwriting world.

I say keep on writing for your own enjoyment and make those around you who love your music happy. That's what I plan on doing.

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

Last edited by TAMERA64; 01/15/08 12:57 AM.
#575714 - 01/15/08 03:36 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
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Originally Posted by TAMERA64
Jody, I am sorry if I didn't answer your question. I guess I have gone through this process. I didn't pick out 20 people, but a handful. And if I went by what they said, everything would be a go. They have all loved what I am doing. Thank God for the normal listeners who buy the music! It's the industry people who are so darn tough.

Then its possible its not the right group of "friends" or peers to be giving feedback on the songs before approaching said gate keepers. It shouldn't necessarily be friends. Also, what is the approach for the feedback? It can't only be: "Hey, what do you think of this song?" That isn't test marketing. That isn't gonna get the right kind of feedback. Explain the method of test marketing being used. Maybe there are things that could be improved.

I never said one couldn't get a great song in single shot. It's certainly possible. However, hit's are hits for a reason. Great songs aren't always hits. But all hits have something about them that are great.

As for the learn the rules before one breaks them comment, that's actually a very accurate statement. If one hasn't taken the time to learn theory, notation, rhythm, songwriting, etc, they would feel like it is a completely bogus rule. But then they wouldn't know better.

Please give an example of a song that made millions that followed no rules and I'll gladly agree with the statement if I can't give any explanation as to a rule it used.

Even with test marketing one can be creating for the enjoyment of it. Especially if there are rich rewards at the end.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#575720 - 01/15/08 04:50 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Jody Whitesides]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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Okay, lemme chime in a little. I've been trying to follow this conversation, but I'm not sure I caught everything--y'all have been saying a *lot*.

I eschew the pros in favor of *peer review*. When I've written something, and have it down as perfect as I can get it, I'll first "vet" the lyrics here, actually--I have gotten more and better feedback from the folks at JPF than anywhere else. If it ain't panned, I will usually try to record it--just a draft, on the li'l 4-channel Tascam--post that on Soundclick, and notify 4-6 groups of people I know who will give me more feedback. Their feedback will, in a lot of cases, focus on the technical aspects of the recording, because that's what some of them do for a living. I'll still get my best opinions on the writing from the folks here.

I will, however, try the song out on a live audience--and these days, in my present location, I've got a bunch of "guinea pig" audiences I can try it out on. The audience for a lot of these includes a number of other *writers*, so I'll (hopefully) get still more feedback.

Bottom line, though, is whether those audiences liked it enough to *request it again*. If they do, then the song is a candidate for the next album, and if not, probably not. I'm not trying to pitch songs to artists or publishers (though I occasionally follow up on leads), so I don't have to worry about that part. When I'm ready, I'll go into a commercial studio with a real band and we'll record radio-ready (and album-ready) stuff.

Long lead-in to a short answer. I think the best feedback one can get on whether a song is good is from other people who write. If it is well-written and well-presented, odds are audiences will listen.

As far as rules go, I am aware of a lot of those rules. I treat them all as suggestions, however. Some I follow a lot anyway, because they are good suggestions; others, like this business of "having" to have a bridge, I routinely ignore. If you watch the good writers--the Dylans, and Prines, and Hank Sr.'s--and see what rules *they* break, and figure out why, it will help your own writing. (No, I shouldn't say that. I should say simply that it has helped *mine*.) I am always pushing the envelope, to see what I can get away with. Sometimes the results surprise me.

Lots of luck.

Joe

#575733 - 01/15/08 06:53 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Larry Williams Offline
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Certainly, there are songwriting "rules" and there are "music theory" rules - some of each will normally be applied to any song. The difficulty is that different styles of music use different rules. How you codify those rules and how stringently you apply them is what makes each writer and writing style unique.

Many compositional exercises I did back in college were based on learning and applying rules for various styles of music. This applied to various types of "classical" music as well as different types of jazz. Dixieland has a different set of rules from Swing and from Fusion, for instance. Rock, Country, R&B, Rap, Blues, Folk, etc. all have different "rules" that you apply in writing to make them sound the way they do. Some of those rules are in the arranging and/or production as well, but a song written for an urban R&B artist will not likely follow the same rules as one written for a christian-rock artist.

I will concede that a great song will often transcend styles and could be arranged in one of several styles and for possibly multiple artists, but I think you can also see that you would write differently for one artist than a different one.

I can probably come up with more examples, but IF (and that's a big IF) you call "repeat the song title several times so that people remember it" a rule in hit songwriting, then the Derek and the Dominos hit "White Room" breaks the rule: the title is only mentioned once in the entire song during the opening lyric.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the "one-hit wonder" band The Shadows of Night recorded the smash hit Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A) written by Van Morrison where the song title is repeated ad nauseum.

I would imagine that most "rules" have been broken at some point but a song still squeaked by as a hit for whatever reason.

I think the point Jodi was making above is that if you DON'T follow at least some of the rules, your song will have no structure and won't communicate very well.

Go ahead and put the hook in the middle of the verse (or omit it entirely) and put 5 modulations in the 32-bar intro if that's what strikes your fancy. I just don't think it will reach out to many people. Many of those "rules" are simply documented characteristics of a high percentage of successful songs. You don't have to follow them - but it IS nice to know what they are so you can choose to apply them or not.

I wouldn't normally ask a non-musician friend to critique a work for me, only someone in the music business. The music pro's are who you have to get past unless you are working directly with an artist. However, one of my co-writers has a unique screening method: He uses his niece and her teenage friends. He gives them a CD of the rough mix and sees if they start singing the lyric around the house. We'll soon see how well that method works...

#575770 - 01/15/08 12:16 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Larry Williams]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Hi Larry very good post sums up most things on this topic. To pick up one of your main points about RULES. I agree that we must know the rules and how songs are stuctured. One of the main probs is these very same RULES especially in some GENRES. Rules are too rigidly enforced and all songs must comply exactly. The people who make these rules are not prepared to gamble or try new styles. This has caused multiple problems and a stagnation of these genres. Most songs are just clones and imitations of things done before. There is now no room for individuality or inspiration. This has resulted in an endless stream of mediocre songs robotically produced, performed and recorded. Most producers cannot see outside the box and reject anything that attempts to break or change the rules. If these dinosaurs are not made extinct then our industry will be caught in a perpetual time warp.
Re critiques and evaluation of demos. It is up to the individual to decide which method they choose to get feedback. You are correct about asking pros to assess. They will gice you the official answer as to your song ticking all the boxes and fitting pre conceived ideas. However if you want to know whether the song is really any good then ask neutrals who have no formal musical knowledge other than buying records. Their views are honest and in my opinion that is what really counts.

#575810 - 01/15/08 01:41 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Dave Rice Online content
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Dave Rice  Online Content
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Texas
Hi All:

Joe Wrabek's post pretty-well said it all for me. Rules should be followed to a point but sometimes new ground must be plowed. Now, if only I could find twenty mules... LOL!

I also appreciated Larry's comment about having "friends" do critiques. Pros are best if one has access.

All my best,

Dave Rice

#575836 - 01/15/08 03:11 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Dave Rice]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Nashville Tennessee
Tammy,

As Bobbie Gallup says, it's not who you know, it's who knows you. And, I'd add: it's what they know you as.

I know a fellow, he'll remain nameless. He's a wonderful songwriter, well known by a lot of stars. When he plays in Nashville, there will always be famous folks in the audience. But this guy doesn't get cuts. Why? He doesn't follow the rules. Sometimes they're the business rules: he won't split publishing, won't allow holds on his songs, won't co-write. Sometimes it's the writing rules: a lot of his songs will have one or two lines that are squirrelly...they'll be uncleaar, or a little hard to sing, maybe a little controversial, or simply out of the genre, but he won't change them.

He knows a lot of the right folks. A lot of the right folks know him. But, they don't know him as someone who is easy to work with. He's thought of as a "clueless" genius.

So, when folks mention rules here at JPF, everybody jumps in and yells "THERE AIN'T NO STINKING RULES!" When I was teaching music, that's what I heard from the kids day in and day out. The truth is, there are rules, a rule is not a law, a rule is a direction, a recipe. If you want to be a chef at a world class restuarant, you've got to show the boss that you can follow a recipe AND that you can improvise. Back to music, if the producer wants a certain kind of song for Tim McGraw, almost like your song, but the publisher is afraid you won't or can't fix the song, you won't get pitched. At some point, if you want to get good cuts, you've got to show that you can play by the rules, that you can break the rules, you know the difference, and you can control it.

Now, of course, there are songwriters here who are totally free-form and almost "wild" in their ideas, but savvy biz folks will usually get them co-writing with good "structure" writers. The wild ones who won't co write end up...well...they end up like my friend, the "clueless" genius.

Nothing wrong with breaking the rules, but don't expect to play at someone else's table.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#575837 - 01/15/08 03:24 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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Sam Wilson Offline
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Sam Wilson  Offline
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Nashville, TN USA
So, keeping what you just said in mind, what if a writer were to be open minded, willing to work alongside of musicians to tweak a lyric around, and easy to get along with by all accounts?

What might the "right people" have to say?


Co-Write Friendly.....Look at my blog on My Space.

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#575847 - 01/15/08 03:57 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Sam Wilson]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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Nashville Tennessee
Sam,

Being open minded and easy to work with are important. So is writing great songs, and having great demos (and that doesn't mean either full blown productions or guitar vocals, neither matter, just that they are high quality and have first class "feel"). Also knowing the right people, the "deciders," and having them know you as a high quality songwriter. Being a savvy politician helps, knowing the game and how it's played, knowing the players and the dynamics.

All these are important components of putting together a successful songwriting career. Then there's the final, most important component. Being lucky. Actually it's not really luck, it's that thing that makes a pro football quarterback a winner. There are a lot of extremely talented quarterbacks in the NFL, but not all are winners. There's an "x" factor, probably a combination of things, that makes a hit songwriter. Confidence, understanding, likeability, toughness, savvy, sensitivity, common sense, work ethic, all of these factors seem to play a part, and probably several others. Maybe I'd call the whole thing a "winning attitude." That's it.

Anyway, thread drift, sorry Tammy.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#575850 - 01/15/08 04:34 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: Sam Wilson]  
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splitpeasongs Offline
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splitpeasongs  Offline
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Best advice I can offer for a song demo: either build it up so it sounds like a finished master or strip it down so it's clearly just a song demo designed to emphasize the melody and lyrics. Anything in-between, and you run the risk that listeners will think what they're hearing is intended to sound like a finished record -- only to be disappointed when it doesn't.

Mitch
http://www.myspace.com/splitpeasongs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdgI-qqn1TY



#575944 - 01/16/08 12:15 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: splitpeasongs]  
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TAMERA64 Offline
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Mitch that is what I am finding out to be true. I agree with you eithor keep it simple or finish the song as a full production. At least if you finish it you can pitch it for T.V., movie or commercial use. Many times they just use a little piece of it anyway.

The rules are different depending on the genre you are writing for. For example, you better have out of this world lyrics if you are writing country because it's all about the story. Catchy, and clever or you'll never make it. I happen to prefer pop and that is a completely different story. It's all about the music and the catchy hook. Something that can be repeated over and over. Almost like a dance. You can get away with not having that strong of lyrics but you better have a great track. I think pop music is totally about having a killer track.

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2

Last edited by TAMERA64; 01/16/08 12:27 AM.
#575967 - 01/16/08 02:25 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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Larry Williams Offline
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Santa Clarita, CA USA
Originally Posted by TAMERA64
... I think pop music is totally about having a killer track.

Tammy

www.tammyedwards.com
www.myspace.com/tammyedwards2


...ain't it the truth? You have to reel 'em in with a great groove or hook, then maybe they will listen to what the lyrics say.

Country music is ALL about the story, and it better be entertaining.





#575997 - 01/16/08 06:16 AM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: TAMERA64]  
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billrocker Offline
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billrocker  Offline
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Nashville TN
Hi Tammy,

More than anything else, your demo has to be professional, and the singer should be someone who doesn't draw too much attention to himself/herself...if it's too stylistic, it will hamper your cause. I believe you need to decide who the song is sung from and to as you are the writer, after considering opinions of course, but it's your song. Whatever you decide, your demo should present it's message with absolute conviction. If it's not clear, or could be problematic, that could hold it back.

I agree with the idea to cut guitar/vocal demos first. I often rethink my songs, arrangement wise, adding extra bars, changing tempos, trying different singers, changing bass notes under chords, etc. When you are certain what's up, then you can do your full band.

I wouldn't make that big of a deal out of 'I'd cut that edgier', etc. That person might have meant, "I can hear that song being done edgier" meaning it has some versatilitiy. Make it strong, and make it all pro, ESPECIALLY the singer. Unprofessional/home made demos are the first thing that get sacked when listening. Ther's just no chance.

Just my opinions as always.

br
www.writeTHISmusic.com

#576116 - 01/16/08 04:37 PM Re: When is a demo good enough to call it done?! [Re: billrocker]  
Joined: May 2004
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Sam Wilson Offline
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Sam Wilson  Offline
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Nashville, TN USA
I have, at last count, 7 tracks (lyrics of mine set to music and recorded by various people) that are basically rough acoustic guitar and vocals.
One of these tracks is entirely computer generated classical/operatic, and the vocals are also software, its sounds cool..

Now, in order to make a demo of high enough quality to pitch and shop around, what should I do with these audio tracks?
Do I need to try and find someone to rerecord the song, or can it be just cleaned up and presented as is?

I have this now, but I don't know what to do with it....

Mike, I will be happy to play these tracks for you on our next meeting, if you are interested...


Co-Write Friendly.....Look at my blog on My Space.

http://www.cherokee46x@yahoo.com
http://www.myspace.com/ronnievanzantfan
http://www.facebook.com/sambwilson

Ronnie Van Zant fan
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