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#994400 - 02/03/13 11:33 PM Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing..  
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Colin Ward Offline
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The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing Songs that Sell by Eric Beall.

This book was mentioned on another thread by Dayson and DonnaMarilyn. I bought a copy and have almost finished it. It cost me about $17 on line.

I would suggest that anybody who is serious about songwriting (or just whining about songwriting on bulletin boards) read it. It does not teach you the nitty-gritty of how to write a song, but focuses on what it takes for a song to rise above the thousands of other songs that are written every week - and why.

Feel free to discuss the contents of the book in this thread if interested.

Colin


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#994402 - 02/04/13 12:36 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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I have not read this book so cannot comment on its actual contents. I will take your word that it is a must have. I will be purchasing a copy just to see what all the fuss is about. I did however read the Eric Beall blurb about it and was a bit concerned about some of the things he claims to teach in this book.
It states....

"Whether you’re a beginning or veteran songwriter or producer, no matter what musical genre you choose to pursue, Beall offers step-by-step, easy to understand approach to increasing the commercial potential of your work. Learn:

How A Song Becomes A Hit

What Makes a Song A Single

The Formula For a Hit

With no musical theory knowledge required, The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing Songs That Sell uses familiar musical examples to illustrate its concepts, and engaging exercises that will challenge you to improve your songwriting skills."

I suspect that this is putting the cart before the horse. What is the point in learning how to increase the potential of your work if you have poor songwriting skills and no decent work to market in the first place. I was also concerned that "No musical theory was necessary." Understanding musical theory is IMO a prerequisite before you can write any decent song. I fail to see how anybody can improve songwriter skills without having some musical skills and a decent grasp of musical theory.

Now on another thread I was taken to task for saying that most songwriting books either state the blindingly obvious or are irrelevant to the real needs of the people buying them. I suggested that people learn to play an instrument and obtain the musical knowledge that comes with it as a good starting point to then learn the craft of songwriting...there are no shortcuts and I doubt if reading a book will make that much difference to any wannabe songwriter who has not already learned the craft of songwriting. Now a lot of folk who read these type of books just write lyrics.....nothing wrong with lyric writers there is always a need for great lyrics....However IMO lyrics are just a tiny part of a song and have very little to do with what makes a song sell, especially in todays pop market. To be a good lyricist you must also have a good practical and theoretical knowledge of musical composition....so you can write lyrics to fit music already written or allow music which will be written by someone else to fit your lyrics.

#994403 - 02/04/13 12:55 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Colin, There's scores if not hundreds of books promising to reveal the secret to writing songs that sell. Is there anything in particular that distinguishes Beall's book from all the rest of them? I've looked at his web presence. Seems to be a good pitchman.


Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.

https://dansullivan2.bandcamp.com

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dansullivan2
#994406 - 02/04/13 01:24 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
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I'm not so sure music theory is needed by a lyric writer. A great sense of time and tempo is though.

I often write using a piano that I don't really play all that well and it can lead me to progressions that I wouldn't use in normal guitar playing.

A lot of people will praise the Beatles writing yet they often broke standard music theory at that time.




#994420 - 02/04/13 02:12 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Sue Rarick]  
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In order to break rules successfully you must first know and understand the rules you are breaking.
I have written many songs from lyrics that lyric only folk have supplied to me. A common problem is poor metering and the lack of any coherent or consistent rhythm pattern throughout the lyrics. A lot have no scope for musical subtlety or contain no areas where suitable bridges, rises or middle eights etc can be constructed. These basic errors could often be avoided if the writer had some proper knowledge of musical theory and applied it to their lyrics.

Whilst I love a good lyric......writing them IMO is the easy part compared to writing, producing and arranging the music to accompany them.
Most modern pop music is so production driven that it would appear the very simple lyrics used by most are almost an afterthought thrown in ad hoc without much skill or care.
few fans will remember more than a few of the song's lyrics anyway. Most pop stars nowadays write their own songs including lyrics.... and the producers place little importance on lyrics.....it shows... it is the image of the pop star, the beat, the musical hook and the production that sells the song. lyrics count for little....so the scope and need for good lyricists is getting smaller and smaller. I do not see a healthy commercial future for many folk who just write the words.

#994434 - 02/04/13 04:11 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Hi Colin,

Glad you picked up a Copy!
This Book is very different from other Songwriting Books I've read.
It doesn't teach you how to write a Hit as much as show you 'Characteristics' found in them, and how to guide you to implementing them into your own Songs.

I was re-reading many chapters today, through a slow period at work:)I'm always finding something I missed the first few times around..
It's a great Tool for the Aspiring Songwriter that has a goal of seeing there Songs on the Charts.
I believe it's a Must Have!
It changes your perspective.-Dana

#994459 - 02/04/13 11:13 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dayson]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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I should clarify that the book is written for people who already know music theory and how to write a song......it is more about fine tuning a song so that it is not lost in the pile. The first section is about what distinguishes a song that makes it onto the radio through the stacks of red tape.

Whether or not you want your song to become a hit, the principles still apply if you want to write songs that people like, even if its just your Mom.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#994480 - 02/04/13 02:00 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Hi Colin I do not get it.....if the book is written for people who "already know music theory and how to write a song" as YOU say then WHY does HE say that it is suitable for anything from beginners to veterans and no musical theory required.
Now I have read a lot of these type of books and most offer little help and advice other than common sense stating nothing but the blindingly obvious. One book I read from a hit writer consisted of nothing but him bragging about how good he was and telling his life story which consisted of networking and ass licking to get to where he was. His only song writing skill was to listen to what was a hit and copy the good bits into his songs.

#994481 - 02/04/13 02:41 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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It is not a beginner's book on songwriting, however a beginner could certainly understand what he is saying.

Perhaps what he says is blindingly obvious to someone like you who has spent a lifetime as a performer. It is obviously not obvious to many of the people on this board however. It does not matter to me if you read it or not. All I am saying is that I got something out of it as did Dayson and DonnaMarilyn who recommended it in the first place.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#994483 - 02/04/13 02:46 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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It has been a few weeks or months since I have been in the local book store but it seems there are a number of books on the shelves about songwriting and the music business. There are also a lot of Sites on the Web you can investigate for good information.

One I have found is http://www.audio-recording-center.com/

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 02/04/13 02:50 PM.

Ray E. Strode
#994507 - 02/04/13 06:48 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Dayson Offline
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You don't have to understand Music Theory for this book.
in fact it doesn't touch on Music Theory at all..
It's written in a way that a beginner or professional can take something away from it.
An invaluable tool to have in your arsenal.-Dana

#994518 - 02/04/13 08:20 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dayson]  
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I didn't read that book, but think it deserves to get read,
why?
Cause it's always necessary to learn the new ways of creativity...
Once you stopped it, thinking you know everything, your creativity died.
for example I started many years ago with playing chord progressions on guitar trying to put a melody over it
and I do it now too...
then I learned new ways, say, just singing over a beat without a rest, recording what I come up with (thanks to Robin Gibb and his interview that led me there)
How to get a song that is contemporary and sounds alike what you hear at charts? Take a beat of such a song and sing with it your own melody while playback is on(great tool!)
So, learn the new ways constantly from others, from books,
from the lyrics, from everywhere!

PS. Now I consider purchase of a keyboard, although I never played it, why? The creativity will work with another way, using unknown instrument....it's like one lyricist says to another:

"Write your lyrics with a pen, don't type it! Why?
Words are streaming with another way through a pen"

#994538 - 02/04/13 09:43 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Alek]  
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I will really have to read this book.......I simply cannot get my head around the claims to help anybody become a hit writer...but weirdly does not teach or rely on having any of the pre requisite tools like experience and musical ability which are crucially needed before anything else to write a decent song.

#994560 - 02/04/13 10:40 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Jim,

Even when you went to school they didn't use the same book to teach addition and subtraction and calculus.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#994604 - 02/05/13 09:21 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
I will really have to read this book.......I simply cannot get my head around the claims to help anybody become a hit writer...but weirdly does not teach or rely on having any of the pre requisite tools like experience and musical ability which are crucially needed before anything else to write a decent song.


Darn. I can't remember his name, but there was a non-performing songwriter in the 70's, with several hits, and he never played an instrument, or had musical lessons of any kind. He claimed that it would interfere with his creativity if his music was limited to what he knew how to play.

So maybe the book is onto something, but I couldn't say, since I haven't read it. Just saying that musical training isn't necessarily a deteriment to songwriting.

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#994606 - 02/05/13 09:53 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
Jim,

Even when you went to school they didn't use the same book to teach addition and subtraction and calculus.


Correct.....but before talking about applied mathematics we had to learn our times tables.

#994607 - 02/05/13 10:12 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Midnite I agree. There are exceptions to any rule.......but because there are only ever a few exceptions kind of demonstrates that the rule applies to most people in most cases.
Just because someone has hit songs does not mean the songs or songwriter is any good.
My point is simple anyone serious about songwriting are not doing themselves or the craft any favours by NOT learning the basics fist.
I would have thought that understanding the theory of music and ability to play an instrument to a decent level is a better way of learning how to write a song.
But when all said and done if somebody gets a benefit from these books well that is OK. I just think that in this upside down world we are perhaps putting the cart before the horse.
It makes sense that some people perhaps do not want to go through a long hard apprenticeship so look for an easy shortcut.
I just wonder if the end product stands up....
The pop charts which seem to be full of crappy songs perhaps bears that out.

#996590 - 02/19/13 09:22 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Well, has anybody read the book?


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996606 - 02/20/13 12:24 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Dan Sullivan Offline
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Colin, Thanks for bringing the book to our attention.

I got through the first 10 pages of the introduction. One man's Pot of Gold is another man's snake oil. Promises of "the recipe for a hit," "creating a hit title," and all the rest have been around since the recording industry began. The author tells us there's at least 500,000 songwriters and "about a thousand songs" enter the charts each year, adding that "less than 1 percent of the songwriters in the country will have a charting song in any given year." But it's a whole lot "less" than one percent. Actually, it's less than point zero zero 2 thousandths of 1 percent. If he so grossly over-exaggerates the chances of charting a song, why should I believe he doesn't exaggerate everywhere else?

It's probably a good book for music industry junkies and folks who can't get enough of music business insider stuff. Yet you can tell by the title it's not marketed that way. It promises to be a guide to writing and producing hit songs. But I don't think it will get any writer or producer into the same zip code where the "hit songs" are written. I'd be stunned, in fact, if even one person comes anywhere close to a hit song from reading the book.


Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.

https://dansullivan2.bandcamp.com

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dansullivan2
#996657 - 02/20/13 01:32 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: ]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Dan,

I suspect he was not telling you what you wanted to hear in those first ten pages.

Carl,

Yes, that's the book. It came highly recommended by some folks on the board and I bought it and read it. It explains why things are the way they are - which is something that is debated ad infinitum on this board. It does not tell you how to write a song....only what is needed in order for the song to be successful. If you know what is required, then you have a much better chance of hitting the mark. Knowledge is power.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996659 - 02/20/13 01:44 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Colin, can you distil the book down to its essence, ie, the necessary "bullet points"?

ie

Have basic talent and a passion for writing
Listen to lots of good music
Write and co write lots of lyrics
Network strategically
Be persistent
Be likeable

etc



If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#996660 - 02/20/13 02:11 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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OK John,

Nothing like the ones you mentioned!

Despite all the song being written, A&R people are crying out for hit songs. Usually they are written on demand for a specific artist and they define that artist. One hit defines the personality of a new artist so the song has to be suitable.

Radio is still the most important way to get a song noticed
Radio is looking for hits. Radio is in business to sell advertising so they only care about songs as a means to gain or retain listeners so they can sell more advertising.
Hits are in one very specific genre....not "kinda popish country with some rap".
You cannot get a song on the radio without it passing through many levels of screening based on microscopic research, sometimes of only a ten second sample of the main hook.

Hit songs are edgy and contain something unexpected. They must stand out from the pack, even if it is off color, or weird or ????
Hit songs have multiple hooks. The primary hook in the chorus, one or more instrumental hooks, and possibly more hooks in the verses.
Melody takes precedence over everything else in a song (includes some examples of melody characteristics by genre).
Hit songs must have momentum and no dead spots.

Much more, but you get the idea.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996666 - 02/20/13 02:51 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Thanks for the recommendation, Colin smile

#996871 - 02/21/13 09:26 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: AnthonyCeseri]  
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Anthony,

You are welcome.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996885 - 02/21/13 10:22 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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The only important point re this book is.....how many people have actually had a hit after reading it and applying its contents to said hit?.......I suspect nil but would be interested to hear different.
No point in buying a book if it does not "do what it says on the tin" to coin a phrase.

I still say that learning how to compose a tune and the basics of music theory and musicology will serve people better...especially those who just write lyrics.

You need to be able to walk before you can run.

#997000 - 02/22/13 06:33 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Jim,

There are a lot of songwriters shooting for the moon here on JPF and elsewhere, many of whom know music theory and how to write a decent song. But it helps to know where the moon is located if you are shooting for it.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#997019 - 02/22/13 09:46 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Hey Colin,

I keep coming into this thread just for a giggle....

It's like attending a book club meeting, where no one has read the book!

And now I'm part of it!

Laughing here!
Lisa

#997026 - 02/22/13 10:46 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Lisa Gundling]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Lisa,

Glad you are enjoying it. I wonder if there are any Cliff's Notes available?


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#997030 - 02/22/13 11:59 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
Jim,

There are a lot of songwriters shooting for the moon here on JPF and elsewhere, many of whom know music theory and how to write a decent song. But it helps to know where the moon is located if you are shooting for it.


An excellent analogy, Colin. smile

I sent a copy of the book to a co-writer buddy of mine in Scotland. He was very impressed, and has been taking pains to put into practice several of the points. I might mention that he's been a musician (he's a killer guitarist and an excellent melodist) for several decades. Of course, I don't know whether any of our co-writes will end up hitting the moon, but I'm pretty darn sure they'll be better songs than they would have been before either of us had read the book. wink

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997033 - 02/23/13 01:51 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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i really hate to be a "party pooper" but how can a book teach you to write from "The Soul"..How can it tell you to find that line you are desperate to find..or even that couple of words,which you know are the one's you are looking for, when they finally come into your concious mind,sometimes in the middle of the night,how can a book tell you how to fit a lyric round the melody,or define where a minor chord may be suitable..no book that i know of comes close,and iam talking in simple generalisations here really,and only covering the outer fringes of the Art of Songwriting..Songwriting is like life,baffling,compelling and mysterious..if anyone can write a book that searches the inner soul of a Songwriter,and can find some of these answers,or even come close..well..it may be worth buying..but i won't hold my breath..To me songwriting comes from within,not from the pages of some publication..but as i always say,that is only my opinion...Terry..

#997058 - 02/23/13 08:31 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Terry Moore]  
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Terry, the book doesn't teach how to write from the soul.

It doesn't teach how to write. Period.

What it does is provide valuable - even surprising (sometimes scary) insights - into the possibilities of raising the bar for your songs.

Why not read the book and find out for yourself what Beall is saying. smile

Lisa, welcome to the 'No-damn-way-I'm-reading-the-book-but-I'll-certainly-critique-it' club. grin grin grin

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997078 - 02/23/13 11:20 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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Kevin Emmrich Online content
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Just thought I'd stop by and say that it is a pretty worthless book! ... and no, I haven't read it. I refuse to let facts interfere with my opinions.


"Good science comes in peer reviewed journals. Conspiracy theories come in videos. "
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @50/90 2019)
#997081 - 02/23/13 12:07 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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"Cliff Notes" isn't that the new guy who lives two doors down the street??? grin


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#997083 - 02/23/13 12:52 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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I put these "how to write hit songs" books in the same category as penis enlargement pills. There's always people hawking this kind of stuff. If people want to spend money on it, that's their business. But I'm not interested in it. And I don't have to try things like this to know they don't deliver what they promise.


Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.

https://dansullivan2.bandcamp.com

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#997120 - 02/23/13 06:54 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
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I stand by what I said earlier......most books just state the blindingly obvious or are totally inappropriate for skill levels and talent of the people they claim to help. Most do not even come close to delivering what they cliam.

You do not need to try Dr Quack's Snake Oil Elixir to know that it does not cure any of the ailments it claims to.

Yes there are a lot of people aiming for the moon...but few of these delusional wannabes have any chance of getting their feet off the planet Earth never mind the moon.....book or no book.

Here is my take on the whole issue...please correct me where I go wrong. Now I remember the days when you had to have real talent and musical ability to be a successful songwriter and only great musicians with a proven track record ever got near a recording studio to record these songs. The bar was set so high that only a few people with proven ability could dream of attempting to jump it. Few people who had only a modicum of talent would embarrass themselves by trying.

Sadly things have changed. Instead of the bar getting ever higher it has been lowered to such an extent that almost anybody regardless of ability could step over it and fill the shoes of the songwriters and popstars of today if they are given the right hype, marketing and backing. Mediocrity is now the standard accepted by all. Every time we turn on the radio or TV we are bombarded with crappy singers singing crappy songs that almost anybody can replicate. They are only there because the Simon Cowells of this world have put them there. These guys have a virtual monopoly on what gets released and how much hype and marketing it is backed by. Now these guys love playing God and revel in making obscene amounts of cash by backing these mediocre songs and acts. I honestly believe that they play a game with themselves to see just how far they can stoop to, and how low the bar can go to and still get a hit.

Now as we have been bombarded with so much of this mediocrity an increasing amount of wannabe delusional folk realise that they too could be a popstar or write a pop record every bit as good or bad as the garbage they hear.
Now with any large group of like minded delusional people there springs up a sub culture of people finding easy ways to scam them and part them from their cash with a false promise of helping them forward their career in some way or another.
Now I suspect that this book is just a part of all that.
When it comes to being a songwriter if you want to part of the cesspit culture I have explained go for the book. Copy the crap that has gone before you. Set your bar to the ultra low level.
However If you want to be original and write great songs that come from the heart and are not just a rip off of some crappy hit that has gone before learn the craft...it is a long learning curve and there is no short cut...and no magic book will provide answers.

Kevin: I edited this one so I could get rid of the duplicate posts.

Last edited by Kevin Emmrich; 02/23/13 08:49 PM.
#997149 - 02/23/13 09:35 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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I agree entirely, Big Jim. smile

However, as I – and Colin and Dana – said earlier, Beall isn’t trying to teach the reader to write a good song. He assumes the person has already reached a certain level of competence, based on hard work, natural talent, and – as he puts it – “plain dumb luck”.

Beall describes in stark detail the obstacles facing a songwriter hoping to hit that moon that Colin mentioned. Then he goes on to offer insights and tools that the songwriter can use to raise the song’s bar to give it a better shot at passing the standard “ten-second-call-out” test used by radio to determine listener response – which in turn translates into thumbs up or thumbs down for a potential single. These tools are complementary to whatever skills, experience, and talent the songwriter already has.

What amuses me in this thread is people’s fierce determination to slam a book and its content without having the slightest idea of what that content actually is. grin

In our culture, we glean information from all possible sources, some of them very expensive (e.g. universities, with books costing up to hundreds of dollars). We obtain knowledge from books (and other media) on every conceivable topic from the time we begin school or can be planted in front of a TV screen.

If we study photography, we read books and examine the work of famous and gifted photographers as well as by getting out in the field with our cameras. If we study architecture, we read additional material by experts and study their designs in order to expand our horizons. If we study pottery, we read books and take classes from skilled and creative craftspeople to learn more about their techniques and how to fine-tune our own. If we learn a trade, we're taught by other professionals in that field. And so on.

Why is there such vehemence against a recommended book (from which a few people here have actually learned something new and useful) by a professional songwriter, producer, and industry executive on the comprehensive topic of songwriting and of producing songs that might conceivably become stronger contenders in the commercial market? Even for writers with no strong commercial aspirations (and I’m one of them), the information is interesting, helpful, and even inspiring.

For years, people have raved about and recommended (and purchased) John Braheny's famous book on songwriting, or books by Jason Blume, and those by by other accomplished songwriters.
Why is it that Eric Beall's book is considered - especially by those who haven't read it - to be such a waste of time? grin

I wonder how much money people waste daily on questionable tabloids, or on magazines or DVDs or countless television channels that do nothing positive to – in the Aristotelian tradition – “educate or enlighten”? In other words, media that do nothing to increase useful knowledge or contribute to the enhancement of a person’s creative experience.

Well. Just wondering. wink

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997168 - 02/24/13 12:09 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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Dan Sullivan Offline
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Donna, If I want to find the moon, I just look up at the sky. I don’t need to read a book to locate it. If somebody else wants to swim in shark infested waters, that’s their business. But it doesn’t mean I’ll join them just because they say “Come on in, the water’s fine.” Or if two or three of them say it.

There’s no comparison between how-to books (like Beal’s) offering to teach you how to become a millionaire, a rock star, hit songwriter, Hollywood star, etc. and educational books teaching a particular skill or craft. The former are meant to enrich the author, the latter are intended to enrich the reader. Most people can see the difference between the two.

You shouldn’t be annoyed because people disagree with you about the value of a book. You enjoyed the book. That’s great and I’m sure Beal appreciates it. I read 10 pages of the introduction to the book and determined there was a much better chance the author would get rich off the book than I would. I’m sure my disinterest doesn’t bother Beal in the least.

Nobody is criticizing you for following your Aristotelian impulses. Nobody is personally attacking you for recommending the book.

Where ever you look these days there’s always the danger of groupthink mentality. But it would be boring if we all agreed on everything.




Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.

https://dansullivan2.bandcamp.com

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dansullivan2
#997181 - 02/24/13 01:05 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
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Donna...Iam not in any way part of the "i won't buy it but i will offer a ceitique on it mob"..i passionately believe Songwriting cannot under any circumstance be taught from a book.Now,as far as passing tips on "promoting" "marketing" "raising the bar" as you put it concerning one's Songs.. then the book should be titled along the lines of "What Should I Do After I Have Written A Song"..if that is the message the author is trying to get across..i don't see many books on offer telling one "How To Be A Brain Surgeon" for example,or even "How To Be A Plumber"..i often wonder how let's say Irving Berlin,who could only play on the black keys on a piano,would react to a book telling him how to write songs on the white keys..mission impossible...Cheers..Terry..

#997200 - 02/24/13 07:00 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
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Dan, I feel you've missed the tone of what I was saying. smile

- I'm not annoyed. I'm amused by the vehemence. wink
- I don't feel criticised.
- I don't feel personally attacked.

(HINT: Check out the second signature under my name. wink )

I was expressing a point of view, partially in the form of a rhetorical question.
Attempting to persuade anyone into a groupthink mentality would go against everything I value.

And again I'm left wondering. grin But this time, it's about how is it possible to make a blanket statement regarding the commercial intention - or lack thereof - of any author when he/she writes a book. smile

Terry, I've learned that sometimes you really can't tell a book by its cover. smile
And to fall back on another idiom: I try not to throw babies out with the bathwater. wink

I don't find anything over the top in a title like 'The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing Songs That Sell'. It's a guide. It's not a promise or a guarantee of fame, riches, and stardom. wink The songwriter still faces a long, hard slog. He/she might not ever get that elusive hit, but may well end up writing better songs, and so have a more satisfying experience of the journey.

You may want to check out these links: wink
http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keywords=plumbing&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Aplumbing

http://www.amazon.com/brain-surgeon...-12&keywords=how+to+do+brain+surgery

http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Surgery...67&sr=1-7&keywords=brain+surgery

Dana, Colin, and I found something of interest and value in Beall's book. We wanted to share that with our friends here. smile

No need for anyone to feel dismissive of the information or of our experiences of the book. wink

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997218 - 02/24/13 12:03 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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I have just cancelled my order for the book.....This guy stands for everything I find abhorrent about the music industry. I did a bit of browsing and found a host of sites and blogs by this guy. All he talks about is making money...money...money.....and business plans, deals and contracts. He has no interest in music as an art form only as a way of making money. Now I believe that music should be about freedom, expression, moving people, telling stories and innovation not making money. This guy thinks that music is all about making money....and is more interested in this aspect than anything else.
Thanks to this guy and others like him the music industry is being strangled to death. It is stagnating and perpetuates nothing but mediocre paint by numbers songs by artists that have no soul, skill or originality.
Like Dan I do not want to be part of this cesspit. I am not that desperate to make a fortune and my standards and morals would prevent me anyway. But if others want to join in then that is their business. I wish them luck. I have no intention of making this guy even richer that he already is. I doubt very much that anybody except him would benefit from his books courses or workshops. If anything I see him as a corrupting influence rather than a guy passing on genuine tips on how to improve skills.
I do agree Donna that there is much to be learned from textbooks. and "how to books" generally help people improve skills and knowledge...but there are a lot of books that are just scams promising the impossible like get rich quick or lose weight fast. Now these type of books can do more harm than good. I feel that this is just another example of one of them.

I have first hand experience of just how corrupt the recording, TV and music industry is and have spoken to a number of top recording artists with similar experiences who can tell very scary stories about what happens behind the scenes...most off the record, will confirm that record company exec guys and agents etc are nothing but leeches thieves and con men..... some with very nasty illegal habits. On the record they have to suck up to them or face being ditched in favour of the waiting millions who will do anything to get a hit.

#997220 - 02/24/13 12:09 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Big Jim, I have no doubt that what you say about the music industry is true. smile
I always read your posts with interest and an open mind, because you have a lifetime of experience behind you.

As I mentioned in my early post, however, I try not to throw the babies out with the bathwater. smile

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997224 - 02/24/13 01:00 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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Most songwriters today, hit ones included, had no musical training and do not read music. Music theory is great for players. It's the reason classically trained musicians almost never make good composers. The skills have little in common. One teaches to follow rules, the other requires skills in knowing how to successfully break the rules, but in ways that still work musically.

Music Theory is great. But has little to do with successful songwriting. Arranging in some cases it is very important, especially for doing film scoring for example. But to write rock or pop or rap songs, it's irrelevant.

Brian


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#997248 - 02/24/13 04:11 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing Songs that Sell by Eric Beall.

Feel free to discuss the contents of the book in this thread if interested.

Colin


I wonder when we'll actually get around to discussing this part. grin grin grin

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

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#997251 - 02/24/13 04:44 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: ]  
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Carl, from the way you described the book in your earlier post, it doesn't sound like the same on at all. smile Perhaps you're thinking of another one?

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

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#997253 - 02/24/13 05:10 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: ]  
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OK. It's just that you stated it focuses more on marketing and on how to launch your career.

The book I have has only one chapter (pp 61-75) that discusses marketing. The rest covers a variety of other topics geared to helping songwriters strengthen their songs so that they'll have a better chance at passing the 'ten-second-call-out' test that sifts the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. wink

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997257 - 02/24/13 05:30 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: DonnaMarilyn]  
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As I mentioned above, I don't really care if anyone reads this book or not. However, I do find it enlightening that people who spend hours on this songwriting board, and spend more hours writing songs, paying to have them demoed, and unsuccessfully pitching them, are not at least curious enough to spend the cost of a couple of lunches or glasses of wine to see if they might learn something worthwhile.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#997276 - 02/24/13 07:05 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: ]  
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Hmmmm. Gosh, it still sounds like an entirely different book, Carl. smile

I say that because - among others - the sections on Recipes for a Hit, The Flavor of a Hit, The Framework of a Hit, Creating a Hit Title, The Rhythm of a Hit, Hits Need Hooks, and The Finishing Touch all describe in detail the tools that can lead to better songs.

I've found these sections to be immensely interesting and useful. My co-writer in Scotland and I are now approaching our collaborations a little differently, in a more focussed, organised manner.

Looks like you and I are interpreting the book's intention differently. smile

Donna


Honour the Earth. Without it, we'd be nowhere.

Life is too important to take seriously.

http://www.reverbnation.com/donnamarilynrichblend




#997296 - 02/24/13 10:06 PM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Most songwriters today, hit ones included, had no musical training and do not read music. Music theory is great for players. It's the reason classically trained musicians almost never make good composers. The skills have little in common. One teaches to follow rules, the other requires skills in knowing how to successfully break the rules, but in ways that still work musically.

Music Theory is great. But has little to do with successful songwriting. Arranging in some cases it is very important, especially for doing film scoring for example. But to write rock or pop or rap songs, it's irrelevant.

Brian


Brian I cannot say I agree with most of that...... or perhaps we are confusing the term musical theory with what I would call a proper practical understanding of the theory behind all music. Now most songwriters I know are not classically trained but all can play an instrument to a half decent level. A lot have great difficulty reading or writing sheet music and scores or tabs etc. That said every serious writer I know who writes songs, as in words and music, has had at least some tutoring or training in playing musical instruments, and with that comes an understanding that most non musicians are incapable of understanding. it's imperative to invest time learning about things like time sigs, keys, scales, beats and bars, notation, transposition, rhythm, harmonics and texture etc etc etc before you can put down a song of any worth. The easiest and most rewarding way is to learn to play an instrument
I would say that whilst most hit songwriters today do not read music just about everyone does have at least some musical training........... from listening to some of the songs it just sounds as if they don't. LOL

Even Gaga has been known to sit in front of a piano and vamp out a tune.

#997314 - 02/25/13 01:06 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: ]  
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Terry Moore Offline
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Terry Moore  Offline
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Thank You Very Much Donna...i have just ordered "How To Be a Brain Surgeon" from Amazon..You forgot to mention it comes in 6 volumes,and each volume weighs 64lb..i wish i had bought Beals Songwriting book now..oh well! you live & learn..just a wee added thought..all the "noted" Songwriting "Tip" Books seem to have one thing in common..the Authors have the initial B.eg..Blume.Beal.Braheny...I wonder what other word you can think of that has B as the first letter?..answers on a postcard to my big pal Jim ..

#997327 - 02/25/13 02:38 AM Re: Required Reading - The Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing.. [Re: Terry Moore]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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PA
From the classically trained musicians I knew, I’d be tempted to agree with Brian’s assessment. My teacher, a classically trained concert pianist appreciated and encouraged my composing ability, as I admired his playing and knowledge of music. But I think his mastery of classical theory and harmony made composing more difficult for him (limiting his compositional possibilities), thus, he composed very little.

Of course I’m sure Brian is speaking more of songwriting than composing considering the great composers from Bach to Gershwin who had extensive knowledge of music theory and harmony but were prolific composers. And many were experts at improvising. Oops, did I say Gershwin? A classical trained pianist and great songwriter. Then again, so was Neil Sedaka, another classically trained pianist and prolific songwriter.

As far as books go… I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that I didn’t learn something from. I’m sure this book has lots of interesting information and viewpoints. Books have always been the primary source of sharing past and present knowledge. Then again, considering how many book stores are going out of business, I imagine the Internet (Googling) is taking the place of books as a primary source of knowledge – yikes!

Just felt the urge to add a little bit of nothing to this thread. laugh

John smile

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