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Big Jim,

Only 2 of 20 questions are specific to Country. And since 70-80 percent of the folks on the forums are more oriented to Country, that's really a very small recipricol percnetage...10% of the questions vs 70%-80% of the participants. But, your comment, none-the-less, is indeed valid, regarding the non-country oriented folks. And as Brian also mentioned, we could nit-pick these things to death. And please know that I do not think for a moment that you are nit-picking. I am leading up to another point, and that is: you, as an example, represent a relatively small but incrdably talented and important part of our constituency from the UK. Almost everything that Mike D. and I post will be geared toward the U.S. music scene, which is quite different from the UK, Continetal Europe, Japan, etc. So, it's kind of a matter of addressing the largest number of folks possible and still not excluding the other factions.

I have an idea! Yeah, hard to fathom, I know. But, you and a few others from the UK could send me some appropriate info on the UK music biz and we might be able to add that to the project. In fact, I think that would be a great addition!

Regarding equipment and technical issues. Those subjects would be covered under question #16. The answer for that question will address most of the specifics you mentioned. If you think the question could be asked differently...a little more directly, how about this instead of what we have:

Current stated:

16: I hear lots of really nice sounding songs on the Internet that people say they have recorded at home. Sounds complicated! How do I go about doing that?

Suggested revision:

16: I am interested in learning about recording my own music. Can you tell me more about computer software and hardware, microphones, mixing boards, processors, etc.?

What do you think? I'm always willing to listen (I'm not going to use my wife as a reference, though!).

We really appreciate your interest in making this a better project. Thanks!

Al

Last edited by Al David; 12/31/07 12:31 AM.
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Hi Al spot on perfect solution. I think that a lot of questions could be phrased in a similar way so one question fits all then the answers could be split into headings to identify the different individual topics seperately. EG. How do I make a demo? Then answer under different headings like Recording, Editing, Pitching etc etc. Do I make sense?

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Jim,

When it comes to music, you almost always make sense. I am pretty sutre that Mike has been reading along with this thread (haven't "talked" to him in a couple of days). But, if he doersn't comment here on this, I'll send him a note regarding our discussion.

If anyone else has a good observation to improve this project, or simply wants to comment, please feel free to do so. If thisproject does not satisfactorily meet the needs of a majority of JPFers, it will be a lot of good intended, hard work gone to waste. Mike and I are flexible and open to consider all suggestions and then finalize the preparation, followed by its impilementation. Don't be bashful!

Al

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I think it's more important to keep moving forward and we can always tweak a question or answer later. That's the great thing about a FAQ.. it can be easily edited anytime. I am sure we'll think of additional questions to add as we go. I think waiting too long to move forward is the bigger risk.

I think you can ask the "Country" questions with minimal changes to make it less limited in scope. I've been busy with family stuff for the last 10 days but that should lighten up after the weekend coming up and then I can focus on this as well.

Thanks for the work!

Brian


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Brian,

I agree...moving along is most important. I will reevaluate the wording of each question, make adjustments as necessary and run them by Mike for further review. Glad I can help.

Al

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Hi Al you are doing a great job. I am sure this work is in good hands. Cannot wait for the fireworks when it comes to the answers though. Sorry having a laugh.

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Hey Al, Yes, I've been reading along. Great ideas progressing here. I'll dive in over the next few days and maybe we can move off the dime. Thanks for your good work.

Jim, you are sure right about the fireworks. One suggestion is to contain a lot of links so there are plenty of opportunities to examine different ideas, maybe even give each question it's own discussion thread that can be linked into. One example, perhaps the main difference in a lot of songwriting issues is writing commercially vs. writing "ars gratia artis." Both sides argue that the other side is wrong, a provable, classical mistake in logic, (basically "apples and oranges"). I expect a lot of brouhaha from those camps. BTW, Jim, I asked Brian if we could include the question "Is there a God?" but he has yet to answer.


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

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LOL Mike

I think the most important question would be;
How do you make that little copyright sign?..© year and name


Bill
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Mike, I have followed (but not participated in) that "Where's the morality?" thread that kinda morphed into a "Where's the divinity?" I think it'd be okay to include an "Is there a God?" question, as long as you put it close to the end so as not to turn people off too early. And followed it up with "And what record company does He work for?"

Hope you had a good New Year's.

Joe

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Joe I'd wanna know who his agent is. and what percentage he is taking.

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Just a quick update: I am in the process of retooling some of the questions. Should have a revised list posted soon.

Al

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Ray E. Strode

tjis name sounds familiar... besides being on JPF..

humm.... i wonder........


♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫ ♥ ♫

wishes and creative blisses...

Jill Sansores
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errrr... like 100 scam questions..

i DO however see a decrease in scam artists personally since sending out emails to one's personal email account has become not too effective.

in earlier days, it was new. these days, thank God for JPFolks to read and make more reasonable decisions.


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wishes and creative blisses...

Jill Sansores
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Trying to figure out why we stopped working on this?

Brian


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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

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Did you ever finish a version? I'd love to read it.


Judy


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That was my point on this Judy, for some reason it just stopped. I think it is still a good idea and with some help we could really improve each board with a set of these questions and answers. The other idea of a board where it is just the top Q&A's from the site with it open for continual discussion and updating.

Anyone want to get involved? A lot of work has already been done, but someone would need to take over the role of Al.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
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jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
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"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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Yes, I see what you mean. Do you have access to Al's list? I would like lend a hand, though I just walked in the door a couple of days ago. Someone else may be more appropriate who has a background with the group.

Last edited by Judy Hughes; 08/07/13 08:26 PM.

Judy


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I finally read the entire thread - there's Al's list! And everyone else's. I just pulled all of them out into a text file. What seems to be the big missing item are the answers.
That would be a call for experts I guess. Someone to step up on topics like these as an answer provider:
Songwriting
Song pitching
Marketing
Recording
Copyrights, legal basics,
PROs
Artist /Band perspectives
Songwriter perspectives


Here's a random first question from the lists.
What is song structure? Where can I learn about proper lyric/song structure?

Who's the songwriter pro who will answer this one?


Judy


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Judy, I’ll try. I expect, though, that I’ll just be providing a starting point for others to talk from. What I say will reference country music, too, because that’s what I write. There are other genres, and some of the rules are different. You should also take what I say with a large amount of salt, because I am not famous by any means.

There are music-industry experts who will tell you a country music song should follow the pattern of verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus. I think that’s c**p. You’ll find most good songs ignore that format. I pay attention to it only when it’s convenient (which is not often).

I am interested more in conceptual structure. A country music song tells a story, framed in concrete terms—real things happening to real people. I insist my songs be a complete thought, with no loose ends. I also impose time limits on myself. I want that complete thought expressed in 3-1/2 to 5 minutes, with and without a lead break; the numbers are mostly arbitrary (though there are a lot of song contests that will not accept material longer than 5 minutes), and simply force me to be economical with words.

Beyond that, I also insist on being different: I want to either be saying something new, or saying something old in a new way. If you want to be noticed, you have to provide a reason to be noticed (which I suppose is another argument for staying away from that Official Nashville Song Structure thing).

As far as where to learn, a lot depends on how you learn. Some folks learn best from books, others from organized classes; some like the “immersion therapy” of songwriting camps. Myself, I learn best from watching other people. One of the best resources I’ve found is here at JPF. Read lyrics—lots of lyrics—and what other people say about them; try to get a handle on what people consider “good” and why. JPF is one of about half a dozen writers’ groups I subscribe to. Lot of good writers here, who are real helpful with advice.

I look for famous songwriters whose work I consider good, and try to puzzle out what they’re doing with words that makes it good, and apply those tricks to my own writing. And not just songwriters: anyone who works in the “oral tradition”—words that are meant to be spoken, not just read—is fair game. People like Cicero, Churchill, Vergil, Homer, and Dr. Seuss.

And on the rare occasion when I end up writing something audiences consider good, I try to find out why they think it’s good.

That help? Hopefully, some experts will chime in now.

Joe

P.S. Brian, I noticed Al’s last “I’m still working on the list” post was seven months ago. Is he okay?

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Some excellent advice Joe.
I think information about concept and length is important and a good addition to the answer for this question.

I do believe beginning songwriters need some understanding of structure though, before they venture out of the box. Once you know what rules you're breaking it's easier to get away with it.

So if someone could answer the specific - what is structure. Maybe there's a post you could refer to regarding structures - ABABCB, or AAA or possibly the difference between Pop Verse-Chorus and Country Verse-Chorus. I don't think we can go into depth but I think a starting point is important.

I am reminded of our first song critique submission - a meandering 7 minute, ABABCAAABCDEFG.... I can't repeat the comments here. Ouch.

Don't forget book suggestions on the subject.
Here's one - Songwriting - A Complete Guide to the Craft, Stephen Citron


Last edited by Judy Hughes; 08/08/13 04:57 PM.

Judy


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Hi Judy,
As to song struture. It has been noted that a popular song needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. It has been noted from time to time, that a song, popular type, should be about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes long.
A song too short may not be a song at all and one too long may get too repitious.
A song should not give away everything until it is ready in the song. In other words, a bit of mystery. But of course the song still has to have some contunity instead of a bunch of words just thrown together.

A song that is pretty long but works perfectly is EL PASO by Marty Robbins. Keep writing.


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Yes, I agree with you. The pop song is shorter than the country song. Here are my compiled answers from responses to this first FAQ: I answered it in two parts. This is a trial run. Looking for feedback.


Where can I learn about proper lyric/song structure?

A) What is song structure

There are several categories of song structures; lyric, rhyme, melody and chord structures. Here is one of the basic lyric structures used in many pop and country songs.

A - verse 1
B - chorus
A- Verse 2
B - Chorus
C - Bridge (or verse 3)
B - Chorus

A basic rhyme structure in a verse containing 4 lines:
Rhyme the last word of lines 2 and 4
Verse 2 rhyme differs from verse 1.
The last line of the chorus is generally the hook, or punchline of the song.

Study song lyrics of hit songs and you will often see this structure.

You may also see an additional line or two between the verse and chorus. This is the lift, meant to carry the power of the song upward into the chorus.

This is only one of many song forms. We highly recommend you study a good book on the subject.

After understanding song form basics, conceptual form is the important consideration. Keep in mind - simplify, simplify.

A country music song tells a story, framed in concrete terms of real things happening to real people. The best ones are a single complete thought without loose ends. That complete thought needs to be expressed in 3-1/2 to 5 minutes.
A pop song does not always stick to a story line, but expresses an emotion, concept, or feeling. The best ones are about real things happening to real people. Pop songs generally run from 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 minutes, even less time to get your point across. That is why it is important to simplify. If verse one sets up a question, answer it in verse two, don't set up another question.

If you want to be noticed, you have to provide a reason to be noticed. Song screeners literally get hives over too many cliches in a song. This is where you pull out a rhyming dictionary, or read poetry or novels and get ideas about how to say things in a different way.

B) Where can I learn about songwriting and song structure:

As far as where to learn, a lot depends on how you learn. Some folks learn best from books, others from organized classes; some like the “immersion therapy” of songwriting camps. You may learn best from watching other people. The lyric and song forums here on JPF are an excellent resource. Read lyrics and what other people say about them; try to get a handle on what people consider “good” in your chosen genre, and why.

Once you understand how to write a song by the rules, you can start to break them. Say something new, or say something old in a new way. Change the structure, use structures you are unfamiliar with. AAA, AABA, AAAC. Look them up. Try them on. Break them completely. See what happens.

Book recommendations:
The Craft and Business of Songwriting, John Braheny
http://www.amazon.com/Craft-Business-Songwriting-3rd-Edition/dp/1582974667

Writing Better Lyrics, Pat Pattison
http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Better-Lyrics-Pat-Pattison/dp/1582975779/ref=pd_sim_b_4

Songwriting, A complete Guide to the Craft, Stephen Citron

http://www.amazon.com/Songwriting-C...&keywords=Songwriting+Stephen+Citron








Last edited by Judy Hughes; 08/08/13 06:27 PM.

Judy


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Thanks, Judy. A couple of extraneous (and probably irrelevant) thoughts:

Country music is known for its rhyming. But what if you've got a word nothing rhymes with? I ran into that with "Duct Tape." The solution was to make the rhymes *internal* instead (trick picked up from Avril Lavigne), and just have every couplet end with "duct tape." Worked.

I took care of the cliche problem by writing a song that was entirely cliches. ("Twenty-four Seven" was also a love song, and a waltz--if you're going to do cliches, you might as well go all the way.) Now they don't bother me any more.

And the hook can really go anywhere that it fits. I've occasionally made it the first line of the first verse, just because. Challenge is if you don't have a chorus. In the Southern Pigfish folk-rocker "For Their Own Ends," which has seven verses, no chorus, the hook (which is not the title) is in the last line of each verse. In "When I Jump Off the Cliff I'll Think of You," which has nine verses, no chorus, the hook happens only four times, but still was memorable.

Joe

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Hey Joe - yup, totally agree on all that. Those are all valid thoughts and worthy of the discussion. A little beyond basic info for a beginner FAQ though IMHO.

You're right on the cliche issue. We all write them. It's how we talk. And once somebody makes a great speech, or writes an original lyric that becomes a hit....it's a cliche. So let's look on the sunny side of life, don't worry, be happy, live and let live, and write more cliche songs. Que Sera Sera. (I'd add a smiley here but I don't know how.) There's even a book to help.

http://utopia.knoware.nl/~sybev/cliche/general.htm

I'll make a couple of edits.


Last edited by Judy Hughes; 08/08/13 10:36 PM.

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...And cliche till the cows come home.

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Joe,

Actually Al's post was from 7 months ago.. plus 5 years... I just pulled this up, in part to check on Al, but also to see if we could finish the work.

Ideally, we'd post the list of the top 50 questions (or some smaller number) and then create a board where they'd all be posted individually in the subject like "How do I earn royalties" etc. then inside, the question would be posted again in more depth and people could offer up their thoughts and also more clarification until we have what we consider to be the "best" answer. Then we'd edit the first post and under the question, we'd list the "answer" and welcome folks to continue to discuss in case something has changed, we got something wrong or they have more questions about that topic.

What we CAN'T do, is lift the text off of someone else's page or answer without permission or simply linking to their page. Ideally we'd have our own "answer" which would become a permanent part of the board for folks to research.

Brian


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Here is the laundry list of questions from the 07 session with summaries from Mike Dunbar and Al David at the bottom.

Originally Posted by Al David
(1) How do I get a publishing deal?
(2) How can I find a co-writer?
(3) When should I do a demo of one of my songs?
(4) Should I copyright all of my songs?
(5) How do I get paid royalties?
(6) Do I need to join a PRO (Performance Rights Organization)?
(7) Where can I learn about proper lyric/song structure?
(8) How much does a decent demo cost?
(9) Which organizations, such as TAXI, SongU, NSAI, etc. are most helpful for a newbie?
(10) Are songwriting contests really as good as they claim to be?

Al


Originally Posted by ben willis
How do I get a copyright?
Is it safe to post my song here?


[
Originally Posted by Jill Sansores/JPJill

Is the quality of my demo good enough?

How long of a song is too long?

I just started writing songs, it is a hobbie right now but I may want to persue it as a possible career or professional avenue. Where should I go to learn as much as possible before I make any moves

How long should my intro be?

How do I package my demo before sending to a publishing co and how should I follow up and with what tools?

Where can I find a good example of a good song pitch package?

IS MY SONG A G O O D SONG ? What makes a good quality song.. as far as for what category or genre or audience you are trying to reach.

I can't read music, do I need to pay alot of money to have someone help me?

Where do I get my song copyrighted and can u teach me any tips on how to get my money's worth (Wash D.C.) to file? - meaning.. do as a collection per say.. rather than song by song.


Originally Posted by Joe Wrabek


o Would you listen to my songs?
o Has anybody ever heard of Paramount Group?


Joe
Originally Posted by niteshift


o I've just started writing songs, are they any good ?
o How do I "Make it" in the music biz ?
o I'm paranoid about people stealing my songs, do I need an attorney ?
o How do I submit my works to a publisher, and which one ?


Originally Posted by Kevin Emmrich
Where can I get my songs critiqued and reviewed for a reasonable price?


Originally Posted by Everett Adams
Where can I get demos made? How much should I spend? How good do they need to be?


Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
How do I record my songs properly?


Originally Posted by Mike Dunbar
I just made a quick survey of the questions on the first five pages of this forum. Here's the way it looks.

1. Legal Questions. Mostly questions about copyrights, followed by specific contract questions.

2. Specific Businesses. Folks want to know about specific publishers, record labels, and studios. Quite often, the questioner wants a publisher, but the publisher wants to record the questioner's demos (Joe got it there). Also some questions about specific pluggers.

3. How to copyright songs.

4 and 5. This is a tie. How to pitch songs. How to get recordings ready for a cd or mp3.

5 and 6. Another tie. Questions about performance and questions about creating promo material.

7. Questions about improving writing (funny, if this were the number one question, most of the other questions would answer themselves.)

8. Questions about PROs, how they work, who are they, which is best.

9. Taxi.

10. A tie again, NSAI and how to find booking agents.


Originally Posted by Al David



1: How do I get a publisher, label/artist to listen to my original music? And, how do I prepare/package my demo?

2: I was contacted by email by someone “in the business” who heard my music and wants me to sign a publishing/promotion deal. I constantly hear about people being scammed like this. How do I know if it’s legitimate?

3: Should I copyright my songs? If so, how do I do that?

4: Is there any real benefit to joining an organization such as Taxi or NSAI?

5: I write mostly country music. Nashville insiders say that I have to stick to their guidelines and formulas if I expect to have a major publisher seriously consider my music. But, so much of what I hear on the radio frequently violates many of those rules. Can someone intelligently explain that to me? It seems so contradictory!

6: When I feel my song is good enough to invest money in a demo; should I do a full scale production? Or, is a vocal with just guitar or piano backing adequate?

7: Is it really safe to post my songs on the numerous Internet sites that offer that service? Can’t someone just steal it or make a similar derivative work from it?

8: I’m a great lyricist/musician. But, I do not play an instrument/write lyrics. How do I go about collaborating with someone on the Internet? And, is it difficult?

9: Mom and Aunt Betty think my songs are great! But, how can I get a real and honest critique of my songs?

10: How much should a good demo/critique cost me?

11: I am very serious about my music. I’m pretty darned good! But, I want to be even better…professional quality work. What resources are available to take my skills to the next level?

12: I can’t convince a publisher or label to listen to my music. It really is great, though! Are there any other avenues to get my music heard by someone in the business?

13: Should I join a Performance Rights Organization (PRO), such as ASCAP, BMI or SESAC? And what, exactly, can they do for me?

14: I write some pretty darned good songs. But, I am not a performer. How do I get paid for my songs if a performing artist records them or plays them publicly?

15: I see dozens of songwriting contests all over the place. Are they legitimate, for the most part? And, has anyone ever achieved professional success by winning one?

16: I hear lots of really nice sounding songs on the Internet that people say they have recorded at home. Sounds complicated! How do I go about doing that?

17: Can I be my own publisher? If so, how do I do that?

18: I write/compose mostly country music. I’ve heard it said that you have to live in Nashville if you have any hope of succeeding in country music? Is that true?

19: How do I make an MP3 music file; and how do I upload it to the hosting site?

20: Is there really much money to be made as a songwriter or composer, rather than a performer?


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How do I send my songs to Taylor Swift so that she will record them on her next album?

Why hasn't Taylor written me back, praising my songs and enclosing a six figure check?

Why doesn't Taylor recognize good songs when they are sent to her?



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I like pop/rock/alternative music. Sometimes formidable, often times not.
After 10 years there looks to be that few percent in the listenership that like it.
I am not hooked up to a local scene and have done what I did with it in my spare time.

My 2 biggest questions would be getting musicians around recordings that do not have to have things quite so and conventional around that and how to promote it.

I would like to take given tracks and see where the players might go from there.

I need more then just feedback with songs.

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Originally Posted by Joe Wrabek
Well, for *common* questions (as opposed to *good* questions), how about:

o Would you listen to my songs?
o Has anybody ever heard of Paramount Group?

And:

o Would you please go to [INSERT WEBSITE] and cast your vote for [INSERT NAME] because I've never posted here before and may never do it again and you've never heard of [INSERT NAME] but but [INSERT NAME] is reallyreallyreally good, so please?

Joe


You know Joe, that last question still to this day never seems to end. Even among people who should know better. Any poll/contest etc. that requires the public to beg for votes thus artificially "stacking" the results is meaningless. All you're doing is getting clicks for the host of the ordeal and forcing those who actually want to help you to give important info to these same entities for the privilege of proving what you already know, that they are your friends/family and they support you and want you to succeed. It's better to simply thank them for being supportive and not punishing them with such requests.


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I'm "on to you" Brian... doing your best to promote things of common interest for the "gathering of would-be hit songwriters." ...and through the fog comes one remarkable "Wrabekian" statement: "...and cliche til the cows come home!" Brilliant!

Joe is probably the most unique of all the mix of characters you have been able to attract to this massive music magnet! His wit and generosity will eventually be rewarded in the annals of music history. Thanks, Joe... ...and "Thank YOU"... Brian! Happy New Year! smile

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Just freshening up a bit!


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Did you ever compile a list?

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Way back in the day I did, but I don't have the list anymore. I lost so much stuff between CD Baby deleting our entire website except this board, 22 years of history and my laptop getting ransomed a few years ago. I refused to pay so they nuked it.


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