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#135405 - 03/19/03 01:35 AM A basic Song with Session Musicians?  
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 380
tone Offline
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tone  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 380
I wonder could those with any experience offer advice on the following.
Many people say if a basic song sounds or "feels" good it will make it without changes. Is this really true?

From my experience here at JPF in the 6 mths since I joined I have listened to some excellent offerings, containing tasteful and technically perfect musical parts played by session (as well as songwriting) musicians, and questioned if the song itself could be recognised as something good if it did not have all the professional 'input' (ie Rhythm, Bass lines, licks etc).
So my question is;
From a practical music industry point of view, to what extent is the success of basic 'worthwhile' song ideas dependent upon the contribution of session recording musicians lifting the song to a special level with their skilful playing abilities and how common is it that an average or below average song is recognised as worthwhile going with (or even a hit)?

I understand musicianship on any recording is important and would guess that industry professionals can be successful if they possess an inate ability to recognise if a particular song, that we consider to be so-so, could be a hit with the changes they wish to make on behalf of the writer who after all may accept changes if it means it gets mass produced on a CD.

In case you are wondering. Although I am doing all this out of pure enjoyment/enthusiasm right now, any advice would be for future reference when I may select some of my songs or basic song ideas for the 'studio session' investment to (possibly) increase the chances of commercial success.

#135406 - 03/19/03 11:38 AM Re: A basic Song with Session Musicians?  
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 512
BB Wilbur Offline
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BB Wilbur  Offline
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Birmingham, Alabama
A lot of what you are talking about depends upon the genre. I've head it said that in LA they write records, while in Nashville they write songs. What that means I guess, is that most of the Pop music coming out of LA depends heavily on production values. While in Nashville, the song is still King.

Then you've got to factor in whether the song was written by the artist who sings it, or an outside songwriter. Singer/Songwriters can -- and do -- get away with some crappy stuff simply because of who they are. Artists like Elton John have been hiding their poor writing with lavish production for years. The person who just writes songs for others to sing can't do that. Each of their songs have to be perfect to even be considered.

But let's face it - good or bad, a song usually sounds better with full production because that's what we're used to hearing on the radio.

It ultimately comes down to your goal as a writer. If you are happy writing less than perfect songs, figuring you can hide the problems in the mix, that's ok. If you want to set the bar higher that's probably better... because that's the bar your competition is trying to clear.


Who says I can't play the banjo?
#135407 - 03/19/03 02:18 PM Re: A basic Song with Session Musicians?  
Joined: Mar 2003
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Sngwrtr51 Offline
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Sngwrtr51  Offline
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Hopkinton, MA USA
I'll second that - a song with full production seems to have a better chance. Yeah, I've read where some people have said a "simple piano/vocal" will get a great song across no matter what. However with production being so easy to come by (home studios), I think everyone expects to hear a complete song because that is what they are used to (as BB said). I don't think you have to be a master of every instrument to do a good demo - I think you just have to have a good feel for the different instruments i.e. make the drums sound real - no cheesy drum samples, no mechanical beats, etc.

#135408 - 03/26/03 04:08 AM Re: A basic Song with Session Musicians?  
Joined: Apr 2001
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline

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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 19,360
Indianapolis, IN USA
I can tell you from first person perspective:

You must have 2 things minimum:

GREAT VOCAL... GREAT Instrument performance. This means it can be great guitar, great piano, great strings (our Song of the year contains ONLY a vocal and strings.. nothing else..). Our female s/s song of the year was literally recorded in a college girls bathroom.. it's sounds a little muddy.. but it's so compelling performed on piano and vocal that it didn't matter.

A strong song with strong vocal and strong single instrument IS good enough. The problem is that most people don't really understand how good the vocal and single instrument needs to be. If you can only afford 1 thing.. the vocal comes first. Today a bad or weak or close but not great vocal is the worst burden you can give your song.


Brian Austin Whitney
Just Plain Folks
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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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#135409 - 03/26/03 02:21 PM Re: A basic Song with Session Musicians?  
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 527
RobertK Offline
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Don't depend upon industry 'professionals' having the time or imagination to hear a great song's potential if the demo is performed in a mediocre manner.

Even the greatest songs sound like crap when they're butchered or done in a barely passable manner.

And even the best demos have been turned down by 'professionals'. I hear that darn near every publisher on Music Row turned down "This Kiss".

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