It's been a long time since I've perused the JPF environs. I've been very busy launching two new books: my novel/mock-memoir, Grand Pop (the comic tale of a spoiled, long-in-the-tooth rock superstar reluctantly turning 50 and becoming a grandfather), and my new career strategy tome for songwriters, The Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success.
However, I'm not excusing my absence here purely because of my busy-ness. It also has something to do with certain attitudes I see round these threads. You see, I'm a journeyman, career songwriter. I depend on creating commerce with my songs. And, after 41 years as a pro (with plenty of starving years between the abundant ones), I think I have a thing or two to share. After I published my first songwriting book, Makin' Stuff Up, almost two years ago, I discovered that the vast majority of songwriters are not the least bit interested in developing their craft. They think that every song is divinely inspired by some personal Muse, and that no opinions, constructive criticism, or suggestions could possibly improve that first instinct. While that may be the case in very rare (VERY rare) cases, you won't find a single successful pro who doesn't believe that craft is key to making a song both bulletproof and universal enough to become a hit.
Frustrated with the prevailing attitude, I took a break from JPF. However, I thought ya'all might wanna know about the new books. Grand Pop is now in the hands of a TV packaging agent, who is attempting to put together a team for either a premium cable series or feature film. Fingers crossed, not holding breath (this is show-biz after all). I did three workshops at NSAI's SongPosium based on The Absolute Essentials. Very well attended and received. I have another coming up on Monday, Nov 8th, for Indie Connect. The book is getting a great reception at retail as well. If you want to know all the essentials of how to build and sustain a career as a professional craftsman of song, this is the book for you. I also interviewed and profiled some of the most successful pop and country songwriters of the last 50 years.
Both volumes are available on the product page of my website: www.randbishop.com or on Amazon.
Hope to be back soon and jump back into the conversation. I wish every one of you every success in your creative endeavors.
Always good to hear great news from a fellow JPF'er. Glad to know you've been busy with positive things that seem to be going really well for you. Continued success and creativity and thanks for the words of wisdom.
... I discovered that the vast majority of songwriters are not the least bit interested in developing their craft. They think that every song is divinely inspired by some personal Muse, and that no opinions, constructive criticism, or suggestions could possibly improve that first instinct. ...
I don't know about the "vast" majority -- but definitely the loudest ones, so it seems like a majority (ha, ha)!
Welcome back and good luck on your books. If I was a pro mentor, I'd hang around on forums likes this. That just seems to make good business sense. However, getting shots fired at me from frustrated writers who don't study craft would get old in a hurry. Hopefully, the good outweighs the annoying.
Your informative posts have been missed. Glad to hear about your new book and I hope that side of publishing is not quite as convoluted as the music end of things. I also hope you'll visit often... and, if not, enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Though you're certainly welcome here, I find it surprising and offensive that you insult the entire organization which has existed for 13 years to educate and network songwriters and artists on the reality of the music business with your very incorrect and short sighted commentary that the "prevailing" attitudes and views here are ignorant and annoying to you. Then you top it off by saying now that you have another book to sell and project to pitch, you're back to put your hook and worm into the water around these parts. Seriously?
Any serious educator in this industry understands that most new folks have the same misunderstandings about how things work and it's our job or passion (for those of us not trying to make a buck off folks while we do it) to teach those folks how things really work until they get it. Meanwhile this site has pioneered a lot of the positive efforts on line (along with our friends at Muses Muse, SongU, TAXI and NSAI and other educators like JPF Mentors John Braheny, Harriet Schock, Pete and Pat Luboff, Jason Blume, Mike Dunbar and others, many of whom started even earlier than us in these efforts) to teach people and give them a place to get feedback to develop their work with the help of their peers and the experienced pro's who help out here like Marc Barnette, Mike Caro and many others. Somehow you've confused the folks we're here to help with those of us doing the work to help them and falsely and offensively branded all of JPF with a misinformed viewpoint.
So, though I do sincerely welcome you back and hope you'll share your experiences beyond pitching your book, please offer us the courtesy and respect we've earned in our own community and perhaps stick arounds between book releases and learn a bit more about JPF and the work we've been doing for over a decade.
ha ha Brian....I said alot of the same stuff (not as eloquently as you) but then deleted it, because I wasn't sure who I was to be saying that to him, upon rereading it ! I hope you're healing brother !
Aint been around here for a while myself...talk about shooting yourself in the foot..Rand mybe good at what he does(i dunno)..but to be so condescending and offensive in one breath,and then offering to rectify all songwriters "faults" by offering us poor mortals the chance to buy some publication,on the other breath...NOW..Rand...how do you fancy buying my book on how to "Sell a Book"...or my latest publication..."The Man with Honey on his Tongue,Will Catch More Bees Than the Man With Vinegar on His Tongue"....Terry..
My apology, Brian, if my post offended. It wasn't directed at this particular community per se, but simply an observation about aspiring songwriters at which I've arrived over the last two + years.
I can understand how it may seem arrogant to assume that anyone is interested or could benefit from my experience in the biz, from signing my first artist contract with Elektra in 1969 to publishing my latest book with Alfred Publishing just last October. John Breheny, in fact, put a lovely blurb on my new book, and Pat and Pete are profiled, along with TAXI, SongsAlive, JPFolks, and Muses Muse. (I couldn't get any help from Muses Muse without taking out an expensive ad, yet I am willing to help writers find it as a resource for their benefit.)
In my defense, I have spent multiple hours on this site between book releases, sharing my survival stories in the Music-Biz jungle. So, now I deign to mention that I have a new book out, and I'm accused of excess self-promotion and even condescension. I'm a professional in this business. That means I make a living at it. I certainly can't force anyone to read my books, hire me to coach, or listen to anything I have to say, but I can make myself and my creative work available.
My experience with open forum creative communities is that one or two self-appointed experts shout louder than everyone else and set the tone. Many of the dominant voices on this and other forums seem to prefer to whine and complain about how unfair life is, while they refuse to consider buying a book, or ever paying for help. It's the five percent who are willing to work hard on their craft every day, and who have sufficient humility to accept and apply helpful feedback that have the best chance at realizing their aspirations.
I feel very fortunate to be blessed with unique talents, inspirations, and incredible opportunities. That I've been able to support myself for most of my adult life while living a creative life is frosting. I find a great deal of fulfillment in sharing my life's lessons with those who are willing to listen. I also believe that I offer something of true value. Take it or leave it, but I do think I have the right to continue making a living. And, as I'm sure you know well, making a living requires self-marketing. If that's not cool here, I'll happily and gratefully move on without a drop of rancor.
Brian, I want to thank you for providing and nurturing this amazing and thriving community for those of us who are compelled to explore the mysteries of attaching words and music to rhythm.
Rand: Your link to your books didn't work. Other than telling me it wasn't there. I actually was going to order one, maybe you could try again? I'm all for reading about the experiences of people who have actually been there. Ott
"I discovered that the vast majority of songwriters are not the least bit interested in developing their craft." Rand Bishop
Rand, Let me give you a friendly piece of advice that won't cost you a cent. Don't try to drum up business by insulting your target audience. If you aren't getting the market share you hope for, perhaps you need to make adjustments to your business plan instead of complaining and whining about people who aren't interested in purchasing what you have to offer.
Just because most amateur songwriters don't avail themselves of your "unique talents" and refuse to consider buying your book or paying for your help doesn't mean they're not trying to improve their songwriting.
This may be hard to believe, but there are plenty of other ways for budding songwriters to improve their skills besides purchasing your books and services.
So my advice is don't insult potential customers by charging that "the vast majority" of them aren't interested in improving their crafstmanship.
As they say here, KOS and continued best wishes.
Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.
I am the one who made the comments and I stand by them 100%. When a myriad of other authors with experience come here to sell their books, they often do one of two things, they actually ask if there's some way they could help, thus making a connection with their target audience and earning the trust and support of those of us running these communities as well so we may be inclined to return the favor and help them make their goals come true of selling books and making more money. In the last week I have either posted or emailed suggestions to people to buy John Braheny's or Jason Blume's books over 50 times. (at least 50 via email and I know of at least 3 posts here as well).
Those two guys as well as Pat Luboff and Harriet Schock and Danny Arena and Sara Light all understand that ALL entry level writers and artists have the same questions, misunderstandings and in some cases stubborn ignorance and that includes myself when I started and every other person I have ever met no matter how successful they might later become. You don't know what you don't know. And there are also no shortage or rude jerks on message boards AND in real life (I met plenty on the road, during visits to Nashville long before the Internet existed) etc. who will blame everyone but themselves for their failures. So all the things Rand complained about simply come with the territory when dealing with new students pre-education.
The turn over here is much like a school. Sure, a handful of folks hang out (thankfully, I really miss some of those who have passed away or whose health has suffered a great deal which has kept them away (by the way, Bobbi and Bob I hope you're both doing well!). We also find many who LEARN what they need to and graduate past us. Chris Young is our best example in that he started knowing zero, but with our help (and some others) he graduated on to much higher learning and catipulted to success. But ask his Mom who helped him the most. JPF. We can only help those who are ready to be helped. And fortunately those long timers who have stuck around do NOT include a bunch of big time complainers and blamers of the industry for all their problems. And even those who DO complain a lot, they've also had some levels of success which means they aren't the same ignorant lot that Rand complained about.
I realize when all you really care about is hawking your books and one site is the same as any other to you it would be easy to lump them all together. I would also see how when you feel like everyone OWES you respect instead of trying to earn a little from people who don't know who you are and have reason to respect or disrespect you at all since you're a stranger to them, you may be shocked when they don't artificially kiss your boots when they see you coming. I'd also think you of all people who know by now that when people do that, they don't REALLY respect you, but rather they want something from you and think that by sucking up to you, you might throw them a crumb. Those folks don't understand that even when you've had a successful career like Rand has had legitimately, you STILL need to keep making a living. There are few successes that can stop working and hang out in their mansion on the beach.
Rand, JPF has 50,000 or so members on our email list. And though we have app. 300 regulars that post here a lot, only about 5000 registered users check in here each month. Another 20-30K non registered folks check in, but they can't post until they register and often they are looking for info, not sales pitches and certainly not insults. For those experts who treat our folks, including those rank amateurs still learning the basics for the first time, with respect and kindness, and who offer some helpful info and advice, they are often rewarded by both business and a broadening sense of being one of the good guys people can trust with their money like a John Braheny or Jason Blume or Harriet Schock or Danny and Sara etc. They also often are invited by me to offer up articles in our newsletter which puts them in front of 50K more people, most of which don't use message boards, often because they are busy gigging, writing and making a full time living in the music industry, just like you, OR they don't like message boards, which applies to about 2 out of 3 of them or more. Once our Nashville chapter is back up and running, I imagine many of those folks who be guest speakers as well to reach other groups (same in LA) or one of our currently active chapters around the US.
And finally, one of you early visits here we had a contentious post where I came to you and Marc Barnette's defense, but was told not to worry, that you guys were big boys and could defend yourselves. I thought that was you who told me, but based on the above, I am guessing it was Marc. And I think you could learn a lot from how he's approached these same folks. I know many who have paid him good money (much more than the cost of 10 books) to help them in Nashville. Somehow SongU finds the same thing from our folks. So who is really at fault here Rand? Aren't you the pro who should know better in the first place?
Now, you are still very welcome here. I am willing to chalk this up to you simply not being aware that JPF isn't a generic online community with the same old flame wars and the same old close minded folks with no one minding the store. If nothing else, you should realize that even though several near fatal strokes I STILL manage to watch our site closer than most do and keep on top of this sort of thing. An experienced pro like yourself could do well for JPF and do well from JPF. But if you want that to happen, you need to start over from scratch. I welcome a restart if you do. Either way, we'll keep working as hard as we can through wave after wave of new folks who often need to learn exactly the same things the last group did and who will include the same mix of sincere talents wanting to learn, and complete jerks just trying to cause trouble. That will never change and comes with the territory.
Bill, you're really off on this one ... Rand is very welcome to hang out here if he chooses...but the "you guys aren't serious about your craft unless you buy my book" rap ... was a very LAME attempt at bad reverse psychology ... Here we have a songwriter turned salesman ... being a great songwriter does NOT a make you even a good salesman ... selling songs to an artist or publisher is nothing like selling books to masses ... Do you really want the guy just hanging out to tell you that you suck and have a bad attitude, BUT ... if you buy his book you could improve ?
Okay, kiddos. Once again, sorry if anyone was offended by the absolute truth. Dancers, musicians, painters, sculptors, crafts people of all kinds seek to build a strong foundation by sitting at the feet of masters (I'm not touting myself as a master. Please!). However, of all the creative artists, I have found that songwriters are the least likely to seek instruction. A lot of them think that the first idea that was beamed in from their personal muse is sacred and that no constructive opinion, whether from a seasoned pro or a lay person, is valid. And, they certainly would never be willing to pay to learn something about their craft.
If that fact offends, then you are simply not willing to face the truth. Yes, Brian, I am a big boy, and, quite frankly I enjoy stirring up a little dust. But, when people claim that I am saying that if you don't buy my book, you're not a real songwriter or some such hogwash, that's simply a wrong interpretation that must come from some insecurity. All the people Brian has cited are very gifted and generous mentors. They are also my friends.
The reason I wrote "The Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success" is because I detected that most songwriters don't have a strategy to build a career. So, I juxtaposed my own experience alongside that of a half dozen of the most successful songwriters of the last 40 years and found that there is a pattern to how successful songwriting careers are made. The book is selling well because it tells it like it is and because it is a one-of-a-kind tome, the first book laying out a map to buildng a career as a professional songwriter. Although my first songwriting book "Makin' Stuff Up" continues to sell okay, it is primarilly about song-craft, as well as telling war stories about the many times I shot myself in the foot. There have been many great books on the subject of song-craft. I happen to love Jimmy Webb's songwriter.
Brian, you and I will just have to agree to disagree. I don't much care about insulting those who have no interest in developing their song craft. They wouldn't buy a book, join my website, or attend my workshops anyway. These are the same people that get on this forum and complain about how unfair the business is and how they can't get arrested, even though they claim that they're writing better songs than those they hear on the radio. You can't flick a guitar pick in Nashville without hitting somebody with that kind of attitude.
You guys know who you are. You're either doing the necessary things to build and sustain your career or you're living in a fantasy world where success is nigh on impossible. In the meantime, we should all be very grateful that we have some talent, some tools, and some time to create something that wasn't there before.
The only reason I'm jumping in here is that I vaguely remember a thread Rand may thinking about that was posted here some time ago regarding songwriters not being interested in "developing their craft". It must have been curmudgeon season because as I remember some of the naysayers from that thread are either no longer with us or have been banned for other reasons. Some were first time posters, so I have to defend this site as a whole.
I would invite Rand to read the MP3 and Lyric boards here, not necessarily to read or hear the songs, but to read the attitude and willingness of the posters to learn from their peers advice.
Not every successful songwriter bought a book or followed a lesson plan. Sure it may help bring more insight, but it is definitely not a pathway to success. It's just another's perspective. Everyone is different, everyone has different opportunities and luck.
The point is this, Ben (and thank you for pointing out that the naysayers are either now banned or have dropped out of sight), I completely agree that the book or lesson plan is not the pathway to success. However, the skills, techniques, and profiles of successful writers can help an aspiring writer immeasurably in getting them on that pathway. A book or a workshop can accelerate the journey. "Perspective," as you call it, is one thing. Experience and success is quite another. In my new book, The Absolute Essentials of Songwriting Success, I interview and profile some of the most successful writers of the last 50 years. It's amazing how parallel their journeys to success are. There are choices that writers can make to give themselves better opportunities. The first one is developing song craft. If they continue to do that, they put themselves in a much better position to take advantage of each and every unique opportunity. As our courageous leader, Brian Austin Whitney, often says, "Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way."
I've had some amazing groups attending my workshops, where 100% of the attendees seemed to be receptive to learning something and applying it. In my opinion, those writers are giving themselves a much better chance. That's my "perspective," as you call it. But that "perspective" is pretty much shared by every successful writer I know.
WOW! You're preaching to the choir. I just did a whole article in American Songwriter online about the fact that most writers (at least that I come across) aren't interested at all in developing their craft. Instead they're looking for that shortcut to get in the back door. Check it out if ya have a sec.
I dont get here much myself either, but not for any reason other than just being really busy. I can dig what you're saying though. Everyone wants to know 'what's it take?' but few are willing to put in the work.
I should emphasize that I'm referring to clients who approach me on my website when I speak of the vast number who aren't interested in improving their craft. Please know that I'm not making a value judgement by saying that. I'm simply reporting the data. What I didn't mention is those awesome writers that contact me who ARE willing to do the work and who DO want to focus on the craft, such as the writer I refer to in my latest article in American Songwriter. They're few and far between but they are definitely worth waiting for.
While those that speak loudest and most often here on JPF sometimes have a tendency to fall in the "everything on the radio sucks, my stuff is great, and life's unfair because I'll never get my stuff on the radio" category, my sense has always been that there are more here that are into doing the work, experiencing the reality, and watching the world with eyes open than those who choose to berate everything that has found commercial success.
That's why I'm here. JPF has always seemed to be about the craft to me, not the voodoo.
Yes the goalposts have moved dramatically in the demograph of the songwriting business,did the songwriters of old, buy publications to further their songwriting career's?..ok iam not against per-say, seasoned, pro songwriters publishing books on songwriting,good luck to them,but how can they possibly tell a songwriter HOW to write a song,does it give advice on, when for instance, you are leaking blood searching for that one line,or that one word,you are looking at a lyric,you know within yourself it isn't right,you go to bed,your sub-concious is still searching out that one line or word,then VALLHALLAH! it comes to you,like some unexpected gift from somewhere,you immediately write it down,or you scramble downstairs in the middle of the night,to record a melody which would be lost forever if you do not save it...if that ain't working at your craft then what is?..Songwriting is a huge myriad of feelings, words, expression, melody,all intertwinned..books may or may not, give you the building bricks,to lay a basic musical foundation(probably they do)but at the end of the day,they can't reach into the soul, and to me, and it is only my personal opinion,Songwriting is a gift,it is very hard ,probably nigh impossible to Teach someone how to be a Songwriter..i do remember one quote in particular from the English Lyricist Don Black when he was collaborating with Andrew Lloyd Webber...in between writing,and having a cup of tea, in exasperation, Don said to Lloyd Webber this is like "Wrestling With Elephants"..that is the title of his book on Songwriting...I tend to agree with that title..Terry..
The lesson I'm getting is that you should not denigrate the very behavior that your book sales depend on. Even though it's a fact, the opposite tactics would seem obvious; offer them hope that they can learn what they know they don't know.
More lyricists and songwriters are resistant to any critique or advice regarding perceived flaws in their works than are receptive.
Most are unable to comprehend the advice and do anything to correct it. Those open enough to try often come back with a worse or as-bad change, they think is a solution.
Many seem to have little idea what a lyric is, in structure, in 'storyline', and in vocal delivery/melody. The strategic importance of THE hook, usually the title, eludes many.
But pointing those facts out without offending would demand a stupendously tactful, tactical talent of diplomacy, especially in an internet exchange where words can so easily be misunderstood. And who the hell's got time for that?
Songwriting demands a mix of inspiration, what just comes to you, and craft, re-writing, moving things around, planning what words to use and where to use them, and how to structure the musical movements of introductory passage, verse and chorus, a bridge if it needs one, the coda. You can learn about inspiration. You can learn about craft. Someone who has thought about it may be able to teach.
So it pays to keep an open mind, and a civil demeanor, whether you desire to teach or to learn.
There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
I don't think I understand what you're asking. I wasn't 'in it' before the internet, at least not like I am now, but even if I was I'm not sure what 'contrasts in any given area' you're asking me to consider. Contrasts with regard to what?
Oops, sorry Bill, I think I may have you confused with another Nashville Bill who does songriting tutorage.
Anyways, I guess my point would be that songwiting hasn't changed since the days of Tin Pan Alley. It's only the technology which has changed, and the advent of the interent and digital sound would be the biggest fox in the chicken coup since anything I can remember. ( maybe except the copyright wars of 1906 or there abouts )
I think it's the study of the technology which is on a par with the study of songwriting itself which is necessary to understand what the heck is going on these days.