by Cari Cole Everyone can write a song. But what makes a song land in our solar plexus and stick there ….on repeat, or even .…constant loop?? It’s more than clever lyrics and beats, although the accoutrements of the right production are paramount. But a great production without a great melody or lyric fall short in the long run. As artists, we are nothing without our songs. Think about your favorite artists right now. Do you really think about them or about the song/s you love? Is it really their hair or clothes or personality, or is it the songs that send you to Mars.… it all comes down to the songs, and even big stars are nothing without them. Call me “old school” – actually “new old school” – I’m too much of a maverick to be old school…. but what I want to say here is that the main ingredients of a great song (book or movie) are those that make an impact. Here are my Top 3 Components of Songs That Crush The Competition 1. “Show Me Don’t Tell Me” … I work with musicians, singers, artists, songwriters and music producers every day who are all trying to write songs that break the mold, win awards and matter to people. Some musicians will beg to differ, but songs without great lyrics won’t have a long shelf life. The songs that use metaphor and shared experiences — that we can step into, are the ones that make an impact. A common phrase writers come to know is “show me don’t tell me…” Painting the picture so listeners can join the party is the way to write lyrics that are relatable and penetrate the artist-audience barrier. Lyrics that makes you lose sense of time, feel your own emotions, and enter the transcendent ride that music can offer is the ticket. “Show Me Don’t Tell Me…” 2. Crescendos Dynamics, crescendos and decrescendos, peaks and valleys create the tension and release that lift us up and/or bring us to our knees. It’s the emotional roller coaster, the ups and downs, the human joys and great sorrows in our shared experience must arise in a song to impact us. Great movies, books, music and art all have crescendos, visible or nonvisible to the eye. In songs, the dynamic build is essential to create the tension and release. Without it, we can’t fully arrive. There is a dynamic melodic arc that must be there. 3. Vocals That Crush It… You know it’s funny, as one of the world’s top vocal coaches you would think that I love perfect voices. Yes I love a skilled voice, but that’s not all. I love real voices (like Carole King) over a super trained voice (like Celine Dion) — or a distinctive voice (like Tom Waits) over a perfected one (like Adam Lambert.) And over all I prefer a voice with great emotion over technical perfection (like Whitney or Pink over Carrie Underwood.) But no matter what your level of vocal talent, a great song always has killer vocals that crush it – matter of fact anything less won’t deliver the song. Stop thinking that just okay vocals will do – that people will hear through it – they won’t. Don’t ever leave off pitch, unexamined, unarranged vocals on your record OR your demos (that’s right.) Vocals are what everyone (except musicians and producers) are listening to. No great song can fully deliver without them crushing it. Work your craft until you are blue in the face. You deserve that kind of satisfaction. You can do it!
Cy Queen's insight:
A seemingly simple formula for great songs. Do you think of things like this when you're writing a song?
by Cari Cole Sabotage. Sigh. It’s real. And artists are especially victims to it. The margins of error are huge. From wrong advice, disingenuous advice, or just plain lack of good advice, to the challenges riddled with potholes and landmines to trip you up. Here are the top 6 ways artists and musicians sabotage themselves and how to course correct in a snap. I hope it helps you rise triumphant and avoid countless years of struggle! 6 Saboteurs That Hold Musicians Back From the Big Time 1. If I Only Had a … Manager, Booking Agent, _____ (fill in the blank.) If I only had a manager, a booking agent, or someone (anyone) to help me!! (plus help me get my sh** together.) This is a particularly deceptive one. A while back a fellow indie artist posted an article about how she kept waiting and waiting and waiting for a manager and finally got so sick and tired of waiting she started managing herself. And bam, that was when her career started to take off. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to have that specific someone to steer the ship, the truth is those days are pretty gone. Today artists are so proactive with their careers that a manager or booking agent are a bonus, not the kingpin of success. And that’s a GOOD THING. Remember hearing stories from the “old music biz” where managers stole artist’s fortunes right out from under them? We’ve all heard the stories.. Leonard Cohen, Sly Stone, etc. Well, that came from the mindset of having someone “take care” of everything. Not what you really want. Saying you need someone to come rescue you is the biggest saboteur that most solopreneurs fall into because it keeps you a helpless victim, waiting and hoping and worse, inactive. Solution: Manage and book yourself until the right people come along because you are making a good living and you are an asset. 2. Fear of Success Fear covers a big domain and seeps into everything, but it is the number one saboteur we all have to hunt down and bust. Fear steals confidence, fear steals time, fear steals our life right out from under us even with the best of intentions. And it does this without our permission and often without our awareness. Take Lisa for example. All she wanted was success. But every time she got close to it, she got so freaked out she ran. She didn’t trust anyone in the industry to “get her” and so her “knee-jerk” solution was an exit strategy. That’s how a lot of musicians respond. That’s how I responded, several times. I got close to big deals and my fear was so epic I walked away. It’s more common than you think. And let me just say, the fear of being controlled and manipulated is a natural fear when you sign on that dotted line. But knowing who you are, knowing the business are your trump cards. And awareness so you are not caught with your pants down at a critical moment. Fear plays a major role in your decisions. It’s up to you whether it’s conscious or not. The more conscious, the more you are in the drivers seat. Solution: Develop a strong relationship with yourself by having these conversations and facing your fears ahead of time. You want to develop an internal trust with yourself, so that you can swim in the deep waters and not drown… #superstar. 3. Musician Anxiety Musicians and artists are highly sensitive and anxious people, wired with highly amped and often super sensitive nervous systems. It’s part of the nature of being an artist and what creates great art. The downside is that this high anxiety can keep you from getting your best work out there. Take Scott. An incredibly talented musician all he wanted was to make music his life. But at every opportunity his anxiety got the best of him and he would lose hold of his rational self, which in turn made him unaware at critical moments. Or he would push at the wrong times. So much so that he never seemed to get in the saddle where he belonged. Solution: Know that anxiety is an intrinsic part of your nature and take extra steps to take care of yourself. You can take it a step further and nurture your nervous system. Using lavender essential oils (in your bath, hair, hands, temples and your pillow at night), take 1-2 capsules of organic passion flower at night (passion flower is a nervine that feeds nutrition to your nervous system), take salt water baths with essential oils often, do yoga to help stay in balance and manage your magnanimous beautiful highly sensitive nervous …
Cy Queen's insight:
We all fall victim mostly to ourselves. Don't let yourself become your worst enemy.
One of the many reasons it pays to have a professional master your music. Although it is still a little disconcerting that high compression is still favored over dynamic range. Do you (or your producer) adjust your sound for the online services?
As songwriters, one of our primary goals is to discover and act on whatever will make our songs unique and recognizable. Typically, that job falls to the hook. Often, hooks are thought of as a part of the lyric that serves as the song’s main message as well as the title…
A lesson in etiquette for artists who plan to hire musicians for a live show or recording Are you thinking about enlisting the help of other musicians to record your new song, or to perform at an upcoming show?
This generation never paid for music. That's a fact. They were raised while MP3 rampaged the industry - remember those Naptster days? - and now they're adults it's free streaming time, Youtube and my-guy-with-a-shit-load-of-mp3 dealer of a friend. Then, how will we ever be able to bring them to spend money over music?
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