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Cliches You Need to Stop Using Now 

It happens to the best of us. We’re writing the next great song, and Oops! A cliche slips out. One of these things happens next:

 

A) We don’t notice it.

 

B) We think, “Well, it sounds good, so I’ll keep it.”

 

C) We notice it, then forget to change it/get used to it the way it is.

 

D) Actually fix it.

 

Most of us are probably  guilty of A through C. But it’s never too late!

 

Now, you may be asking, “How do I know if something is cliche?”

 
  • Have you heard it done before?

 
  • Could…

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What Needs Does your Music Fill? 

Whether we admit it or not, music exists to serve a need. We may write for ourselves, but if we want strangers to listen, we must address that need. No one needs to hear you croon about your latest breakup, but maybe someone with a broken heart needs to hear his own feelings through music.

 

Why do you listen to music?

 
  • To relax

 
  • To fall asleep

 
  • To wake up

 
  • To study/work to

 
  • To party

 
  • To dance

 
  • To feel

 
  • To…

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Why Talent Isn't Enough 

Taylor is a killer vocalist. He’s always been a natural and never had to practice much. He doesn’t need to warm up, just shows up, belts, then goes partying with his friends. He’s done shows buzzed or hungover more than once.

 

Dan’s dream is to be a recording artist. He practices every day. He’s not particularly musical, and he’s rather shy, but he works hard and doesn’t leave the house much.

 

Luke is a likeable guy and a decent drummer, though not the best. He practices when he can. He lives in L.A. and…

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Why You Might Need a Producer 

You’ve got the songs. You’ve got the talent. Thinking about self-producing your album? Here are a few reasons you might want to consider working with a producer.
 

You need someone who knows your potential who can push you. You might be happy with the first take, but you need someone to say, “You can do better.”

 

An outside perspective helps. Maybe your voice sounds tired. Maybe you come across as sad during your happy, peppy song. Sometimes we need fresh ears to get the best take.

 

You need a signature…

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Knowing the Rules 

 I just received my first hate mail. After reading all my songwriting articles, the gentleman said I was trying to put every songwriter into the same box. He called me the master of the formulaic approach. This actually made me chuckle a little, since my music has been referred to as “avant garde with elements of pop”. But I took it as a compliment.

Yes, I teach formula. I believe in knowing the rules, theory, everything. Why? Because he who has never known boundaries is more lost than free. Only if you know…Read more

Letting Go of Perfection 

 
As I come to the end of a four-year recording project, I look back on vocal tracks I did two years ago versus a month ago. The difference is striking. After trying so many versions of the same song, I have come to understand something so fundamental but which has eluded me for years:

A good vocal track is not about being perfect.
I am a classically trained chorus girl ‘til the end. I’ve spent my entire musical career aiming to sound as perfect as possible. And while I have managed to make an…Read more

The Why and How of Busking 

 Busking, or street performing for tips, is not for everyone long term. But trying it can yield fantastic results on many levels.

1. Good practice. You were going to practice anyway, right?

2. Tips. Depending on the time of day, it can be worth your while. It'll at least cover gas money.

3. Exposure. This word gets tossed around a lot, but in the case of busking, you expose your music to ALL kinds of people, many of whom would never heard your music otherwise. I've gotten gigs through people just walking…Read more

Lessons from an Ice Cream Scooper 

I worked part time at an ice cream booth on the pier when I first moved to the city. It was fun work for the most part, meeting tourists from all over the world and either thrilling or disappointing them with my sundaes.

There was a co-worker I loved to work with because he was friendly, helpful, and fun. I didn't even know that he was technically my superior because he didn't think it mattered.

After work he always took some leftover coffee to the homeless busker who sat outside drumming for change.

At…Read more

9 Secrets to Writing a Great Chorus 

 One of the main tools in your songwriting arsenal is the almighty Chorus. Sometimes it comes naturally, sometimes it is elusive. Oftentimes, it gets lost in the other sections and needs a way to stand apart. Here are nine unabashed ways to make a chorus sound more like a chorus.

Use your hook at the beginning AND end of the chorus. Bookending it gives the listener a chance to hear it again and makes it clear that it’s important.

Place a solid I (one) chord at the beginning. Example: if you are in the key of…Read more

If I Never Made a Dime 

 I understand how frustrating the music industry can seem at times. Sometimes it's like you are shouting into a void and you hear no reply except your own echo. But you have to ask yourself something and then decide:
If I never made a dime from my music, would I still do it?
I asked myself rather recently and decided yes. Nothing will make me stop (permanently), even if I never become rich, famous, etc. A lot of people get into music because of how others make them feel when they play. I know I had a…Read more