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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 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

The Female Disadvantage(?) 

 I recently came across Bitter Gertrude’s blog post about a common problem made by beginning female playwrights. Being a gal who creates things, I thought this could apply to more than writing plays. Boy, was I right (pardon the expression).

The problem that she saw over and over, to put it simply, was that new female writers were creating main female characters who were reactive. Essentially, everything she did would be in reaction to a man’s (or or other active characters’) opinions and actions. Bitter…Read more

Call Me Maybe When You Write a Bridge 

Volary, a good friend and brilliant singer-songrocker, told me once to always write a bridge. I have since perpetuated this advice in my songwriting workshops is that you should always try to write a bridge because you never know what amazing thing you will write. So when Brian Hazard wrote The Death of the Bridge, I felt obligated to point out that the bridge is very much alive--if underutilized.

He says, “Until you’ve got a substantial following, two sections – a verse and a chorus – is plenty.”

We…Read more

How to Do a Great Cover Song 

Work with what you’ve got. Play to your strengths (literally). If you have a great range, showcase it with big sweeping melodies (Queen, Mariah Carey, and other non-cheesy artists as well!). If your tone is average but you have a great sense of groove, cover more rhythmic songs that highlight that. Choose a song that could have been written for you.

Find your key. Just because the original singer can hit that low G doesn’t mean that’s what is best for you. Find your best range and make sure you are hitting…Read more

Band Leading 202 

 In Band Leading 101, we talked about how to run a rehearsal to get your band tight. We discussed having the appropriate charts for the musicians, running through a piece and breaking it down, and constructive criticism.

Once you land a gig, your professionalism really has to shine. Here are some must-dos to remember.

Always have a contract. This can be as simple as an email saying how long you’ll be playing, how much you get paid (and when), and what food/drink provisions you are entitled to. I can’t…Read more

Revamped: Amanda Palmer's Mistake 

 Here is the revamped article (with more angles taken into account):

Amanda Palmer's Mistake (and Why it Will Hurt Working Class Musicians) - by Robin Yukiko

I am a big fan of Amanda Palmer. I contributed to her Kickstarter campaign (which broke records at $1.2 million) and think she is leading the way of the future of the indie artist. That is why it is so upsetting to me that she is using her fame and influence to damage that future by exploiting her fellow musicians.

Beer, hugs, and merch. Oh, and a…Read more

Band Leading 101 

 While there are many bands that share credit equally among their members, there is usually a person who stands out as a leader. This is a good thing since it helps get things done. Often the singer, lead soloist, or the person who writes or arranges the songs takes charge. Whether playing with seasoned professionals, or in a garage band, it’s good to know how to lead a band.

Running Rehearsals

Have charts if you are playing with cats who can sight read (if they need them). Always ask a new member of the…Read more

8 Tell-tale Signs You Should Keep Your Day Job 

1. You don’t see music as a job.
  • You don’t think people need to be paid for doing what they love. If you don’t take music as a job seriously, no one else will. And not only does that attitude hinder earning money through music, but it hurts other musicians who ARE serious.
  • You’re fine with being paid in drinks. In no other business is this okay. If you are a house painter, that cold glass of lemonade is a perk, not payment.
2. You are complacent.
  • You’re happy with your current level.
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3 Things I Learned about the Music Business from Sports 

 Before I begin, I’d like to preface this by saying that I am not athletic. I was the last to be picked in kickball and the only afterschool activity I did was chamber choir. That being said, there are a lot of things to be learned from sports that yield immediate results.

Activity: Volleyball.
Lesson: Go for it.

My coach in my Volleyball 101 made a good point. If the ball comes at you, hit it. If it’s far away, run to it and hit it. If you think you won’t make it because it’s too far, run anyway because…Read more

Service and the Power of Positivity 

 I ran into an acquaintance who has been out of work for some time. He complains that the market is terrible and how he is sick of this town. He blames politics and says the dating scene sucks here. Then he hands me his card and says if I hear anyone who’s hiring that I should pass along his info.

I knew immediately that I would not.

Now, I’m a nice person. But, even if I met someone in his field, why would I stake my reputation on someone who doesn’t enjoy a single thing about life, where he lives, or…Read more

10 Tips for Better Lyric Writing 

 There are as many lyric-writing styles as there are genres. From conversational and literal to poetic, abstract, and even nonsensical. Whatever style you embody, you can always improve your craft. Here are some tips on how to do that.

1. Have a theme. Themes don’t make your lyrics boring, they make them cohesive. Think of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and its whimsical sky references (clouds, birds, stars, chimney tops). It’s about world-building that sweeps the listener away.

2. Try to stay away fromRead more

13 Dos and Don'ts Of Performing At Open Mics 

I'm very excited that the following article was just published on Music Clout!

13 Dos and Don'ts Of Performing At Open Mics

DON’T play and leave.

DO talk to EVERYONE and remember their names. You can even write their name and description and review it at the end of the night. They will be so impressed the next week.

DON’T expect to be discovered. This is a networking opportunity with other musicians. Open mics only lead to gigs if you work your contacts and follow up.

DON'T just say "Good job". Be…Read more