Remember when country radio consultant Keith Hill made a stunning comment about female artists being the tomatoes in the salad that nobody wants to eat? Well, it didn’t go over well and became known as Tomato-Gate. Sometimes ridiculous ideas lead to silver linings that just need a little time to reveal themselves.Read More
If you enter into a publishing agreement which says the publisher shall keep your songs in “perpetuity” it might not actually mean forever. It could mean…only 35 years. I know what you’re thinking. 35 years? That will never come! Songwriters operate in a state of arrested development. We don’t believe we’ll ever grow up so why worry about it? I can assure you, the future always comes. We’re living in it. So listen up!Read More
Sounds like a baseball player. He’s not.
Sam Hollander is the guy with the hoodie and the hat.
Sam is a non-performing songwriter — one who writes for and with artists who are (performers).
He’s the Dad who’s defying the odds. In today’s co-writing culture where the competition is crazy, making it less and less likely to land a recording on one Platinum release much less ten, Sam’s phone keeps buzzing.
For those of you who aren’t in the music biz, he’s the guy whose songs you hear on the radio. A lot.
Lucky for us, SONA (Songwriters of N. America, a creators’ rights advocating organization to which I proudly belong), was honored to have Sam in the spotlight last night at our annual holiday party at Hotel Cafe. With a little help from his friends, Holly Palmer, Clara Stegall (Steegs), Martin Johnson, Blake Lewis and Garen Guerkian, and backed by a killer band, Sam shared his smashes and stories about his road to the charts.
What’s he done? Well for starters, he wrote a ton of tunes with Carole King. Need he do anything else?
Ok…well…more recently he’s contributed to the hit-ness of Fitz and the Tantrum’s “HandClap,” 8 songs on the Panic! at the Disco album “Pray for the Wicked”, including the #1 ”High Hopes” & “Say Amen” (Saturday Night). But he had me at Carole King.
Then there’s multi-platinum success with One Direction, Katy Perry, Train, Daughtry, Weezer, The Fray, Gym Class Heroes and Pentatonix. (His daughter must be thrilled about the backstage passes.) And did I mention he was named Rolling Stone Magazine’s Hot List Producer of the Year. Sam IS the songwriter whose career you want to have.
But enough about the Bio. Songwriters want to know…
How does he do it? Get in those rooms? GET ON ALL THOSE RECORDS?
You’d be naive to believe that talent is the only ingredient that matters. Being able to bring it consistently is a whole other game. In my personal experience, that’s what Sam does. He always has a trick in his pocket, up his sleeve, under his hat. Words for days. Catchy phrases and fresh rhymes. He’s the king of the ear-worm. Clever. He has a sense of humor that he uses in his material. He’s comfortable just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
Plus Sam is a fun hang. You can have talent beyond, but if people don’t enjoy your company and your schtick, forget it. Life is hard. Who wants to get out of bed and go to a session with a Debbie or a Derrick Downer? Martin Johnson of Boys Like Girls put it perfectly last night: “I know it’s gonna be a good day at the studio when Sam is there” — the best compliment a songwriter can get.
It’s easy to feel happy for Sam because he’s one of the good guys. And let’s face it there are so many a-holes in this business cutting you off, stabbing your back, being rewarded for bad behavior, passive aggressively putting you down, grabbing your GRAMMY, it’s nice to see a good guy win. And he’s the guy who’s truly happy for you when you win. Even when he was competing for the same spot.
There are tons of holiday parties going on every night in this town this week. But between the stellar show, the cookies, the popcorn, and the celebration of a year that SONA, along with a diligent #MusicArmy, got so much accomplished for creators, this party was the one to be at. Standing room only…actually there was no more room for standing.
SONA gives Hand Claps to the guy in the hoodie and the hat, for his well deserved success and we thank him for showing up to be our SONA Claus. Keep inspiring us Sam, making our ears happy, radio better, the world a better place, and showing us how it’s done.
Please join or donate to SONA. (Maybe you’ll be the Songwriter in the Spotlight next year!) We are dedicated to fighting for the value of songs (and songwriters) in the new music marketplace. You’ll be helping aspiring writers, and a veterans for that matter, save the dignity of our profession.
In light of Spotify coming to the table and negotiating a more equitable distribution of income with the songwriting community, Michelle Lewis and I, after receiving personal invitations, decided we’d go to the awards show this year. She called a babysitter, I got eyelash extensions, and off we drove to the Ace Hotel for what turned out to be an interesting evening…Read More
For so many years I made a living as a professional songwriter who only wrote songs for others to sing. That’s been great. But now I’m yearning to re-connect in a more personal way with my love of that 3 minute enigma that got me hooked in the first place. It had nothing to do with getting signed or making money but with the euphoria I felt expressing myself on my own terms.Read More
Inquiring minds have been inquiring and the answer is yes. Meredith Brooks and I received co-writing credit on Bebe Rexha’s “I’m A Mess.” The writers, Justin Tranter, Jussifer & Bebe herself, felt the hook on Mess had enough of a likeness to “Bitch” to offer up a piece. Most writers would have gone into denial and skipped merrily along onto their next co-write.Read More
There’s plenty of talk about how the music business is thriving and worth billions. It's all true except that those billions aren’t making their way to the pockets of the writers who create the product that make a music business possible.Read More
When it comes to the MeToo movement, Songwriters are not immune. As sole proprietors and small business owners, we are currently unable to unionize. We have no HR departments, no sexual harassment protocols, no real recourse. We only have each other. So where does a female songwriter (or artist or composer or producer) go when a line has been crossed? SONA is stepping up.Read More
If I want instant gratification and music delivered effortlessly, I have to stop being so difficult.Read More
I love these young faces. College campuses. Skateboards. Limitless possibility in the air. I want to be part of the movement that helps make those possibilities possible. Perhaps it’s a different road than I traveled but even a detour should eventually lead to the same bliss, sense of accomplishment and livelihood.Read More
Every party involved in the process of getting a song to your ears should be compensated. We’re nothing without each other. The songwriter, the record label, the delivery platform, the technology. The imbalance of royalty distribution is the result of archaic music licensing laws that are no longer relevant. Imagine how workable things would be if we had some new laws.Read More
It’s hard to weigh a contribution. Who’s to say a hook is worth more than the verse that allows the hook to make sense?Read More
If you didn’t sell your catalogue during the gold rush, fear not. We may have to think of it as “holding on to real estate during a down market in a neighborhood that could get really hot.”Read More
How far do we need to go to feel like we've boldly gone where no one has gone before?Read More
There is much work to do and it’s not going to be easy, but if we don’t try we can forget the idea of a next generation being able to make music and earn a living like many of us did. And then music will be written by amateurs, imposters, and the uninspired.Read More
Cryptomnesia (or inadvertent plagiarism), occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original.Read More
How do we, as songwriters, make peace with the idea of patronizing a business model that undercuts the value of our work?Read More
I’m happy here on planet digital where I get all the songs I want whenever I want them, wherever I go. I simply want my community to have as healthy an earning trajectory as the CEOs and label heads who are running their companies on the backs of the creators who write the songs that make their business possible.Read More
With the "Blurred Lines" case in appeal Pharrell & Robin have a chance to turn the verdict around.Read More