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
I’ve heard it said that there’s no good music out there. Not true. You gotta dig deeper than the mainstream. Or maybe some of us grew up and got happy — no longer depend on music to identify or save us. Fair enough. Thing is if you want it, there is music out there that’s saving people. It saves me sometimes. Actually it saves me quite often.Read More
It’s funny, when you’re too young to comprehend lyrics about the complexity of mature relationships you may still sing along. They may still feel like they mean something when you’re 12. You’re just not sure what it is they mean. But some songs just curiously resonate. And then one day, they totally make sense.Read More
Is there room for a new Music Space in a digital world — where enthusiasts can still convene and discover…not just their favorite bands but each other. A space where common ground brings people together physically and passionately under the same roof. Like food in a restaurant. Film in a theatre. A space where hardly anyone knows your name but we all know we came for the same reason.Read More
Bart Herbison, Executive Director of the NSAI, was instrumental (no pun intended), in getting a law passed which made it mandatory that all musical instruments be allowed onboard commercial aircraft. THANK YOU, BART. No more being forced to check your guitar only to find it in more than one piece at baggage claim. Things happen. Even in hard cases.Read More
I was supposed to be writing this blog from the sky while on a plane to London. It was going to be about how excited I was to record 3 songs for my album with Phil Thornalley. I started packing a week ahead of time for the trip. But God says “Ha” at the most curious times.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
I’m really bummed about Ryan. More so than all the others because selfishly, I WAS A FAN. I loved his stuff. Anyone with genius has got to be a little bit dysfunctional. And that dysfunction actually makes for material worth listening to. But everything's different now. 😞Read More
Does the song I wrote yesterday make me smile when I recall it in the morning? Is it the first thing I think about when I open my eyes? If it’s not, for heaven’s sake, don’t waste any more time trying to polish a t*rd. 😳Read More
Let’s hear it for the unlikely nominees, the ones who were told they were out of their minds for trying. Well, apparently she wasn’t. And she’s just the inspiration we need.Read More
The first booth I encounter is a dude demonstrating a new vocal auto-tuning technology. He explains to onlookers that the singer riffing into the mic, whose voice is being “auto-corrected,” might accidentally ‘discover’ a melody she didn’t even mean to sing. And ta-da! Hit song by accident. Imagine that! I want to raise my hand and ask, what about an idea? Doesn’t a song need an idea?Read More
This Friday it’s destination Phoenix for me, for 2 performances of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter LIVE! The last decade in the music business has been a long strange trip (no pun intended) and my one-woman hour of humorous observations about HOW it's changed promises to be an entertaining evening for those who have shared the struggle as well as for those who are simply curious about a world they know nothing about. I’m looking forward to the drive.
Maybe I’m wrong.Read More
At the beginning of every new year I make a few promises to myself. I like to keep them simple but real. No ridiculous diets revolving around resisting cheese (never gonna happen) or intentions of completely changing my ways. It’s the little things that seem to effectively shift my spiritual journey anyway.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.
For me, December is about reflection, taking stock, disengaging, rejuvenating, cleaning out closets & giving away items I purchased in haste. Making room for the new. Donating to those who lost a home in a fire. Maybe taking time off is the best thing we can do for our creativity. A recharge is an investment for the future.Read More
Glory is spotty for most of us in this business and a little recognition now and then is mood elevating. After all, our peers are letting us know our contribution made a difference. Why else do we do what we do if not to move others with art? Acceptance feels good and the energy IN it gives us fuel to continue our journey. That matters.Read More
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
Something not so coincidental happened recently because, I believe, the Universe has been witnessing my Renaissance with music: Pandora asked me to be a curator — that’s a songwriter, producer, blogger, or music enthusiast with a desire to connect with their followers through well, music.
I definitely have a desire to connect. :)Read More