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
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
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
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.
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.
I sincerely hope she didn’t share that post because it’s “good for business” but because she’s growing up and feels the need to stand up for what she cares about — whatever it is she cares about — because it matters. It matters as much as the music.Read More
If music delivered to us by an invisible digital stream was here to stay (and don’t get me wrong, I love streaming—it’s versatile, convenient and an all-you-can-eat buffet), then laws had to change to bring digital royalty distribution into a digital age. But how?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
Years ago The Big Apple was a budding songwriter’s dream. It set my synapsis afire. It still does. I wrote a song on every corner.Read More
Although my godsons’ high school graduation was a joyful event and I was beyond proud of both of them, the songwriter and mother in me couldn’t help but take a few minutes to put myself in the shoes of the parents who had these moments stolen.Read More
If the business model of 20 years ago was as it is today, that favorite song of yours...the one you sang to your baby at bedtime ("Surfer Girl" for me), or danced to at your wedding, might never have been written because the writer who wrote it might not have been able to sustain themselves long enough to stay in the game. Well, things are about to change. Hopefully!Read More
If there is no bridge, there has to be another element that replaces the psychological function a bridge would have served, in order for the emotional arc of a song to do it’s job. Juss sayin'.Read More
In these trying #MeToo #TimesUp times, if we don’t want to be objectified why are we objectifying ourselves?Read More
I’ve narrowed a 7 hour audio book down to an hour’s worth of the best bits. I put a mic and an amp in the corner of my office and every night I've been firing up the purple lights and running through the script. I'm enjoying myself immensely. So are my cats. I'm not sure how to proceed next, but I'll figure it out. One foot in front of the other. Like everything. If you build it they will come.Read More
I am a warrior. I wake up every morning and practice being brave. I'm ready for another year. One vertebra at a time.Read More
I pondered the first blog I ever wrote, where I wondered if I should stay in the music business…if I fit in anymore. I was a different girl back then. Now, I’m having the time of my life conquering my fears, fear by fear. I’m doing the things I was too afraid to do when I was younger. (I recommend this highly, by the way.)Read More
Taylor is an accomplished role model. Say what you want about her—many of us do…and it’s not always favorable—I believe she has a thing about, well, doing the right thing.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
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