Spotify strokes the creative community with writing camps and lavish parties. They blast our faces on Sunset Boulevard Billboards proclaiming us a Secret Genius for writing such big hits and host award shows in our honor. Very nice. But what they don’t want to do…is pay us.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
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
Age is relative. I have friends who are 70 who are younger than others who are 40. They never lose their sense of wonder, curiosity and the capacity to be inspired. Their imaginations are alive and well. They’ll be young forever, at least at heart. I want to be one of them. Like Kay!Read More
Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard of the MMA —The Music Modernization Act—the copyright reform legislation so desperately needed by songwriters. It’s the one we’ve been fighting for for years. Well, it’s being blocked by SESAC. That's right, the PRO SESAC. So roll up your sleeves.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
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
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
In any profession there’s always a force that must be reckoned with. That someone makes us better simply by the virtue of us always having to catch up with them. For me, that someone was, still is, Diane Warren.Read More
If you were a pre-digital songwriter you’ve been navigating a whole new terrain. If you’re still operating under Old Rules (as I catch myself doing on many occasion), you may be wondering why the plumbing isn’t working the way it used to.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
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
We don’t need material gifts, Santa….just some shift in the Universe that gives musicians faith in the idea that we, and the young people who will come after us, will be able to sustain ourselves and keep giving the world what they can not live without: music.Read More
The Donald has promised to do things differently. This is an area where I hope he does. It would be a Huge gesture of good will and would improve an ecosystem in disarray.Read More
The students I’ve been with this week have been open, curious, reasonable and interested. Most of all, they want a future in the music business!Read More
The perception of free is a dangerous drug and the longer we believe it’s okay to use it the harder it will be to get sober.Read More