Just because it rhymes, doesn’t mean it works!

Kelly Paige Album cover

This week Kelly Paige writes again. For more about Kelly, find her and her music at www.kellypaigemusic.com

OK, I hear a lot of this in amateur writers (myself included). You’re writing a song, and you’ve got this great melody and this great idea, and you’re SO excited… The first few lines came so easily and naturally… and quickly… and then all of a sudden you’re stuck… But you’re just SO pumped about the song…. Just quickly write something so you can finish it… you’ll come back to it later… BAM. That right there is your worst enemy. LAZINESS.

Yes, your art is an extension of yourself, and you should let whatever inspiration comes to you freely flow from mind to pen with nothing having to be forced, but understanding the best, most effective way to communicate these thoughts, feelings, or ideas will be key in setting your songs apart. I’m not saying that every line in a song needs to be an immaculately crafted lyric with some deeper, more complex meaning—some of the most beautiful lyrics are also the most simple, but learning how to balance the two is important.


If every line were a simple, literal interpretation of things that have happened to you, it would be quite boring to listen to (or it could be a contemporary country song…). Conversely, a song that’s too complex isn’t likely to hold the attention of your average listener. Nobody wants to listen to a song feeling like they have to study it if they want to stand any chance at enjoying it. Let your muses guide your writing, but dedicate some real time and effort into figuring out the best way to convey your ideas.

Expressing yourself effectively often seems to rely on understanding how to use writing tools. Remember those? We studied them in English class…. If you were paying more attention than I was, you probably remember that writing tools are an essential part of creative writing. The selective use and abandon of them shape an individual’s writing style. Whether you’re a fan of metaphor, conundrums, double entendré, or cliffhangers, these tools are all learned devices that will improve your ability. Of course, be selective in your application of them, don’t go overboard and write a song in some Suessical language that only you can truly understand (or maybe do…
I don’t know…), but make sure you have a good enough understanding of writing tools and how to use them, that you’re able to pull them out whenever you need to. The better you understand them, the easier, and more natural it becomes to use them.


Go read a great book. Go listen to a great song. I’ll bet you they’re in there.


Love it, Kelly! Please feel free to leave a comment for Kelly below…


Songwriting Business Podcast!

podcast logo

Firstly, have been getting a tremendous response from the Songwriting Business Academy! So thanks to everyone for that.


In addition I am VERY proud to be unveiling the Songwriting Business Podcast now available on this site (click on the link) OR on iTunes … You can search for it in the Podcast directory or find it here…



I will be co-hosting with a fantastic up-and-coming writer in Nashville Tennessee, Kelly Paige (you might remember her blog post on here a few weeks ago).


We will be discussing EVERYTHING Songwriting from publishing to co-writing and everything in between. We also have fantastic guests coming on the show such as one of the world’s most successful writers, Billy Mann ( Kelly RowlandPinkRicky MartinBackstreet BoysCherCeline DionJessica SimpsonMartina McBrideAnastaciaArt GarfunkelCarole KingJoss StoneDelta GoodremTake ThatHall & OatesStingPaula AbdulThe Veronicas and many more), Helen Gammons (Author of The Art Of Music Publishing) and many more.


Please subscribe and give us feedback. If you have ANY songwriting questions that you want answered on the podcast, please mail your questions to jon@songwritingbusiness.com and make “Podcast Question” in the subject line.


Let the next adventure begin!



The Songwriting Business Academy is here!

Songwriting Business Academy

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of the Songwriting Business Academy!


This has been many months in the making with many ups and downs but it is finally here. The Songwriting Business Academy will be covering all sorts of aspects of songwriting to help songwriters at all levels!


From Understanding Music Publishing to How to Get your Music on TV to How to Effectively Promote your Band to Selling your Songs From Anywhere In The World to Professional and Critical Song Feedback and everything in between. With a team of songwriters contributing from all over the world – from the UK to New York to LA to Nashville to France to South Africa – this is set to be a comprehensive and one-of-a-kind learning experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.


First Course Now Online!

Our first course is a fast and furious Introduction to Songwriting.


It is aimed at :

– Anyone interested in taking up songwriting on a part or full-time basis and wanting to earn an income from the craft.

Lyricists who have found that there is no longer a market for lyrics alone, and would like to learn the other skills around songwriting so as to be able to sell completed songs

– Musicians who would like to make the move from session-playing in to songwriting

– Anyone at ANY musical level (even very basic) who is just interested in taking up songwriting the right way.

– Anyone who missed my Songwriting Masterclass earlier this month.

– Anyone would like a career in songwriting.


This course is an Introduction to Songwriting course that is very fast and very effective. It will help you get songwriting within a day, and keep you songwriting for the rest of your life.


We are offering an introductory rate for this course of 40% off for a limited time only!


PLUS, with a 60 day MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, you can try it for FREE.


If you are ready to take the first step in a successful songwriting career – visit our Songwriting Business Academy at http://www.songwritingbusinessacademy.com


The Publishing Tip that Will Save Your Career

CASSETTE redcurtain

We were discussing publishing in my Songwriting workshop last week and as a class, we hit on a publishing epiphany. One that could have maybe even saved my old band, Cassette, from disintegration – or at the very least, it could have saved a lot of headache and endless in-fighting.

Even though this tip is aimed predominantly at bands, it is also aimed at co-writers and anyone who ever plans to write songs with other people.


I say this without any hint of melodrama : this is the most important songwriting tip in publishing that you will ever hear. So lean your ears in close….


Songwriters’ publishing splits is one of the most uncomfortable things to ever have to discuss. Particularly because it so far from the “artistic” side of songwriting (and we muso’s are often not built for business), and also because it is simultaneously so close to the “artistic” side, it is a strange topic that often doesn’t compute.


Essentially, when we are discussing publishing splits, we are in a negotiation with the people we have written the song with about how much of the songwriting pie each person gets. It can be very confusing : the singer brought in the main chords and the melody of the song, the guitar player changed some of the structure to make the song strong, the bass player came up with a powerful hook that made the song rock, and the drummer came up with the main lyric in the chorus.


So far, it all sounds very creative and organic and healthy. But now, the band needs to divide the pie into four parts that reflects everyone’s contribution. Is it 25/25/25/25? Or is it 50/20/20/10? Or how about 60/20/10/10?


It can be very tricky. Partly because tied into this “business negotiation” is every members’ own feeling of self-worth. This is only half the problem.

Cassette having a reasonable discussion about publishing splits…

The biggest problem comes only a month later when the song is recorded and on the album, and now everyone can hear that this song could be a hit.  Now everyone’s memory of what exactly went down in that rehearsal room a month ago during the creation of that song (among 20 other songs that you wrote together) becomes a little fuzzy. Who did write that chorus lyric? How much of the song did the singer bring in to the rehearsal room?


This can be the cause of a lot of tension in any co-writing situation, that can sometimes never be resolved. It’s easy to say that this will “never happen to me” but here is the unfortunate truth : when there’s money and success involved, things often change.


So are you ready for the most important songwriting tip in publishing that you will ever hear? Here it comes.


Even though it is awkward, even though it is uncomfortable, even though it is unnatural and strange and just doesn’t feel right …. Get in to the habit NOW, of discussing publishing splits on the day that the song is written with all the other writers. Don’t wait for the song to be played live, don’t wait for the song to be recorded and certainly don’t wait until the song is released.


Don’t even wait 24 hours! At the end of the day when a song has been sufficiently knocked in to shape, sit down with all the writers for 5 minutes before you go home (or to a show). Just say “hey guys, I know it’s uncomfortable but can we just talk about what went down today? “


Have a civil conversation and negotiation on the day when everything is still fresh so that it doesn’t become an issue later on! Write down a basic agreement. Get it done! Because, remember, even though you are in a band, you are also in a business! And this is how businesses operate.


Problem solved.


Until next week, Happy Songwriting! Please leave a comment down below if you have any questions or anything to contribute!


PS. The Cassette documentary is currently being shown at the Bioscope Theatre in Johannesburg on 23 November, 2012. The trailor is available for viewing at www.playcassette.com

Your Talent Isn’t Enough – by Kelly Paige


Kelly Paige is not only an amazingly talented Nashville songwriter with an incredible voice, she is also my new partner in crime on SongwritingBusiness.com. Later this week we will be launching the SongwritingBusiness podcast series which will be hosted by myself from South Africa and Kelly from Tennessee (a true international collaboration). Another great quality about Kelly – who is waist deep in Nashville’s songwriting music scene – she tells it like is! Welcome Kelly!!!


Your Talent Isn’t Enough

Probably not what you wanted to hear, was it? Look, I know how you feel. It’s frustrating to see these supposed morons become successful off of what you consider to be sub-par, stereotypical, formulaic bullshit. And when you hear it on the radio you can’t help but wince at the piercing sounds of mediocrity blasting through the atmosphere… Self-pitying thoughts of, “Why can’t it be me?” consume the fibers of your being, and the threads that hold you together start to unravel. It’s just not right! It’s not fair! Why is this happening? You know you can do better, so why is it so hard for everyone else to figure out?


Well, truthfully, nobody gives a shit if you can do better. Odds are there’s probably someone else out there that’s better than you, and further down the line, someone else even better than them. That, of course, goes on and on until you reach the elusive prodigies of each generation, most of whom, you’ve probably never heard of.  That’s not to say that talent doesn’t help, and the idealist in me likes to believe that it still plays in extremely important role in popular music, but the lines are easily blurred between greatness and mediocrity when it comes to an individual’s personal preference. Success, in this miserable, cutthroat industry, ultimately comes down to how much you’re willing to sacrifice.

If you’re doing things the old fashioned way, and you don’t have several million dollars to readily be invested into your career, odds are you’re going to have to work extremely hard, doing things that you don’t want to do, just to stand a chance at doing what you do want to do. Some of the most talented people I know are only making any money through writing with 14-year-old, half-wit hopefuls who want to sing about fairytales and high school. Others are stuck writing the theme songs for mind-numbing reality-TV shows about Bristol Palin or the Kardashians. These degrading feats may seem like a waste of time and energy to many, but all hope is not lost…


These seemingly mundane tasks are actually useful at the end of the day, because however talented you may be, your art, be it singing, songwriting, or playing, is still a craft. It requires practice and dedication, application in a variety of situations. Does an Olympic sprinter want to run distance? No. But the ones who want to win will do it if it makes them a better sprinter. You’re not going to be able to do exactly what you want when you want to, but hopefully, if you work long and hard enough in the beginning, you’ll get to a point where you can do exactly what you imagined yourself doing, exactly what you dreamt of doing. I say hopefully because there are no guarantees, especially in this business, but the ability to use your talent in any given situation will be a major key to success—a stepping-stone on your way there.


So don’t shy away from an opportunity because you think it’s beneath you, beneath your level of expertise, view it as practice and get as much of it as you can. The ignorant may call it a waste of talent, the idiots might call it selling out, but the truth is, nobody gets into the music business because they don’t want to be successful, and as I mentioned before, success requires sacrifice.



Thanks Kelly. You can find Kelly’s music at http://www.kellypaigemusic.com or follow her on twitter at @kelly_paige. Feel free to leave comments for Kelly below.



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