My Son Wants To Be A Songwriter

My son is a freshman in high school this year and with that comes project after project after project. One of his most recent projects was a personal finance/career research project for social studies in which he had to research information about the career he wants to lead when he graduates high school and/or college. For this project, he had to also conduct a 10 question interview/Q&A with someone in his chosen profession. But what is this profession you ask? Well my son wants to be a songwriter. To make a long story short, with my help my son was able to conduct not one but two outstanding interviews/Q&A's with two wonderful songwriters, which I just had to share. 

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The first interview/Q&A was conducted with Jacob Alan Jaeger. And here goes....

1. What can you do to get noticed? The best way, in my opinion, is to excel in your chosen field of work. Sheer determination and a stead-fast conviction to your craft. Excellence & mastery create a light of their own that comes from inside you, and is something people take heed of. There are, of course, other ways. A lot of “famous” people (musicians, actors, athletes, Kardashian’s, Beiber’s, Cyrus’, etc.) get notice, not from there talents, but controversy surrounding their own lives. Avoid this path: commit to your craft. From there, the doors begin to open.

2. What keeps me inspired? ALL music, new & old.  Other musicians that I know, though mostly those that I do not, living or deceased. The kindness of other individuals on this planet never ceases to amaze and inspire. Nature, in all it’s myriad forms.  Outer space and the unknown. Sounds, ALL OF THEM. Beauty, beauty, beauty. 

And girls.

3. How can I get away from writer’s block? Ehhhhhhhh… 

4. Is there a way to get my songs sent in to professional companies? Oh yes. With the advent of the digital age, it’s now easier than ever to write, record and submit your original material to these companies. Though, getting your material heard by these people is a whole ‘nother story...

5. What can I do to contact professional companies? First you must decide for what reason you are contacting said company. There are many different reasons individuals such as yourself, or myself, reach out. And there are different companies catering to the various needs of the creative individual. Once these are determined, hit the internet and start sending emails. And don’t be deterred by unresponsiveness, it happens ALL THE TIME. Don’t be discouraged. Keep on keeping on.

6. What can you do to get to get started on your way to success? FIRST, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: PRACTICE! PRACTICE!! PRACTICE!!! Secondly (and this too is VERY important and often overlooked), DEFINE YOUR OWN TERMS OF SUCCESS.  I repeat: Define YOUR OWN TERMS of success. In America, and many other places on the globe, we’ve been taught (see: indoctrination) that the amount of money in our bank accounts and our material possessions determine the level of your success (and often the worth of the individual). WRONG. You, and ONLY you, are in charge of this. Figure out what makes you happy, what you want out of life. The sky’s the limit. For real, dude.  Once you have figured this out, start moving. Ideally, forward. Or up

7. Is the field shrinking or growing? The field is growing at an exponential rate, meaning, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with, in terms of growth. Again, we live in the digital age. Access to information is instantaneous and nearly everyone has that access. It’s pushing the creative individual to be MORE & MORE creative or you’re left behind.

8. Is it possible to get your songs sung by professional artists? Yes, absolutely. We’ll need to refer back to question #5. You can go through companies such as BMI or ASCAP, who help artists & register their works, to help insure, though not guarantee, that you are not taken advantage of. This deals with royalty payments, song publishing & licensing. Once your songs are registered, you then have other entities/companies that are set up to help you pitch your songs to other artists and GET YOU PAID. 

9. What opportunities do YOU currently have? Well, YOU tell me. I do not know you personally, but as far as I can tell, you’ve got the world at your fingertips. Go get it.

10. Once I get big, how can I stay at the top? Oh man, I remember when… This is a broad, broad question. Let’s begin with the phrase, “get big.” 

Or rather, please allow me to preface with this: I’m not trying to deter you with ANY negativity concerning “getting big,"“getting noticed” or any ideas of “success,” though I may sound, or perhaps make it sound, harsh or difficult.  That’s only because this business IS difficult and CAN BE very harsh. With the internet, the availability of home recording studios, social networking, and everything else that comes with living in modern society, the numbers of “creative's" is growing and there are no signs of stopping or slowing. We’ve become smaller fish in an ever-growing pond.

And if you’re anything like me, no matter what you are told or have been told, absolutely NOTHING is going to get in the way of you living out your dreams.  Right?

True talent, true excellence, true creativity, and ORIGINALITY, shine within & throughout.  People can’t help but take notice of this. It’s something that money can’t buy. Just look at so many of these “stars,” especially the younger ones, who experience “fame,” or “getting big” too soon. They’re a mess. Self-discipline is a learned skill, something I, and many of my peers, continue to struggle with, on a daily basis. It’s a full-time job, in and of itself. It takes practice, practice, PRACTICE!  That is how you stay “ON TOP.”  That’s what sets you up for “GETTIN' BIG."

And it’s oh-so worth it. The joy I receive from my instruments, the community of creative friends & family that surround me, the smiles on the faces of the people that we perform for, the MUSIC that I get to make, makes it all worth the while.  I feel myself very successful, though my material possessions are few and my bank account even smaller. 

So, that being said, ONWARD THROUGH THE FOG, little man!

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The second interview/Q&A was conducted with Steven Bryan and here it goes....

1.  What can you do to get noticed? Write songs that come from the heart. Write thousandsof songs. Put on a killer live show. Play everywhere. Fail. Fail again. Never give up, you’ll get better and better. LEARN YOUR CRAFT. There’s no short cut. It’s not easy, but you’ll get there if you REALLY want it. Never take “no” as an answer. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. If you don’t, no one will. Be confident. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you’re not good enough. You can, and will, it’s just a matter of when.

2.  What keeps you inspired? You shouldn't be seeking for inspiration. Inspiration simply happens. Your everyday life is an endless source of inspiration. A true artist is constantly inspired. You just need to grab it before it goes.

3.  How can I get away from writer's block? A writer's block is your brain trying to say: "Hey dude, it's a bad day, let it go". If you feel like you're going nowhere, it probably means that you don't have to. Don't force yourself; cause nothing great will come out of it. Some of the best songs I wrote they took no more than 1 hour to write.

4.  Is there a way to get my songs sent into professional companies? Electronic Press Kits (EPK’s) are widely used today, but they cost money. Soundcloud is a great tool. And it’s free. Upload your songs and send the links via email. Don’t waste your money on envelopes and stamps. They never open unsolicited mail.

5.  What can I do to contact professional companies? Ask them if they are currently looking for new material, and if so, what type. Ask them if it would be OK to send something in, and who the best person would be to send it to. Ring that person a few days after sending it. Ask them if they received it, and if they might be interested in your work. Then leave it with them – don’t pester or harass. (Most) of those guys are really busy folks and receive hundreds of submissions each week. Also, write “thank you” notes if it’s a pass. You never know what the future holds and it’s not clever to burn bridges at this stage. Be patient. If your songs have some potential, they’ll get back to you. Before doing all this, please consider registering your works with ASCAP or BMI and/or the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov).

6.  What can I do to get started on my way to success? You know that girl you can’t stop thinking about? Well, she is your muse, and you still don’t know it. Write her a song, and then another one. That’s how it all starts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney didn’t know they were going to be The Beatles when they started writing their songs. They just wanted to write about that girl…

7.  Is the field shrinking or growing? The music business has changed over the last few years. Drastically. Listeners don’t buy cd’s anymore, and why should they bother? Music can be found everywhere today. Free of charge. Mp3’s, Youtube and Spotify changed the game forever. But they are not the enemy; they can still be your friends. The World Wide Web has given everyone the opportunity to showcase his or her talent to a potentially endless audience, everywhere in the world. Your goal is to gain new fans, so that they can come to a gig. Put on a great live show, play as much as you can, and you’d be surprised of how many cd’s you can sell in one night only. And you know why? Because you’re amazing. And they had a great time. Buying a cd (or a t-shirt) is their way to say thank you. It’s a memory from a great night out. They’re going to tell their friends, and next time you’re going to sell even more merchandise. That’s how you build your fan-base. That’s how you get noticed.

8.  Is it possible to get my songs sang by professional artists?  Of course it is. But you can't do it yourself. You need a music publisher. Music publishers are like record labels for songwriters. Their role is to exploit your songs in terms of pitching, demonstration, and even administration of royalties. Once you have a bunch of songs ready to go (preferably your best ones), simply record some acoustic demos (vocals plus piano/guitar), look for music publishers online and get in touch with them.

9.  What opportunities do I currently have? The sky is the limit, really. Don’t believe those who say that the music business is failing. It’s not. People listen to music like never before. Just the world has changed so much from a technological standpoint over the years. Once it was the tape cassette. Then it came the cd. Now it’s the Internet. Music is not a piece of plastic. It’s an experience. Music fans still pay $100 or more to go and see their favorite acts. That will never change. So they stream your music for free on Youtube? As long as they listen to it, fine. If they love it, they’ll follow you and eventually come to a show. That’s what you have to aim for.

10.  Once I get big, how can I say at the top? Be true to yourself. Don’t play someone else’s game, cause people are going to call your bluff. Don’t follow whatever the trend happens to be at the time, cause by the time you’ll get there, the trend has already changed. My motto is “Be yourself, and be very good at it”. If you live by this, you can’t go wrong. Also, surround yourself with your childhood mates. They’ll never fail you. Oh yeah, and listen to your mum. She always knows better. :)

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Aren't you just blown away by both of these interviews/Q&A's? Impressive is all I can say. They are both truly outstanding, inspirational, and informative. Both Steven Bryan and Jacob Alan Jaeger are wonderful individuals and my son and I can't thank them enough for taking the time to help with his school project. 

1 comment:

  1. I think that is pretty cool he wants to be a song writer. Maybe he will do it.

    ReplyDelete