Wow. It's been a full year since writing my last blog post. I HAVE been writing though...it's just I'm writing songs. Suppose that's why I moved to Nashville anyway ;) No excuses though. I am back and hope to make this a normal thing as long as I'm able to. I guess after almost 3K people read my last entry I kinda freaked out. How could I top THAT experience...well I'm about to tell ya ;)
Blogs are weird. They’re so personal and there’s so much time the reader has while reading it to pick it apart. See? You’re doing it now aren’t you? Probably the reason I haven’t finished one of the 3 books I started writing. Music is way easier. There’s only about 3 and a 1/2 minutes to stand naked and vulnerable in front of a crowd. Well, 2 minutes and 45 seconds if you’re a pop/country radio writer 😏
Let's start there shall we? So. many. rules. No like, SO MANY RULES. Let me explain...
I decided to enter the Nashville Rising Song competition. Which is basically a competition where you have 1 song to sing and play in front of music industry professionals. The judges get to pick a winner, and the crowd picks a winner. It is ONLY based off of the song. If you are a terrible singer...but the song is awesome, that person could still win. It's the only actual contest where they are judging lyrics and music only. Not performance. I decided to enter into this contest because I thought I had written a pretty nifty tune. All my friends loved it, and it was time to give it a shot. Well, I didn't win...cause y'all would have heard. I did come in 4th place out of 30 songs so that's very cool. After the evening was done, I walked over to the judges to say thank you and the women who was judging us that night looked at me and said "I loved your song, your Krystal right?" Y'all. THAT made my night. When 30 people play music and the judge can remember your name...that was all I needed. She handed me her card and asked me to email her more songs and that she'd love to work with me.
I remember to this day getting that phone call. She asked me so many questions. What my goals were, what I wanted out of music, who I aspired to be. You could tell she was someone who genuinely cared about people and helping them achieve their goals. As a coach myself, I really connected with her. I began to work with her, meeting several times a month. At first I'd bring her songs and she would RIP them apart. It was extremely frustrating. It was hard to take, especially when you get so invested in a song. Seeing your "babies" all torn up and uprooted and mixed, or just sometimes thrown away was a hard pill to swallow. At one point I remember asking myself if this was actually helping motivate me, or simply helping me realize I wasn't actually cut out for this.
As time went by, I'd keep bringing her songs, and we'd keep cutting and pasting like it was MY JOB. Eventually though, the amount of rearranging and fixing became lighter and lighter. You see, I was actually learning what I needed to in order to go into the writing style I was choosing to pursue. It's like any job...if you want to be successful at it, you need to follow directions and play by the rules. I simply didn't know any of the rules to the game I was apparently charging at head first. How unfair! You will lose at Poker every single time, if you don't even know what will make a hand. Right?
SO.MANY.RULES. There were things about writing country music that I never even thought about before. But guess what? All these hit writers know them like the back of their hand. No wonder some people were so much further ahead than others. I will tell you right now the BEST thing I ever did was take meetings with that judge. I am now part of her publishing company and I am happy to announce that I have several songs that are going to be contracted under her and another publishing company. But that's just the beginning, man.
When my first song was picked up the other publisher in the room at the pitch said that after 3 years she has only signed a few songs. Mine is one of them. That says a lot. Quality songs are hard to come by, and the rules just make it harder. Here are some of the funny things I've been told over the past year...
"We need mid-tempo to upbeat songs"
"There's too many words, it goes too fast. Can you make it slower?"
"Don't pitch a slow song. Slow songs never get cut" (My first song picked up was slow)
"Get to the chorus before 30 seconds"
"The song is too short. Can we add a guitar solo?"
"The song is too long. Can we take out the guitar solo?"
"We need something that sounds fresh and original"
"This sound is different. I don't know who I can pitch this to"
"We want a nostalgic song, a dedication to an older artist type song."
"You can't name people who are famous in songs"
"Don't put specifics in a song, it will make it un-relatable to a lot of people"
"This song isn't descriptive enough. Add some more descriptions."
"We need a girl sprinkled in there somewhere."
"This song isn't about the girl, take the girl out."
Now granted, you have to take a lot of these things in context. I am not going to share all the stories that go along with these comments, but the thing to remember, is that a lot of these people who are looking for songs for their artists don't actually know what they're looking for, until they hear it. It's a true shot in the dark even AFTER you get all the rules right.
It just depends how badly you want something. If you are like me, a BIG dreamer, than get ready to hold on for a very long time. They call Nashville the 10 year town because after working for 10 years straight to get a cut on an album or with an artist, people usually give up and move home. I won't be that person, and I will not let my friends be that person. I am here to accomplish something and I'm not leaving until I do it.
Keep the Faith, Love the Music