4 New Year’s Resolutions for Songwriters

By Cliff Goldmacher

New Years'sAfter looking back and taking stock of what last year had to offer, it’s time for us to dig in and start preparing ourselves for songwriting success in the year to come.  There are so many facets to life as a songwriter that there’s always something we can do to move the ball forward.  To that end, I’ve listed a few New Year’s resolutions starting with the little things and moving up to the big ones.

1. Write down a song title every day.

If you take a minute or two every morning to wake up your inner songwriter, you’ll be amazed at the cumulative results by year’s end.  Keep a small notebook by your bed and write down a song title first thing every day.  Don’t spend a ton of time on these, just write down the first thing that comes to mind.  Some of your titles will be uninspired but others will be genuinely unique and song-ready.  This notebook is a great way of not having to start from scratch when it’s time to sit down and write.  Sometimes a title that seemed dull when you were writing it down will inspire a great song when you see it again later.  It’s a small thing, but it’s a reminder that inspiration is an active pursuit.

2. Find a new (or your first) co-writer.

Carrying the weight of creating a song by yourself is both a worthwhile challenge and a discouraging burden, depending on the day.  Sharing the load with a co-writer is a great way to stay motivated and explore different approaches to songwriting.  If you’ve already got an established group of co-writers, go find someone new to get you out of your regular routine.  If you’ve never co-written, now’s the time.  Finding the right co-writer who has strengths where you have weaknesses and vice versa will simply make for better songs.  It takes courage and a bit of a thick skin to open up your creative process to another writer, but if you’re both respectful and have a great song as the ultimate goal, you’ll almost certainly be glad you did it.

3. Write a song in a genre that’s new to you.

As a country songwriting friend said to me once, “there are lots of countries.”  In other words, try to write a song this year in a musical style that’s unfamiliar to you.  If you write country, try to write a jazz song.  If you write rock, try country.  By expanding your repertoire, you’ll force yourself to study different styles of music.  This, at the very least, will give you a better understanding of what goes into creating your preferred musical genre.  By filtering a different musical style through the prism of your experience, you’ll undoubtedly come up with something unique.

4. Don’t give up.

Songwriting is not a profession for the faint-hearted or the easily discouraged.  It can be both exhilarating and demoralizing.  All this to say, no matter how bleak things may appear currently or how far away success may seem, the only trait all successful songwriters share is that they haven’t given up.  A songwriting career is a marathon not a sprint.  If things are tough, it’s ok to slow down, give yourself a break and go on “input” for a while.  Sometimes just living your life instead of trying to document it is the best way to regain your motivation.  Resolve to find the strength to keep at it this year.  There’s a great song out there just waiting for you to write it.

Happy New Year!

Cliff Goldmacher is a songwriter, producer, session musician, engineer, author and owner of recording studios in Nashville, TN and Sonoma, CA. Cliff’s site, http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com, is full of resources for the aspiring songwriter including a brand new HD video series available at the link below:

Cliff’s company, http://www.NashvilleStudioLive.com, provides songwriters outside of Nashville with virtual access to Nashville’s best session musicians and singers for their songwriting demos.

You can download a FREE sample of Cliff’s eBook “The Songwriter’s Guide To Recording Professional Demos” by going to http://www.EducatedSongwriter.com/ebook.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EducatedSongwriter
Twitter: edusongwriter

#TCVideoFridays – December 28th 2012

Last #TCVideoFridays before the New Year! We’re celebrating with some rockin’ videos from TuneCore Artists…

Chester See, “Thank You”

Paradise Fears, “Home”

Hollywood Ending, “Don’t Let Me Down”

 Jonathan Clay, “This One’s for Me”

Michael Nance, “The Heezy”

Jason Chen, “SnowFlake”

Dormtainment, “Ballin On’a Budget”

Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound”

The Brilliance, “Hands and Feet”

Young Oceans, “All Who Hear”

2013 TuneCore Artist Grammy Nominees

When the nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards came out earlier this month, we were excited (but not surprised!) to find so many TuneCore Artists on the list.

Check out the artists nominated, and make sure to tune in February 10th, 2013 to see who takes home the awards…


Best Pop Instrumental Album:

-Dave Koz

Best Musical Theater Album:

-Follies (New Broadway Cast Recording)

-The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media:

-The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, composers

-Hugo – Howard Shore, composer

Best Gospel Album:


-Israel & New Breed

Best New Artist:

– Hunter Hayes

– The Lumineers

Best Country Duo/Group Performance:

-The Civil Wars (& Taylor Swift)

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:

– Kari Jobe

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album:

– Carla Morrison

-Sistema Bomb

Best Rap Album:

-2 Chainz


Good luck to all nominees, we’ll be rooting for you!

5 Annoying Conversations Non-Musicians Will Have With You

Editor’s note: The post below originally appeared on Dotted Music

Fellow musicians, I write this with you in mind; I sympathise, relate and seethe with you – for the following list, is our common-ground.

Anybody who is more than a hobbyist in music, will know that it is constant. It isn’t something you do on a whim, nor is it something with guarantees. In fact, even people that don’t make music know that much.

Dotted Music

Besides, it’s pretty easy to tell someone that wants to make a sturdy career of their craft, apart from someone only toying with the idea, because any artist worth their art, will have made that quite darned obvious to the people around them – passion is hard to hide.

Despite all of this, if that massive cliché of getting a penny for every time a certain thing happened, applied to the number of times I’ve heard the following conversation starters – well, I’d have enough to buy quite a few cups of tea indeed…

So, are you signed yet?

What it sounds like they mean:

You’ve been on about your music for a while now, but if you’re not signed, well then what’s the point of it all? You have to be signed like the big-names to be a somebody in music, right?

What you want to say:

NO. Surely If I were “signed”, you’d know. Plus, you’re in the dark if you think being signed is the be-all & end all of music! Where have you been the past few years? Have you NOT seen the independent movement of successful artists doing it their way and doing it big? Gosh!

What you actually say:

Signed? No. But I’m not trying to be – I mean, I’d love for things to take off but I know that in music, it takes time, plus I’m not chasing the mainstream – I’m in it for the art.

When’s your album out then?

What it sounds like they mean:

You don’t have an album? All the big names, the ones I used to buy before I started downloading music, have albums. I mean – no I don’t bother with albums now – I mostly just listen to my favourite singles in a playlist on repeat. But you DON’T have an album? Pshht!

What you want to say:

LOL – an album? Do you even buy music anymore? What’s the last album you purchased? Not to mention, music stores are forever minimizing in-store space, because people are less inclined to buy them. Plus, albums are really expensive to make, record, mix, master and design – no, I don’t have an album out at the moment.

What you actually say:

I don’t have an album in the works just yet, I do have a few songs out at the moment though – I can send them to you if you’d like?

So, I’ll be hearing you on the radio will I?

What it sounds like they mean:

I ONLY listen to the radio, it’s my main music source – so if it aint in the top ten, I aint listening. You’re not in there, so you’re stuff can’t be as “good” as what is. Or maybe you’re just not doing something right.

What you want to say:

Well, radio is pretty much controlled by, or has elements of a Payola type system. That makes traditional radio an almost impossible place for new, unsigned and underground music to be play-listed – because the mainstream has a firm hold over what is played.

There are slots outside of that where new music is often played, but obviously your busy life means you have no time for shows during those often late nights or very early mornings – so in a nutshell, probably not – as I’m unsigned.

What you actually say:

The radio is only one of many places new music like mine is played, sure I’ve had some attention there, but really I’m focusing on quality stuff for potential new fans.

Long time no see, are you famous yet?

What it sounds like they mean:

You say you’re a musician but you’re not on TV. Musician’s are everywhere, billboards TV, radio – does anybody apart from me, know that you make music?

What you want to say:

Oh c’mon – surely if I were famous you would know! Yes, I make music, but I’m not on TV – or famous, so I guess I’m not successful? – Well, I’m not fame-hungry or anything, I make music because I really love music, and people enjoy mine.

What you actually say:

Ha! I guess not…

Still doing the whole music thing then?

What it sounds like they mean:

Still pushing on with that are you? You must be serious about it then, not that I’ve noticed, mind…

What you want to say:

“Thing”? – Music is my art, my passion – of course I’m still making it!

You asking means you haven’t been following my updates, or coming to shows, or even checking out the new music I’ve been releasing – that’s a shame, I think you might like it.

What you actually say:

Yeah of course! I’ve actually just released a new track – I’ll send you the link to it if you’d like?

So there you have it. 5 conversations about music you might have had. But you don’t mind, because when it comes to your music you’re not racing, you’re marathoning…

This guest post originally appeared on music marketing blog Dotted Music, and was written by musician Dreama, who describes herself as ‘a girl-emcee sat somewhere sippin’ tea’. You can read more of her musings or check out her music on her website: dreamasreality.com

#TCVideoFridays – December 21st 2012

Happy #TCVideoFridays from TuneCore! Start off the weekend right with a few music videos from TuneCore Artists…

 Zen-La-Rock, “Ice Ice Baby”

Ally Rhodes, “The Sum”

Anthem Lights, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Tiffany Thompson, “Let It Break Through”

Ron Pope, “City in Motion”

Jayesslee, “The Christmas Song”

Rosi Golan, “Can’t Go Back”

Willy Chirino, “Blackbird”

Bridget Kelly, “Special Delivery”

Steed Lord, “Hear Me Now

The Important Thing Is That People Hear the Music

Written by TuneCore’s Karina Alvarez

This week we’re catching up with Andres “Dres” Titus of Black Sheep, who with Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest, forms the duo “evitaN.”  Check out the interview in which Dres talks about the duo’s collaboration process, how the Native Tongue movement plays a big role in their work, and more.

Without using ‘conventional’ genre words, describe your sound.
I’m of the notion that great music knows no genre. That being said, I feel our sound incorporates the essence of the Golden Era of hip hop—beat driven, progressive, melodic, soulful, insightful music—gapping the bridge for those who might not even be into hip hop, but just into great music.

How did your duo come to be?
I had been on Jarobi for about a year to record an EP for my label Pool Of Genius. I felt in my gut he had to be dope/exceptional, having been a member of A Tribe Called Quest, and performing with them for over 20 years.  He is very intelligent and I thought he had something to say. He finally agreed to do it, after some coaxing, and we decided to do the first song together—”Keep Keepin On.”  It blew us away how well it came out, so we decided to do another.  20 plus songs later, his EP turned into our album.

Your music is rooted in the Native Tongue movement. Can you tell us about the movement and how it has influenced your music?
Our Native Tongue affiliation is something that we are both very proud of. It speaks to what could/should be: unity of the community, self empowerment, education in life and class, hard work and structure.  I look at it as a microcosm of what should be happening in society. I only hope that we realize it to its fullest potential, even now, as to show that everything is possible and that it’s never too late to make a difference, or make something beautiful.

Evitan Hot Damn

You collaborate with many artists on your album Speed of Life, like Rah Digga and Craig G.  How do you decide who to collaborate with?
Well, true to the label name, we looked for artists that we respect and felt would be included in this pool we deem to be “genius.” Each guest on the album, whether new or seasoned, I think falls into this category. We had relationships with most already—some such as Boogieman Dela from Philly and some of the producers were sought because of the genius we recognized and wanted to be affiliated with, as well as share our little bit of genius with.

What’s your collaborative process like? Do you usually write the music or does the featured artist contribute to the writing as well?
We were very open to “what could be” making this album.  We shared plenty of ideas in the structuring of our album—guests were always welcome to add their input, some did more than others. As far as verses go, any voice you hear on the album, that artist wrote that. I did most of the hooks but we definitely collaborated on a few as well, much like how the Natives made the records that we’re known for this very day.  Jarobi and I were in the studio TOGETHER  for each song. Nothing was mailed and sent back—just as we did it in earlier days.  I think the cohesive album reflects that energy.

What kind of marketing/promotion did you do leading up to and following the release of your album?
We definitely did and continue to hit up the hip hop sites and blogs. We also go hard on social media (@dresblacksheep and @Jarobione on twitter) as well, being afforded the opportunity to work with some great people who help us with PR such as God-is Rivera and Theresa O’Neal. We’re open to ideas outside the box in our venture to make the world aware of this groundbreaking project.

What are your goals as an artist, and how are you working toward those goals?
I think the goal is to reach as many people as we can with quality, life effecting, positive, fun music.  It’s more than a passion to make dope music—definitely not born of the desire for money or accolades. There’s no dollar amount to be put on the feeling making dope music brings.

Have you signed a publishing admin deal?
We haven’t signed a pub admin deal as of yet and are slowly and organically looking for the right opportunities with which to align our music/brand—things that will help us make a difference, and yes, make a dollar or two.

What are your thoughts on streaming? Do you distribute to streaming sites or do you feel artists aren’t fairly compensated for streams?
Well, in a time where people can get your stuff for free if they really want it, we’ve embraced the idea that the important thing is that people hear the music and want to support the movement.  We’re grateful for the sales we receive, but also understand that the formula is quite different in these days, and that more than that hard sale, we want your respect and support via shows/merch and other outlets. We hope the music acts as a catalyst toward this.

Why is it important to you to be an independent artist?
It is very important, in my opinion, for artists that have broken the initial layers of being an artist to at least try the independent route.  It’s very enlightening, rewarding, and affords artists the dexterity that a major label just isn’t situated for.  It gives the artist the opportunity to be a better businessman/woman which in turn adds depth to the music, an understanding, and a freedom. I advise all to at least try it.

What can we look forward to next?
DOPE MUSIC.  Pool Of Genius will be releasing an EP of a different artist monthly, starting in the new year, as well as more music from evitaN, Black Sheep, and Jarobi. Now that you’ve heard his [Jarobi] ability, I look forward to not only our doing more music, but him doing some things on his own as well. It’s a beautiful thing!

More @ evitaN.net

Check out videos @ youtube.com/PoolOfGenius

evitaN music in iTunes