Tag Archives: songwriting

How To Work That 9-5 and Still Be an Inspired Musician

[Editors NoteThis article was written by Rachel Bresnahan originally featured on the Sonicbids Blog.]

I speak for myself when I say this, but I’m sure plenty of other musicians think the same: we all want a consistent, full-time, make-a-living-off-of-music job. Whether that’s behind the scenes or center stage, being able to sustain a life off of our music would be fantastic.

But because we all need to have a place to live, buy groceries, and pay off student loans, we sometimes have no choice but to opt for a nine-to-five job. It may not be music related, but a day job can make life a little bit easier to handle. However, there are times when it may seem as if you’re focusing less and less on your music and losing touch with that part of your identity.

Even if you aren’t playing or booking gigs every day, that doesn’t mean you’re giving up your musicianship. There are ways to focus on your day job as well as your passion for making music.

1. Set music-related deadlines (and stick to them)

Making time after work to go to the gym, maintain relationships, eat right, and just plain relax requires plenty of effort all on their own. So at the end of the day, we don’t blame you for not wanting to sit down with a metronome or manuscript paper.

Maybe you’re too tired or feeling uninspired, but it’s so incredibly important to keep yourself emerged in a musical mindset with music activities. You don’t have to write a full-length, best-selling album in a night, but you do need to maintain some focus in music.

Try setting some personal or professional deadlines for writing music, practicing, self-marketing, or any other part of your musicianship. If you’re in the process of writing lyrics, plan to have a part of the song done by the end of the week or spend 20 minutes a day drafting emails to send to venues. Creating deadlines and goals, however big or small, will help you keep music in mind even if playing a gig or writing seem too far out of reach for a day’s work.

2. Plan some relaxation time that includes music

A passion for music is great in this way – you can continue to grow as a musician even if you’re not practicing for two hours every day.

Sit down with an album and make the time to actively listen to it – don’t make a snack or check your social media. Just sit. Listen. Think. Doing this will help you listen for elements that may inspire you further to create and add-on to your own music.

3. Ask yourself, “Is this a healthy break, or am I avoiding music?”

I can definitely “out” myself with this one. After taking some time away from music, there are moments when I avoid my craft all together. If you’re like me at all, it’s never a fun practice session when your hands are out of shape. The fumbling, the mistakes, and the frustration can be discouraging and it becomes a vicious cycle. I don’t want to practice because I’m self-conscious of the way I sound, but only practicing will help me get back in shape.

However, taking a well-needed break is also healthy. Hitting the restart button will not only clear your mind, but it will also hopefully make your heart miss making music. What’s the saying? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s totally okay to take a step back, but make sure you’re doing it with intent.

4. Surround yourself with musicians who inspire you

Spending time with like-minded friends is never a bad idea. Being able to talk to others about music is a wonderful way to keep your head in the game. Take a second to talk about, analyze, and explore music in an intellectual way. These conversations can help you think about music critically; you might even continue to learn new ideas and techniques from others. I find that the people that I surround myself with inspire me the most with my music and keep me constantly thinking of my presence in music.

It’s no easy task to balance a music career while maintaining a life outside of music. But you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re compromising your passion for a steady paycheck. Let us know in the comments below how you’ve managed being a full-time musician with a nine-to-five job.

Think You Have a Song That’s Syncable?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Liam Farrell, Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team, and it was originally featured on Music Connection.]

This past May, I attended a panel discussion on the current state of sync. It was a real who’s-who of gatekeepers from the sync world; a PRO exec, some big name publishers and music director from one of the top creative agencies in the world.

The audience was a mix of music supervisors, catalog reps, and a ton of hungry musicians looking for new and creative ways to monetize their music.  During the Q&A, one of the more forward musicians in the audience presented a very direct question to the panel:

“What kind of music should I write to land a lot of syncs?”

For a few seconds, the panel seemed to be at a loss for words.  That is until the Music Director spoke up, “Inspirational, anthemic rock that builds.”

I watched as everyone in the audience jotted these words as if an angel had visited and given them the password to heaven.  Of course, the Music Director went on to add much more substance and nuance to his answer, including the suggestion that when a songwriter sets out to write a syncable tune, its often obvious and takes away authenticity of the original song idea. However, those five first words continued to resonate in the room.

As I pondered this a bit deeper, I started to look back at my own experience as a music supervisor.  Pitching and clearing music for wide variety of mediums, from multi-million dollar national brand campaigns to Kickstarter videos for salt water taffy start-ups.  I realized, “inspirational anthemic rock that builds” was a great answer if you are trying to land one of those big, career launching ad placements.

But there are so many more avenues into sync where the competition is much thinner and the opportunities are much more frequent. Below are a few thoughts and tips to keep in mind when crafting your next masterpiece. Again, I’m “NOT” suggesting writing a song that hits all of the points to follow. I think most music supervisors will agree with me. These are just a few things to think about applying to your song(s) to maximize your chances for landing syncs of all shapes and sizes.

Tip # 1: Instrumental Versions 

I cannot stress this enough: Have instrumental versions of all of your songs ready and available at a moments notice. For 99% of placements of popular songs in ads, the instrumental version is needed in order to make the edit work.  This is largely because the Voice Over needs room to breath and tell the audience about the product.

Lets say you have a song called “I Got A Feelin’ I Love You” and that a yogurt brand wants to use it in a campaign to introduce their new flavor: Banana Cheesecake Delight.  Target demographic: Moms on the Go.

The first 20 seconds of the spot there’s VO (voice over) speaking to the nutritional value of the yogurt and how easy and convenient it is to eat.  The camera focuses in on someone savoring the first bite. The titular line of your song “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” plays and the title card appears.  That’s what we call in the biz a “vocal up.”

Now, if the instrumental wasn’t available for the editors, then all of the lyrics preceding “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” would compete with the VO and the spot will sound cumbersome and confusing.

Tip #2:  Button Up – Never Fade

I’ve been in the room when its happened.  All of the creatives listening to music options for their spot.  There’s one song they all react positively to. Toes tapping and heads bopping.  Everyone is loving this song.  The final chorus comes in and its epic, but then, the worst thing happens.  The song ends on a fade out!  BLASPHEMY!  Everyone is severely disappointed and a few people quit their jobs right there on the spot.  Why? Why ever fade out a song? Very rarely will a TV show or film fade out from one scene to another and it NEVER happens in ads.

If for some reason the spot calls for a fade out, this can easily be done in the edit suite.  Editors cannot, however, undo a fadeout and create an ending that isn’t there.  Its uber-important to put a nice intentional button ending (or sting) on every song you want to be pitched for sync. Trust me.

Tip #3: Clean Versions

We all love edgy music from time to time, amirite? Suggestive lyrics and gratuitous f-bombs are tons of fun at the adults only pool party.

But brands? No way. Brands like to play it safe so they can reach the widest pool of potential consumers possible.  Sure, you can get some swears in a film with a PG-13 or higher rating, or even on a late night cable comedy.  But if you really want to maximize your chances for sync, you should have a clean version readily available.  That doesn’t mean add a BLEEP sound over every bad word. That gets annoying real quick.  That means either replace it or drop the word altogether in the mix.

Tip #4: Whoa Oh Oh’s

You may have noticed (if you haven’t, you will now) that a ton of commercial spots use songs that feature some sort of “Oooo” “Whoa” or “Ahh” in lieu of actual lyrics. This makes sense because it allows the spot to avoid any lyrics that may compete with the brand’s message while also maintaining the vocal element that ‘legitimizes’ the song.  It can also add an extra layer of energy.

Tip #5: Not Too Specific Lyrics

Now this is a tricky one. Not to sound like a broken record, but you shouldn’t set out to write a song specifically for sync. Give us truth. Give us authenticity. Just don’t give us the full name, description, and backstory of your long lost love. Keep it 100.

It’s great to write lyrics that are personal and close to the heart.  However, if your lyrics are too specific, it may hurt your chances for sync.

Lets say a soup brand is looking for the perfect song to go along with their new flavor: New England HAM Chowder.  They want to find a song that reflects the warm and comforting nature of soup. You happen to have a song in your catalog “Warmth.”  The lyrics go something like, “Last winter, up in Maine, We sat by the fire hand in hand, the bluest eyes, shake my core, I love you Margaret, you make me warm…” Bro, that’s not gonna work for soup.

Meanwhile Johnny Syncsalot submits his song called “Comfort.”  He lands the placement because his lyrics were emotive, yet vague enough that they could pass for being about soup, “Oooo I’ve been waiting for this, and I can’t get it out of my mind.  Home is where I want to be, and now your comfort is mine.”

A young man is sitting with his cat and guitar at home on a sofa and is writing songs in a notebook

That could be about soup, a dog, bed sheets, a shower, etc.  Lyrics like this can be applied to a number of different things because they are so vague about what the subject is.

Just something to think about next time you put the pen to paper.

Tip #6: Dynamics – Never Loop

A repetitive track gets boring really quickly.  Having a song that’s dynamic and has lots of peaks and valleys will set your music apart from others.

The people who actually lay the music to picture often look for what they call “edit points.”  These are moments within the song where the mood, intensity, or energy takes a turn.

Lets say you have a scene in a film where a young athlete is struggling to finish her race.  Her legs are tired and she’s falling behind the other runners. The song in the background is pulsing, and tense, matching the pace and mood of the scene.  Then, just as she’s about to give up and quit, she sees her coach in the stands.  The coach gives her a look like “C’mon, you can DO THIS. ” At that moment she finds sudden second wind and pushes herself to speed up for one last lap.  The music pivots intensity and is now triumphant and optimistic, yet still the same song.  She makes it over the finish line and gets her gold medal.

If you’re song is simply a loop of a beat or some chords, there still may be some syncs out there for you.  But they are limited to phone apps and weather channel updates.  Nothing wrong with that.  But spice it up a bit if you want a shot at the big leagues.

Tip #7 – The Build Up

Most commercials are :30 or :60 seconds long. So if you can save an editor from cutting up your song to fit these lengths, you’ll have a serious advantage. Thus, its is wise to have your song build steadily over 30 or 60 seconds. Of course, most real songs (not jingles) are going to be much longer than 60 seconds. So once the song is mixed and ready for master, just create a :30 and :60 cut-down version (maybe even a :15 if you are feeling saucy!).  These are always good to have in your back pocket, ready for sync.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to give the listener a little bit of time to bask in the glory of the crescendo you’ve just built up to. So don’t have it peak at :30 or :60.  Rather, hit the musical zenith at :27 (for a :30) or :54 (for a :60).  If you peak at :30, its like riding a roller coaster to the top of the hill, and then getting off before the payoff. Nahmsayin?

This one I would recommend applying at the final stages of the recording process via editing. Its hard to fit a good and thoughtful song idea into a :30 second edit, so go nuts and write/record the full song first. Then take the juiciest of bits and cut them down after the fact.

Tip #8: Save Sessions

Sometimes, creatives will be really into a song, but not quite feeling the sultry sax solo because it competes with VO.  Often they’ll ask the artist if there is a version without the sax.  The savvy musician will have the session backed up on a hard drive and will be able to deliver a sax-free version at a moments notice.  I’ve seen songs get a lot of love in the edit suite, only to be passed over because the artist couldn’t deliver a different mix.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Back up your sessions!

Tip #9: Less is More

Piggybacking off of Tip #8.  There is some real value in minimal music.  This is especially true in background music for TV or documentaries.  Consider for a moment all of the music in scenes like: tip toeing through a dark hallway, a news report on the aftermath of a natural disaster, a washed up actor recounting a dark time in his life, or an educational look at the process of photosynthesis.

The music under all of these types of moments needs to be subtle and not over the top.  There is a lot of value in ethereal soundscapes, solo piano pieces, or even simple ambient drones.  Sometimes its best to keep it simple and subtle.  You may be surprised how much demand there is for this kind of thing.

Tip #10: Be True to Yourself

This one is VERY important.  While ‘inspirational anthemic rock that builds’ may be the most sought after kind of music for sync, there’s also going to be a lot of competition.  If that’s not your thing, don’t sweat it!  We get requests all the time for very specific, non-mainstream music that is authentic.  Perhaps you are an ole timey barber shop quartet, or maybe a mariachi band.  Stick with it!  There are opportunities out there for you.

One great example is the band, Dropkick Murphys. Quite a specific sound, right? Irish-American Punk.  While they likely wont land the theme song on Real Housewives of Ft Lauderdale, they get a ton of love from Irish-themed shows, movies, and brands. I can’t think of one Boston mob film that they aren’t on the soundtrack of.

You have the same chance at that sort of path to success.  Just find what you are good at, and keep pushing.


LIAM FARRELL is Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team. After graduating from Syracuse University in 2008, Farrell moved to New York to foster over eight years of experience in the music industry, ranging from artist management to music supervision. Farrell climbed aboard TuneCore’s Brooklyn vessel in May of 2016, bringing with him a knack and enthusiasm for music synchronization.

July Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

The music industry may seem like it’s settling into its predictable lull, but songwriters and publishers worldwide are fighting harder than ever for a fair marketplace:

  • The US Department of Justice rules in favor of licensing regulations that many songwriters and publishers see as “a clusterf—k of epic proportions.
  • YouTube announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners using their Content ID system.
  • After a $750m buyout from the Michael Jackson Estate, Sony now owns the rights to 50% of Sony/ATV and its catalogue of over 2 million songs.

The Department of Justice passed new legislation that could mean smaller royalty payouts for songwriters across the United States.


When it comes to the world of publishing, the biggest news of the month, by far, has been the US Department of Justice’s recent ruling in favor “100 percent licensing,” meaning that for songs with multiple songwriters, a licensee only requires a license from one of the contributors (instead of each of them). The music industry as a whole is shocked and upset by this verdict, especially in the wake of petitions fighting for a total overhaul of the already-outdated legislation currently in place. Songwriters and publishers alike fear that this could mean lower royalty payout, more complicated work for PROs, and an increase in royalty disputes across the industry.

“Instead of making the necessary modifications, we have been saddled with a disruptive proposal that ignores songwriters’ concerns for our future livelihoods in a streaming world, serves absolutely no public interest and creates confusion and instability for all of us who depend on the efficiencies of collective licensing,” said ASCAP’s President Paul Williams released a statement on July 11th.

The DoJ’s decision was carefully thought-out based on the trajectory of the music industry in the digital age, stemming specifically from the idea that 100 percent licensing would make it easier for parties like Pandora to license music. However, even the US Copyright Office has put in a negative word about the verdict and urges the DoJ to rethink 100 percent licensing.

In a 33-page reaction to the new regulations, the US Copyright Office “believes that an interpretation of the consent decrees that would require these PROs to engage in 100-percent licensing presents a host of legal and policy concerns. Such an approach would seemingly vitiate important principles of copyright law, interfere with creative collaborations among songwriters, negate private contracts, and impermissibly expand the reach of the consent decrees.”

While music licensees see the DoJ decision as a smart move in the fact of the current prevalence of music streaming, they’re going to receive a lot of pushback from songwriters and publishers alike. It doesn’t look like BMI, ACSAP, or the US Copyright Office are looking to back down any time soon, so hopefully for the sake of publishers everywhere, the DoJ can go back to the drawing board and retool a system that benefits both the songwriters and the digital streaming services that are licensing music.

YouTube proudly announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners through their Content ID technology, but the music industry needs more convincing.


YouTube announced in a July 14th blog post that they have collected over $2 billion in streaming revenue for rights owners using their rights management system Content ID, double what YouTube reported back in 2014.

For those unfamiliar with Content ID, the system uses audio files submitted to them by a partner (like TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue Service), and then detects those audio files on third-party videos uploaded to YouTube to monetize on behalf of the rights owner. In layman’s terms, if someone uses your song on a cat video that goes viral, you get paid for any money that the video makes as the rights owner of the music. It has been a lucrative service for many artists in the industry, with YouTube being one of the most popular methods with which to stream music.

“We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before,” Senior Policy Counsel for Google, Katie Oyama, said in the statement.

However, many songwriters and publishers on the other side of that $2 billion have a different perspective on YouTube’s news. Both labels and publishers alike have argued that Content ID fails to recognize as much as 40% of their music on third-party videos in YouTube. Additionally, while YouTube claims that 98% of the time rights owners prefer to monetize videos rather than take them down, representatives of the music industry believe that Content ID encourages YouTube piracy.

“Their pitch goes something like this: ‘Hey, advertising is good for you. Why not use Content ID to cash in on all the piracy by getting a share of revenue we can generate from ad placement?’ Well, they don’t call it piracy – but make no mistake, in the end, their whole scheme still depends on a culture of piracy,” said Maria Schneider in an op-ed for Music Technology Policy.

It’s hard to discern who’s really in the right with the Content ID debate, since rights owners are making a marginal streaming payout from each video play and, like any automated system, there will be hiccups based on similar sounding recordings, use of samples, etc. What’s clear is that YouTube is trying to make lemonade out of lemons for musicians who would otherwise be making nothing from these pirated videos. While it’s not an ideal situation for rights owners, one can hope it’s at least a step in the right direction as we learn to deal with the repercussions of the digital age in the music industry.

Despite protestations from competition, groups in the EU give Sony the greenlight for their $750m purchase of the Michael Jackson Estate’s 50% stake in Sony/ATV.


Since Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, his partial ownership of Sony/ATV and its massive catalogue of songs have been up in the air. Sony made moves to resolve this back in March of this year, agreeing to purchase Jackson’s 50% stake in the company for $750 million, giving Sony full ownership of the Sony/ATV catalogue. However, earlier this month, Sony competitors Warner and IMPALA unsuccessfully challenged the acquisition in Europe, slowing down the purchase but ultimately not grinding it to a halt.

Universal and IMPALA both came to the EU’s antitrust organizations in regards to the purchase, claiming that Sony’s acquisition of the over two million songs would create a market-distorting level of power in favor of Sony. The massive catalogue, which includes works from Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and the Beatles, alongside Sony’s administration of the EMI music publishing catalogue, gives the company a 28% global market share.

Upon the approval of the acquisition, the European Commission released a statement saying, “the transaction would have no negative impact on competition in any of the markets for recorded music and music publishing in the European Economic Area.” Representatives from IMPALA have called the verdict “clearly wrong,” but it looks like Sony still gets to walk away the winner of this fight.

SOUND BYTES

Anatomy Of A Songwriter Signing; Jessi Alexander

[Editors Note: This interview with TuneCore Artist Jessi Alexander originally appeared on NEKST. David Ross, author of this piece and the founder of Music Row Magazine, uses NEKST as a platform to cover ‘music and the technology it powers’.]

Music Row streets are filled with new and experienced songwriters hoping to climb that next career rung by finding the perfect home to nurture and support their creative efforts. But in an industry where success gets more elusive every day, only a fortunate few will find what they seek. Therefore the importance of these decisions—for both writer and publisher—cannot be underestimated.

This Music GM/Partner Rusty Gaston recently signed Jessi Alexander and both parties graciously agreed to discuss the dynamics of the new partnership and why they are so excited about a shared future.

According to Gaston, “This Music is a joint venture with Warner Chappell. The company was formed in 2006, with myself and songwriters Connie Harrington and Tim Nichols. We signed Ben Hayslip on our first day, who at that point had only charted one single. Since then he’s become a two-time ASCAP “Songwriter of the Year”. Today we’ve grown to five employees and 13 writers. As good as we put it on paper, knock on wood it has gone better. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we’ve won five “Song of the Year” awards, and had 40 ASCAP/BMI award winning songs. It’s been a super blessing.”

But despite This Music’s great track record, operating a boutique publishing company leaves little room for mistakes. So what goes into an important decision such as adding a songwriter to the team? “I always ask myself would I mortgage my house for this?” says Gaston. “If I can’t say ‘Yes,’ I don’t do the deal. I also don’t do pieces of business. Maybe a writer has a record deal or a cut bringing a certain amount of income and signing them could be a good business decision. But for me it’s about how much I believe in this person. I make my decision based upon people first and music second.”

Rusty Gaston

Rusty Gaston

Enter Jessi Alexander. “Jessi has been deeply involved with our company as a co-writer for years,” says Gaston. “For example, she co-wrote ‘I Drive Your Truck’ with Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary; and ‘Mine Would Be You’ with Deric Ruttan and Connie. So when Jessi approached us to say, ‘I’m thinking about looking around,’ we knew immediately we’d love to work with her. Jessi has tremendous respect for those 16th Ave. craftsmen like Bobby Braddock or Bob McDill who worked every day, chiseling people’s emotions onto a blank piece of paper. And she fits so well with our philosophy of a great work ethic and positive attitude.”

It’s easy to understand why Gaston would be excited to sign Alexander. Above he explained the “people first” side of the equation. But the new addition also ‘brings it’ musically. For example, her Grammy nominated co-write, “I Drive Your Truck,” won triple-crown Song of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM and NSAI. Her inspirational ballad “The Climb,” (inked with Jon Mabe) topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for 15 weeks, garnered a Grammy nomination and won Best Song From A Movie from MTV.

I sat down with Jessi Alexander, (named after Jessi Colter) to get her side of the signing process and learn about her background. I wanted to know what career concerns mattered most, and what brought her to the conclusion that This Music was where she belonged. Unexpectedly, she also weighed in about gender on Music Row, offered some interesting advice for new writers and revealed some very personal feelings about why “The Climb” became a personal breakthrough moment.

NEKST: Did you interact with music growing up?

Jessi Alexander: I remember my grandfather sitting at a piano and playing a game with me. I’d say, “Hey Granddaddy play ‘Love Me Tender’,” and he’d tap it out with one hand. But my dad was probably most instrumental. He was a hippie child of the ’60s and during college collected all the great records—from Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix. He also discovered Will The Circle be Unbroken which led him to Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelsonand even Joan Baez. His music library offered Bluegrass infusing with rock n roll, gospel, delta blues and more. I was an only child with few friends, so while everyone else was out playing, my pastime became absorbing this music. Now that I have a 7-year old it gives me more perspective on how weird I was. My daughter might know what bluegrass is, but by her age I was encyclopedic in my approach to music. And everyday I still draw from those experiences.

Sounds more like you were “gifted,” not weird.

Well, I love how your weaknesses can become strengths. Being from a broken home in the country (Jackson, TN) without siblings, much TV or toys, music was an easy choice. At age nine my Dad asked me what instrument I wanted to learn. I chose electric bass. If he had gotten me that bass then maybe I wouldn’t have learned guitar, but he couldn’t afford a bass and an amp, so he got me a pawn shop acoustic guitar thinking I wouldn’t know the difference. Of course I did, but that started me playing guitar.

Did you imagine yourself being an artist or a songwriter during those early years?

jessiI grew up around blue collar type factory workers. My first jobs were working at a dry cleaner, at Subway and the car auction. Even after moving to Nashville around 1999 I approached the music industry in a blue collar way thinking ‘work hard then you’ll get that raise or promotion.’ Pretty quickly I saw it wasn’t like that and it seemed frustrating to realize how elusive it can be as to why certain people have success and others don’t. A promotion can be a song hold or an award. But I also understand how fortunate I am just to get to do this.

Continue reading David’s interview with Jessi Alexander here!

Interview: The Sweeplings and the Art of Songwriter Collaboration

We never get sick of hearing about the interesting ways that artists get together to begin making music independently. While there’s always something to be said about, say, a brother and sister taking their childhood collaborative hobby on the road, or three friends who have been playing in the garage since seventh grade, we’re living in an age in which creators can connect digitally and embark down wonderful paths together.

Whitney Dean was hanging at his Hunstville, Alabama home when his wife Beth directed his attention to a performer that was live on that week’s episode of America’s Got Talent: Cami Bradley. When Whitney’s wife began reaching out to Cami on his behalf online, she insisted that they get together and write music. While Cami was hesitant at first, the communication led to Cami and Whitney’s meeting all the way north west in the former’s hometown of Spokane, Washington.

With their ability to create thoughtful acoustic music that has drawn comparisons to former TuneCore duo the Civil Wars, Cami and Whitney would go on to release their debut self-titled EP as The Sweeplings in 2014, and their full length Rise & Fall the following year. The two songwriters are releasing a 5-song covers EP this summer while they continue to work on their follow-up album. Cami and Whitney shared with us their modern beginnings as a pair, how they have learned from each other as musicians, and more in an interview below:

How quickly did you two connect online after America’s Got Talent, and how would you describe the interaction/reaction overall? 

Cami: Whitney’s wife Bethany actually Facebooked me during the finale week of America’s Got Talent. She gave me a brief overview of the project Whitney was working on and how she thought we’d be a perfect fit to finish it together. I politely declined (due to the uncertainty and busy-ness of that week), but a few months later (after a couple more emails) we got on the phone.

One brief phone call and I knew these people were not only wonderful, but legit and worth listening to. So we planned for Whit to come stay with my husband and I for a few days in Spokane and that was that!

Was there instant songwriting chemistry between you two, or did the process take time?

Cami: There was an instant musical chemistry from the first two songs we wrote together (“Across The Sea” & “Drop by Drop”). Both of which are on our EP. By the end of two days of writing together we had seven songs completely finished. Three to four completely finished songs a day, (with, essentially, a stranger), was the definition of musical chemistry for us.
Whitney: It was like finding a missing part of myself musically. Cami seems to know what my inclinations or sensibilities are and can not only beat me to it, but help me grow my thoughts. It’s seriously like I found a cure for something with Cami and our music; truly something special that needed to be shared with the world.
The Sweeplings - Press image 1

In what ways do you both complement each other as songwriters?

Whitney: It’s a great partnership musically. We both will come to each other with half written songs or ideas and most times we are able to finish each others thought and make it a final product pretty quickly. It’s like we just seem to have the answer for each other. Cami is blessed not only with a phenomenal voice but an amazing sense of melody and how lyrics work within that.
Cami: Songwriting can be such a difficult task for some. We are blessed to have a pretty painless process when it comes to writing. It’s very rare that we get really stuck or disagree on where the other wants to go. We are lucky to complement each other when it comes to ideas and ways to move forward.

Where do you feel you’ve been able to learn from one another?

Whitney: I’ve been so blessed to meet Cami and the opportunity to learn from her and work with her. The biggest thing I’ve been able to take away from our time together is attention to detail and that the little things matter. From consistent and beautiful melody lines, and crafting lyrics that suit the way you say them in the melody. It’s not just singing words. It’s creating a melody and lyric that compliment and intensify each other. She also could find a way to sing a newspaper article and make you cry.
Cami: Whitney is a much better lyricist than I and they seem to come to him effortlessly and quickly. I could take two days to put together one of our songs in order to feel great about the content and flow of the lyrics. He can spit out twelve different ways of saying something on the spot. It’s a great partnership because sometimes we have time to mull over lyrics and sometimes we don’t. He spits them out, I rearrange them, or make them “singable” within the melody, and poof – song finished.

Similarly, do you two have a lot in common in terms of what kind of influences you draw from?

Whitney: Our starting points and backgrounds are very similar, but our influences vary quite a bit. I grow up with a mom that taught piano and voice lessons from home, and I would listen and learn from what she would tell her students. I also grew up playing and singing in church which was a huge part of musical growth. Most of my influences actually come from my years in college in the Shoals (Florence, AL) listening to anything from bands like Incubus, Silverchair, Derek Webb, and of course loads of great local and regional artist I met along my way.
Cami: I also grew up in a highly musical family and singing at my church completely shaped who I am today as a singer and pianist. My musical influences when I was in junior high ranged massively from Natalie Cole to Christina Aguilera to Disney soundtracks. Throw a dash of jazz, pop, Christian and Disney music together and I guess you get me! As I reached high school it broadened even more. I was surrounded by so many talented musicians at my church that I soaked up everything I could by watching, playing alongside them and asking as many questions as I could.

What led to the decision to release a covers EP this summer?

Whitney: We had arranged a few covers for our licensing company and developed others to play at shows while we toured this year. We had such a great response to them that we thought putting them down and sharing them with the world would be a great way to keep fans engaged.
Cami: I personally LOVE re-arranging other people’s already amazing music and drawing inspiration from it to create something that molds what we do with their art. This seemed like second nature and the right thing for us to do! It also helps us draw in friends and fans while we record our follow up album this year.

What do you consider to be some of the benefits of releasing cover songs for independent artists – whether it’s an album or a one-off single?

Whitney & Cami: Seems contrary to what you would think, but we feel it really gives people a better sense of what we sound like as a duo and how we write. We’ve taken these covers and tried to transform each into something new, something that sounds like “The Sweeplings”.
Hopefully, people will be able to get a better idea of what we do musically through them and be a gateway to find each other. The main benefit we’ve found, (and the reason for the for an EP), was that it creates a way for people that might not find us on their own to have an introduction to us through a song they already know and love. It’s a bridge, bringing us to fans that are looking for something familiar but new.

Your music has a very cinematic feel to it. How important are licensing opportunities for you as independent songwriters?

Whitney: Very, it’s honestly how and why we started this duo. We wanted to be found and exposed to our potential and future fans through TV/film. We’ve personally found songs we love on our favorite TV shows/films, so to be a part of that experience for someone else is a dream come true.
Cami: Musically, we feel the way we write, compose and produce is tailored for licensing. It’s very intentional. Our goal is to create music that “sounds the way you feel”, tells a story sonically and takes people to another place.
Whitney & Cami: On the business side, we get paid for our music to be involved in a TV/Film and as a result, we also get the perk of it being shared and exposed to tons of potential fans. There are very few platforms that can get you that level of exposure to new fans and at the same time give you the financial boost to keep things rolling. As a current independent artist, it’s really priceless.

How far along are you into the production of your follow-up full length? 

Whitney: It’s in the works! The recording process begins soon. We’re really excited about our progression and the new music. The new songs are of course still very duo driven, but feels like a step forward for us.
Cami: We hope to release our follow up album either late this year or first thing 2017.

What themes and experiences are you hoping to capture on it?

Cami & Whitney: A pretty wide range really. From stories of escape, to the impact of true love – we write about all aspects of life.
The follow-up feels like it’s our most well rounded group of songs to date and a perfect compliment to our debut Rise & Fall.

May Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

As the days get longer and we gear up for summer, there’s some exciting news happening in the music publishing industry:

  • A new deal could mean improved songwriter royalty distribution from DJ remixes and mashups.
  • ASCAP stands by their songwriters, all the way to Capitol Hill.
  • MediaNet works with SOCAN to provide faster and more reliable methods of royalty distribution.

It’s an exciting time to be a songwriter.

A new deal will allow publishers and songwriters to profit from DJ remixes.


In an exciting new partnership between The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and digital distributor Dubset Media Holdings, songwriters and publishers can now collect from DJ mixes and remixes of their original content. Through this agreement, NMPA members can opt-in to dictate the terms and conditions of using their music in DJ mixes, in addition to receiving derivative royalties for the use of their music.

Dubset’s MixBANK is the first fully cleared distribution platform for remix content, using pre-negotiated licenses to provide equal distribution rights for DJs, songwriters, and publishers alike. Through MixBANK, Dubset can search a remix or mashup for “derivative content,” determine the appropriate royalty owed to the copyright owner, and relay this information to streaming stores like Apple Music.

This is an enormous step forward in the name of songwriter advocacy, and will be a huge benefit to songwriters as more DJs distribute to streaming markets. It’s especially beneficial to independent artists because the deal is focused on collecting for individual songwriters and small, independent publishers. Billboard writes, “Making participation in this new sub-economy available to individual songwriters and smaller publishers is a noteworthy advance, especially within the digital music economy, which so often seems to reward the largest of players.”

One more step in the right direction towards fair royalties for songwriters.

Songwriters urge Congress to reform music licensing at ASCAP’s “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.


May 18th was a big day for US songwriters, as they met with elected officials on Capitol Hill for ASCAP’s “Stand with Songwriters” Advocacy Day.

Some of the country’s top songwriters, including Desmond Child (co-writer of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”) and MoZella (co-writer of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”), spent the day lobbying for updates on licensing laws and regulations. With WWII-era licensing regulations still in place, both ASCAP and their songwriters are striving for a major update that will incorporate the ever-growing streaming population.

“The music business is among the toughest and most competitive industries, and our songwriters and composers should not have to accept below-market rates for their work,” said Utah Senator Orrin Hatch.

Two days before ASCAP’s Capitol Hill takeover, they released a video highlighting the advancements that the world has made since these songwriter regulations were enacted in 1941. While calling to attention that these laws were imposed before Hawaii and Alaska were part of the United States, the featured songwriters note that streaming companies exploit the outdated laws and urge for a total overhaul of the archaic music licensing legislation.

75 years seems like long enough to wait for licensing reform, but it looks like changes are on the horizon.

MediaNet teams up with SOCAN to improve royalty distribution for songwriters.


Canadian-based collection society SOCAN recently acquired MediaNet, a music tech provider boasting a catalogue of more than 51 million tracks. In a May 12th press release, MediaNet announced, “[we] will provide SOCAN with authoritative information pertaining to master rights (sound recordings), and will augment already strong matching capabilities for all kinds of performances and reproductions of music on radio, digital, live, satellite, film and TV and other delivery of music to public audiences.”

This acquisition now brings SOCAN to the forefront of collection societies for digital matching. It means enhanced royalty reporting for SOCAN’s four-million members, as well as increased profits from services like YouTube, SoundScan, and Facebook. It is also expected to increase the rate of digital match-rates, which should result in faster royalty payment speeds.

Faster, more accurate royalty reporting means less stress and more time for songwriting!

With all of this great songwriter advocacy coming to fruition, now’s the perfect time to be a part of our Music Publishing Administration.

SOUND BYTES