7 Great Ways to Accelerate Your Songwriting Skills

[Editors Note: This was written by Zac Green. Zac is a regular contributor to the Zing Instruments Blog.]

There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper. Starting the process of writing a new song can take just as long as finishing it. So here’s seven tips to help you speed up your songwriting.

1. Work in a group, then alone

Having a few people to bounce ideas around with helps the creative process get started. After you’ve got your song started, the democratic process is more likely to slow you down. If you’re writing songs as part of a band, it can be better to go and complete your parts individually once you’ve gotten the overall idea in place.

2. Drink alcohol, then coffee

Research has shown that drinking alcohol boosts your creativity, but makes it hard to focus. Coffee, and other drinks containing caffeine, has the opposite effect. For your brainstorming session, loosen up with a few drinks. This works especially well if combined with the first tip, but be careful not to get carried away and turn it into a drinking session. Once you’ve sat down to start writing the ideas you have onto paper, fire up the kettle.

3. Give chance a chance

After a long music career, you might find that all of your songs are starting to sound the same. There’s nothing wrong with having a recognisable sound, but you don’t want to get stale. Shake things up by writing different elements of songs onto pieces of paper, such as keys, lyrical themes, and so on. Place them into a hat and draw five at random. Force yourself to use these, no matter how badly they seem to go together. The results can be surprisingly good – and more importantly they help you to think outside of your usual boundaries.

4. Write somewhere different

Creativity doesn’t exist in a void. If you want to be inspired, go for a long walk somewhere far away from your usual haunts. The change of scenery, fresh air and act of walking itself can be great for generating new ideas. If nothing else, it gives you a chance to let yourself relax. Stress is a major impediment to creativity.

5. Learn your music theory

I don’t care how unappealing this seems. You might think that learning theory chokes your freedom or that it’s boring. However, if you don’t know what the rules around music are, it’s impossible to break them in a way which is both purposeful and well-executed. This applies no matter what genre you’re in. For example, my own personal foray into EDM was vastly improved when I started learning about cadence, a concept from choral music.

6. Steal from other songs

Now let me just clarify something before we go any further. I am absolutely not telling you to copy somebody else’s song in it’s entirety and try to pass it off as your own. That’s not songwriting, and you’re unlikely to get away with it for very long.

What you can do, is jot down interesting chord progressions, licks and lyrics. Playing around with these later, such as using inverted versions of the chords, trying it in a different key or modulating can lead to something brand new as the changes you’ve made will lead to a naturally different conclusion.

7. Use good notation software

Writing music by hand can take quite a while, and you can’t always check to see if it sounds right straight away. By using notation software, such as Sibelius, or if you can’t read music, just programming the notes into a digital audio workstation (DAW) can transform your songwriting process completely, as it’s quite easy to quickly change sections of your music without having to rewrite every single note.

Armed with these tricks, your songwriting skills will change practically overnight. It doesn’t matter if you apply all of them at once (although that isn’t entirely practical) or try them out a few at a time. Your own process is going to be a factor in this, so perhaps some of them won’t be entirely applicable. Don’t fret about this, just do the ones that feel ‘right’ to you.

Industry Navigation Tools for Songwriters

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by TuneCore Artist Skela. Enjoy her tips to better network, collaborate, and engage was an independent songwriter in the music industry!]

You have to work very, very hard for a just a little bit of luck in the music industry. There are so many beautifully talented artists in this world, and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by the idea of being one small fish in what feels like many oceans. Instead of being intimidated or striking up ugly green competition with your counterparts, use the multitude of likeminded artists around you to your advantage.

Songwriters are special creatures. We are spectators, empathetic beings, and constantly translating emotion onto paper. You may not know it yet, but one of your greatest strengths can be the ability to connect with others.

So do it.

Interact with the musicians around you. You may have written your best song alone in your bedroom, but it’s about more than that. Creating a long lasting career takes a village – or, people who support one another. Here are a few navigation tips I wish I knew in the beginning of my career:

1. There is no way of knowing who is going to be plucked from the bucket next.

Don’t cling to the cool kids. Don’t pursue people that you think are going to be the next big thing. Find the artists whose work you admire and connect with them. If you vibe with someone’s music, there’s a good chance you’re going to work well with them. Find your people, not your posse.

2. Go to your friends’ performances.

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t show up and support their music making peers. It’s important to show face because there is going to come a time where you need heads in a room and the favor returned. Also, buying tickets to concerts is what makes the industry go round. Most importantly, seeing someone in their element live is inspiring and always an opportunity to learn something new!

3. Never, ever stop writing.

If you’re going to be “something” in this world, then be the best damn “something” there is. If you’re going to call yourself a songwriter, then make sure you have an arsenal of material ready to work at any given time. You never know what session you might be asked to hop in on. Make sure you have it together so you don’t miss any opportunities to work with people.

4. Don’t burn bridges.

Again, you never know who is going to make it next in this industry. There is no foreseeable timeline attached to musicians so don’t write them off just because they’re not growing parallel to you. There’s a way to speak to people and a way to end relationships amicably. Lead a relationship by good example and leave the future open not barbed with past fallouts.

5. Speak up!

Just because you’re not a producer doesn’t mean that you should sit next to a producer in the studio silent. No one knows the sound you’re after better than you do. You might not know the technical aspect of how to create the palette and structure of a song, but you should know what it takes and be able to find the appropriate references and language in order to properly articulate your vision.

I know that working with producers can be intimidating. When I first started working with producers, I was just so grateful to be working with anyone at all that I nodded my head in agreement to almost everything. If you know what you want, don’t be afraid to speak up. The sooner the better, trust me.

6. When you know, you know.

Don’t force relationships. They should come naturally. It’s impossible to have a strong connection with every musician you meet. Take the session, try it out, and if it doesn’t work, both parties are going to feel something is off. Maximize your time by listening to your instincts when it comes to producers, songwriters and instrumentalists.

7. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

It is so easy to be jealous of others who are finding success in the music industry, but know that the people who are excelling probably worked extremely hard for their bite. It doesn’t come easy or without struggle. If one of your friends is finding success, it means that you’re surrounded by the right people. It’s a good thing when another musician starts to make traction. Your time will come because there is no expiration date if you don’t give up.

October News From Our Store Partners

By Stefanie Flamm

As everyone ramps up for the music industry’s busiest time of the year, both our store partners and the music publishing world at large have some exciting new updates:

  • Amazon amplifies their existing digital music platform with a brand new streaming service, specially designed to work with their Echo devices.
  • Kesha has dozens of releases in limbo as her legal battle with Sony and Dr. Luke continues.
  • Spotify defends their “freemium” price tier in the face of criticism from competitors and publishers.
  • The upcoming US election is more important than ever for songwriters and music publishers.

Amazon’s long-anticipated interactive streaming service has finally launched this month.


Yet another streaming competitor takes to the stage this month with the launch of Amazon Unlimited, an on-demand music streaming service developed to work in tandem with Amazon Prime. This service has been a long time coming, as Amazon launched Prime streaming for select releases on the Amazon Digital Music store a few years ago, but Prime and Amazon Echo loyalists have been especially excited for Unlimited’s launch.

Amazon is also posing a strong threat to other services like Apple Music, Spotify, and TIDAL. While Amazon Unlimited is priced at $9.99 /mo for its base-tier users, the pricing goes down to $7.99 /mo for Prime users, and even more for owners of Amazon Echo ($3.99 /mo).

The Amazon Echo also brings another potential advantage to Amazon over its competitors. While the new iPhone design will eventually render your $10 headphones useless, Amazon Unlimited is currently the only streaming service to offer a complementary listening device, integrated with their service right out of the box.

“The first phase of [streaming] growth was driven almost entirely by smartphones,” said Amazon Music VP Steve Boom. “We believe pretty strongly that the next phase of growth in streaming is going to come from the home.”

Amazon might seem a little late to the party, with Apple Music and Spotify both quickly becoming unstoppable Goliaths of music streaming, but Amazon does bring a fair share of weight with its new product. After all, it does have the unique advantage of being associated with the widely popular Amazon Prime. For the 63 million people already using Amazon Prime, the extra $2 a month savings may be worth it to make the switch over to Unlimited.

With their widely-anticipated launch, and exclusive streaming deals coming down the pipeline, it looks like Amazon Unlimited has already hit the ground running.

Kesha and Dr. Luke are back in the news with recent updates on their legal battle.


In recent weeks, the NY Times has pointed its spotlight back on the contentious lawsuit between Kesha and Dr. Luke. While the story has been in the news for some time now, their coverage has reignited a debate about one of the industry’s most complicated litigations to date.

For the last two years, pop star Kesha Rose Sebert (popularly known as Kesha) has been buried in an exhaustive legal battle with both Sony and her producer Dr. Luke (né Lukasz Gottwald) over the restrictiveness of her contracts. You may remember the #freekesha hashtag trending on Twitter a few months ago, when Kesha and Dr. Luke met in NY State courts to fight for Kesha’s right to abandon her contracts. And while this is one of countless lawsuits that have stemmed from artists being locked into governing contracts with their record labels, Kesha’s current struggle stands out.

Back in 2014, Kesha sued Sony and their subsidiary Kemosabe Records, asking to be released from the many contracts that obligated her to work with Kemosabe’s CEO and lead producer Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke is one of the biggest producers in pop music today, boasting a producer credit on works from Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry (to name a few). Kesha is under several contracts that bind her to working with Dr. Luke, including that he produce six songs on every album she releases. Her reasoning behind this request is that Dr. Luke has allegedly been emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive to her.

“I cannot work with this monster,” Kesha wrote in an affidavit in 2015. “I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way.”

In February of this year, NY State courts denied Kesha’s request for a judicial order that would end Kesha’s legally-binding professional relationship with Dr. Luke. Two months later, the same NY State judge determined not to pursue the claims further, due to reasons including Kesha’s sexual assault claims having passed the statute of limitations, lack of evidence, and Kesha’s claims that the sexual assault was a hate crime. Dr. Luke is now pursuing a countersuit for defamation, which is currently awaiting trial.

And that brings us to now. Kesha’s career has been at a standstill since she first took legal action against Dr. Luke, and as she has lost her case in both New York and California, there is no end in sight. In that time, Kesha has written more than 20 songs that she is legally forbidden from distributing without the permission of Dr. Luke.

“Kesha has been trying for six months to record and release new music,” Kesha’s attorney said in a statement. “Kesha still has received no commitments on promotion, songs or even a release date. We hope things turn around fast.”

It’s an extremely tricky situation for both parties, who refuse to budge on their initial stance. Dr. Luke’s reputation has been badly damaged, resulting in backlash from fans and low charting numbers. But it looks as if either of them dropping their cases would give the public the impression that they are admitting defeat or accepting responsibility, so for the time being Kesha is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Disputes like this are a great example of why it’s increasingly common for artists to choose independent distribution over foregoing their rights to a label. And like many artists who’ve been in a similar predicament (Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Prince, etc.), we’re likely to see Kesha insisting on a lot more control of her music once this situation is resolved.

Check out the NY Times podcast for more detailed information on the dispute.

Spotify’s Global Head of Creator Services goes on record to defend their services “freemium” price tier.


As music streaming becomes more and more popular for listeners worldwide, the biggest names in the industry have wide range of subscription models. While they are all fairly similar in terms of price, the way each store specifically shapes their subscription tiers and terms of use is unique. Especially as each new streaming service comes onto the market, it’s hard to ignore how much the subscription model dictates the culture behind each service.

For example, TIDAL and Apple Music are both available only to paying subscribers. The exclusivity of their service to those listeners who are willing to shell out as much as $19.99 a month has spawned a congruent exclusivity of their product. Beyoncé, Drake, Nicki Minaj, etc. have forgone more popular streaming services in the name of exclusivity.

The catalyst for this exclusivity? Freemium price tiers.

“Freemium” refers to a pricing model in which consumers can use a service for free, as long as they listen to periodic ad placement. The eventual hope is that they will become a paid subscriber, in exchange for removing the ads and adding additional features. It’s pretty simple: the store has to make money for both profit and royalty payments, so they earn that either through ads or through customer subscription payments. Freemium is separate from 30-day trials, which most subscription-only models offer before either billing you or locking you out of the service.

Freemium has received a lot of flack over the years because it’s said to lower per-stream payouts. “Consumers are blissfully ignorant, mostly content to endure a few ads to listen to unlimited free music,” said Taylor Hatmaker for The Kernel. “Considering how many people are sharing the pie, the ad-supported ‘free’ streaming model remain a bonkers excuse for a business plan, no matter how you slice it.”

Ask a lot of people in the industry, and freemium streaming is a bad idea. But in spite of that, Spotify stands firm that they will retain their free pricing tier for the foreseeable future.

From Spotify’s point of view, the advantage to a free pricing tier is clear: afford more listeners an opportunity to hear your music, and the royalty difference will balance itself out in ticket and merch sales. Unfortunately, since the era of pirating began, people don’t like to pay for music, and Spotify’s defense is a way of making lemonade out of 55 million lemons.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a world where everybody on the planet is going to pay for music,” Spofit exec Troy Carter said. “[A freemium user] may never convert to a paid subscriber…but they’ll be able to afford a concert ticket, they’ll be able to afford a t-shirt.”

In spite of criticism, Spotify doesn’t stand alone in this fight for free, ad-supported streaming. Martin Mills, Co-Founder of Beggars Group, stood behind Spotify’s pricing model, saying, “The use of free [price tiers] to transition fans from piracy to monetised has clearly been a success – very visibly so in markets particularly challenged by piracy. And the industry would be insane to throw that away right now.”

Streaming is still very new territory for the music industry, and while there are obvious flaws to the free price tier, freemium pricing still has its merits. And whatever you think of this, at the very least you can continue to stream the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to your heart’s content, free of charge.

In the wake of the most heated US Presidential election in history, music publishers and songwriters are more eager for Congressional reform.


As we draw ever closer to November 8th, it feels like all anyone in the US can talk about is the upcoming election. With two controversial candidates at the top of the ticket, tensions are high with talk of the future of the country.

However, for music publishers and songwriters, there’s far more to their ballots than just Trump versus Clinton. With over 450 Congressional seats up for grabs this year between the House and Senate, folks in the music industry are focusing their efforts on reshaping the Legislative branch.

As far back as the Clinton Administration, publishers have been advocating for policy reform to accommodate the digitization of music. In 1996, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed as an effort to reinvigorate some seriously out-of-date legislation, but this was only a tiny push in the right direction. The last time any major music royalty legislation was passed, we were still in the throes of World War II, so publishers and songwriters have justifiably been frustrated with the slow progression of licensing and royalty reform on the side of Congress.

For publishers, this election is an opportunity to win on several fronts, all surrounded by this outdated legislation. “Music creators today face extreme hurdles in their ability to seek a fair value for their work thanks to music licensing laws that have not kept pace with the advent of new technologies,” said ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “We need to modernise the 75-year old consent decrees that govern how ASCAP and BMI operate to ensure a strong collective licensing system. We need a set of laws that give the PROs and our songwriter, composer and music publisher members more flexibility to adjust to wherever the marketplace takes us.”

It may seem like there are bigger fish to fry in today’s political climate, but music copyright reform can’t change without the help of legislative support.

Want to do your part to help sway the US Legislative branch in favor of copyright reform? Check out the platforms for the Congressional nominees in your state here.

For assistance collecting 13 different royalties from around the world, check out TuneCore Publishing Administration.

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TuneCore Partners With Songs Of Love Foundation

There are plenty of ways in which people donate, volunteer, and give back to children and teens in tough medical, physical and emotional situations. For John Beltzer, nothing made more sense than music. What if these children and teens could be matched with a songwriter to get their very own, one-of-a-kind song to lift their spirits in a time of need?

It was this concept that led Beltzer to write his first ever ‘song of love’ to a five-year old cancer patient named Brittany at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis all the way from Queens, NY – and when he got a call from her thanking him for her song, the idea for his nonprofit foundation Songs of Love was born!

Since that fateful day in 1996, Songs of Love has reached close to 27,000 children in over 500 hospitals and health care facilities in all 50 states and throughout the world. The organization matches independent songwriters with children and teens, and Beltzer says the connections made between them is incomparable.

lance_songs of love“When the songwriters get letters of how much the songs have helped the kids it immediately validates who they are as songwriters,” he says. “This takes away any feelings a writer might have about failure. There is nothing more fulfilling for our songwriters than being able to heal a child’s spirit through a ‘song of love’. You might say that any ‘song of love’ a songwriter creates is a guaranteed hit!”

TuneCore is proud to be partnering with Songs Of Love as the foundation’s official digital distributor.

“The partnership between Songs of Love and TuneCore means that the whole world now has access to a whole new category of songs
with a genuine message of love and joy. Even though the songs are personalized, many people will be moved at each song’s intention

of bringing about healing,” remarked Beltzer. “Songs of Love and Tunecore are collectively covering the world with a healing blanket of soothing melodies. The partnership distinctly highlights the true healing power of music.”

One of the coolest parts about Songs of Love is how open and accessible it remains with an unchanging goal of brightening up young peoples’ day – from little known indie musicians to award-winning songwriters like Alex Forbes:

“Getting involved with Songs of Love was a turning point in my musical life. There’s something magical about the whole process. It sparks people’s creativity in a really powerful, heartfelt way,” says Forbes.

TuneCore is home to many independent songwriters who may want to use their talents to connect with young patients – and we’re strongly encouraging any interested artists to get involved today!

Just watch this video of a visit from Danielle Dugan, who received a ‘song of love’ from Tony Asher (songwriter of “God Only Knows” among other hits) after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at age eight in 2003. Given only six months to live, Beltzer was floored to receive a call just two years ago from a very much alive and healthy Danielle:

Sitting on literally thousands of notes, letters and cards from song recipients over the years expressing gratitude and warmth only drives John and his foundation to keep going. Just ask Siri Bream, Child Life Specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, VA:

“The healing power of music is huge, but the power of feeling validated, of being honored, of being important enough to have a song that is entirely all about YOU, gives our patients a sense of belonging in this world, a sense of hope, a renewed purpose and determination to LIVE.”

If you’re a songwriter who is interested in getting involved and learning more about Songs of Love, head over to the foundation’s website here. Be sure to catch the recent 20th Anniversary celebration that included the audience of a Paul Simon concert pitching in to sing and record the chorus to a ‘song of love’ dedicated to eight-year old Teddy Moore.

songs of love_teddy moore

TuneCore is looking forward to a bright future with the Songs of Love Foundation!

February Songwriter News

By Dwight Brown

The music industry is moving along and songwriters and artists are making it happen.  

Finally the “Happy Birthday” song controversy is over. A top songwriter, unhappy with a royalty streaming check, gets active. Spotify fights back against a class-action lawsuit. A who’s who of songwriter activists gather at the California Copyright Conference to get the word out.

There’s a lot going on for songwriters and music publishing. It’s a lot to digest.

‘Happy Birthday’ boldly takes steps into Public Domain Land

Indie filmmaker Jennifer Nelson has beaten Goliath. She filed a class action suit against Warner/Chappell for charging her a $1,500 license fee for using “Happy Birthday” in a documentary she was making about the song. According to Hollywood Reporter, “music publisher Warner will pay $14 million to end a lawsuit challenging its hold on the English language’s most popular song.” U.S. District Judge George H. King determined Warner and its predecessor didn’t hold any valid copyright to the song and never acquired the rights to the “Happy Birthday” lyrics.

Warner avoids fines for collecting licensing money for many decades. Around $4.62m of the $14m goes to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The rest goes to those who licensed “Happy Birthday” and meet the definition of the proposed class. King stopped short of declaring the song was in the public domain. However, Warner will not stand in the way of a judge doing so. “How old are you now?  How old are you now?”

Indie songwriter shocked into action over tiny royalty check

Indie-rock singer-songwriter Michelle Lewis was elated when her song “Wings” had nearly three million streams on Spotify. Not so happy when she got her royalty check. Lewis: “It was for seventeen dollars and seventy-two cents.”

Lewis and writing partner Kay Hanely sought advice from L.A. music lawyer Dina LaPolt, who specializes in songwriter issues. Their voyage of discovery and songwriter rights are chronicled in a very detailed New Yorker article, “Will Streaming Music Kill Songwriting?”

The article points out historical milestones:

  1. The Copyright Act of 1909
  2. The 1920s/’30s when broadcast radio’ s performance royalties were significant.
  3. 1941 when the Justice Department’s Consent Decree allowed Performing-Rights Organizations (collecting societies) to process the licensing fees for songwriters,
  4. The now outdated Copyright Act of 1976.

LaPolt makes some key points:

  1. Unless music-licensing system is overhauled, the songwriting profession will die.
  2. Members of the profession need a bargaining leverage (e.g. a union).
  3. Songwriters have to become activists.

LaPolt, Lewis, and hundreds of songwriters joined Songwriters of North America (SONA).  

Spotify dukes it out with a class-action lawsuit

Spotify responded to a lawsuit filed in December by Camper Van Beethoven and Camper front man David Lowery, who seeks $150 million in damages from the streaming service over alleged willful copyright infringement. Lowery’s suit arrived on Spotify’s doorstep just days after the company announced plans for a new publishing database designed to alleviate royalty payment issues.

In the Billboard article, Spotify raises questions and states the difficulties they face:

Q: What do you do when multiple songs have the same name?

S: Just having the title “Hello” is not enough to determine if it is by Adele, Lionel Richie, Evanescence or Ice Cube.

Q: How do you define the members of the proposed class?

S: Not administratively feasible for a catalog of 30 million-plus songs.

While Spotify spars with the lawsuit, Billboard sources say another class action suit is in the planning stages. Stay tuned.

Grassroots Advocacy Panel speaks out at California Copyright Conference

According to Chris Castle at Music Tech Policy, the activists at the #irespectmusic Grassroots Advocacy Panel at the California Copyright Conference had one thing in common: “All of their stories are inspiring examples of individual action. Blake Morgan took on Pandora and Big Radio and founded the #irespectmusic campaign. Karoline Kramer Gould joined Blake in supporting the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act and became an inspiration to all of us. Adam Dorn started SONA out of spontaneous meetings with songwriters who were confounded by the state of the industry. And David Lowery [involved in Spotify class action suit] started writing the Trichordist blog as a cathartic blog that has inspired thousands and is widely read.”

The activists came together to tell their personal stories. Inspiration turned to advocacy as they actively recruited. Follow them on Twitter through the #irespectmusic‬‬‬‬ and @theblakemorgan, @radioclevekkg @davidclowery @moceanworker and @musictechpolicy. Each is involved in a campaign for the fair treatment of all creators.

Artists and songwriters prove you can’t stop progress. A filmmaker topples a corporate giant’s royalty reign. Advocates fight for fair pay. All are making a difference in 2016. It’s a good time to have TuneCore Music Publishing Administration in your corner.

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Music Review Services: What's Their Place in an Artist's Strategy?

By Alex Horowitz

As many musicians know, there’s no shortage of services out there offering artists feedback on their music from unbiased sources.  Of course, that begs the question — just how useful are these services, and what role can they play in your development as an artist?

To better understand the potential value of music review services, we had two TuneCore employees, both part-time musicians in their own right, anonymously submit their music to TuneCore’s own Track Smarts service for review.  We’ll refer to them as Nick and Chris.

Let’s take a look at what our TuneCore friends learned from their reports.

Subjective Or Objective?

The reports Nick and Chris received were robust, containing metrics, charts, and, of course, individual fan reviews of their selected song.  Surprisingly, despite the increasingly important role data plays in the life of a music marketer, both our test subjects felt it was actually the completely subjective, individual reviews written by a random sampling of real music fans that offered them both the most value.

While at first glance this might be surprising — after all, we live in an age where data is king — it actually makes a lot of sense.

The data offered by their respective reports was largely designed to compile and quantify what the reviews were saying.  For example, Track Smarts utilizes what it calls a Passion Rating to quantify not just how favorably your music was reviewed, but how much fervor there was about your song by those that reviewed it positively.  The measurement provided a great way for Nick and Chris to quickly digest an aggregate of what the reviews were saying overall, but actually reading individual reviews actually offered an even deeper and more insightful understanding of how an average music fan was likely to react to their music.

Context Is King

I actually sat next to Chris as he poured over his Track Smarts report for the first time.  The comment I heard him mumble to himself the most?  Something along the lines of, “Well, yeah, ok, I knew that already.”

Chris makes a somewhat niche sub-genre of EDM which, though it enjoys a large and passionate following of devoted fans, would not be likely to find a home on the popular music charts in 2015.  Unsurprisingly, Chris’ music received a larger quantity of low marks than Nick’s from average music fans that just didn’t get it.

However, those that enjoyed his music seemed to enjoy it immensely.  In fact, those that liked his music the most even compared his work to, without knowing it, his favorite musician and biggest personal influence.  So, while the numbers that attempted to “grade” his music were lowered by his receiving fewer favorable reactions than he might have hoped for, what he actually learned from individual reviews offered him some measure of validation regarding the value of his music, as well as useful insights from those that are actually fans of his genre.

The takeaway here is that, as with any set of data, context is important.  If you’re trying to reach the top of the pop charts, the quantity of fans that find something agreeable about your music is likely a metric to which you’ll want to pay close attention.  If you’re dabbling in a more niche genre, be prepared for less people to understand your music’s value, and instead pay close attention to the comments you receive from those that get it.  The top-level numbers are important, but as with any set of data, the key is to contextualize what the data means for you in particular.

So, What Now?

The nicest thing a working musician could say about a tool in their marketing toolbox is, ‘Because I have this, I can tangibly improve my art or my career by taking this specific action.’  By that measure, in our little experiment, music review services have earned high marks, as both Nick and Chris were very impressed by the extent to which their reports offered specific points of feedback that will actually impact their artistic decision in the future.

For example, Nick learned from his report that for those that liked his song, his guitar riffs stood out as a key selling point of his music.  Nick had actually never made his guitar riffs his main focus, and is now likely to feature them more prominently in his live shows and recordings.

In Conclusion (A.K.A. “The Short Version”)

Didn’t read the whole article?  No sweat, here’s the gist: from the experience Nick and Chris had with these reports, our conclusion is that music review services can certainly have a place in a serious artist’s toolbox, especially artists still looking to hone their craft, so long as the artist is smart about keeping the findings from their report in proper context.  Be sure to not just look for scores and ratings and leave it at that.  Think about what your feedback means for your career in particular, and take some time to dive into individual reviews and look to trends or common reactions for specific useful tips that can improve your work.

With the right set of eyes, an objective opinion can go a long way in helping you grow as an artist.


Next Steps for TuneCore Artists

If you’re interested in TuneCore’s music review service, Track Smarts, you can learn more by clicking here, or view a sample report.