To ReverbNation or Not to ReverbNation?

When it comes to social media sites, ReverbNation sounds like the perfect site for artists and bands. After all, their tagline is even “Artists First”. However, the site may not provide quite the boost in fans artists are hoping for.

ReverbNation seems like a great place if you are looking to make connections to other artists, producers, and venues. However, nearly all of those people you would want to contact are on LinkedIn, and many are probably not on ReverbNation. The site also seems like a good place to put your music, but since ReverbNation doesn’t seem to be as widely known as, say, Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, or the Google Play store, you might as well use those instead (ReverbNation does have the capability to help you get your music on those, though!).

So should artists and bands even use ReverbNation? The answer is yes…and also no. If you are trying to use it to reach new fans? Probably not. If you are using it to make music industry connections? Maybe. If you are just looking for a few tools to make your life as an artist easier? Yes. ReverbNation does have some very helpful tools for artists, such as  digital distribution help, widgets for your website, a gig finder, and electronic press kits. However, for fan outreach, look more towards sites with a lot of traffic where fans are likely to engage, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

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The Perfect Demo

As time goes on it is becoming easier and easier to make a good demo for pitching. Now that doesn’t mean publishers are looking for demos ready for the radio, just something that shows off your song and your ability as a songwriter. A good demo should be clear, in time, on pitch and has potential to be turned into a hit.

Phone recordings are not the best idea because the publisher needs to hear each part of the recording with good balance. This means that the guitar/piano cannot out-shine the vocals. Using simple recording gear and overdubbing skills can help get the balance right so the publisher can easily judge your song.

You need to show effort with your song and have the song in time and on pitch. This helps the publisher see potential in the song with a recording that has been worked on and perfected. It doesn’t need to have a whole orchestra, but the instruments and vocals that are there need to be perfect. You can use a click track when recording to help stay on beat and do multiple takes and choose the best one.

If you show them an upbeat song recorded with just vocals and piano. That won’t work. The recording needs to match the song, helping the publisher imagine what that song could be when professionally recorded.

A good demo is the way to get noticed by publishers and by artists. There are recording studios out there that will help you get the perfect recording, but at home recording will work too. Make sure the demo shows off your song and shows what kind of songwriter you are.

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Hooks

Many catchy songs include hooks woven into them to catch the listener’s ear. The hook is the part of the song that helps the listener remember the song and want to hear it again. There is no wrong way to write a hook because there is no recipe for a hook. The only thing that qualifies a part of a song as a hook is that it is catchy and easily remembered.

A hook can be either a melody or lyric that catches the listener’s ear. It is often found in the chorus, but it doesn’t always have to be there. It can be a repeated line at the end of verses, a distinct sound or a melodic introduction. A good hook catches the ear of the listener and makes them want to hear it again.

You know you have a hook when people you share your song with want to hear it again or starts singing that part a week later. Hooks are found in most songs that are topping the charts, write a catchy one and your’s could too.

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Promoting Your Songs

The hard part of the music industry is the promotion of your music especially when you are doing it alone. There are many ways to promote your music especially with the technology of today.

Social media is a main way to promote music. To grow your platform, you will need to post multiple times a week. Common posts will attract more people to your page, but be careful and don’t post too frequently.

Ideas for posting is pictures of you working on music, clips of your music, clips/pictures of you performing and lyrics. Anything that will give the hint that there is more music or performances coming.

Starting a YouTube channel for your music is also important. Post videos of behind the scenes or acoustic versions to help get a bigger audience. Also make covers of popular songs that can show off your voice.

Streaming is the main way of making money with music, especially today. Try to get your music on as many platforms as possible and post the links on all of your social media. Another way of getting more people listening to your music is by getting your music on playlists.

Live performances is another way to get exposure to your music. Perform wherever you can, coffee shops, streets open mics, anywhere. Try to find new audiences that would enjoy your music.

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What you should bring to a co-writing session

  1. At a songwriting co-write session, you should be open. Co-writing is teamwork and you need to be prepared to take criticism and incorporate the other’s ideas.
  2. Be vulnerable. Songwriting is sometimes therapy for people and when co-writing you need to be vulnerable even thou it can be hard. Try to create a trusting and comfortable environment for the co-write.
  3. When going into a co-writing session you need to be prepared. Bring a book of song ideas and recordings of melodies to help kick start the session.
  4. In addition to being prepared, you need to know your co-writing partner. Know their strengths and weaknesses and listen to some of their music before the session.
  5. If you are writing with a certain artist in mind, know that artist. Listen to their previous songs and know their style, vocal range and genre.
  6. Figure out the royalty share before you write the song. In most cases it is 50/50, but in some negotiated cases, the percentages are different. Don’t be greedy, even thou you may feel you did more work, you wouldn’t have written the same song without them.
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Rhyming Lyrics

Rhyming is a very common and useful literary device in songwriting. It is a way to help your song flow and sound more connected. Rhyming is also useful for keeping your listeners interested in your song.

For songwriting, rhyming is useful for keeping you, as a songwriter, on your toes. It helps keep you creative by holding you in a literary trap to keep the pattern going. Rhyming helps songwriters come up with new and interesting ways to explain/say the same thing.

There are many different ways of rhyming not just the familiar sing, wing and way, say. Here are 10 different ways of rhyming!

  1. Assonant Rhyming: rhyming vowels, not consonants. (tip, limp and bowl, home)
  2. Consonant Rhyming: rhyming consonants, not vowels. (bell, ball)
  3. Eye Rhyming: Look, not sound. (move, love and food and good)
  4. Head Rhyming: Same consonant at the start of a word. (blue, blow)
  5. Light Rhyming: One rhyming syllable is stressed. (frog, dialog)
  6. Near Rhyming: The final consonants rhyme, but not the final vowels. (bent, rant)
  7. Rich Rhyming: The words sound the same but mean different things. (break, brake)
  8. Semi-rhyme Rhyming: there is an expat syllable on one word of the rhyme. (mend, ending)
  9. Syllabic Rhyming: The last syllable rhymes. (beaver, silver)
  10. Wrenched Rhyming: Rhymes a stressed with an unstressed syllable. (caring, wing and lady, bee)
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When Should You Write?

Songwriting is a skill that you build as time goes on. You don’t just sit down and write a number one hit, you need to be ready for when the inspiration hits you. So, to be ready for that inspiration, you should set aside five minutes everyday, just to write.

Most songwriters that I look up to give the same advice, which is to try to write everyday. You don’t have to write a song a day, just write everyday. You can write a poem, a journal entry, imagery exercises, a verse and more. You can use pieces of your random writings and build a song from that. It is a way to become a better writer and come up with more ideas.

Think of songwriting like a muscle. You can’t just lift 100 pounds, you work up to that. Just like how you can’t just sit down and write a song when the inspiration hits, you have to be ready for when it does.

I challenge you to start a habit to write everyday. I don’t care what you write, just work your writing muscle and see what you come up with.

Check out some of the songs on this website.

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Showing vs Telling: Lyric Writing

Showing and telling are two storytelling techniques used in songwriting very often. Showing is the act of showing the listener what is happening and using imagery. Telling is when you tell the listener what is happening or how you feel straight forward.

Showing is more common in songs than telling because it helps the listener understand the story. Imagery is how songwriters show the listener what is happening. For example, Ed Sheehan “A Team.”

“White lips, pale face
Breathing in snowflakes
Burnt lungs, sour taste
Light’s gone, day’s end”

Right in the beginning of this song he shows you what the person he’s talking about looks like, the time of year, what the person is doing and the time of day. He could say sickly girl, winter time, smoking and night, but to make it more interesting he finds a more complex way to get the message through by showing.

Telling isn’t any less interesting, but it isn’t used as often. Usually songwriters have a pattern of showing and telling by having three lines show and the last line tell. For example, Lori McKenna, Jeremy Spillman and Travis Meadows’ “Pontiac.”

Pontiacs and daydreams, cigarettes and magazines, backseats full of memories, I can’t let go of

One song that only tells is “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat for example:

“I’ve been awake for a while now
You’ve got me feelin’ like a child now
‘Cause every time I see your bubbly face
I get the tingles in a silly place”

As you can see she tells you everything she wants you to know including how she feels and what is happening.

Ways to practice this is to practice free writing. Choose a topic and write a paragraph about it in as much showing detail as you can. You can use what you come up with in songs.

Check out songs on this website for more examples and reach out to Robert Braathe.

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Mechanical vs Synchronization Licensing

There are many different types of licensing for music, but I am going to focus on the two most important ones for songwriters. These two include mechanical and synchronization licensing.

Mechanical licensing is a license that a person gets when they want to record and release a song by another person. In this license they are given the rights to make copies of the song and release the song to the public for a percentage in royalties. The percentage is negotiated by the publisher or it is the US statutory rate. The US statutory rate which is 9.1 cents for a song under 5min and 1.75 cents per minute for songs longer than 5 min. You can get a mechanical license from either Harry Fox Agency or the publisher of the song. Harry Fox Agency is a provider of mechanical licenses and a royalty distributor to publishers. The royalty percentage there is usually the US statutory rate.

Synchronization licenses or sync licenses are for video recording. This is the license needed when using a song for a YouTube cover video or movie. In exchange for a percentage of royalties, you get the rights to make a copy of the song and put the song to video. These are handed out by the song’s publisher only with a royalty that is negotiated.

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Chord Progressions

Every chord progression is used over and over again throughout all genres and styles of music. There is no being unique when coming up with a chord progression for a song, but there is a way to make yours more interesting.

First, changing how long you stay on the same chord can help. Sometimes I change a chord each measure and have that repeat throughout the song, but this can cause the song drag. You can change chords after one or two beats or you can stay on a chord for a few measures. Changing this up can help keep your song interesting when writing it and when people listen to it.

Another way would be changing your chord progression in different parts if the song. You can keep a chord progression for the verse, but have a completely different one in the bridge or chorus. This helps the listener identify different parts of the song.

The final way to help make your chord progressions more interesting is with using non chord tones. This helps keep the listener engaged in the song. A non chord tone is a chord or note you use in the song that is not in the original key. You can use this in the melody or chord progression and it adds a lot to the song.

Check out the songs on this website and reach out to Robert Braathe for more information!

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