Switch Up Your Writing

Writing one way can cause writer’s block and make you lose motivation to write. Switching up how you write can help keep songwriting interesting. There are many ways that you can switch how you write and gain more motivation to write that next hit song.

First, you can switch up where you write. Writing in the same area gets boring, so going outside or finding a different scenery could help you out. I like to write in my room, but whenever I get stuck on what I’m writing, I like sitting on a bench outside. Changing the scenery I’m in helps me a lot when writing.

You can also change how you write. Instead of lyrics first you can try coming up with a chord progression or melody first. This can help challenge you and your ability to song-write while keeping it interesting.

The final way to help you get inspiration to write is co-writing. Co-writing is one of the most important part of songwriting. Most hits come about when multiple minds come together and bounce ideas off one another. Finding someone who fills indoor weaknesses as a songwriter would be best. Find someone who can write good melodies if you write lyrics or the other way around. This helps keep your writing interesting.

As you can see there are many ways to help you stay motivated to song-write, you just need to find what works for you.

Check out some of the songs on this site and reach out to Robert Braathe for more information.

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Cons of Self Publishing

Self Publishing has many positives, but there is always another side.

Publishers do a lot for their songwriters in exchange for the rights and 50% of the royalties. They are the ones who collect the royalties from PROs, draft licensing agreements and do all the other grunt work so you can focus on writing your songs. If you do not have a publisher, yes, you get 100% of the money made, but you also have to do all the work.

Publishers are also responsible for promotion. They pitch your song to the radio to get it played and put your song out there to get recorded by artists. If you choose to publish your own songs, then you will have to build a professional network and pitch your songs.

If you get so lucky to get a deal with a publisher, they may offer you an advance in the contract. This is so you have some financial security in the beginning of the contract while you are waiting for royalties to come in. Many songwriters pick up side jobs while they wait to be able to live off of songwriting.

Check out my previous blog to get the pros of self publishing!

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Why You Should Self Publish

When you self publish a song that you wrote means that you own the song 100%. When it comes to sharing your song with the world, mechanical license royalties, licensing commissions, and performance royalties goes to you. To clarify, if we look at a song’s ownership like BMI, you can own up to 200% of a song. 100% writer’s ownership and 100% publisher. If you had a publisher the royalties would be split usually 50/50 between the owners, unless another agreement was made.

Another reason self-publishing is great is because where your song ends up is up to you. When someone wants to get a mechanical license to record and release a cover, then you have the option to say no. You get to control who uses your song and where you song is used.

You are also not tied down to a deal with a publisher. These deals are usually exclusive, meaning you cannot work with other publishers for however long the term may be. Also, most contracts have you give the copyrights to your song to them.

Come back next week for the cons of self publishing to learn more!

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Songwriting Forms

There are many parts to a song, they include, an into, an outro, verses, a chorus and sometimes a bridge. A song does not need all of these parts but having a mix of different parts can make your song more interesting. 

An into is the beginning of the piece and it is usually instrumental. An outro is at the end of a song and it gives a conclusion to the song. This can be instrumental or repeat important parts of the song, like the first line or parts of the chorus. 

The verse is usually a repeated melody with different lyrics but can have repetition and the melody can change to fit the lyrics. This is a part of the song that really furthers the story and adds information. 

The chorus is surprisingly not always in a song, but when it is, it is the most important. This is usually a repeated section of lyrics and melody that really attracts the listener to the song. The chorus is the part of the song that typically has the hook or title of the song. 

The final part of the song is the bridge. This is not always used, but when it is it has a great impact. This is a different part of the sing that introduces a new melody and lyrics. The bridge furthers the story and helps keep the listener engaged when nearing the end of the song.

 These parts of a song can be mixed and matched to create different song forms. The simplest song form is strophic or AAA form that is just a verse repeated with different lyrics. Another form is ABAB which is Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus and if it had a bridge instead of the final verse, then it would be ABAC. There is no bad song forms, but it is very important to choose the right one for each song. 

Reach out to Robert Braathe for more songwriting opportunities!

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Songwriting and Copyright

There are common headlines covering music each year involving copyright. These headlines occur when artists or songwriters have traits in their songs that are similar to another person’s song. How do you protect your songs? Well, once a song is placed in tangible form, you are granted the six exclusive rights. These rights include:

  1. Reproduce and make copies of an original work; 
  2. Prepare derivative works based on the original work; 
  3. Distribute copies to the public by sale or another form of transfer, such as rental or lending;
  4. Publicly perform the work;
  5. Publicly display the work, and
  6. Perform sound recordings publicly through digital audio transmission.

This means that to be protected by law you do not need to register your songs for copyright. 

If someone violates your copyright, then you will need to register your song(s) with the U.S. Copyright Office to take legal action. You will be able to send a cease and desist letter or sue, but if you registered your song after the infringement occurred then you will only be able to sue for profits and damages, not legal fees. 

The best time to register your songs for copyright is before you perform or release them publicly. There is no need to register your songs if they are sitting in a journal, but once they get out to the world having that extra protection is very important and worth the money. 

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“We Should Write Sometime”

Collaborative songwriting has become very important in music today. Many hits are written by multiple talented songwriters who may specialize in different areas of songwriting. As a songwriter, I consider myself a good lyric writer and melody writer, but it is helpful having someone else to bounce ideas off of. 

“We Should Write Sometime” is the “tinder” of co-writing. It is a free app that uses the swipe-left and swipe-right idea to pair you up with songwriters in your area. You enter in information including links to songs you’ve written, PRO affiliation and strengths in songwriting. You swipe through the list of songwriters and can find people that you would like to write with. If you match with another songwriter, the app will put you in contact with them and you can start writing.

If you don’t know any musicians and would like to gain experience writing with others, “We Should Write Sometime” is a great app to help you get started.  

If you would like to write with someone, please feel free to contact Robert Braathe! You can check out his songs on this website.

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Combining Different Genres in Your Songwriting

One thing about being a songwriter that I have learned is the importance of listening to a wide variety of genres. There is no one right way to write a song just like how there is no one way that music should sound. Learning about different styles can be helpful when trying to write your next hit. 

I am a music industry student and took my first songwriting class my sophomore year of college. This class really helped me write songs by examining different genres like blues, country and rock then trying to write a song in that genre. Even if the genre is not popular today and not something that you enjoy, writing in that genre or examining some songs from that genre could be helpful. All songwriters strive to be unique, so using different genres in your music could help you stand out from the rest. 

Try listening to a few songs from a certain genre and figure out what makes them fit into that genre. Then, try writing a song in that genre or use a few of the characteristics you found for a new song. 

Check out some of Robert Braathe’s songs on this website!

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The Importance of Performance Rights Organizations

As a songwriter there are many specific ways to get paid for your work. Having a performance rights organization helps by paying you and your publisher performance royalties. A performance includes live performances and a recording being played at the mall or on the radio. Venues pay a blanket license fee to be able to have access to the songs in the PRO’s catalog. Having this access means that they are able to play a recording of your song or have live performances done. 

PROs only collect performance royalties. Royalties from mechanical licenses and synchronization licenses are collected by you (if you are self-published), your publisher or the Harry Fox Agency (mechanical only). 

PROs include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SOCAN (Canada) and more. BMI is the only PRO that does not have paid membership, but they all include different benefits by being a member. Benefits include discounts, memberships and opportunities to learn and share music.

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How collaborating with a lyricist can help you grow as a songwriter

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One of the greatest rewards of working with professionals is learning from their experience. If you are someone who wants to polish your songwriting skills, you should join MuSourcing as a collaborator. Even if you have not written a lot of material, you can join the team and learn the art of songwriting.

Collaborating with someone can help you find out their unique approach to the same process. Songwriting is an artistic process. Robert Braathe, lyricist of the band Fresh Oil and Chips, has written around 100 songs which can be found on MuSourcing. Not all songwriters get ideas the same way. Robert says, “The best ones seem to come in one sitting.” Songwriters also have different approaches to the question of what comes first. Words or melody? Verses or chorus? Robert answers, “Usually the verses. Sometimes the melody but it usually is the words.”

People have different places where they get inspiration from. Robert gets inspiration from friends, people he meets or observes. Collaborating with someone can introduce you to different topics or open you up to write about different topics that you had never thought of before. Your approach to getting started on songs might vary, however, collaboration can introduce you to many other approaches that you might find even more helpful.

Lastly, it is not impossible to start learning songwriting. Robert started writing lyrics professionally in his 40s. It is never too late to start learning anything. If you have an interest in songwriting and want to improve and learn from someone with experience, join as a collaborator at MuSourcing!

Fill out the contact form below to join:

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Hang Out In Your Head by Fresh Oil and Chips

a blues song

Lyrics by Robert Braathe, Vocals and Music by Brian Huff

When did you decide to hang out in your head?
You want to confide but you play like your dead
Was it something he did to you or instead
Have you decided to just hang out in your head?

When did you decide to lay down in my bed
You want me by your side but you lay there like your dead
Was it the way that I loved ya or the liquor instead
Have you decided to just hang out in your head.

When did you decide to burn down that homestead
You lit up the fire but you blamed it on the dread
Did you light up the flames or did the tears that you shed
Make you decide to just hang out in your head

She fills up your little mind
When she’s drinking up on that wine
Don’t fall into the pit with swine
Don’t let it fill up your mind

When did you decide to hang out in your head?
You want to confide but you play like your dead
Was it something he did to you or instead
Have you decided to just hang out in your head?

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