Virtual Songsalive! Workshop: The Proactive Songwriter

As I write this, I have a browser tab open and am chatting with a new friend in Norway. 

Haakon Rian "mAncient" Ueland is a healer, monk, and musician. We met last night as part of Songsalive! Inaugural Virtual Song Sessions. With the current Coronavirus restrictions, Songsalive!, like many organizations is conducting virtual meetings. I'll get back to the above mentioned chat in a moment.

Summary: The Proactive Songwriter

Last night I covered: The Proactive Songwriter - which amounted to a casual discussion on some of the tools and strategies I recommend for artists. The night started with several artist presenting songs for critique. A few technical challenges were worked out in real-time and once the flow was established, it went pretty smoothly. I'm sure Gilli (songwriter, coach, and founder of Songsalive!) will have the next meeting running even more smoothly.

Here is a summary of topics covered:

  • Tools everyone should have:
    - Gmail address for Google Drive, Docs, apps, Google Keep
    - Cell phone: use voice recorder and/or video app to capture song ideas. Upload these weekly to a Google Drive folder.
    - Notebook: Again, move ideas weekly into Google Docs.
    - Website: It's about you. Using Reverbnation or Soundcloud is NOT the same.
    - I host with SiteGround, I run on WordPress, and I use SiteOrigin plugins for design features. Note: SitGround and SiteOrigin are unrelated.
    - I also covered the 7 Step Roadmap for Songwriters.
  • Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
    - Your muse is a fickle bitch. Don't wait for inspiration, do the work and your muse might show up.
    - Song ideas: Ask "What if?"
  • Do you write lyrics or music first?
    Both/and. I used to write chord structures first - riffs and progressions. The lyrics would follow based on the feel. But, as with my book, I realized that you could be more prolific by writing to themes. 

    I use a combination of methods. I have dozens of musical ideas, recorded as audio or video, stored in a Google Drive folder. I have hundreds of lyric snippets. Most have been moved into a single catch-all Google Document or, when more developed, their own Google Document. I store them in a folder called, "Songs in Development".

  •  Better Rhymes
    - Don't add a rhyming word that does not fit or belong in the song. Just because you have a line involving a dog, does not mean you need to include a frog, hog, or "take a jog" in your song. You are better off writing the final line and re-working the previous line that is prompting the "lazy" rhyme.
    - Rhymes are not precise. We talked a bit about RB Morris' song, "That's How Every Empire Falls" Note the following stanzas.
    "Oh gentle hearts remember
    What was that story? Is it lost?
    For when religion loses vision
    That's how every empire falls."

    Yep.. lost and falls is a perfect rhyme for the song.

  • Critics versus Critique
    You invite critique and only from trusted advisers who cheer your work and success. NEVER NEVER NEVER spend time on the constantly negative critic. You know who these are. The can be friends, family, etc. Your success and development is NOT what they are interested in. In fact, stepping out on your own will always result in "friendly input" that is always meant to stifle. Don't get angry. Don't argue. Block them without fanfare or remorse.

That was the primary areas of conversation. I was asked a few questions. Someone asked about my videos - where I include the lyrics for songs. I explained that I use Corel VideoStudio Ultimate but that there are numerous options in this area. Corel's product is simple to use but simple is relative. I find applications easy to adopt and my needs are simple. However, if you are NOT used to learning new apps, you will go through some frustration. It is unavoidable but necessary.

Chatting with Haakon (Norway)

I commented during the chat that we often overlook how amazing technology is. Here were 29 or so songwriters from all over the US and beyond. We talk in real-time, share stories, songs, and similar goals and desires. Haakon reached out privately and this morning (afternoon for him) we talked about his goals and the work he does. 

He has several areas of interest and, I believe, this probably makes it challenging to pick a single lane and go with it. I can relate with painful empathy.

This week I want to work on:

  • Recording music
  • Creating some video stories
  • Programming
  • Writing
  • Blogging (like this)
  • And..... (there is more)

No easy answers here.. just sharing the reality.*
* And why I never really have time for TV.

But most important is the idea that, regardless of where we find people, the wants, desires, challenges, goals, etc. are common.. share experiences. Being human is shared trait that crosses borders, language & accents, and upbringing.

My God! That sounds so hippy/cliche. But it is true enough.

I'm looking forward to more virtual connections. And who knows, maybe get to grab a coffee, glass of whiskey, or play a song in person (Norway sounds cool) with my new friend.

Take this rambling set of ideas and create something today!

Posted in Blog, music, Music Business and tagged , .

One Comment

  1. Very much enjoyed your Guest Speaking presentation for LA Songsalive last night! You kicked off our FIRST virtual meetup giving us all much food for thought. Thank you Matthew Moran for a memorable virtual evening! You, Gilli, our members and Songsalive absolutely ROCK! 😊🎵

Add your thoughts here! You know you want to...