Why You Don't Need Songwriting Tools!

shutterstock_332723636.jpg

 

Hopefully I “made ya look”. I’m all for tools so let me explain.

You’re a songwriter and you’re no doubt looking for the best information you can find. From the internet, from coaches, workshops, songwriting retreats and everything in between. There is a wealth of great info out there. Tools over rules, hopefully you’ve come across this excellent bit of advise.

That Guy

So what am I talking about? I’m talking about That Guy. The one who’s learned just enough to be dangerous and just enough to hold it over you in a co-write or a conversation. You know the saying “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?” That’s The Guy. He’s learned just enough tools to become one! 

From the Urban Dictionary definition:

Tool: (noun)

Someone whose ego FAR exceeds his talent, intelligence, and likeability. But, of course, he is clueless regarding that fact. He erroneously thinks he is THE MAN!

Maybe you’ve put that idea out there in your co-write and he tells you lots of reasons why that’s just not done.  Usually That Guy has taken useful tools and turned them into his own rules for songwriting.

I coach songwriters all over the world and I can spend lots of time undoing what That Guy’s done. I’ve even talked to writers who have been close to tears after working with That Guy who go away thinking they have no business writing since they don’t seem to follow the gospel according to …That Guy!

If you’ve been doing this for any amount of time you know that there is no one way to write. If there are any rules, well, there aren’t any that can’t be bent or broken. And that’s where tools over rules comes in. When I coach writers I’m hoping to give them hard earned tools and wisdom, things they can try on any given writing day to help them along. In the end it’s all about them turning these tools into inspiration of their own.

Lethal Weapons

In the wrong hands the best tools become a lethal weapon. Growing up my Dad and brothers could build anything, amazing with tools and always seemed to know the right ones to use. Me? Not so much. The same tool in my unskilled hands was just an instrument of destruction. To this day if my wife (who is great with tools!) will see me pick up a hammer and say “here let me help you with that” … and take it away from me.

So what can you do? If you’re in a co-write, on a social media board or wherever you find That Guy, just shine him on, don’t be intimidated. Follow your path, seek out the best tools from a master craftsman and use ‘em. Just don’t become one!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

 

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

Are You A "Precious" Songwriter?

 iDoCoach.com blog

iDoCoach.com blog

Can’t Let Go

Comes up in my coaching from time to time, I talk with songwriters who have a very real fear of sharing their work.  Some to the point of it making the co-writing experience miserable and even some who can’t get to the co-write because they just can’t let it go. “It” being that lyric idea that might feel too personal or a melody that they’re afraid might be given to the wrong co-writer, never to return.

Some think of it as writer’s block, but I’m not buying it. Without fail, if I can get them to share the idea with me, there’s something good there. Maybe just a start but always worth putting it out there in a writing session. But they haven’t. They're stuck.

Easy to think just “get over it”, “what's the worst that can happen”? But the truth is it’s hard to bare your soul to another writer. I get it. But…you have to.

So What Are You Afraid Of?

  1. My idea is crap!
  2. They’ll take my idea and turn it into something I’ll hate.
  3. They’ll laugh at me.
  4. No one else could possibly understand me.
  5. No one will ever want to co-write with me again!

The bottom line is you can’t be precious to the point of keeping your songs to yourself and expect to get better at this. Maybe co-writing isn’t your thing and that’s ok but you still need to let someone hear what you’re writing or show your lyric to them, if for no other reason than to connect. I don’t feel art exists very well in a vacuum . Yes you might run into one of the 5 fears, you might run into all of ‘em but there are some things you can do to avoid them.

Find The Good

First and foremost, seek out good people to work with. To quote my friend Ed Hill’s current country hit, “most people are good” and so are most songwriters. Find ones that are on your same level, same path. Joining songwriting groups can be a great way of losing your fear of sharing. Sometimes by just hearing other writers talk about their process you gain insight into yourself. You’re not alone, not by a long shot. Try to meet with a potential co-writer before you show them your ideas. Have coffee, have a drink, get comfortable so that when you do share, you feel safe.

When I started writing songs it was all on my own, I didn’t know anyone else who wrote. I thought it was a magic trick and I imagine, (it was a looooong time ago!) I was pretty proud of myself with these first few songs. Then you begin to branch out, play your songs to friends and family but eventually you realize they love everything so…you play out. I formed bands and would try and sneak one of my songs into a set made up of all the cover songs the club owner demanded. You start to get feedback and some of it is even constructive:-) but you get your ideas out there and that’s the deal. 

Trust

Maybe the biggest motivator for me was when I started writing with writers I admired. Sure you learn, but you also find they’re just as scared of the 5 points as you are from time to time and that helps. Now you begin to come up with ideas that aren’t crap, your co-writer takes your idea and makes it better! You share a few laughs, they “get” you and…you write with lots more songwriters. 

Sharing your song ideas might still be a leap of faith but you’ll do it and you won’t be near as precious. Trust me.

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

 Mark Cawley iDocoach

Mark Cawley iDocoach

 

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

 

 

Are There Still Songs In That Old Guitar?

 IDoCoach Blog

IDoCoach Blog

 

I got my first real six-string

Bought it at the five-and-dime

Played it 'til my fingers bled

Was the summer of sixty-nine”

                                  Bryan Adams “Summer Of ’69”

More like ’65 for me but the same memory. Mowed lawns to buy a Cortez bass, killed my fingers but I had to have it. I spent the first few weeks walking up and down the same street in Endwell, New York with the bass (no case) slung over my shoulder hoping Mary Spring would come out and ask me if I was a musician. Didn’t happen, and for the best too, as I couldn’t play a note yet.

 With my 2nd purchase, a Hofner Bass circa 1966

With my 2nd purchase, a Hofner Bass circa 1966

 

Fast Forward

Forward, well, a whole bunch of years and I’m reading this article about Guitar Center being a billion dollars in debt. This quote, “A report released last year by the Washington Post revealed electric guitar sales have plummeted over the past decade from about 1.5 million sold annually to just over 1 million. The two biggest companies, Gibson and Fender, are in debt, and a third, PRS Guitars, had to cut staff and expand production of cheaper guitars”, the report said.

And this…

“Most of what’s really selling today is rap and hip hop,” said George Gruhn, owner of the Gruhn Guitars shop in Nashville. “That’s outpacing other forms of music and they don’t use a lot of recognizable musical instruments.”

I’ve got nothing against Rap and Hip Hop and I think anything that inspires is valid. But I have to be honest and say this article brought a tear for something I worry will be lost forever. 

Hard to imagine. Now I’ve written with drum loops, tons of samples, ProTools and Logic, love my MacBook Pro and every app I can find but I always come back to my guitar. Its a tactile thing. I can feel it. I can take a Tele, plug it into a Vox AC30 and make some serious noise. I can still grab a Gibson J200 and get lost for hours. I know if a song sounds good on my guitar chances are pretty good it will hold up. 

The owner of Mugzey Music in Canyon Country, spoke to the shifting demographics:

“Rock is almost dead,” he said. “It’s almost nonexistent. And with guitar there’s almost no one to look up to anymore – no one to get you to want to learn. I have three or four guitar students who are about 12 to 14 years old, and I told one of them she should find someone in her class to play guitar with. She said, ‘No one else plays the guitar, and people think I’m weird because I do.’

Wow…how did we go from “Clapton Is God” in the 60’s to this! John Mayer, John Lennon, Pete Townsend, Bonnie Raitt Jack While, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Mark Knopfler, James Taylor, Susan Tedeschi, Eddie Van Halen, Keef, The Edge. Weird?

Power To The Weird!

And then theres this article, 12 reasons why chicks dig guitar players:-)!

 Early 80's with my pawn shop Jazz Bass circa '68

Early 80's with my pawn shop Jazz Bass circa '68

I’m no guitar God but I do know that the guitar has been my constant companion. Its probably responsible for most every lasting relationship I’ve ever had as well as my partner in crime for all these years. I can't count how many I've had  ( and how many I wish I had back!). I subscribed to the old songwriter joke that we sell guitars when theres no more songs in 'em. 

There is really nothing like imagining an idea while trying to find the right notes and chords with this thing on your lap. It’s a communicator and it doesn’t matter what language you speak or even how well you play it really. Three chords and the truth as they say.

My Hope

So here’s hoping those young ones, guys and girls, get weird , have bloody fingers once in awhile and make music.

Here’s the whole article from the Los Angles daily News Business section.

P.S. Something that always gives me hope for the future. I do some judging for Belmont Universities music events every year here in Nashville and as soon as I get near the campus I'm seeing tons of young adults with guitars on their backs. When the weather is nice you can see them in groups trying out songs with ...guitars!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

Songwriting Contests, What's In It For Me?

 IDoCoach March Blog

IDoCoach March Blog

 

Don't Judge Me

First of all, a disclaimer. I’ve been a judge for lots of them over the years. I’ve been one of a panel of judges for the UK Songwriting Contest (one of the biggest) the past few years as well as events for the West Coast Songwriter’s Association, Belmont University, Nashville Rising Star and many more.

Whats In It For Me?

So…as a songwriter, what’s in it for you? In a word “traction”. If you’re an up and comer you can raise awareness, put it on your website, mention it in the press and in connection with your gigs if you play out. Will a win change your life? Doubt it. Do publishers, producers and artists pay attention to the contests? Depends.

I haven’t seen one yet that offers life changing dollars for that big win. We’re not talking publishers clearing house or the lottery here. Usually some welcome gear, maybe some cash and in some cases even a single song contract.

As with anything you spend your money on, check out everything you can before you spend! Who’s behind it? Check the history of the judges as well as the people who run it. There are some bad ones out there. There are even ones who, in very small print, will own the publishing rights to winning songs. This is not a win folks. You want to hold on to that publishing with both hands for as long as you can.

The Good News

American Songwriter Magazine, Billboard, ASCAP and BMI, USA Songwriting Contest, UK Songwriting Contest, The West Coast Songwriter’s Song Contest, Nashville Rising Star are just a few of the ones that are great and can all offer some major traction both in their own use of social media coverage and the ability for you to do the same. Again, it’s about traction.

I coach writers all over the world and have had some major success with my clients not only winning but coming in at all major levels and some diverse categories. Believe me, even placing in a contest that has 10,000 entries can be just the affirmation that will keep you writing. My clients have won The John Lennon Songwriting Contest, local contests, WCS and this year alone, 3 winners in diverse categories in the UK contest. I’m proud to play a part in  their development but I try to caution them that this is just a stepping stone . 

My 2 Cents

What advice can I give? Choose your contest wisely. Don’t just enter every category you see. Number one, it can get pretty expensive and number two it’s just not the most productive way to get a result. I do talk to writers who have sent in as many as 20 songs in various categories. That’s a desperate move and again, $$$$$$!!!

Read the information carefully on each category.  Is your song better suited to Adult Contemporary than Pop? Alternative than Country? Love song than the Open option? Be really objective with your entry. Does performance matter in the category you’re going for? Demo quality?

Lastly, and it’s a biggie, be gracious in defeat. I've seen some pretty rough posts after results have been posted. “My song was 10 times better than the one that came in first”, “I sent in 10 songs and not one even placed” and my least favorite “all these things are fixed”!! Well, I’m a judge for some and if the fix is in, I’ve been left out :-) Seriously, the major ones are not fixed. I know many of the people involved and they are simply trying to help writers get better and get noticed.

Anytime art is subjected to voting or opinion you’re gonna get some public outrage and I get that. Contests are imperfect but if they can help you get noticed or just give you that bit of acclaim you need to write the next one then I’m all for ‘em.

So, do your homework and if a contest is for you, enter and good luck!!!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

 

MARK CAWLEY IDOCOACH

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN.

 

Songwriters: When The Muse Goes Missing

 iDoCoach.com

iDoCoach.com

 

My article was first published in Songwriter Magazine UK Winter issue 2017

Reprinted with their kind permission

 

When The Muse Goes Missing

It sucks, you sit down to write, you have the time, you have the will, you have the tools and…nothing. Nothing for hours, nothing for days. You beat yourself up and the critic takes center stage. “How did you ever come up with anything in the first place?” “What makes you think someone will actually want to record your song?” “You call yourself a songwriter…really?”

Lots of names for this, probably the most familiar is writer's block. You’ve  also heard writers refer to their “muse” usually talking about it as if it were a woman who provides inspiration. Great when you’re in a relationship with your muse and ideas are flowing but what do you do when the muse goes missing?

Be Prepared

First of all I would say if you’re depending on inspiration in the form of a muse you’re already in trouble. You may be inspired sometimes and come up with something that feels almost like you were guided but the truth is if you plan to do this as a career you can’t depend on the muse being around  24/7. 

So what do you do? You prepare. You prepare for the times that you want to write but don’t feel that divine inspiration. Great when inspiration shows up but you can get old and poor waiting!

Take Note

Over the years I picked up lots of tips from writers and artists I’ve worked with about this subject and ways to deal with it. For instance, deciding to be intentional in your search for lines and titles. Things that could make their way into your writing at a later date. Wandering down book store aisles, watching tv and movies with a pad a pen waiting for that one great line. Taping the smallest of ideas, snippets of melodies, conversations, anything that might take the place of the muse for a day and get you writing.

Keeping a running list of lines, titles and ideas and keeping it nearby can get you unstuck and the truth is, if you like something enough to write it down or record it in the first place there might just be some magic there that you can tap into later. Thinking of your path as a writer's life instead of a day at a time, more like a marathon than a sprint, can begin to ease the pressure of a bad writing day. It’s hard enough looking at a blank piece of paper but if you’re waiting on your muse to show up to get you going it can be a loooooong day.

Tool Up

Try using some tools to get you unstuck. Switch instruments, try creating your melody away from your instrument, deconstruct songs you love, spend a day just listening, immersing your self in one artist. Once you decide this stuff is every bit as valuable as the days in front of your computer, keyboard or guitar it actually starts to be freeing. Less pressure. I might not be telling you anything you don’t already know but putting these things into practice and perspective is the deal. It’s a revelation to find that the muse is just one of the tools available to you as a songwriter. 

I promise if you focus on learning more and more tools, the next time the muse goes missing you might not even miss her!

 

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in this edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

 

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

How To Be A Songwriter With A Mission

 iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

 

2018 and you’re getting tired of reading articles about resolutions, new leaf turning and goal setting. Probably even goes against some of your creative, spontaneous makeup. 

I’m gonna suggest 2 different versions of these practices. A mission statement and attainable goal-setting.

On A Mission

Big companies have them, small businesses have them. Here are a couple examples.

Life is Good: "To spread the power of optimism”

Warby Parker: "To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.”

And…Starbucks: “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

All great but what I’m suggesting is coming up with your own personal one that relates to your songwriting. It should be simple, short and clarify your passion and philosophy.

Not easy to write but the more you can define and distill just who you are as a writer the better choices you tend to make. Can’t be everything to everyone so..who are you? 

Having your own mission statement to reference along the way is a terrific tool for any artist or songwriter.

You’re in the business of you and you need to know your business!

Small Bites

I like to ask songwriters about their goals before I start coaching them. The main reason is a hard one to hear because they may be unrealistic. I don’t mean they will never reach them, only that they need to accomplish smaller goals to have the best shot.

“My goal is to be a staff writer in Nashville making 100K minimum.”

“I see myself writing for major artists”

“I want to travel the world and write”

And an often heard one, “I just want to be able to quit my day job.”

These are great goals but without smaller, more attainable ones the frustration may kill ya first! I urge writers to set goals that are attainable in the very near future, celebrate them and re-aim. We all need affirmation in this business and creating a few goals that you can make is one good way of measuring your progress.

A Few Ideas

Set a goal of creating a simple webpage for your songs so people can find you. Decide to attend one major workshop this year and…gulp…network! Decide to seek out 5 classes this year, maybe not even all to do with songwriting but stretch your creative muscle.

5 Thoughts AS You Start The New Year

Ask yourself these from time to time, especially starting out this new year.

1. What do I want?

2. Why do I want it?

3. How will I get there?

4. What tools will I need?

5. Where am I now?

 

OK, maybe 1 more thought for 2018

An old Irish New Year’s wish.

“May you get all your wishes but one, so that you always have something to strive for!”

 

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2018. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

 

IDOCOACH.COM

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Being You

 iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

This is reprinted with permission from Songwriter Magazine UK. My article appeared in the Fall 2017 issue.

In the Beginning

When we all start out as songwriters we imitate to the best of our ability. You know the old adage “theres nothing new under the sun” well, in a way I buy it but…I also believe it’s what you do with those clone songs over time that makes all the difference .

I coach writers from all over the world and one of the common traits I find in the beginning is they tend to write the next Ed Sheeran song, the logical followup to Beyonce's last single or   a song that brings to mind Elton John or The Beatles. Again, we all do it, we are our influences and we should embrace and celebrate them…and then put ourselves into the creation.

No Clones!

Years ago I remember a song of mine being critiqued by my then publisher who said “ this is great but we already have a Joe Cocker”. I admit it set me back a bit. My song was every bit as good as some of Joe’s classic’s in my mind but here’s the rub. He was right. Great artists aren't looking to repeat themselves. Sometime labels or managers are wishing they would and in fact, will even ask for that in song searches but in the end a great artist is constantly moving forward. a Clone just won’t cut it.

I learned this the hard way for sure. Once I had a publishing deal I finally has access to someone who could actually get my song heard by the powers that be. I was ready. When I got the call to write something for someones next record I did my homework. Studied the kind of language they used in past hit’s, the tempo and production style, the key the artist favored and on and on. And I got soooo close time after time. The happy part of the story is these songs sometimes got cut by another artist . Not the name I was shooting for but the fact that the song was good was good enough to appeal to another artist, usually in the same vein as my target artist. 

Epiphany

The epiphany for me was one day , in Nashville getting together with my two favorite co-writers Kye Fleming and Brenda Russell to write for a few days. All of us had had some form of success but we also had war stories of getting songs on hold for some of our favorites only to have them fall through at the 11th hour. We sat down that first day and said “let’s just write for ourselves, forget what a publisher is asking for or what we think an artist will love, let’s just write something we love. So for those two days in Nashville we just wrote. We brought elements of each of us into the room without a thought other than to see if we could get each other excited. We did. To the point of hugs and tears and running ti the nearest studio two do our little demo. To spare you all the minor details it made it’s way to the very artist we had all been shooting for for a few years, Tina Turner. At the time a mega star. This song sounded nothing like anything we had ever heard her do much less like one of her recent hits. At the end of the day we saw her interviewed on Oprah talking about how she found the song to build her next album around and what it meant to her. The song was called “Dancing In My Dreams” and the album was called “Wildest Dreams, going on to sell over 6 million.

And In The End...

The lesson? All those songs we learned to imitate and deconstruct years ago went into our DNA as writers and we trusted those influences to come out AND and it’s a big AND…we put ourselves into it and trusted that if it moved us the chances were better of it moving someone else. I know for me that was a huge moment and changed the way I wrote. Many of the cuts I got after that came about from the same philosophy , I had to love it first. A side note, same thing happened with Joe Cocker for me a few years later. he cut a song that I would never have written if I’d been trying to write for him.

Information Into Inspiration

One of my favorite talks I’ve heard was one that John Mayer did at Berklee a few years back. he talked about the importance of studying the greats as well as the craft of songwriting but not stopping there. he called this part “Information”. He went on to say that “information without inspiration falls flat”. When it gets good is when you put yourself in it and in truth thats your best shot, to be a product of your information but to also be original, be you!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here.

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

MSC.jpg

 

IDOCOACH.COM

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

Songwriting Contender or Pretender?

 iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

Are You A Songwriting Contender...or Pretender?

In my coaching, this is one of the first things I try to figure out before taking on a songwriting client.

Before anyone can take offense let me say that not everyone writes to win. Some writers write for the pure love of it! They want to get better at it by acquiring more tools. I love working with that kind of writer just as much as the kind who want the awards. They aren’t pretending.

Where it can get a bit sticky is if the writer is fooling themselves. Maybe they want the perception of being a songwriter; or adulation, or money…whatever the notion, they’re focused more on the 10,000 dollars then the 10,000 hours. This is what I mean here by pretending.

Be Honest

If you’ve been thinking about pursuing songwriting, be honest with yourself. Do you want to make it a career with everything it takes to commit? These days you are contending for an ever-shrinking piece of the pie, and for every ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC award winner there are thousands who will never get close. But…if you’re in it 1,000%, committed to finding every way to improve, to be heard above the noise? Sooner or later you might not only be in the game but you actually might win a few.

Back to the point about being honest with yourself. Might be in the beginning or somewhere along your road, but look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re pretending or contending? Based on your answer,  you can decide how to move forward.

The Contender

I always think of the Tony Arata story about coming to Nashville with high hopes, parking his car in the drive and not even unpacking the U-Haul before heading to the Bluebird Cafe late show. After hearing some of the best he decided he was a pretender and would head back the next day. Overnight he changed his mind and, over time, dug in. He wrote The Dance and many more hits.

If you think you’re a contender, go for it. If you’re pretending…just don't!. " Fake it 'til you make it" doesn't apply.

P.S. Check out this video of Tony Arata, years later back at the Bluebird :-)

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Image: Shutterstock

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 iDoCoach.com

iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

 

What Are The Best Things About Being A Songwriter?

 iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

I coach songwriters all over the world and one of the ways I like to see what they’re talking about is through joining songwriting groups on Facebook. If you haven’t already, I would recommend doing a search through Facebook and joining them all. Some good insights, lively conversations and you may even connect with a co-writer.

You’ll run into some of the same problems you find on any social media, occasional  negativity and a term I just heard on Nashville sports radio this week…”keyboard courage”. All in all, still worth checking out.

Some of these conversations have given me good food for thought and there was a post this last week asking “what are the advantages of being a songwriter”? I decided to change it slightly to “what are the best things about being a songwriter”? So, here goes.

My Background

A little bit of background first. I didn’t choose to be a songwriter, it chose me! Started out in garage bands  in upstate new York, finally record deals and touring and once other people started recording my songs there was no turning back. I’ve had hits, misses (lots of misses!) great times, hard times, got to travel the world and work with lots of my idols along the way. I’ve raised a family, lived in Boston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, London and for the past 22 years, Nashville, Tennessee. Songwriting was behind all of these moves.

So, my top 5 favorite things about being a songwriter:

  1. Freedom. Freedom to express yourself, write what you sometimes can’t say, freedom to travel, freedom from 9-5. This is one you have to earn through hard work and determination but you know that already. No one pays you in the beginning! 
  2. Relationships. Most every great friendship in my life has been a direct or indirect result of my pursuit of a songwriting career. 
  3. Travel. I’ve mentioned it a few times already but worth saying again. Music can open you up to the world. Co-writing with artists and other writers has taken me to places I never could have imagined growing up in Syracuse. I’ve written in castles in France, hotels in New York, studios in Los Angeles, music row in Nashville, Stockholm, and more far off places than I can remember.
  4. The buzz. I hope you’ve felt this from your own writing but for me, it never gets better than that moment you feel like you’re doing exactly what God put you on the earth to do. You don’t know how you got from that bit of inspiration to hearing something you’re a part of and if it gets out into the world from there and maybe inspires someone else …that’s perfection. 
  5. Character. I struggled to find a way to explain this but here are a few thoughts. Facing a blank page, trying to conjure  up some magic, dealing with an enormous rejection, trying to stay afloat, stay current and relevant, keep friendships, marriages and a roof over your head while you try to focus and even keep your head on straight after some success and do it again and again, you better believe this will build some character over time.

 

Some Final Thoughts

 

If you’re focused on security, money or stardom you’re in for a rough ride. There will be more people telling you you're crazy, self centered and maybe irresponsible in the beginning. People can be cruel and sometimes jealous along the way. Truth is you don’t need those people. There are plenty of like minded souls to help you on your path, seek them out at every turn. 

Lastly, songwriting doesn’t have to be life and death, doesn’t even have to be a career choice. If it makes you feel good, do it. If you want it to be your life then treat it with respect and work at it every day. It will will reward you beyond measure.

 

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Oct 26, 2017

 

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

 

MARK CAWLEY IDOCOACH

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.

Songwriting for Broadway, Movies and Superstars, Meet Eliot Kennedy!

 Eliot kennedy l, with Bryan Adams

Eliot kennedy l, with Bryan Adams

Eliot is one of my best friends in this business  as well as one of my favorite co-writers. We've written some great songs together including the #1 hit "Day And Night" for Billie Piper. Eliot is an award winner, Uk based, writer and producer with credits ranging from writing the songs for "Finding Neverland" on Broadway, Grammy and Ivor Novello winner and more. Check out this link to his full bio, pretty impressive!

Awhile back I was getting ready to do some workshops in the US and UK ( including Sweetwater Music's Gearfest) and asked some of my favorite songwriting  friends if they would answer a couple of questions for the attendees. Wanted to share them with you here so...meet Eliot Kennedy.

Eliot Kenney Interview for iDoCoach

Check out Eliots full bio here

if you'd like to stay up with iDoCoach including receiving the latest blogs and my favorite 7 Toolbox tips here ya go!

http://idocoach.com/email-newsletter

I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for Fall 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

Update Oct 17, 2017 The best Offer I've ever made. Sign up for my 4 session option before Nov 1st, 2017 and save $100. New clients only and can be used as a gift. Here's the sign up link!

http://idocoach.com/four-session-package-new-client-offer

Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!

About Mark Cawley

 Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.