While My Guitar Gently Weeps...

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

 

 

You’ve probably been reading some great articles and blogs, watching videos and re-discovering some favorite music these past few months. Me too.

Every time we lose a music icon they top the charts one more time and we weigh our own personal loss. If we loved them enough it's like a piece of us died with them. Bowie, Haggard, Lou Reed, B.B, Glenn Frey and now Prince. They aren’t making more of these and it hurts.

 For me it started with Brian Jones of the Stones and then the "curse of being 27" thing. Hendrix, Kobain, Joplin, Morrison.  Over time, Lowell George, Michael Jackson, Roy Orbison, Cash…and of course there was Lennon. Lennon was a stunner. I was living in LA and remember just shutting down when I heard the news. It’s a well-worn line but we all lost some of our innocence that day.

This week I’m doing what I’ve done too many times, going to a guitar and just playing. Maybe a song will come out of it. Happened before and even recently with a song Kye Fleming and I wrote called “What Would Lennon Do”. It’s how we express grief even after all these years.

If you're a songwriter I’d urge you to channel that energy and honor your influence. I think the beauty of it is through playing their music and letting  a little of their creative blood mingle with our own, we keep the best of them alive and with us. 

I know I can’t hope to reach the level of pure genius of a Prince or have the impact of a Lennon, but trying helps me to heal.

This performance is worth one more look. One crazy gifted artist honoring another. George Harrison song, and Prince's solo sounds like a prayer.

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 the Summer. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

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. 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. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for the UK Songwriting Contest, Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting, Songwriter Magazine,  , sponsor for the ASA, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.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 A Songwriter Hears And What It Really Means

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

 

I was coaching one of my favorite songwriting clients this week, and some interesting questions came up. Not the kind that have easy answers. More the kind that I have to think about for awhile and usually dig into my own experience to come up with something to say.

We were talking about the kind of comments that come up when you play songs for other people. People in power, people you know, people who know people…all people you want to love your songs, of course! This writer is working hard, getting better by the week, and absolutely determined to knock down doors. You might be in the same place. Nashville, New York, London or just making the every-so-often trip to a music center to see where you stand.

Putting Yourself Out There

Sometimes you get the lecture when all you really want is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A state of the music business lesson when you’re really just dying for a little encouragement. An “it’s broke” when you want to know how to fix it! Hopefully you're getting constructive criticism but you also may be hearing some comments or critiques that leave you a bit confused.

A bit of a disclaimer here, I'm one of the ones who may hear your song at a workshop or online and I promise you I try hard to make sure whatever comes out of my mouth is the truth as I know it. So do the majority of writers, publishers and producers who put themselves out there. But sometimes the truth is time is limited and you may not get the answer you're looking for.

So...here are some things my client heard recently followed by my interpretation based on years of meetings but still, just my own opinion.

 

What She Heard:

 

  1. “I love this! Not for my artist but for someone, it’s going into my special drawer. The one I go to find that one unique song that fits that artist I’m looking for.”

  2. “With a few minor fixes this could be great!” They may suggest some changes, but when asked if you can send them the edits they decline.

  3. “Call the next time you’re in town!”

  4. “This would be a great country pitch if Nashville were actually still cutting country songs.”

  5. “This one sounds like where the market should be heading, you’re a little ahead of the curve right now.”

  6. “You’re a little behind the curve right now.”

  7. “This is very cool…but...I already have writers signed to my company that I can’t get cut!”

  8. “I think you’re at that stage where you need to ‘write up’.”

  9. “This might be a hit, but I need a career song.”

  10. “ I like it...I just don’t LOVE it.”

 

What It Means:

 

  1. They might really mean it as a compliment, it’s too good to dismiss but not something they can place. The flip side is I’ve heard this even from my own publishers on occasion but I also know the sheer volume of songs coming in usually makes this a real long shot.

  2. Can be a bit of a kiss off. True, some people (and I’ve been one of them) do critiques with the best intention but just don’t have time to hear the updates. I still like to think if they really believe it’s a killer song in need of a few tweaks, they'd like to hear the edit and then pitch it.

3)   Again, use your own judgment if you get this response. May be polite or may be a ‘keep trying but I’m not willing to invest right now’ deal.

4)   Hmmm…some truth but there are real country songs creeping back into Nashville thanks to some great new artists. Most write their own but a great song, is a great song despite the current state of the charts.

5)   Might be a sincere comment but a smart song person will grab on to potential so this may fall into the ‘keep trying’ bin.

6)   Kinda like the last point but a bit tougher to take!

7)   Well, this one is often the truth. Think about it. If a publisher is invested in their writer they don’t need to bring in songs that are very similar in style.

8)   Usually a compliment but it’s easy to go away thinking “Yeah, of course that would be great but how?” This is a whole ‘nother blog but it is possible!

9)   Two ways to take it. A ‘no’, or know that the person you’re hearing this from really is on a mission to find that “Girl Crush”-esque song.

10) Man this one is tough, eh? Been there many times. Your song ticks all the boxes but just doesn’t stand out enough to make that person want to run with it. Truth is, your song needs to be unique to stand out from all the ones this person has been hearing from established writers. It’s hard but not impossible!

If you’re hearing any of these, don’t let them discourage you for a even a second. Weigh the info and the source, and if you’re hearing the same things over and over,  decide how to take ‘em to heart and dig in and by all means... don't shoot the messenger!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

March 25, 2016

Photo: 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 the Fall/Winter 2017. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

 

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. 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. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for the UK Songwriting Contest, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting, Songwriter Magazine,  , sponsor for the ASA, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN. 

 

 

 

 

Taking Control Of Your Songwriting

Imagine… Finally taking control of your songwriting!

Reprinted from my article for Amecian Songwriting Compitition 3/16


Here’s the idea. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Great inventors never wait for the world to discover them, they discover things the world needs or at least, the world’s interested in.   
The business model of songwriting has changed and continues to evolve. Where can you fit in? Chances are this hasn’t been part of your creative journey, maybe it hasn’t had to be but what if it were?
What if you match your song with another art form? Rather than waiting on that publishing deal or for your song to be found you get pro-active?


Before you groan too loudly I’m not talking about writing for the advertising world although it’s not a bad idea. What if your song is a match for a project or a product or even a campaign but the powers that be don’t know it? You can be the matchmaker.


For instance …
I have a songwriter I’ve coached that wrote a very cool song about coffee. She didn’t write it for Starbucks but why not reach out to them or any number of caffeine related products and see if your song can be a part of someone’s bigger vision? She has been putting it out there and getting a great response. Nothing to lose. Hasn’t landed yet but…it might and by being the writer, owning the publishing, she gets on someone’s radar and can even be more flexible than a standard publisher might in getting a usage.


Another friend and client in Australia sent me a song called “Stephen Hawking Wants You To”. I urged her to look for any projects involving Stephen Hawking. This was before last year’s movie about him. She reached a UK film company who had just done a project about him but now has a dialogue to send lot’s of her songs for possible film use.


Another for instance.
Kye Fleming and I wrote a song about a year ago called “What Would Lennon Do”. We weren’t asked to write it, didn’t think it had commercial hit written all over it, just wrote it to express ourselves. Rather than let it sit we started thinking…big. Who might want this to be a part of their message? It’s a song of peace so we reached out to the UN. Sounds far fetched? You’d be amazed at the people who are open to a good idea. It reached all the way to the secretary of the UN. They are still deciding how best to connect it . We kept thinking. We also reached out to Amnesty International and they are in the process of creating a charity single with their artist board.

So many artists are being found though mediums other than records. Someone has to have the big idea, make the connection. Why not the songwriter?


My point is your song might be someone’s solution. Thing big, think waaaay outside the box and pitch your own song. Waiting on the world to hear you or waiting on that publisher to do the work for you is getting harder than ever. Not only that but most of the best and most successful songwriters I know have always pitched their own ideas. They might have a great publisher but they didn’t alwayswait for them to come up with the best idea. They became their best promoter.
By creating a vision you’re taking control of your songs, you’re taking control of your career and, the buzz you may get fromconnecting your vision to someone else’s can be bigger than you ever imagined. 
Control equals freedom and freedom feels great!

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

3/11/16

Photo: Reprinted from American Songwriter Competition article

 

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 the Spring. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

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. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for the UK Songwriting Contest, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting, Songwriter Magazine,  , sponsor for the ASA, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN. 



 

 

A Songwriters Map

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

You've no doubt run across the term 'writer's toolbox'. I've been at it a long time, and my toolbox is pretty crammed with things I've picked up along the way from co-writers, artists, authors, publishers, and friends. Tips filed away for when I need to find a fresh approach to songwriting. Lots of them were not originally intended for writing songs, but when you adapt 'em it could be the thing you need that day to get unstuck.

MInd Mapping

One of my go-to's is a technique called 'mind mapping'. I've brought it up to writers in coaching who know it through business as something else, but it's basically the same principle. You create a map over time, with all points leading to the destination. 

Here's how my version works. I like writing from a title so let's have a little fun with it and say my title is I Murdered My Ex With an Axe. (Some songwriting workshops will tell you your title should never be more than 5 words...but humor me).

Stick It Good

Either on a white board or (my favorite) one of those large yellow sticky notes, put your title right in the middle of the page. Circle it. 

Take the board or sticky note and put it somewhere where you'll see it often. Kitchen is great, maybe the bathroom! I always put mine somewhere other than where I normally write. Away from instruments and computers.

Leave it there until it fills up. Anytime you go by it, or you find yourself coming up with something that relates to the title, add it to with an arrow pointing toward the title. Leave lots of room for lots of arrows.

For instance; using my title I might walk by, look at the big circled title and think, 'a guitar is called an axe sometimes', and just write the word "guitar". Always with an arrow pointing to the target: the title.

Take Your Time

Don't try and fill the page in a day. Let your subconscious play with it. Anything and everything is fair game if it connects to your title. I've had some up for a month or more! Two days later you walk by in the morning and think 'murder was too good for her', another time 'no jury would convict', the next week on the way out the door, 'Axe = Acts, as in a book in the Bible'. You see where I'm going. It can be anything at all, nothing's too crazy. Just fill the page.

Pat Pattison has a terrific idea in one of his books on writing better lyrics. He talks about finding words that are "in the key of" your idea. That's another way to look at this, things that are in the family of, or relate to your title. 

Again, give your subconscious time to kick the title around, no deadline. Just add as something comes to mind. When the page is full, pull it down and get to work. I know you're gonna find a bunch of arrows that will help you map the route to your lyric. 

There are no rules when it comes to using your toolbox. Just a case of finding the right tool for the job sometimes. Mind mapping is a great way to have a little fun and take the pressure off when you're feeling like you've lost your way with your lyric.

Here's a link to an app that provides a simple approach to the same idea called "MindNode".

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

The picture above came from my friend and writing client Dave Henneberry, showing a few that he's currently working on.

Mark Cawley

2/22/16

Nashville, Tennessee

Photo: Shutterstock

Mind Map Photo: Dave Henneberry

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 the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@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. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, New England Songwriter Search , West Coast Songwriting events, a contributing author to the USA Songwriting Competition and Songwriting Magazine, a judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music Competition, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.

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 Write A Hit Song

iDoCoach Blog

iDoCoach Blog

This article was written for Songwriter Magazine and appears in thier winter 2016 issue. It has also been featured on USA Songwriting Competitions web site.

Even as I sit down to write this, I can hear the groans. “Who is this guy? How can he claim to know how to write a hit? And if he knows, how come he hasn’t written a ton of them?”

So let me back up. No one can guarantee a hit. No label, no producer, no artist, and no songwriter. Max Martin misses, Diane Warren misses, Ryan Tedder misses. They all miss more often than they hit! There is no formula. But there are things you can do to up the odds of your song getting heard, cut, and (if all the stars align) becoming a hit.

Look Around You

Start by doing your homework. Listen to the hits and look for patterns. Are you hearing lots of songs about affirmation? Songs that say ‘I wanna see you be brave, stronger, beautiful, happy’? Songwriters have long understood that one of the quickest ways to a listener’s heart is to lift them up with your song. There’s a fancy term for this called ‘second person positive,’ which basically means writing lyrics that make someone else feel great about themselves. A classic example of this it would be the Joe Cocker standard, You Are So Beautiful.

I’m in Nashville and every publisher, artist and producer right now is asking for ‘uptempo positive’. The reason for this is the sheer volume of ballads and midtempo songs they get: for some reason, when a writer gets in the room with an acoustic guitar or a piano they turn into Ed Sheeran or James Taylor. It can be hard to create the energy required unless you plan for it, but again, your chances of getting that hit improve by giving the powers that be what they’re asking for.

One of the very best ways I know is to get in the habit of deconstructing recent hits. Go beyond just learning to play them: write down the structure, print out the lyric, make notes about the production. I’m always amazed at the songwriting clients I get who will say they want to write a huge song, but who pay absolutely no attention to the current hits. If you’re writing pop or even new country and still creating long intros, lots of verses, using only one hook, and aren’t familiar with terms like ‘post-chorus’, you might have a harder road.

Try going one step beyond deconstructing and create a playlist with a couple of hits along with a song of your own. Try to pick ones that might have a bit in common with yours, but the idea is to be objective. Does your song hold up to the two hits? If not, why? Go back to your notes. What’s different? The point is not to clone, just get this info into your subconscious so the next song you write is at least informed by structural ideas that are more current.

Do It Yourself

A bit of a disclaimer here. Even though you’re listening to the radio and learning the structural and lyrical as well as musical content, the songs you’re hearing were probably written and recorded as much as a year ago. If you set out to write something exactly like what you’re hearing, you’re likely already too late! So what can you do now?

Try and take it all in and then add yourself to the mix. What makes you different as a songwriter? Can you bring something fresh to your songwriting? You could argue there’s nothing new under the Sun, but I would disagree. Music goes in cycles, styles change, old becomes new every once in a while. Our job is to tap into a listener’s head and create something that a whole lot of people are gonna love at the same time. 

It’s not easy, but the chances get better by not only honing your craft, but learning what came before (even if it’s only a month back). It all goes into your toolbox as a songwriter and gives you the best chance of writing a hit.

Team Up

Finally, I want to talk about the biggest obstacle to writing that hit on your own. This is something that comes up in my sessions all the time: people say to me, “I look at the writing credits on a Beyoncé song and see six writers! How can I hope to be heard, if I’m not part of one of these writing crews?” It’s a tough one. But keep in mind, not every song is a hit by committee!

There are two ways to go to access this route. One is to create your own team. If you’re a writer but have no aspirations to produce, find someone who’s interested in production and work with them. If you’re a writer but not the artist, look for local talent; find someone with star potential and hitch your wagon to them. Hit songwriter Liz Rose co-write with Taylor Swift when no one else really wanted to know, and that worked out rather well for her… 

The other route is to join an existing team. I just read an interview with Dr Luke in which he talked about signing writers to his publishing company, usually for their unique talent. Anything from track-builders to vibe masters that know how to get the most out of co-writing with an artist. The point was they gained entry to the writing process, and some have moved from being the fourth writer on a song to producing artists and co-writing with them. I did this for a few years, working with Eliot Kennedy and his hit machine Steelworks in the UK. By getting access to the artists he was working with, I got cuts on many of them, including the No 1 single Day & Night by Billie Piper.

Again, there’s no magic bullet for writing a hit... but you can definitely educate yourself to get your best shot. Good luck!

Mark Cawley

1/13/16

Nashville, Tennessee

Photo: 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 the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

 

idc-homepage-image.jpg

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, New England Songwriter Search , a contributing author to the USA Songwriting Competition a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.

Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN. 



Grieve In, Breathe Out, Dream On

iDoCoach

iDoCoach

 

Dream big

If youve been writing songs for any amount of time, you know by now: youre gonna subject yourself to some of the highest highs and lowest lows imaginable. I know were not talking life and death here, but...if dreams have a life, then maybe we are.

You could already be at the point where your songs are being heard by the people who can actually make some of those dreams come true or maybe youre doing it yourself; playing live, making records. Either way you dream big. You wouldn't have it any other way. The idea that something could start in your head and make its way to someone's heart, create memories, help, heal, or just take them away for awhile is the stuff Im talking about.

Its the kinda thing family and friends might think is cute while youre waiting for your real life. But you know better. Its the most real thing in your life. You need to write to breathe.

When every star aligns and your song gets cut and other people actually get to hear what you hear, its the most surreal and amazing moment outside of the birth of a child. Its big, big life and you can be forgiven for wanting everyone to feel what you feel. I've been blessed to have a few of those moments.

And... if youve been doing this long enough at that level there can be another part of life that comes in uninvited. Death. Death of an idea, a hope, or a dream. And it hurts. Feel like you flew too close to the sun. Sound dramatic? Maybe to those friends and family, but you know better.

Good grief

 You learn how to grieve. You dont find a way to get over it, you learn what you have to do to get on with it.Some writers never do. Theyre the ones who tell you how the business sucks, how unfair, fixed, broken and backward-thinking all the players in it are. I think if you reach that point the well hasnt just run dry, its become poisoned. 

Those feelings always scared tme to death. Anything but that guy. Lord knows its hard enough to succeed in art but without the ability to dream? Its impossible.

iDoCoach  

iDoCoach

 

You never get used to disappointment, but knowing it when you meet it and knowing how to deal with it is a great tool for a songwriter. It's easy to celebrate, grieving is hard!

My story

 A few months back I was inspired to write a melody after picking up an Epiphone Casino, the type John Lennon played. It seemed to lead me down a familiar road all on its own. Didnt write it for a project, publisher, artist, or with any thought of making money. I didnt have an idea for a lyric, just the melody and vibe. I did something else inspired that I wouldnt normally do. I had my buddy Bob Britt put together a track before there was a lyric because I felt it would make the idea come to life. At that point, I gave it to my favorite lyricist and close friend Kye Fleming with the feeling she would get it'. She got it, and Kevin Savigar in LA finished the demo. We all loved it but werent sure where it belonged, only that it was a message worth hearing in these times. 

Forward to two weeks ago. The song found a home with Amnesty International who passed it on for one of their artists to perform on the John Lennon Tribute Concert last Saturday, to be a part of the AMC broadcast ( thanks Kenny Aronoff) and be a single the day after. Producers agreed, contract done, one HUGE dream about to come true. Except it didnt. Here's the postmortem I wrote:

The song 'What Would Lennon Do' that Kye Fleming and I wrote has been on some kind of journey! We found out about the John Lennon Tribute concert in NY this Saturday and with the help of some amazing friends we not only got Amnesty International to sponsor our song, but the concert to give us a slot for an Amnesty artist to perform on Saturday, for the AMC special on the 19th and as a single after the show. It's been given to Bono, Sting, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Bryan Adams, and even Yoko in the last few days. Long, long story and journey short, Amnesty has been unable to get one of their artists there on Saturday to perform it so far. Bono is still a long shot as is a filmed performance by Bryan Adams.They basically ran out of time with the short schedule and busy season for these artists. So, thanks and look for it to be a part of an Amnesty project in the next few months. Kye and I have donated all proceeds and Amnesty has been awesome. Disappointed as you can imagine, but there are big plans for this in the new year!

Believe me, this one hurt

Sure I could put a positive spin on it, but for a few days after our deadline came and went...it got pretty dark. 

And... breathe

I promise, Im finally to my point. To survive the free fall that can come with a breathtaking ascent you have to learn to grieve. Acknowledge it. You have a right. And every good songwriter whos still here has his or her way of grieving so they can move on to the next dream. Mine is to shut down. Maybe two days. I might rail against the powers that be, might give the corkscrew a workout, years past I might have put a dent in a few things in my studio but I did what I knew I needed to do. I still do. Whatever it takes to heal without bitterness.

This is the Tuesday after the rough week and Im fired up over a few things today including new plans with Amnesty International for the song and Im breathing just fine. Dream on.

The Lennon Song


Mark Cawley

Dec 9, 2015

Nashville, Tennessee

Image : Shutterstock

Thanks to Taylor Sullivan for her mad editing skills!

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 the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@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. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, New England Songwriter Search , a contributing author to the USA Songwriting Competition a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.

Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN. 









8 Big Points For A Lyricist

8 Big Points For A Lyricist 

iDoCoach

iDoCoach

I'm coaching lots of lyricists including a few whose first language isn't English. Helps to boil it down to a few, clear tips sometimes. One of my favorites I heard a few years back was to consider yourself like a stager.

If you're not familiar with the term, it's a person who usually works with a realtor or home seller and their job is to make the home inviting enough to be able to picture yourself living there. Too much stuff and it's impossible to see past someone else's story. Too little and it's hard to imagine anything at all but, with just enough color and detail they can make you see their vision while leaving room for yours. Just like a great lyric. Here are eight more tips - hope these are helpful!

1) As a lyricist, you’re always writing about one thing. Start with a great idea!

2) Writing your idea as prose first is always a good excersise. Refer  to it often to see if you're still on track.

3) Get your idea down first with color and detail and worry about rhyming and structure later.

4) Talk your lyric out at every phase. If it’s hard to say, or feels stiff, keep working it!

5) Remember the listener at every stage of your writing. Is the idea clear? Info in the verses, big idea in the chorus. Bridge only if you need it.

6) Write like you talk! Sounds simple but lots of lyricists don’t do it.

7) Economy of lyric. Get rid of any extra words before you decide it's finished. 

8) A big one . . . Remember a song is made up of melody and lyric and they have to share a space. Too much of one and the other can’t breathe. Decide if your song is  lyric/story driven or melody driven and leave space for the other element .

Mark Cawley

November 20, 2015

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 the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

Mark Cawley iDoCoach.com

Mark Cawley 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. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, New England Songwriter Search , a contributing author to the USA Songwriting Competition a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.

Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN. 

So What's The Shelf Life Of A Song?

As songwriters, do we ever really give up hope that a good song will eventually be discovered and recorded? We’ve heard the stories about songs getting pitched all over town and being loved by other writers, producers, A&R people, and artists.  Then, 5 or 10 YEARS later, at the intersection of the right time and the right place, the right artist and the right label… magic happens!  And a song comes back to life.

Maybe you know the song that Rascal Flatts turned into an overnight classic in 2005? 

Marcus Hummon, Jeff Hanna, and Bobby E. Boyd wrote the song.  

“The Story Behind the Song: Rascal Flatts’ “God Bless the Broken Road”

It was a broken road that took that song 11 years to finally find its way to the charts and into the hearts of millions of listeners. The song is the story of someone looking back at all the wrong turns that ultimately led him to the right person…and realizing how perfect and blessed the whole journey was. That could be said about the 11 year journey of the song also. Sometimes the best songs take longer to rise to the top because they are following a road less traveled. 

So What’s The Shelf Life of a Song? 

I got a phone call in 2013 congratulating me on having co-written the new Johnny Cash single.

Written by Kye Fleming & Dennis Morgan

Written by Kye Fleming & Dennis Morgan

Ok, it was some kind of joke, because that would be impossible, right?  But apparently John Carter Cash had found a “lost album” his dad had recorded for Columbia in 1982. A song called “She Used to Love Me A Lot” had been chosen to be a single from that album 31 years after it had been recorded. My long time co-writer, Dennis Morgan, and I had written that song in 1981 with another writer, and dear friend, Charles Quillen. It was recorded in 1981 and became a hit single for David Alan Coe. So is that how Johnny heard the song? Or had someone pitched it to him first? We’ll never know, but it was surreal to find out Johnny Cash cut one of our songs. And it was thrilling to hear his voice from 1982 singing a song we never knew he had recorded. Magic happens.  Songs come back to life. 

So What’s The Shelf Life of a Song? 

It’s too soon to tell.

Kye Fleming

Nashville Tennessee

Oct 23, 2015

Top image: Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville

About Kye:

"Kye Fleming is a rarity, a bridge between traditional and modern country music and a creative force who helped expand Nashville's reach. Her songs helped redefine and revitalize a genre. A two-time BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year and three-time BMI Country Songwriter of the Year with 38 BMI Awards across multiple genres, 15 of her songs have generated more than 1 million performances each. As a modern-day pioneer, she shattered glass ceilings for women and for all songwriters who refused to be stuffed into a category, and we at BMI couldn't be prouder of her accomplishments.”

Del Bryant
BMI President and CEO

Kye Fleming iDoCoach

Kye Fleming iDoCoach

Kye is currently coaching songwriters and artists one on one, worldwide, via Skype, phone and in person. Click here to find out more about her coaching.

How Songwriters Can Make The Best Use Of The Internet

 

I Hear Ya!

"I don't tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and have no idea what Pinterest is for!" I hear this from more than a few songwriters I coach in the beginning.  I also hear, "What does the Internet have to do with being creative?", along with, "I just don't have anything interesting to put out there", and "I don't want some whack job stealing my music!!

Songwriters can sometimes be a pretty introverted with this process and not see the benefit at first. But I have to say, the good outweighs the bad and I'm a huge fan. Starting with a website.  Have a landing page for your songs; a modern day business card. No one wants to collect CDs, cards, phone numbers, and notes when a simple link will connect them to everything you want them to know.

I'm not talking about the type of sites you would see a few years back with bells and whistles, and (my personal pet peeve) the song that plays when the page opens. These used to be cumbersome and expensive and usually had way more content than anyone had time or inclination to check out.

Keep It Simple

Your landing page (homepage) should be as straightforward as: a few songs that play directly from the page, a short first-person bio, photo, video, and contact info. Most of these are easy enough to learn and to navigate that you can change the content as often as you have something new to talk about.

White Space

If you haven't already, take a look at the number of sites that use plenty of white space making it easy on the eyes and brain. Rather than having a page packed with info, you're better off with a really clean template. Check out sites like SquareSpace for their elegant design and inexpensive hosting fee. My current favorite is the single page site they offer. It can be perfect for a songwriter to feature their work, or for an artist to direct you to a new album or even a single event. 

Pick One

As far as social media, the best advice I've heard is to learn to use one platform...really well. For most musicians it's still Facebook, with a page devoted to your music. You can easily join songwriting groups worldwide and share your music and even find co-writers. If you become a member, remember to share the love and not just self-promote. Sometimes just introducing yourself by posting a link to your site lets people meet you and your music. 

You don't have to master each medium and you will probably find some to be useless for your interests. Knowing how to put a new song up on YouTube is probably going to be a better use of your time than using Instagram or something like Pinterest, even though those sites do what they do well. 

Know Your Audience

This is huge when it comes to social media and the more you explore, the more valuable it will be for you as a songwriter and artist. Learning the best times to post, best groups to join for your type of music, and the most interesting content to put up can help you work smarter. 

Still Not On Board?

I've heard more and more publishers( including my old publisher Steve Markland in a recent NPR interview) say they are quick to check out a writer's social media presence as a way of gauging their ability to network. 

It's there, it's free, and it can be a great tool for a songwriter. To quote an old Eric Clapton lyric, It's in the way that you use it.

Heres an example of a simple, white space friendly site. This is Mick Evans an award winning UK based Lyricist I've been coaching for the past year. Being strictly a lyricist, a website is a vital tool to connect him to other writers.

Mark Cawley

Nashville, Tennessee

Oct 21st, 2015

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 the Fall. Visit my website for more info www.idocoach.com or write to me at mark@idocoach.com

About Mark Cawley

Mark Cawley of iDoCoach

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals. 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 15 million records. Mark’s resume includes hits on the Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, and Rock charts and several publishing deals with the likes of Virgin, Windswept Pacific, and Steelworks/Universal. Mark calls on his decades of experience in the publishing world, as an artist on major labels, co-writer with everyone from Eliot Kennedy and Burt Bacharach to Simon Climie and Kye Fleming, composing, and recording to mentor clients around the globe with iDoCoach. He is also a judge for this years UK Songwriting Contest, New England Songwriter Search , a contributing author to the USA Songwriting Competition a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops.

Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.