Nashville Song Service: Scam or No Scam????

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Oct 16, 2013, 01:18 AM

Gwinneth (and everybody),
Hello. I have had a couple of computer crashes, some hacking problems and have been trying to get back on here for about three weeks but couldn’t get any one in administration to respond to me. I have seen a few things I wanted to respond to and Gwinneth, I wrote this down for you and will copy and paste it here. Sorry it has taken me so long but I am back until I get kicked off again. Some of my answers are a little detailed but you deserve as much information as you can get from as many places as you can get them. Gary is a great one with a ton of information, and some of the others here are very knowledgable. I actually teach much of this and this is an explination that I hope explains my take on your questions:

Gwenneth (nice name by the way),
My name is Marc-Alan Barnette, or “MAB”. (Rhymes with “CAB”) I am a singer/songwriter/teacher based in Nashville Tn. And have had a 35 year career in the music industry. I presently teach the craft of songwriting/performance and the practical application of the music business in Nashville. I participate in many forums and songwriter related avenues. I am here to help. I have been having some password problems and unable to get on the site here so have attempted to contact you personally. I hope this helps.

First of all, what you are going through is what EVERYONE now goes through when dealing with anything songwriter related, contests, online sites, demo studios, etc. Understand that the Internet has put EVERYONE INTO the business and taken the majority of money OUT of the business. That is due to the lack of business in the music business. Now every studio will contact you, promise to “record your songs” set your poems to music” pitch your songs, etc. The results are always underwhelming.

The “$85 deal” you mention from the “Fill in the blanks” record label, is probably an existing track, they pay a singer $35 to sing a made up on the spot melody. It probably has been sold dozens or even hundreds of times, and used over and over again to hundreds of lyrics. Either that, or a multi-instrumentalist, (someone who plays several instruments and can do it very quickly in his or her bedroom or basement studio set up. It takes a pre-programed drum track, a couple guitars, bass, maybe keyboards, etc. and just throw a melody that works (or sometimes doesn’t.)
Takes about an hour.
The results are to say the least varied. If you have never had a song recorded, heard very much or have very little experience, it can be fun and interesting. Your song is tangible, can play it for friends, put on web sites, etc. Nothing wrong, per se.  But don’t expect to get it on the radio. The reality is that the music business is a very expensive, very competitive business. There are people that have spent their lives developing skills, cultivating fan base and reputations, and are in this for real, and someone who just part time writes some poetry, lyrics, etc. are not going to compete with that, or even really get on the same playing field.

Artists write their own material so their interest in recording anything they didn’t have anything to do with is less than non-existent. You are not going to push one of their songs out of the way for one written by someone they have no connection with. Just not going to happen.

So you can decide what it is worth to you. If you want to have a hobby song, something you can listen to and possibly like, and it is worth the cost of a handbag or a pair of shoes, do that. If you are looking for something that is going to be competitive in the real world of music, attract potential co-writers, get a feeling of accomplishment, etc. you would be better served to save your money, write more songs, get around other songwriters face to face cultivate real songwriting relationships, and learn the craft of this all. At any rate, do understand that there is a LOT to it. Participate in the forums and keep trying to learn. After a while at doing this, THEN you might make a decision to have something recorded. But don’t do it until you have something to actually show off.

Most songs are not good, not bad, just mediocre. We all think we can put our feelings, emotions and stories down and the world just HAS TO HEAR IT! In reality, there are around 30 million writers and artist’s world-wide. There are one BILLION songs a MONTH uploaded onto the Net. You Tube alone has 75 miles of videos, songs, AN HOUR.
Of the 12 BILLION songs a year uploaded, less than 500 worldwide will earn any significant income. Many artists now are trying to figure out how they can sell millions of downloads and have millions of songs streamed and getting checks of less than $400. These are artists like Lady Ga Ga, Pink Floyd, and Jay Z. So I wouldn’t be expecting too much in the “splitting of royalties.” There is nothing to split.

If you want an interesting experience, find out as much as you can about the company, talk to other writers, as you are doing, and then make an intelligent decision. But get informed first. No reason to throw away money. And in most of this, that is exactly what you are doing.
Good luck,
MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Oct 16, 2013, 08:36 PM

Hi Thank you gor replying, all I know was a signed up to http://www.songwritingopportunities.com/songwritingjobs.html
And they emailed me with a link,

 
     
Derek Small Joined Oct 15, 2013
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Oct 16, 2013, 08:38 PM

Nice new guy wrong post,, my bad sorry

 
     
Derek Small Joined Oct 15, 2013
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Oct 16, 2013, 08:44 PM

Great post,, I’ve been writing song takes up almost all my time, thats all am good at, as you can see from above,
Thank you for the info,

 
     
Derek Small Joined Oct 15, 2013
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Oct 17, 2013, 03:20 PM

On the topic of “SCAM OR NO SCAM?”, you have to be very careful as to how you term that. Most of these studios, pitch services, libraries, etc. are not some “Dr. Evil” characters in some dark basement, writing up evil contracts trying to scam people. Most are not bad people, just trying to provide a service to people out there looking for that service. The problem is that most of them either “were somebody in the past”, were a “never was” or the “road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Most people actucally believe they are “one cut away from being on top of the heap.”

Most are simply demo studios looking for business. And those results are as varied as the people involved. For people who have never gotten anything recorded, have poems as opposed to “real songs,” or are looking for a “feeling of accomplishment” birthday gifts, anniversery, or other special occassion songs, it can be a fun, experience.

For those trying to participate in the commerical music industry, they need to open their eyes and understand that you are not going to compete with people who do this every day for a living, live in a music center, are at the heart of the music business, have actual artists and songs in the real world of music business, have developed repuations and pay much more for demos, and buiding their song craft.

No one is going to walk on the field, put on the wrong uniform, and then just jump on the field of professional football, baseball,basketball, or hockey.
And Live.

Most of these services “overpromise and underdeliver.”
There is one in Nashville that pops up all the time. I will not use names but almost everyone who has been involved in music at all know them. Actually, they might know of them but didn’t know it, because the company changes their name quite often. I pass their office continually on my “Music Row Confidential” tourist show that I do. They are quite well known.

My problem with them is they do shoddy work. Their demos are substandard,and never up to the quality we expect in the actual industry.
And they promise the moon,from pitching to record labels and producers, directly to radio DJ’s, have compilation discs they distribute, blah blah blah.

But are they a “Scam?” Depends on who you ask. To me, they are a poor quality studio, that promises a lot of things that no one can deliver on. ut I know of many people who swear by them. They get inexpensive demos and for them that is a sense of accomplishment.

What to do?
In anything RESEARCH!

LISTEN to writer’s demos.
Find out the quality they have. Listen to a LOT of songs and see the differences. Go to web sites like You Tube, Reverb Nation, etc. If you find things you like, contact the writer and see who they used.

SHOP AROUND.
There are hundreds of hundreds of thousands of studios. Do Google searches. Check out prices and sounds. Build a relationship.

Be PHYSICALLY around other writers. Learn from other people’s experiences. And mistakes.

GET REFERENCES.
If people won’t share the people they work with, RUN LIKE HELL! Everyone works with someone. Everyone is going to have good experiences and bad experiences. Can’t please em’ all. In full disclosure, even me, in my role as a teacher, mentor, workshops, songwriter retreats, college and high school lectures and classes, for 13 years, and my experience as an artist, writer, entertainer, producer, publisher, for 35 years in all, have had my own detractors. I have roughly 6 bad experiences, most of which I either refunded any money to, or never took anything in the first place. I’m glad to share their stories and addresses to anyone who wants them. Most are due to unrealistic and overreaching expectations. I also have a LOT of happy customers, which I am happy to share also. Or can be found on my web site. Out of around 1800 people in 13 years, that is not too bad a track record.

My biggest suggestion to navigate through all this is to see a bigger picture in what you are doing. Writing with artists, if you are a non-artist, will help on all these issues. You have a song out there being performed. An artist can record that song, add it to their web site, Online presence, build fan base, have videos, actually doing something.And it doesn’t preclude your pitching the song to other avenues.

If you are an artist, writing with more experienced people can give you a different perspective, help promoting, and building your presence.

Beats having ‘just a song’ with no where to go with it.

Just suggestions.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Dec 15, 2017, 10:21 AM

Hello, just wanted to say a big big thankyou to MBarne4908 and others, who offered great great advice, and have noted everything in detail, and will be reading up on so much more, to be as genned up as you can be. I have always err`ed on the side of caution anyway, and will continue to do just that, so i remain alert to situations and unscrupulous people and organisations, who prey on people for money.
I am actively looking to team up with a musician/s, to see if we can have a productive relationship of note(no pun intended) lol, and will find what i am looking for.
I am also thankful to the gentleman who posted about `Meter`which i am in the process of incorporating into my work.
I have 1 question please, and that is, when putting a good `Hook` into the lyrics, am i right in saying it would go into the last line of the verse, as a prelude to taking you into the chorus?
I will use this site regularly now, as the knowledge base you offer is immeasurable.
Thankyou,
Chris.

 
     
Chris Madge Joined Dec 15, 2017
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Dec 15, 2017, 01:37 PM

Chris,

Not exactly. A “HOOK” should be your most important part of your song, and what makes the people remember your song. Most notably, it is usually the TITLE of your song, which most of the time is the last line of the chorus. It is also usually the “trail out”, which is at the end of the song, where the phrase of the title is repeated two or three times on the fade out. The reason for that is it is the last thing people hear on a song and if it is reinforced, it makes it easier to remember the song if the public wants to find it, download it or purchase it.

There are other HOOKS in songs. Some are written into them, some are production. If you were to hear something like the “musical guitar figure in the Beatles “Something in the Way she moves” the Guitar intro of “Take it Easy” by the Eagles, the Intro to STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN” by Led Zepplin, these are “musical hooks. “Take it Easy” actually has nineteen of them, ranging from the signature licks, to “Oohs and Aahs”, dynamic breaks, even the tail out “ooh ooh’s"section, are all considered “HOOKS.”

Anything that “HOOKS” an audience’s attention, and makes them remember it can be construed as a “HOOK.”
“HOOKS THEM IN,” Get it?

Most credible studios, will try to create hooks in the music, and will layer in things that make people want to hear something over and over. A really great song is one that you listen to multiple times and get another little “extra” everytime you hear it.

Some songs can have double meaning. Which is subtext. Really well written songs can be interpreted multiple ways.
Songs like THE EAGLES “HOTEL CALIFORNIA” is like that. It can be taken as a guy, just driving out at night, finding a hotel and then being held captive in that hotel for ever. “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.”
But what the song is really about was the drug culture of the 70’s in California. Glenn Frey and Don Henley saw many of their friends and other groups being destroyed by the trappings of fame, success, the rock and roll lifestyle and drugs like Heroin and Cocaine, that were just coming into the scene. If viewed like that, “YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU WANT (SANITY) BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE (your hooked)

So those are all examples of hooks. Other people will find other definitions, but those are mine. Mine come from working with hit writers and being around the industry. The main hook is the MOST IMPORTANT THOUGHT OF THE SONG AND WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR.

Do that, and you’ll be fine.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Feb 08, 2018, 02:29 PM

Glad I found this site.  I was seriously considering paying Nashville Song Service and was doing my research (googling, BBB).  Wise words given in this thread.  We all want the results without the footwork (lottery ticket) but reality is that it’s about stepping out and connecting/working with others that have similar interest.  I won’t be sending Nashville Song Service my money.  I have a great poem but will get my feet wet and get hooked up with a music teacher.  I used to play piano, sax and clarinet when younger but then turned into a rebellious teenager who then turned into a 40 something chick that needs to follow that music inclination in my dna :)

Thanks everyone.

SteFanie

 
     
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Stefanie Boggs-Johnson Joined Feb 08, 2018
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Feb 08, 2018, 04:46 PM

SteFanie,’

Interesting spelling. Here is the bottom line. What you need is someone you can have an ongoing DIALOGUE with. Someone you can sit down and go over your ideas, go back and forth with their ideas, and make adjustments as you go. With Nashville Song Service or ANY MAIL IN studio, they are basically going to take what you send, put some form of music on it, and that is it. You don’t get to make any changes or adjustments and more times than not will probably not be what you want.

Now my suggestion to find someone LOCAL is to use everything as a starting place. Research coffee houses, music stores, any place that writers and artist congregate. Look in your local paper or entertainment listings online and find an open mic or writers night. That is where you start. Getting together with a “music teacher” might be a good idea, but understand what they do. They teach you to play music. And if that is not what you are really interested in, it is going to be a better idea to find the local writers hang outs and interact with the people doing what you want to do.

Another reason for building MULTIPLE relationships (don’t just have one, this is DATING. You don’t get married right off the bat) is that you need more than one poem or song. You need many, if for nothing else, to learn about the process, about yourself. And many times poetry does not lend itself to songwriting. They are actually two sides of the same coin. Yet, another reason that you have multiple writing relationships is that sometimes they can help you get out of your own way. There are many times we are not the best arbiters of what we do. What might work for you grandly in your mind, might not work as well in songs.

Most poems are the equivalent of a Modernist or impressionist painting. They are meant to evoke emotions with the reader and allow them to make up their own definition of what it means. They don’t always have to have structure or confines. Songwriting is a different animal, in that there has to be structure, meter, rhymes, and frankly need to make sense. Poetry is more introspective, songwriting is more extrovert. And while some poetry does find it’s way into writing, there are different approaches to this.

Even one MORE reason (are you getting the overall picture here?) is that many songwriters, musicians, artists, now all have their own home recording set ups. With computer technology, even on cell phones, now many can turn out product as good as many Nashville studios. In fact, a lot of the studios here USE the same technology. So being able to directly communicate with someone WHILE doing all this, particularly with an artist, you get a lot of the things you wanted to accomplish with Nashville song service, up close and personal.

I think if you are fairly new to this, you need to take it slower and more local. Imagine you back when you first started playing those instruments, if you suddenly just decided out of the blue you were going to perform with a symphony. You would probably get a big surprise at the audition the first time you had to sight read a very complicated, advanced piece of music.

You are much like that here. And while we all are at varying degrees and always learning, it is best to learn from someone you can actually CONVERSE with instead of long distance semi conversation, that you have no input in and costs money. I think if you can do that, you will have a bit more beneficial results.

In a bit of a “self promotion” here, on my web site http://www.marcalanbarnette.com as well as my songwriting series, “MAB MUSICAL STUFF” on Facebook, I offer some tips that you might feel helpful. I am always around if you need to contact me privately here or through my sites.
This is one I just did that might help you. https://www.facebook.com/marcalan.barnette/videos/10159876850680640/

Good luck,

MAB
MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Feb 08, 2018, 04:49 PM
Chris Madge - 15 December 2017 10:21 AM

Hello, just wanted to say a big big thankyou to MBarne4908 and others, who offered great great advice, and have noted everything in detail, and will be reading up on so much more, to be as genned up as you can be. I have always err`ed on the side of caution anyway, and will continue to do just that, so i remain alert to situations and unscrupulous people and organisations, who prey on people for money.
I am actively looking to team up with a musician/s, to see if we can have a productive relationship of note(no pun intended) lol, and will find what i am looking for.
I am also thankful to the gentleman who posted about `Meter`which i am in the process of incorporating into my work.
I have 1 question please, and that is, when putting a good `Hook` into the lyrics, am i right in saying it would go into the last line of the verse, as a prelude to taking you into the chorus?
I will use this site regularly now, as the knowledge base you offer is immeasurable.
Thankyou,
Chris.


Chris, was nice working with you last week and I hope it all turned out well on your end. Here is one of my videos about “WRITING TO THE HOOK” which I explain how to make sure your hook stands out. See if it helps.

https://www.facebook.com/marcalan.barnette/videos/10159890454435640/

 
     
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