If I could, my music would sound like…

 
       
 
Jun 29, 2017, 03:42 PM

Well, feel free to join… :)

Here on this site are many lyricists, Songwriters, Composers… and I was always wondering… If you could make it happen, just like this,... which kind of sound or genre would be yours, or would you see yourself in?

So, I´m gonna start. Couple of years ago I was introduced to an american Singer/Songwriter Matthew Houck. He is using the stage Name “Phosphorescent”. We´re about the same age. He´s doin kind of indie rock/alternative Singer/Songwriter. Well I think I could manage to get close to the sound he is doin, but I personally could NEVER ever write lyrics like he is doin. And I never found a co-writer who was able or interessted in writing this way.

What I find interessing about him is - well, he is writing, recording, producing, engineering and mixing. And he´s a multi-Instrumentalist. I find this very impressive. Well, he´s only doin small concerts, he´s an indie artist and not really in “the big game”. Most of the time he´s just wearing blue jeans, black T-Shirts and a beard. So at least our “looks” are similar, only I have long hair..

Well, I would like to share one of his more famous works… “Song for Zula”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2MnJGBpSR4

Yeah, if I could, my Music would sound like Matthew Houck´s ...:)

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 14, 2017, 08:28 AM

Hey Martin,
Interesting topic. I always thought you were a big Beach Boys/Brian Wilson fan.

The guy who got me started writing my own songs was the late Andrew Gold. He had some big hits in the 70s (that’s when I started writing my first songs) with “Lonely Boy”, “Thank You For Being A Friend” and “Never Let Her Slip Away” and later in the 80s with songs like “Right Between The Eyes” or “Bridge To You Heart”. His combination of instrumental versatility and songwriting skill gave him a prominent if sometimes invisible role in shaping the Los Angeles-dominated pop-rock style of the 1970s. Fortunately I was able to meet and work with him in person. I documented the making of my song “Did You Get What You Want” that Andrew produced in 2004: https://youtu.be/xVYDtB5goGU

I sure wish we could have done more songs together because that’s my kind of music. I wish more of my music could sound like Andrew Gold.

All the best
Robert

 
     
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Robert Baitinger Joined Jun 01, 2006
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Jul 14, 2017, 10:10 AM

Martin, I watched the YouTube video. He’s really good, although he should pronounce his lyrics more clearly - I sound like Gary now:)

Talking of people who don’t produce their lyrics clearly, who wouldn’t want to sound like Bruce Springsteen? There are parts of Phosphorescent’s song towards the end when the piano becomes more prominent which are just a little bit Springsteenesque.

Put on your headphones and listen to this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8qpTL1wxGQ
This was my favorite track on The River, but I always thought nobody else had really noticed it until the other day when I heard someone on the BBC saying it was their favorite Springsteen track of all time. It made me listen again and remember.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Jul 16, 2017, 08:30 AM

Martin,

What you are describing, multi instrumentalist, writing, recording, producing their own songs, and product, doing local and regional shows, smaller more intimate venues, etc. are actually THE NORMAL RULE now, rather than the exception. Out of the 30-50 million artists, this is the majority of them. They do pretty much everything themselves, build their own fan base through live shows and social networking, and are all pretty much alternative (to the mainstream) until demand for them rises up and takes them to the next level. The vast vast majority never even get to this point, and mostly just write and record things for themselves and friends. This guy is one at the top of the heap of the DIY, (do it yourself movement.)

In some cases, like ED SHEERAN, they rise to the various next levels. Building local, then regional followings, then get people to come along that push them to the next levels. Usually starts out with a smaller or medium record label, management help, booking help, sometimes outside investors, who help their product and themselves get higher visibility. They do YOU TUBE videos which receive hundreds of thousands or even millions of views, and sell advertising, which actually makes them quite a deal of money.  They will do things like create their own pod casting channels, more people get to know them. They release more product to their fans, which multiply. People like yourself tell others about them and it all builds little by little. In Sherran’s case, he hit a vein and has been taken to International stardom. It does happen.

Of course there are MILLIONS of them trying to do this, so even those who are quite good and successful in their own way might not break though to those higher levels. Just the way it is, the same way some songs that get on the radio, defy description to people that don’t like them. Some things you just can’t explain.

But this is mostly music in the modern age. Do it yourself. For people that are primarily songwriters, it is the reason they have become the Dinosaurs in the LE Brea tar pits. Sinking into obscurity. Songs have little or no value anymore, and these types of artists have no interest in what someone else is trying to have them say. As you say yourself, here is this artist and he writes lyrics that are admittedly much better than anything you could do Even if you thought you might write better than him, he MIGHT NOT think that you are better than him. Music is very subjective, so you can;t just say “Hey do my song instead of your song…” Doesn’t work that way.

If you want to be viable in this marketplace, you are going to have to write better than them, and CONVINCE them you are writing better than them. Or you have to be doing it all yourself too. My suggestion to you if you want your music to advance, is to find a few dozen of people like this guy and try to interract with them now so you might be viable in the future.

Good luck.
MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jul 17, 2017, 05:21 AM

Hey Robert,

well, I was, am and guess I always will be a fan of The Beach Boys. At least of what they did during the time of 1965 and 1973. Well, during the time of the “flower power”, Vietnam and so on, nobody was really interessted in The Beach Boys and the Albums/Singles did not really sell well. But, they created some beautiful music, with a lot of passion and a lot of their hearts. The time when their star in Europe starts to rise. They were the first western band to ever play in CSSR .. during the russian invasion :)... and became superstars in England and the Netherlands.  1972 the Band spend almost one year in the Netherlands, first to have kind of a “basis” for their european tour but soon decided to stay, to record their new album called “Holland”. Well, in my opinion, the 2nd best album The Beach Boys ever did. Calling it Holland, but singing about California (California Saga Trilogie) and celebrating the beauty of the land and beeing a “real band”, sharing the songwriting and production equally by all band members.

Unfortunatly, “Holland” did not sell so good, just like the other albums in the time 1967 - 1973 did not sell. So new recordings were set aside and they focussed on touring in the US, to “win” the coutry and the audience back. By the same time, their old label - Capitol Records - released an album of their greatest hits called “Endless Summer”. However, it made their way right to the No 1 spot, staying in the charts for for two years. So the Beach Boys realised, that touring and playing the old hits is more profitable then recording new songs, nobody is interessted in. So they became a “touring oldies show” by the mid 70th… playing old hits and taking care, that the new songs sound alike the older hits…. and I am not a big fan of this period, nor of the “reunions” and so…

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 17, 2017, 06:41 AM

Hi Gavin,

well - I think it´s part of his style to prounounce the lyrics not too clearly. And he´s using some Voxcoder/or something like this, but still the words are good to understand. Well there are some vidoes of him just playing guitar and singing without any technical Support.. in my oppinion he´s better to understand… but how much does anyone who is not a native know about this stuff. Maybe I listen more closely to his words

I was never really a big Springsteen Fan. Couple of month..could also be years ago… I just saw a video of Springsteen beein in Leipzig, where he and his band were playing a version of Chuck Berry´s “You never can tell”. According to Springsteen, the Band did not practice the song before and played it as improvisation…well… that was a good one :)

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 17, 2017, 07:23 AM

HI MAB,

good to hear from you. Yeah, most of the musicians/artists/bands do a lot of the stuff themselves. Starting from Marketing to writing, producing, mixing, editing, mastering. On the other hand, to become a “do it yourself guy” you need to be well-educated. There is so much you need to know…. Most challenging is still the mixing process and the recording …
People either get “multi-I-know-it-all” guys OR specialize themselves. For mixing and specially mastering there are a hand full of people only doin this.

I personally find it interesting when I read some discussions about lyrics.. the writing process (length of lines, new information…) Well, a cool and good lyric is important. I wouldn´t like something like “Song for Zula” if the vocalist would sing about his grandmothers corn or anything like this… but still… the way a song is produced, mixed, the marriage of melody and music, the way a vocal is delivered… is all more important then the length of lines or something like this. A lyric should be singable. And if it has a cool story, it does not hurt J. And some people just focus too much about the lyric and forget, that the production might be more important… 

Well there are a couple of people out there, doin everything on their own. The good thing is, that the audience, most of the time, does not care too much about technique and stuff. They just need to like it. An irish band recorded their album live in the streets of Dublin. Well, was no major hit, but they sold a couple of copies. The audience simply did not care that the songs were not polished … I still think, that the 100 hours of mixing, mastering, editing for one song is   .. overdone. Because many people listen to the songs on their smartphones, with 128 kb/rate and ear-ins for 10 bucks… so, you don´t really have to worry sooo much about quality J.

In my opinion Matthew Houck is one of the best “do it all” guys. Another cool example would be Conor Oberst. Looks like, most of the “do it all and yourself” guys are male, could not really find many girls who were doin that, to give an example for a “do it yourself girl”.

In my opinion, the “do it yourself movement”, the “indie” movement and stuff, and the “played naked” movement are important for us and good. It´s hard for me to listen to this polished music they play on the radio, with no soul, no heart, no feelings – just boring! I like real music. And it can be found in the DIY and Indie-Genres – and that´s where I try to go J

[ Edited: 17 July 2017 09:55 AM by Martin G]

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 17, 2017, 09:27 AM

Martin,

I didn’t mean to infer that every one was doing it WELL. They are not. The biggest problem is everyone THINKS they know what they are doing, and most of the time they don’t. For most of history, music was an “apprentice” business. You would start out in bands when you were a kid, or playing around a group of other people, usually those who were older than you, or more experienced, and learn from being around them. You would go into the studio, watching other people do what they did, and learning at that. Most people had that well known local hero that everyone would go watch and pick up things.

Now, it is far to easy to write songs, put them on a camera phone video, put it on you tube and boom! you are in business. Now, as I said, it is DO IT YOURSELF world and most people are doing just that. But far too many don’t wait until they find out that they have something WORTH putting out there. They don’t listen to other people. They don’t study what they are doing. And the product is self evident.

But still the music business is somewhat a constantly learning process. Whether you want to or not.  Most people quit long before they learn anything. But there are a lot of them out there. See them every day.

MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Jul 17, 2017, 12:25 PM

Hi MAB,

well once again, sorry for my limited skills of the English language, hope it does not lead to confusions or so. The reason why I am impressed of Mr. Houck´s work is - again. He is writing, composing, playing, singing, arranging, producing and mixing. Most/all by himself. And he is doin this in high quality. To do so, you need to have amazing skills. Altough, I have to admit, his voice is a little limited, but suitable to his style of “telling stories”. Like a good Songwriter would do.

Mr. Conor Oberst - as mentioned above - is another “do it all” guy, with amazing lyrical skills. Listen to his most famous song “First day of my life”. Amazing. I think he is not doin much editing - because on his recordings there are some little mistakes - but that´s kind of his strenght, not a weakness - he want´s to perform his music in a realistic way. So his sound seems even more “alive”...

Both Mr. Houck and Mr. Oberst do have a lot of character in their voice ... both are brilliant examples of well educated and amazing “do it all” guys… and to be honest. Doin everything by one person, musiclly, is one of the hardest things to achieve. Frank Zappa was a similar character, altough he did this on a higher standard..


And a quick note: Well, when I was younger, I followed the way as you use to descripe it. I started playing in a Band. The first guidance was given by the father of our drummer, who used to be a musician himself. He played in bands for more then 30 years. Altough our music did not match, our band played Hard Rock/Heavy Metal, he played traditional austrian music, I taught me/us a lot. We used to practice in his house, so he came by every time to listen to us and giving us something to think about. And YES, we had “local heroes” ... after some time, we became their “opening act”... talking a lot with them, learning a lot from them, copying much what they did :). We used to do jam-sessions with other bands, helping out in other bands, playing with other bands…

And you are right about this… “releasing songs when they are ready to be released”. Another note: Mike Love, famous for being the Lead singer of the Beach Boys, released a single for “Americas Birthday” this year. He released it together with his friend John Stamos. You probably know him, if you ever watched the TV series “You again” or “Full house”. So, they decided to release a new recording of an old Beach Boys songs. Well, it was released in self-publishing via ITunes and so…

I have to admit: I WAS SHOCKED. The Version was horrible. I guess 90 % of the vocals were just auto-tune effects ... the production overall was bad… it was “rape” of a classic… I means. Mike Love is 75 years old. He starting living from music when he was 19… he´s been on stage for 55 years now. And he can actually make a living from music for 55 years. He is a grown up man. A guy like him should possibly know what´s ready for a release, shouldn´t he?

edit:
Conor Oberst - First day of my life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwFS69nA-1w

[ Edited: 17 July 2017 12:30 PM by Martin G]

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Jul 17, 2017, 12:49 PM

Martin,

You seem to have a fine command of the English language. I spent the weekend working with two guys from Poland and they had a good understanding too, but there are slangs and American sayings that are hard for them to understand. And very difficult to understand the American sense of humor. Many people would tell jokes or be sarcastic and they didn’t get it. But that could be true for any culture. We all have our inner sayings and the way we use language that would seem alien to anyone outside that.

It sounds like the two people you like a lot have a lot on the ball. Their fan base probably reflects that. I’m sure there are many, like yourself that follow them, and get a lot out of their music. That is what I refer to as a “NICHE” market. Might not be in the “mainstream” but are doing well in their own genre, and their own areas. There are many of these acts flourishing worldwide. They develop an interesting product that people respond to. They rise in their local areas, and on into their region with live performances. They release product, developing a pretty loyal fan base who ALSO forward their videos, their music. They have special events for their fan base. Word spreads as well as what they get paid. They sell CD’s, downloads, have a solid viral presence on someplace like YOU TUBE and other social platforms. They open for larger artists and in some places become large enough to be their own headliner. That is the music business. So keep your eyes on those guys and see what they do. Try to emulate what you can. Good study for you.

On Mike Love, a lot of people in this business, well most of them, have HUGE egos. Mike Love is definatly one of those. Many books have been written, including his own book describing his foibles. I have not heard his latest offering, but a lot of time, people stay in the game too long. WE have had that with athletes, boxers who get beat badly leading to health problems, down the road, they stayed in too long. Football Baseball, soccer, basketball, there are a lot of people who should get out long before they do. No one wants to be at the end of their career.

In musical circles, musical styles change, and some people are left behind. Mike might be trying to show he is “still hip” by doing something. John Stamos is even portraying “older characters” on television and movies now. So that’s probably what that is. Just trying something new and it doesn’t work like they wish it would. Actually I hear a LOT of that. People releasing music THEY think is GREAT, but it just leaves me flat. And there is PLENTY that many people latch onto that simply does nothing for me. Very subjective.

Luckily for someone like Mike Love, he can afford to do pretty much anything he wants. He has just won another legal settlement for millions of back royalties, so he does whatever he wants. A lot don’t get that luxury. All of music is more or less hit or miss. Sounds like in this case, you would believe he missed. Good to hear from you.

MAB

 
     
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Marc-Alan Barnette Joined Jul 29, 2010
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