songwriting http://www.guitarworld.com/taxonomy/term/2318/all en SongTown: The Biggest Mistake http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-biggest-mistake <!--paging_filter--><p>People often ask me to define the biggest mistake I see songwriters making as they chase that first cut. </p> <p>If I had to pick one BIG one, I would say that it is using out-dated language.</p> <p>Anyone who is over 30 years old has to continually be aware of the "slang" that they are using in their song. Using the wrong words can INSTANTLY get your song thrown out and get you labeled as an out-dated and out of touch writer.</p> <p>We have to remember that audiences at concerts are very young. Lots of teenagers. So, artists want songs that appeal to that young crowd. The artist's longevity depends on being able to stay relevant and "cool.”</p> <p>An artist who is in their 40s is extremely concerned about staying cool. I googled "outdated slang" and found a wealth of information regarding words that are no longer "in.”</p> <p>As you write, be aware that your slang may date you in a way you don't want. If you are unsure whether a word is still cool, google it and check it out. Or check with a teenager you know. I run things by my kids if I'm unsure.</p> <p>Slang words can also be so specific to one location that other people won't get them. Some of my Canadian friends have used words that they use regularly, but I have never heard.<br /> When I critique songs, I often hear songs that are well written but feel so out of date that I know no artist would touch it. Don't ruin a great song by giving away your age.</p> <p>Recently, I wrote with two 20 something writers. I kept throwing out lines that they said were "Not cool enough". I finally asked them to tell me what a cool line would be. They threw out something that made no sense at all.</p> <p>We made a deal. I told them that they could work at making my lines cooler all day if I could work at making theirs make sense. We struck a deal and we wrote some great songs. Drop the pride. Get help if you need to up the "cool" factor in your songs.</p> <p>There's nothing wrong with admitting that you might be a little behind the times. There is a LOT wrong with being content to stay there as a writer if you hope to achieve commercial success.</p> <p>Stay cool and write on.</p> <p>Marty Dodson<br /> Songwriter/Producer/Seeker of Coolness</p> <p><em>Marty Dodson blogs daily on Facebook at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SongTownusa">www.facebook/songtownusa</a> and on <a href="http://www.songtown.com">www.songtown.com</a>. You can check out his music at <a href="http://www.martydodson.com">www.martydodson.com</a>. Marty plays <a href="http://www.taylorguitars.com">Taylor Guitars</a> and <a href="http://www.batsonguitars.com">Batson Guitars</a></em>.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-biggest-mistake#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Fri, 06 Mar 2015 02:28:30 +0000 Marty Dodson http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23674 SongTown: Do You Have Write-Up-Itis? http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-do-you-have-write-itis <!--paging_filter--><p>Clay and I continually running into people throughout SongTown territories that have "write-up-itis." </p> <p>We can spot the affliction immediately, because we have both battled this dreadful and potentially fatal disease in the past.</p> <p>The symptoms generally start after you write the first song that you think is really commercially viable. </p> <p>A slight fever starts to develop. You get what I call "the bug." </p> <p>The bug leads to hallucinations. You see yourself driving along in your car when you hear a familiar intro come on the radio. The RADIO. Not the CD player. The real live FM radio!!!!</p> <p>The intro fades into an opening line that you would know anywhere. You wrote it. A SUPERSTAR is singing it. Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Kenny Chesney. You pull over and just soak in the moment. Then, the guy behind you starts to honk and you are jolted back to reality.</p> <p>That's not your song on the radio. It's another one written by Mrs. X, the hottest writer in town. "The bug" is eating away at your brain.</p> <p>You decide right then and there that writing with Mrs. X is your ticket to success. </p> <p>The next symptom kicks in. Stalking. You find out where Mrs. X lives and you drive by her house occasionally. In braver moments, you slow down by her mailbox and practice the motions of slipping a CD into the box, closing the door and racing away before you are caught.</p> <p>If you are able to resist the "CD drop," you drive back home pondering other ways to get to Mrs. X. Then it hits you. The grocery! Everyone goes to the grocery. You lurk in the grocery nearest her home, hoping for a sighting. If this brings no results, you decide to find out if Mrs. X is playing any shows in the near future.</p> <p>You find one just two weeks away! "Eureka," you think!!! "I will go to her show, compliment her music and ask her to write after the show. No one has ever thought of that!!!" you tell yourself! The bug is slowly taking over.</p> <p>In the quietness of your home, you look around at the walls that are now plastered with pictures of Mrs. X. You realize that two weeks it too long to wait. You are in the final stages of "write-up-itis" and you turn to the dark side. Cyber stalking.</p> <p>You send Mrs. X a Facebook friend request. Slowly working your way into her world, you send her a compliment - "I love your writing." Minutes pass with no response, so you send another - "You're one of my heroes." And you wait, and you wait.</p> <p>Thus the story goes. The ending is too ugly to share. But, the point of the story is this. You have opportunities to write with very talented people right where you are. The key to this business is NOT figuring out how to "write up" every day with a big hit song writer. There is no crazy thing you can think of to do that hasn't already been tried.</p> <p>And, if you spend all of your time stalking hit writers who aren't likely to write with you anyway, you miss the GREAT opportunities that surround you every day. I heard an AWESOME song this week written by 3 SongTown writers. They took advantage of the opportunities they had right where they are.</p> <p>Write on. Not UP</p> <p>Marty Dodson<br /> Co-Founder SongTown</p> <p><em>Marty Dodson blogs daily on Facebook at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/SongTownusa">www.facebook/songtownusa</a> and on <a href="http://www.songtown.com">www.songtown.com</a>. You can check out his music at <a href="http://www.martydodson.com">www.martydodson.com</a>. Marty plays <a href="http://www.taylorguitars.com">Taylor Guitars</a> and <a href="http://www.batsonguitars.com">Batson Guitars</a></em>.</p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-do-you-have-write-itis#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:19:10 +0000 Marty Dodson http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23383 Lesson: Tune Up Your Tempo http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-lesson-tune-your-tempo <!--paging_filter--><p>Timing in life, as they say, is everything. It’s obviously pretty important in music, too, so let’s talk tempo. </p> <p>As songwriters, we think of tempo as the most basic of basics. Tempo, or the speed at which we perform a song, is sort of the quiet engine, the driving force behind all our tunes; yet, because we consider it so "Songwriting 101," tempo can sometimes become songcraft’s sadly neglected middle child. </p> <p>The hard, cold facts are these: Perform a great song too fast and you’ve lost the race. Play a great song too slow and the only animal left in the barn when you finish will be the turtle you rode in on. Your audience may never intellectualize your tempo miscalculations, but they will certainly feel them and sense something’s "off."</p> <p>Disclaimer: I have to admit I’m pretty horrible at picking the right tempos for my tunes. Conversely, I know a lot of songwriters who are just plain naturals at the process (hate them). If you’re one of the former, here are a few survival tactics I’ve developed over the years: </p> <p><strong>Recording</strong> </p> <p>Before you begin to record those new songs with your band, have all your tunes' tempos decided upon and documented via the BPM (beats per minute) standard of tempo measurement. </p> <p>Despite your drummer’s claims of his "killer" feel and his promises of an early departure from the bar the night before recording, the studio is a bad place to pick tempos. There's just too much going on.</p> <p>Every home Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) comes with a click track and BPM tempo controls. If you have one, use these tools and mess around with your tempos offline, on your own time. Even record yourself with just one instrument and a vocal at different tempos and listen back until you find the right tempo that works for each particular tune. Then write them down. Even if you don’t plan on recording to a click (aka fixed time) in the studio, your pre-selected tempos will make for a great reference/starting point. </p> <p>Don’t have a DAW set-up at home? <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/metronome/id304731501?mt=8">Check this metronome app</a> for iPhone or this <a href="http://www.metronomeonline.com/">free online metronome</a>. These will help you get the job done. And if all else fails, get your hands on an old-fashioned metronome.</p> <p>Another tempo-finding hack I’ve employed goes like this: Think about your new song and try to recall a favorite tune from another artist that might have a similar vibe or feel. Dig out that artist’s track and try and figure out what tempo their song lives at. You can do this by using the "Tap" function in your DAW or app. </p> <p>Once you establish the model song’s tempo, apply that BPM to your tune. It may not be perfect, but it probably will be close. Adjust accordingly and quietly give thanks to super producer Jack Douglas for helping you pick out a tempo for your song via that old Aerosmith record. </p> <p><strong>Live</strong></p> <p>The same thoughts apply. Before leaving that dingy rehearsal room and stepping on stage, try and get your tempos in place. If your drummer is tempo-challenged (and a bunch of good drummers are, believe it or not), they make a lot of tempo-keeping gear for live application that can be used as an on-the-fly reference. If you can, use these tools. They will stop you from playing that 45-minute set in 15 (Been there, done that).</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.markbacino.com/">Mark Bacino</a> is a singer/songwriter based in New York City. When not crafting his own melodic brand of retro-pop, Mark can be found producing fellow artists or composing for television/advertising via his <a href="http://www.thequeensenglish.com/">Queens English Recording Co.</a> Mark also is the founder of <a href="http://www.introversechorus.com/">intro.verse.chorus</a>, a website for songwriters dedicated to the exploration of that wonderfully elusive activity known as songwriting. Visit Mark on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/mark.bacino">Facebook</a> or follow him on <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/MarkBacino">Twitter</a>.</em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-lesson-tune-your-tempo#comments Acoustic Nation News songwriting Lessons Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:57:07 +0000 Mark Bacino http://www.guitarworld.com/article/20091 SongTown: Five Tips to Get Out of a Writing Rut and Spark New Ideas http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-five-tips-get-out-writing-rut-and-spark-new-ideas <!--paging_filter--><p>We all get ‘em. Those moments when inspiration doesn’t seem to come around.</p> <p>What do you do? Pound your head agains the wall? Maybe.</p> <p>How about a better strategy? </p> <p>Here hit songwriter Clay Mills shares his tips for bumping yourself out of that rut. Check ‘em out!</p> <p><strong>1. Switch instruments.</strong><br /> If you write on guitar, get an inexpensive keyboard and bang around a bit. You’ll be amazed at how unfamiliar territory gets your creative juices flowing. You can always switch back to your regular instrument to perfect your new idea once it’s born.</p> <p><strong>2. Change tempos. </strong><br /> If you write a lot of ballads try uptempo and vice verse. One great tool for doing this is to put on a drum loop and write to the loop tempo.</p> <p><strong>3. Change tunings.</strong><br /> If you are a guitar player try a new tuning. I switched a few years ago to DADGAD, started fumbling around, and wrote “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” for Darius Rucker.</p> <p><strong>4. Listen up.</strong><br /> Start listening to new styles of music that you normally don’t. Search for things about it you like. A cool lyric line, a rhythm, or an instrument sound. We grow be liking new things and learning from others.</p> <p><strong>5. Co-write. </strong><br /> This is a great way to expand what you do and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to hangout and create music with a new friend! Write on!</p> <p><em>Clay Mills is a 11-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/songtownusa">www.facebook.com/songtownusa<a>, at <a href="http://www.claymills.com">www.claymills.com</a>, and at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/claymillsii">www.facebook.com/claymillsii</a> or visit Twiiter@SongTownUSA</a></a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-five-tips-get-out-writing-rut-and-spark-new-ideas#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:04:43 +0000 Clay Mills http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23311 SongTown: Why I Write http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-why-i-write <!--paging_filter--><p>Every now and then, in the crazy, competitive world in which I live, I have to remind myself WHY I write. </p> <p>I realized early on that I loved words. In an odd and uncommon way. As a little kid, I made jokes or puns that other people didn't "get" or find funny. </p> <p>I played with words and said things that had double (or triple) meanings. Language was fascinating to me. </p> <p>I also loved to write. One of my grandmothers loved writing as well. She lived in Michigan and I rarely got to see her, but she would send me blank notebooks and ask me to mail them back to her after I filled them with my writing. </p> <p>I remember lying on my bed and opening the packages that contained those spiral notebooks, fresh and waiting for my thoughts. The idea that someone (my grandmother) cared enough about my thoughts to not only read them, but to provide me with the blank canvases on which to paint them was profound to me even as a child. </p> <p>I didn't even know what "publishing" was at the time, but I did know that writing something that other people would actually read — even if it was only ONE other person — was a big deal. </p> <p>So, I wrote. Silly poems. Jokes. Limericks. Stories. Lyrics. Whatever was on my mind, I wrote. Until the notebook was filled to capacity, I challenged myself to write every day. </p> <p>Then, I would package the full volume of my work up and mail it back. She would always write me letters to tell me which pieces of my work were her favorites. She bragged on them all. </p> <p>But, one time, her letter included an clipping from her local newspaper. It said "Aspiring Author, Marty Dodson..." and included a picture of me as well as one of my poems. The article below the picture told who I was and that I was Irene Dodson's grandson who lived in Nashville.</p> <p>I remember the feel of the newspaper in my hand. I remember the wondering how many people read my poem that day. But most of all, I remember reading the words "Aspiring Author" over and over. </p> <p>It wouldn't be true to say that changed my life or altered the course of it. But, it did give me something to shoot for. Throughout my life, I have thought back to the moment when I first realized that my voice MATTERED to someone. </p> <p>In many ways, I'm still an "Aspiring Author." I aspire to be better every day. I aspire to reach more people with my words all the time. I aspire to bring light into the world with those words. And I aspire to make my grandmother proud of my work, even though she isn't here to hear it and she never got to hear one of my songs. </p> <p>She taught me that words on paper matter. She valued my voice. She passed on a love for combining words in ways that move people. What she gave me is priceless.</p> <p>That's ONE of the reasons I write.</p> <p>Marty Dodson<br /> Co-Founder <a href="http://www.songtown.com">Songtown</a><br /> Songwriter/Corporate Trainer//Former Diet Dr. Pepper Addict</p> <p><em>Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays <a href="http://taylorguitars.com">Taylor</a> and <a href="http://www.batsonguitars.com">Batson</a> guitars. Follow him here: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/songtownusa">www.facebook.com/songtownusa</a>, at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter">www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter</a> and at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/songtownusa">Twitter @SongTownUSA</a> or visit <a href="http://www.martydodson.com">martydodson.com</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-why-i-write#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Fri, 09 Jan 2015 13:47:54 +0000 Marty Dodson http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23248 Platinum Rush Video Blog #8 — Leann Womack & Geoff Himes http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-8-leann-womack-geoff-himes <!--paging_filter--><p>Is life really like a three minute pop song?</p> <p>Leann Womack has something to say about that, as well as social media.</p> <p>And in case you were afraid to ask what "Americana" music is, I asked Geoff Himes, music critique from <em>The Washington Post</em>, and boy does he know his stuff!</p> <p>All this from the Americana Music Fest in Nashville!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gdAy2liYyuU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family. </em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-8-leann-womack-geoff-himes#comments Acoustic Nation Geoff Hiimes Leann Womack songwriting Blogs Videos Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:41:18 +0000 Scot Sax http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23139 Platinum Rush Video Blog #6 — Lucinda Williams http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-6-lucinda-williams <!--paging_filter--><p>How does a person write song after song that sound like instant-classics?</p> <p>How does a songwriter figure out the "trick" to writing songs iconic artists want to cover?</p> <p>Out of a true personal need. </p> <p>Lucinda Williams' songs are like horses that fly over the usual songwriting hurdles because they don't try to be anything more than what they are: simple truths, easy to sing (and remember) melodies, both set to smoldering grooves. </p> <p>Check out what she has to say here...</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/p4NZNepkLVU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family. </em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-6-lucinda-williams#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Videos Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:12:16 +0000 Scot Sax http://www.guitarworld.com/article/23024 A Songwriter's Story: "Thanksgiving Prayer" http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songwriters-story-thanksgiving-prayer <!--paging_filter--><p>I’m not accustomed to writing blog posts. I think a lot about what it is to be a musician, a writer, but I usually express those thoughts in song. And they’re not always very straightforward, couched as they often are in metaphor or to accommodate a rhyme scheme. </p> <p>So I hope to use this space to stretch out, to be more direct, more instructive, even while I may muse on the muse and her associated tools and manifestations. Thanks for joining me.</p> <p>Every day I get to write, and to play music, is a great day, for which I am very grateful. I am a recovering lawyer, and while that was a great gig for me for a while (and while I cast no aspersions whatsoever on the noble profession), as a songwriter I am able to connect with my feelings of joy and gratitude more directly. </p> <p>This is the story of “Thanksgiving Prayer.”</p> <p>I was taking a songwriting class, and the assignment was to write a song about how Thanksgiving makes you feel. For her part, the instructor said she just wants to close the curtains, shut out the world, and order in Chinese food. I happen to LOVE Thanksgiving. I love how it’s a day off to connect with others, and to cook and eat great food, no gift-buying pressure. </p> <p>I let those thoughts percolate and before I knew it, I found that music and lyrics had filled my head. I’m primarily a guitar player now, although I am technically a classically trained pianist. I struggled for days to translate what was in my head into guitar chords and melody, without success.</p> <p>And that was when a sort of miracle happened. I put the guitar down, and found myself moving to the piano. I sat down, and the next thing I knew, I was playing the entire chorus of the song, chords, melody and all, with tears streaming down my face. WOW! </p> <p>It was as if the song bypassed my intellect, habits, my inner censor, and went directly from my heart to my fingers. And “Thanksgiving Prayer” was born. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I did some rewriting of the verses, but when it was done, it was exactly how I heard it in my head.</p> <p>How many times do I need to learn this lesson? In order to create something new, I had to let go and DO something new. I had to move out of what I was used to, what I was stuck in, and trust that the process would lead me to where I was meant to be.</p> <p>We don’t get much validation for that, or room for that sort of experimentation if we’re trying to “make a living” in music. Most often, our art is our art, and what’s commercially viable may not be close to our hearts. I’m still naïve enough to believe, though, that there may be an occasional, happy intersection of the two. </p> <p>Here’s a link to hear singer/songwriter Laura Zucker performing “Thanksgiving Prayer,” from the album <em>By The Refinery Lights.</em><br /> <a href="http://laurazucker.com/music/">http://laurazucker.com/music/</a></p> <p><em>Singer-songwriter Laura Zucker wins audiences over with a hard-won perspective and a positive spin. The powerful imagery of her songs and stories ring so true you might think she’s read your diary – and you’ll find yourself humming her infectious melodies for days to come. She’s a two-time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition in Texas, 2013 West Coast Songwriters Association Best Song of the Year, and has received numerous accolades and awards from the organizations around the world. She has released three CDs of original songs and released, "Life Wide Open," in 2013l. More at <a href="http://laurazucker.com">LauraZucker.com </a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songwriters-story-thanksgiving-prayer#comments acoustic guitar Acoustic Nation News singer songwriter songwriting Blogs Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:40:10 +0000 Laura Zucker http://www.guitarworld.com/article/19441 SongTown: How To Record Effective Home Demos http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-how-record-effective-home-demos <!--paging_filter--><p>People often ask me if they have to do full-production demos to present songs to publishers or major artist? I do a fair amount of full demos, but I also have had about half of my cuts from pitching home demos done on a very basic set-up on my mac laptop.</p> <p>Let's break down the process and equipment I used on my simple home demo of "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" (The 1st #1 hit for country artist Darius Rucker).</p> <p>First let's look at the gear I used:</p> <p>1. Refurbished Macbook Air Laptop Computer- $499<br /> 2. Garage Band (recorcording app) - Free with my computer purchase<br /> 3. Audio-Technica AT4033 Microphone ($399)<br /> 4. Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface w/effects plugins ($699)<br /> 5. Mic pop filter and stand ($100)<br /> 6. AKG K 240 Studio Headphones ($99)</p> <p>So you can see for the price of a couple demos, I had a complete recording studio with everything I need. After writing the song I decided to make a simple guitar/vocal demo to send to Darius's manager.</p> <p>First, I recorded two separate strumming acoustic guitar tracks; with the mic pointed straight-on to the neck of the guitar guitar (where the neck meets the body). Just about 4-5 inches away from guitar. I then panned the two guitar tracks hard left and right in the mix to create a full sound and leave lots of space in the center of the mix for the vocal.</p> <p>Next I recorded my vocal. I usually record my vocal about 6 inches away from the mic for loud sections like a chorus, and move up closer to the mic for more intimate sections like verses.</p> <p>After I felt I had a good vocal performance, I recorded two background vocal tracks. One part above the lead vocal and one part below. Again I panned these left and right but around 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock, leaving the center of the mix for the important lead vocal.</p> <p>Finally, with the recording process complete, I added a "chorus effect" to one of the acoustic guitars and a touch of reverb to the vocal. All this done with the Apollo Twin plugins.</p> <p>After a quick mix-down, I sent an email over to Darius's manager with the recording. I didn't hear anything back and figure the song was dead in the water, but 2 months later the manager passed the song along to Frank Rogers (Darius's producer) and the rest was history.</p> <p>So, as you can see, with an investment of what you would spend on two full demos, you can have a pro sounding set-up at home!</p> <p>If you'd like to hear the demo for "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," <a href="http://songtown.com/how-to-record-your-own-home-demos/">check it out here></a></p> <p><em>Clay Mills is a 11-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here: <a href="https://www.facebook.com/songtownusa">www.facebook.com/songtownusa<a>, at <a href="http://www.claymills.com">www.claymills.com</a>, and at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/claymillsii">www.facebook.com/claymillsii</a> or visit <a href="http://www.songtown.com">songtown.com</a></a></a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-how-record-effective-home-demos#comments Acoustic Nation Darius Rucker Songtown songwriting Gear Blogs Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:40:01 +0000 Clay Mills http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22886 Platinum Rush Video Blog #2 — Americana Music Festival http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-2-americana-music-festival <!--paging_filter--><p>Reporting from the Americana Music Fest in Nashville! </p> <p>I spoke with Jonah Tolchin after his firey blues-infused explosive set outside of Grimey's Record Store. </p> <p>One of my favorite things about music is how it connects strangers in a second. </p> <p>Watch Jonah's face light up when I mention Fats Domino. </p> <p>He now knows that I know what he knows...and loves. </p> <p>Tolchin has just released his debut on the Yep Rock label and shares with me the experience and hopes that go along with the venture. </p> <p>P.S. If you're ever wondering what the best record store in the world is, it's Grimey's. Trust me</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YE27tpFzwP0?list=PLZVMDsh-1UBiVTm6v21L5Vy2WB40HDU3W" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family. </em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-2-americana-music-festival#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Videos Wed, 05 Nov 2014 02:06:46 +0000 Scot Sax http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22781 Platinum Rush Video Blog #1 — Sons of Bill http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-1-sons-bill <!--paging_filter--><p>Our first video blog features Sam Wilson of the band Sons Of Bill. </p> <p>I found the band by chance loading their gear into a truck while I was driving by. </p> <p>This is what this blog series (and upcoming movie) is all about: finding out the stories and the people behind the guitars and the songs. </p> <p>Sons Of Bill are indeed the sons of Bill, their dad, who turned them onto music by way of his guitar as opposed to radio or records. A true folk story. Enjoy!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/goEmLua-xRQ?list=PLZVMDsh-1UBiVTm6v21L5Vy2WB40HDU3W" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family. </em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog-1-sons-bill#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Interviews Blogs Videos Tue, 28 Oct 2014 03:15:36 +0000 Scot Sax http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22688 Songwriters: SongTown.Com Offers Learning, Support and Connections http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songwriters-songtowncom-offers-learning-support-and-connections <!--paging_filter--><p>Today marks the official launch of a new website and songwriters’ community, SongTown.com. </p> <p>Run by hit Nashville songwriters Clay Mills and Marty Dodson, SongTown.com provides webinars, classes, retreats, video tutorials, advice and more for aspiring and professional songwriters of all genres. </p> <p>The SongTown project began as a Facebook group, which currently has nearly 12,000 members. Now with the launch of SongTown.com, the pair hopes to create a self-contained community of mutually creative and supportive members.</p> <p>Co-Founder Clay Mills shares, “Our goal is to help artists and songwriters grow their craft and pursue their dreams. Marty and I felt there were a lot of folks out there calling themselves ‘experts’ or ‘gurus’ and charging songwriters and artists for their advice. The only problem was that many of these ‘experts’ had never succeeded at what they were teaching. They were making their living off aspiring writers and giving a lot of wrong, useless information. We wanted to have a place where folks could get the real deal from people who were walking the walk.”</p> <p>SongTown also plans to aid its members with opportunities to connect and improve with pitch to publishers, mentoring sessions, member forums, tip sheets, educational opportunities and more. Dodson explains, “If your music needs to be better, we tell you. We don’t sugar-coat the truth. But, we give you the tools to improve. If your music is great, then we will do our best to direct you to the people that can help you get your songs heard.”</p> <p><img src="/files/imce-images/AllAccess4%20620.jpg" width="620" height="329" alt="AllAccess4 620.jpg" />Both Dodson and Mills have written multiple number one charting hits. Their achievements include Dodson cuts like Billy Currington’s “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and Kenny Chesney’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven,” and Mills hits like Darius Rucker’s “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” and Diamond Rio’s “Beautiful Mess.” The two have had nearly 200 songs recorded between them with cuts on artists as diverse as Darius Rucker, Joe Cocker, Carrie Underwood, Kimberly Locke, Rascal Flatts, Diamond Rio, George Strait and The Plain White T’s.</p> <p>Mills and Dodson launched the SongTown Facebook group in January 2012 and post daily advice and tips for their followers. They plan to keep the Facebook group alive but offer even more support and priceless opportunities via SongTown.com. Admission to their series of fun and informative live online webinars is part of every membership. Mills concludes, “We are a big creative family at SongTown. Finding the support of like-minded friends and collaborators changes lives.”</p> <p>Memberships to SongTown.com start at just $14.99 per month. Find out more at <a href="http://www.SongTown.com">SongTown.com</a></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songwriters-songtowncom-offers-learning-support-and-connections#comments Acoustic Nation Billy Currington Carrie Underwood Clay Mills Darius Rucker Diamond Rio Joe Cocker Kenny Chesney marty dodson News Rascal Flatts songwriting Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:57:48 +0000 Acoustic Nation http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22654 Platinum Rush—Video Blog http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog <!--paging_filter--><p>Seems everybody these days has an "album coming out,” or a "gig tomorrow night.” </p> <p>Hell, even my mom has a box set out next year. </p> <p>Ok, I made that last bit up. But you get the point: music is running wild now more than ever. But why? and who are these people? </p> <p>Having been one of them (artist/dreamer) for my whole life I thought I'd ask a few questions to the bands, artists, pro's and open mic night performers like "why, where and for how long?" </p> <p>Sometimes I know the artist, sometimes I pull over to the side of the road if I see someone playing on the street. </p> <p>Being a working musician and songwriter in Nashville gives me front row seats to the front lines of those busting their asses to tell a melodic story and maybe move some hearts. </p> <p>My documentary, “Platinum Rush: A Film By A Songwriter,” will be out in 2015. </p> <p>In the meantime (and probably during and after, too) I'm takin' it to the streets and posting these video blogs EXCLUSIVELY right here every week! </p> <p>It's all seat of the pants, spur of the moment, jewel of the nile, traveling pants...whatev!</p> <p><iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/SodF-vay1NA?list=PLZVMDsh-1UBiVTm6v21L5Vy2WB40HDU3W" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><em>Scot Sax knows his way around a solid pop song. The Philadelphia musician has been writing them for years, whether it was with his own bands Wanderlust and Feel, or as a purveyor of hits for singers like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It was Sax, in fact, who co-wrote the country duo’s Grammy-winning smash “Like We Never Loved At All.” His catchy “I Am the Summertime,” penned while with the band Bachelor Number One, was featured in the blockbuster “American Pie.” And he’s netted countless TV credits, with song placements in shows like “Ghost Whisperer,” “NCIS,” “CSI: NY” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” He toured as a guitarist with Sharon Little throughout North America supporting Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand. His filmmaking debut, the documentary "Platinum Rush," is currently being entered into film festivals worldwide and will premiere in 2015. Sax lives in Nashville with his family. </em> </p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-platinum-rush-video-blog#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Videos Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:22:48 +0000 Scot Sax http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22632 SongTown: Follow the Song http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-follow-song <!--paging_filter--><p>I realized the other day that I've been "following the song" since I was about 11 years old. </p> <p>I followed the songs to record stores. (Yes, they were called that back then). </p> <p>I followed the songs to the radio. I followed the songs to the music store to buy guitars and strings. I followed them to dances and parties. </p> <p>I followed them to classes in college, to concerts and shows and to the steps going down to my basement where the echo was just right.</p> <p>And, I eventually followed them to a job. Instead of the job becoming the “be all” and “end all,” I discovered that “following the song” was still the key to EVERYTHING.</p> <p>Each day, I get up, pick which guitar I want to write with, and head to a tiny little office where a friend or a stranger will show up and join me as we follow the song where it wants to take us.</p> <p>More and more, I realize that, at my best, I’m following the song, not leading the song. Once we land on an idea, the goal becomes getting out of the way and letting the song say what it wants to say. Sounds easy, but it’s not.</p> <p>Many days, I want to impose my will on the song. I want to shape it and beat it into submission.</p> <p>But a great song idea can take care of itself if my co-writers and I can get out of the way long enough to let it take shape. I like to compare songwriting to a sculptor who sees an angel in the stone and he chips away everything that doesn’t look like “angel” until all that remains is a beautiful piece of art.</p> <p>If you struggle to “bring a song home” — to finish it in such a way that is REALLY shines, it could be that you are getting in the way. Let your idea sink in for a few moments. Think about all of the places such an idea might take you and then follow. Listen. Go with the song.</p> <p>I am limited in my writing ability. The song is not. That’s why I continue to try to follow the song every day.</p> <p>Write on.</p> <p>Marty Dodson</p> <p><em>Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays <a href="http://taylorguitars.com">Taylor</a> and <a href="http://www.batsonguitars.com">Batson</a> guitars. Follow him here: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/songtownusa">www.facebook.com/songtownusa</a>, at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter">www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter</a> and at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/songtownusa">Twitter @SongTownUSA</a> or visit <a href="http://www.martydodson.com">martydodson.com</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-follow-song#comments Acoustic Nation songwriting Blogs Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:03:56 +0000 Marty Dodson http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22633 SongTown: Significant Others http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-significant-others <!--paging_filter--><p>There is a standard joke in Nashville that goes "What do you call a songwriter without a wife or girlfriend?" The punchline is "homeless." </p> <p>There is almost always some truth in a joke. The truth in this one is that most of us - me included - need some support, both emotional and financial, early in our careers if we hope to succeed. </p> <p>It takes a long time to make money in this business. if you are not independently wealthy, then you are going to have to have someone help support you if you decided to devote all of your time to songwriting at some point.</p> <p>That can take a toll on relationships. In my first marriage, my wife agreed to go back to work full time as a pharmacist for a while to let me try to get things going as a writer. It took much longer than we thought it would take and it caused a lot of friction. She wanted to quit work and be home full time. I was always "right on the edge" of something big happening.</p> <p>By the time something big did happen, she was angry and bitter. She resented my songwriting and she resented me. She even resented my success. She resented the fact that I loved my work when she worked in a job she didn't enjoy too much. Trouble was, I didn't find out about all of that resentment until it had been festering for about 5 years. By that time, it was a tough mountain to climb. And we couldn't fix it.</p> <p>So, what did I learn from my experience? </p> <p>1) Communicate, communicate, communicate. I should have communicated more to her about what was going on with my music. If I had kept her more in the loop, she might have been more understanding. if she had told me that she resented my songwriting, we could have at least addressed the issue. Lack of communication cause LOTS of difficulties down the road. </p> <p>2) Plan for the long haul. There are very few quick success stories in the music business. If you are making a plan to try this full time, talk to your significant other about a number of "what-ifs." Talk about what happens in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years if you still aren't making a full-time salary at songwriting. Planning in advance can avoid lots of trouble later.</p> <p>3) Show appreciation to your significant other. I didn't do this enough. If your significant other is supporting you while you chase your dream, a DAILY thank you would not be too much. Tell them in person that you appreciate their support and brag on them in front of others. Remember that you would not be doing this if it weren't for their support.</p> <p>4) It is not your significant other's responsibility to "get" you. Writers are a weird breed. We get on creative bursts and forget to pay bills or take care of other life issues. We sometimes go inside ourselves and seem to be pushing the people around us away. We can be hard to live with. It's not their job to understand that. It's OUR job to communicate what is going on in our heads and to help our significant other feel loved and appreciated. They will "get" you if you communicate well and often.</p> <p>5) Put your relationships first. Songwriting is not the most important thing in the world. No job is more important than the people that you care about, and that care about you. Keep those priorities straight. </p> <p>If you are a "significant other" helping a dreamer you love chase their dream, THANK YOU! You are a special person.</p> <p>Marty Dodson</p> <p><em>Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays <a href="http://taylorguitars.com">Taylor</a> and <a href="http://www.batsonguitars.com">Batson</a> guitars. Follow him here: <a href="http://www.facebook.com/songtownusa">www.facebook.com/songtownusa</a>, at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter">www.facebook.com/martydodsonsongwriter</a> and at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/songtownusa">Twitter @SongTownUSA</a> or visit <a href="http://www.martydodson.com">martydodson.com</a></em></p> http://www.guitarworld.com/acoustic-nation-songtown-significant-others#comments News songwriting Blogs Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:18:17 +0000 Marty Dodson http://www.guitarworld.com/article/22482