I Am ******* Done With The Music Business

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Well, the Great American Song Contest results are in. No, I didn't win
anything, but that isn't even the point.

I checked out the grand prize winner.

It's a song called "Dancing In The Boneyard"

You can listen to it here:

Great American Song HALL OF FAME: Winners of the annual Great American Song Contest songwriting competition.

Just search for "Dancing In The Boneyard"

It is one of the WORST songs I have ever heard in my LIFE.

I obviously have NO clue what this ******* industry wants, so after
33 years, I am done.

I have written my last song.

Sal, I haven't gotten my personal results back (probably around the
middle of April) but I don't see any point in posting them. There's not
going to be anything worth posting.

Fed up with this ******* business.
  • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
    I have to agree that the winning song is pretty bad.

    But Steven - you've said a hundred times that you're songs and music aren't very commercial. So why would you stop writing songs, which you so clearly enjoy? Don't cut your nose off to spite your face.

    You enjoy writing and performing them. Many of us enjoy hearing what you come up with. Who cares what some organization thinks, especially considering the judges obviously have weird tastes if they're picking THAT monstrosity as the number one for the year.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I couldn't play the song for some reason on my computer - but I found and read the lyrics. Pretty bad verging on juvenile.

      But - after 33 years in music - you should know judges pick music based on what they think is the current fad or appeals to the lowest end of the market...or might get the most attention.

      If losing a contest to a bad song makes you stomp your feet and threaten to quit - maybe you should hang up the guitar. Do you play music to impress judges - or because you love music?

      Edit: I just went to the site

      Winners - Great American Song Contest

      There were quite a few winners - are they all bad?
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  • Profile picture of the author christopher jon
    It was a pretty bad song however I didn't listen to any of the others to to judge its quality vs. the competition.

    And you should be writing music for yourself, not a competition.
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  • Profile picture of the author HeySal
    how the heck do you get these things to play? All I get is "wrong path" messages on my player.
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  • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
    Folks in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I listed to your song on Youtube via another thread. Don't quit your day job is my only comment on it.

    I would not of said anything about until I seen you bad mouthing the winner's song.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marc_L
    Good call Steve. If you think your song is better than the winner then you don't know what good music is.
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  • Profile picture of the author thunderbird
    Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

    <snip>

    Just search for "Dancing In The Boneyard"

    It is one of the WORST songs I have ever heard in my LIFE.<snip>
    Was that an original tune? It sure seems familiar. Puttin in the Ritz or what?
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    • Profile picture of the author KimW
      Originally Posted by thunderbird View Post

      Was that an original tune? It sure seems familiar. Puttin in the Ritz or what?
      No, reminds me more of Stray Cat Blues by The Stray Cats.

      Steven, I can't agree that the winner is terrible,but it isn't anything spectacular.


      I personally think you could write pop hit after pop hit if you got a (please don't take offense) better singer.Don't get me wrong, your voice is perfect for some of your songs,but you erite many different styles and your voice isnt that versatile.

      I think you should ask yourself if you want to be the star or if you want your music to be the star.
      You are already a SuperStar in our world here.

      We don't always agree on whats good music, but I know I am not alone in thinking you write some very commercial stuff. And thats a compliment.

      I for one look forward to seeing your results when you get them.

      Stay strong my friend,
      Kim
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by KimW View Post

        No, reminds me more of Stray Cat Blues by The Stray Cats.

        Steven, I can't agree that the winner is terrible,but it isn't anything spectacular.


        I personally think you could write pop hit after pop hit if you got a (please don't take offense) better singer.Don't get me wrong, your voice is perfect for some of your songs,but you erite many different styles and your voice isnt that versatile.

        I think you should ask yourself if you want to be the star or if you want your music to be the star.
        You are already a SuperStar in our world here.

        We don't always agree on whats good music, but I know I am not alone in thinking you write some very commercial stuff. And thats a compliment.

        I for one look forward to seeing your results when you get them.

        Stay strong my friend,
        Kim

        Kim, I think you know how I feel about you. I think I have more in
        common musically with you than just about anybody I know. But let's
        call a spade a spade here.

        1. I have a very amateurish singing voice. At best it's passable. At worst,
        it's downright unlistenable.

        2. The recording quality of my songs, at least in the mix, is dreadful. I
        am NO recording engineer.

        3. I am SO out of touch with mainstream music (really have been for over
        30 years now) that I don't really have a clue what the industry wants.

        4. As a lyric writer, I am average at best. I just can't come up with
        the play on words and the clever twists that the industry wants. Lyric
        wise, I'm just not that talented. A publisher said to me, many years ago,
        "Say the same things in songs that people have been saying for years.
        Just say them in a different way."

        Easier said than done.

        5. My only strong point is that I'm classically trained, know how to
        construct a song and think I can come up with catchy melodies.
        Unfortunately 1-4 above pretty much wipe out whatever talent I do
        have in number 5.

        That's the reality of my talent and potential to make it as a "working"
        songwriter.

        And I've always known this.

        But none of this has anything to do with the plain fact that the song
        they picked as overall winner, if I had all the talent in the world, could
        sing like Elton John, play like Keith Emerson and record like Alan Parsons,
        I wouldn't have written with a gun pointed to my head unless it was as
        a pure joke in an attempt to get a laugh.

        It is what it is and I've finally reached the point where I'm tired of
        beating my head against a stone wall. You can only go on writing, year
        after year after year, for yourself and maybe a few friends who either
        out of politeness or actual like for your music, want to listen as well.

        I'm tired of driving in my car with my mp3 player plugged into the dash
        and pretending that the stuff coming out of it is actually on par with the
        top pros out there.

        It's not. And unless I do what a smart marketer should do (and shame on
        me for not doing this) I'm not going to make it.

        What should I do?

        Make a list of what I do well and what I suck at.

        Concentrate on what I do well and outsource the rest.

        Hell...this is marketing 101 for crying out loud.

        Which means...

        1. I should hire a singer, one who fits the song that I'm writing.

        2. Look for a lyricist who knows how to construct a commercial "twist"
        lyric.

        3. Hire an engineer who knows how to actually record something.

        4. Hire musicians who can actually play.

        Until I am willing to do all that (I am not) I have no business being in this
        business.

        This is exactly what I would tell any of my students if they were in the
        same boat.

        It's about time I follow my own professional advice.

        Like I said...I'm done.

        At least until I'm ready to get serious about this business.
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  • Profile picture of the author christopher jon
    I obviously have NO clue what this ******* industry wants
    Pick up the latest Britney Spears or Usher, that is what the industry wants.

    Hit me baby one more time!
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    • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
      Actually, I quite like the winning song. It has a sort of Dr John vibe about it - and it's certainly well recorded.

      (You can hear it on the artist's site: Michael McGarrah, Singer Songwriter )

      Steven, I'm surprised that someone with your eclectic musical tastes can't appreciate the song, but perhaps you're too personally invested in this contest to be objective enough.

      Just remember - one web site isn't "the music business". And as others have pointed out, you write and perform music for your own pleasure, not for the approval of self-appointed judges who probably have a fraction of your music knowledge.

      You've got time on your hands. Why not start your own competition and let others submit their songs for your judgment? There are hundreds of ways to be involved in the music business, if that's what you want.

      You don't have to be the next Rebecca Black.


      Frank
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

        Actually, I quite like the winning song. It has a sort of Dr John vibe about it - and it's certainly well recorded.

        (You can hear it on the artist's site: Michael McGarrah, Singer Songwriter )

        Steven, I'm surprised that someone with your eclectic musical tastes can't appreciate the song, but perhaps you're too personally invested in this contest to be objective enough.

        Just remember - one web site isn't "the music business". And as others have pointed out, you write and perform music for your own pleasure, not for the approval of self-appointed judges who probably have a fraction of your music knowledge.

        You've got time on your hands. Why not start your own competition and let others submit their songs for your judgment? There are hundreds of ways to be involved in the music business, if that's what you want.

        You don't have to be the next Rebecca Black.


        Frank

        Frank, if my daughter, who I love more than anything, said to me "Dad,
        you gotta come with me to this club and listen to this guy" and THAT is
        what I ended up hearing, I would have turned to her, asked her if she
        was on some kind of drugs and then walked out.

        Sorry, it has nothing to do with the contest. Last year's overall winner
        was fantastic. I even downloaded the song to my PC. And this year's
        pop winner was excellent.

        But if THIS is what the judges consider the BEST of ALL the entries, then
        I really have to wonder what they're thinking.

        If I heard this on the radio (and I would be shocked if this EVER made
        the radio) I would turn it off after about 10 seconds.

        I couldn't believe my ears when it went on.

        Yes, I have eclectic taste and can listen to almost anything.

        But that was just dreadful.

        And as far as Dr. John goes, it's no "Right Place Wrong Time" which I
        didn't like but at least could hear that it was a solid tune.

        This? I don't hear anything.
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      • Profile picture of the author Karen Blundell
        Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

        Actually, I quite like the winning song.


        Frank
        I agree!

        I like the jazzy bluesy sound to it...it's laid back and fun...and a bit sexy too...lol

        Steven, everyone has their own taste in music. What may seem like crap to you, could sound quite cool to someone else...

        and that's ok...it would be a really boring world if everyone thought the same, don't you think?

        now instead of wasting your energy getting angry about something that you have absolutely no control over, put that energy to some good use, and write a killer song...I know you have it in you, Steven...

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  • Profile picture of the author TLTheLiberator
    Steve, give us a link to your entry in the contest.

    I'd love to hear it.


    TL
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    • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
      Steven,

      When I was actively developing comsumer products I would see that products at trade shows who got awarded prizes were always products I knew as a professional designer didn't stand a prayer in hell of getting any greater glory than the prize they had just won.

      In effect, all those prizes were nothing more than consolation prizes to help people keep the faith. Many of those folks were on what could best be described as 'an inventor's circuit'. They would show up at every trade show they could afford to attend and display their idea(s).

      The main difference between the products that won prizes and the really good products was the really good products got orders and contracts as opposed to prizes.

      I'm not saying this to brag, there are 10s of thousands of folks just like me who have been employed to design/develop consumer products so I say this as just a run of the mill designer...Many of my designs have sold millions of units...if I ever won a "Prize" for any of those products I would know right off the bat the product sucked.

      Additionally, when you enter contests like the one you did, you need to keep in mind that any of the songs chosen will need to be submitted in a form that the promotors can play at the end of the contest without their audience going, "WTF, the audio quality sounds horrible!"

      In other words, if you want to continue entering contests you need to make the audio quality of the piece match the level of professionalism you believe the lyrics and music have. The production quality of your entry was in need of major help. That's not a dig, btw, just an observation. And you guessed it, not having the right equipment is no excuse.

      Besides, screw those people. They're not your fans, we are.

      ~Bill
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    • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
      Originally Posted by TLTheLiberator View Post

      Steve, give us a link to your entry in the contest.

      I'd love to hear it.
      TL, here you go...

      http://www.warriorforum.com/off-topi...ml#post3615714
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  • Profile picture of the author Clubland
    Music sucks these days. All over commercial.

    There is no proper songs out there, and for the winner, well, the judges must be tone deaf.
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    • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
      Originally Posted by Clubland View Post

      Music sucks these days. All over commercial.

      There is no proper songs out there, and for the winner, well, the judges must be tone deaf.

      there is a wealth of good music out there, now, as always, you just need to know where to find it
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by oncewerewarriors View Post

        there is a wealth of good music out there, now, as always, you just need to know where to find it
        This is true as there are a lot of talented people out there. But good music and
        commercial music doesn't always go hand in hand. A lot of music I love today
        you can't even find on the radio.
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        • Profile picture of the author hardraysnight
          Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

          This is true as there are a lot of talented people out there. But good music and
          commercial music doesn't always go hand in hand. A lot of music I love today
          you can't even find on the radio.
          RADIO?

          what is a radio?
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    I call bull****.

    How much time have you spent in Nashville Steven. You can go to dinner on any given night and see a 65 year old guy onstage with a guitar showing off his first number one hit song, wearing a pair of $2,000 cowboy boots that he bought with his first royalty check, and finally driving that new lincoln, and getting that custom "Taylor" guitar.... For "faces", yeah 32 is over the hill, hang it up.... but for "songwriters".... you can get a hit when you are ninety.

    Its about critical mass.

    Remember when your Articles hit that critical mass where they would produce on their own without you killing yourself so much?

    The songs you have out there have to reach the same kind of critical mass.... just like articles, some will produce more interest than others.... stick enough of them out there and one or two will "stick". Alot of it depends on the reader, how well you target the prospect... anyway, enough of them out there and you eventually reach the critical mass level where "something" is gonna get a bite.

    You arent done with music Steven. I dont believe it for a minute.

    I can sense one thing about you: You could make a million dollars from article writing and still not feel successful unless you had a hit song. I feel you.

    As for me Im through with ordering picks off the internet... just gimme a damn turtle and a dremel.
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  • Profile picture of the author KimW
    And I think that when you come to your senses we will be hearing more SW compisitions!
    (and this time SW is not Steven Wright! )

    John is right,you are a songwriter. If I had more time right now I could name a half a dozen songwriters that pluigged away for years and never made it until someone already famous covered their songs.
    Instead I got to go let me wife stick two 15 gauge 1 inch needles in my arm for a few hours,but I'll be back.

    Love ya like a brother Steven.

    Ya know I just have to post a song here!

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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    I have had several hit songwriters working in my telemarketing booths between royalty checks in Nashville... One wrote John Michael Montgomery's first hit "Beer and Bones" another "Ray Flacke" came in for a month or two from time to time when he was off the road , you might recognize him as the guitarist on alot of famous Ricky Skagg songs... My number one telemarketer Mark Edwards was once the grand national flatpicking champion in the US.

    He's the one who got me hooked on the "torts" , now I have a monkey on my back...lol

    Getting a hit song isnt all that common nor uncommon... I have made about 600k or so off mine.... because I had a staff writing deal for years... dont have a hit, but I was on salary as a writer and wrote 200 songs during that period... also co wrote with some legendary writers...

    You can still do it Steven.... hell when I get to where you are and dont have to work anymore, Im gonna come scoop you up and we are gonna go to Nashville for a week and do some songwriters lounges.

    You will see hit writers mingling with aspiring ones... a hit writer makes about 150k per year....Unless its like GARTH BROOKS hit... then they can make a million on a song.... most of them are more middle class than rich. Nashville is CRAWLING with them.
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  • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
    I'm not sure why you'd take a "song critique service" like The Great American Song Contest seriously. It seems like a dubious scheme to extract $30 from as many desperate musicians as possible. Seems like a good business to get into to me.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
    Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

    Seems like a good business to get into to me.

    One of my good friends Charlie Craig... wrote Alan jacksons hit song "Wanted"...also Travis Tritts "Just between an ole memory and me..." among others...

    He has a service where he will critique a song for 35 bucks.

    A: If he likes it , he will offer to produce it and publish it, and maybe even personally "pitch" it.
    B: He will charge you $5000 bucks to cut 3 sides with an ALL star Ateam of big name musicians... and give you a first class production. He will even help you rewrite the song for 50% of the publishing.

    It will cost him $2500, it will be done in 5 hours, and he makes $2500 profit, and 50% if it ever gets cut...and YOU have a first class allstar recording to pass down to your grandkids.

    Plus its an ULTRA pitchable ALL Star demo, with names on it that producers recognize.

    Not an affiliate, just a friend, but tell him I sent you and you may get the brother in law deal:

    http://www.charliecraig.com/

    We have co written and worked on several projects together... so there is some history there. He always treats people good when I send em.

    Here are some of the albums he has written on:

    http://www.charliecraig.com/thehits.html
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    • Profile picture of the author garyv
      I apologize, but I thought that most of those songs were hideous. I liked the one that won, but it was way too much like Stray Cat Strut.

      I remember when you put that song out here Steven. I thought it was genius because of how fast you put it together with what you were given. And to be honest, I thought the song kicked ass. But like others here have said, you need to have that diamond professionally polished. The right people recognize what you have, but not everyone's going to want to wear it until it's cut and polished.

      But whatever you do, don't give up on your music. You don't need a contest to legitimize your time spent. There are people out here that appreciate your talents.
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  • Profile picture of the author oliviasmith
    what the hell was that. That song was a total crap. I can't understand what's going on?
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  • Profile picture of the author Torreylee
    Broseph, that song sucks donkey balls and I feel your pain, but to each his own I suppose. (as long as I don't have to be involved)
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    • For real?
      Anyone truly serious about breaking into the music business...

      1) Doesn't even waste time entering such contests
      2) Would not become downhearted by not winning one
      3) Must be tenacious to a stubborn fault
      4) Must understand that musical taste is a subjective thing. This or that person doesn't like your music? So what! Somebody is bound to.

      Rather than giving up, why not get a proper education about how the industry "really" works?

      Recommendations for starters:
      "You've Got a Dream, I've Got a Plan" by Kelley Lovelace
      Even if your music is a different genre than Country, this is solid material and an entertaining read to boot.
      "Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting" by Robin Frederick

      Both are available at Amazon

      ~Karen
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        I can't believe this old chestnut has been dug up from the ashes.

        Karen, thanks for the PM. You've given me something to think about.

        As a lot of time has passed since this stupid contest (by the way, I didn't enter
        this year's so there is hope for me) and I realize that just about every single
        one of you are right.

        I'm not sure how much music is actually left in me, but if I ever do wake up
        one day humming something that I know just has to get written, I'll do it.

        But it's been a long time since there's been a tune in my head. So we'll see.

        Anyway, I read over the responses again and after some distance and time,
        they were nice to read...even the guy who told me not to quit my day job.

        Don't worry...I won't.

        Oh wait...I don't HAVE a day job...I'm retired.

        Oh well, looks like I'll just have to go back to having fun and enjoying life
        like I've been doing for a very good part of this year. I'm back into my MTG
        life and it's been a blast...except for my Ebay bill on cards.

        But I have been having fun, and that's all that matters.

        Anyway, gotta run. The mail just came and I have to see if I got anymore
        cards today.

        Life is good.
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        • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
          Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

          I can't believe this old chestnut has been dug up from the ashes.
          Damn, sorry Steve. I wouldn't have commented if I'd have noticed it was an old thread. I usually catch that, but missed it this time.

          I'm not as accomplished a musician as you are, but for what it's worth, I started enjoying my own music better when I stopped having expectations for it.
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          • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
            Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

            Damn, sorry Steve. I wouldn't have commented if I'd have noticed it was an old thread. I usually catch that, but missed it this time.

            I'm not as accomplished a musician as you are, but for what it's worth, I started enjoying my own music better when I stopped having expectations for it.
            Hey, no problem. It's nice to revisit old friends once in a while. And you're right,
            if I didn't take my music so seriously (there was a time I didn't) I'd enjoy it
            more.

            Maybe it's time to go back to the days when I wrote stuff like:

            Hero Of The Stupid
            The Men In The White Coats Parts I & II
            I Got A Jeep
            Kill The Cow (not an animal cow)
            Caveman Love

            Now THOSE were good times.
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            • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
              Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

              Hey, no problem. It's nice to revisit old friends once in a while. And you're right,
              if I didn't take my music so seriously (there was a time I didn't) I'd enjoy it
              more.

              Maybe it's time to go back to the days when I wrote stuff like:

              Hero Of The Stupid
              The Men In The White Coats Parts I & II
              I Got A Jeep
              Kill The Cow (not an animal cow)
              Caveman Love

              Now THOSE were good times.
              I think the main thing is to write for yourself, what you enjoy. In hindsight, think my best lyrics were written when I wasn't trying to write things I thought would gain other people's approval.

              By the way, I also have a cow song. I Like My Cow was one of my joke songs.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      First off, Steven, I liked your song ... but the recording quality is so bad I couldn't finish listening to it. Stopped with about 30 seconds to go. Just sounded like my speakers were blown out. You can write the best song in the world but it wouldn't win with that recording quality.

      Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

      Actually, I quite like the winning song. It has a sort of Dr John vibe about it - and it's certainly well recorded.
      Originally Posted by KimW View Post

      No, reminds me more of Stray Cat Blues by The Stray Cats.
      I liked it too, musically. The lyrics weren't anything to brag about, but musically I liked the laid back bluesy feel. I can see the Dr. John and Stray Cats comparisons, but when it first started playing it reminded me of Tom Waits. I didn't like any other songs on the front page though.

      Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

      Getting a hit song isnt all that common nor uncommon... I have made about 600k or so off mine.... because I had a staff writing deal for years... dont have a hit, but I was on salary as a writer and wrote 200 songs during that period... also co wrote with some legendary writers....
      What? And to think, when you posted lyrics to one of your songs I complimented you and, if I recall, offered encouragement. Like YOU needed that! I'm almost embarrassed.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
        Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

        First off, Steven, I liked your song ... but the recording quality is so bad I couldn't finish listening to it. Stopped with about 30 seconds to go. Just sounded like my speakers were blown out. You can write the best song in the world but it wouldn't win with that recording quality.
        I know Dennis. I need to go take a course in studio engineering or something.
        Either that or just go get others to record it for me.

        Like I said, time to do this right or not at all...just like I tell my students.
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  • Profile picture of the author dagaul101
    You shouldn't give up just yet, you never know someone might just pick up your song, who prefers your style of writing
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by dagaul101 View Post

      You shouldn't give up just yet, you never know someone might just pick up your song, who prefers your style of writing
      Maybe somebody who's tone deaf.

      J/K. Yeah, you never know. But I'm not holding my breath for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author thunderbird
    I looked you up on imdb.com, assuming you'd done some film scores. You haven't? Filmmakers are always looking for songs to use in their movies, especially film students. Exposure in international film festivals could present interesting adventures and opportunities.
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    Project HERE.

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