Rob Wells is a multi-platinum, award-winning producer/songwriter based in Toronto & Los Angeles. He has worked with numerous multi-platinum selling artists, with songs landing on millions of award winning records. His work has appeared in major release films, network TV shows and video games worldwide. Awards include first place in numerous songwriting competitions, SOCAN #1 awards, gold, platinum & multi-platinum certifications.
Our week 2 challenge is as follows:
I’m looking for strong female based Pop/Top 40 songs. Think Selena Gomez. Think Demi Lovato. Think big. Think hits. Think target audience of 13-18 years old. If you’re writing a global, universal, and (a little bit) quirky smash song with an interesting title, I’m interested. If you can sing your explosive chorus a thousand times and not be sick of it, I’m interested. Trim the fat. No unnecessary sections or long intros. Take me on a journey. Make every lyric count and funnel towards a great chorus payoff. Maximum 3:30 in length. Good luck!
Your song is due February 23 by midnight. Share a link to your song and a link to your blog post in the comments below.
The S.A.C. Songwriting & Blogging Challenge 2015 got underway unofficially a few days before the official launch, with an e-mail welcome to participants and an invitation to join a special Facebook Group. The Challenge blogging community quickly coalesced online, posting greetings, best wishes, encouragement, and brief introductions about themselves and their songwriting. Many posted links to their song samples, while some have had to set up their blogs and song streaming accounts and make their very first posts. Most are dealing with a new onslaught of social media and learning how to balance life, work, and songwriting with new demands on their time. A few industrious writers are even simultaneously enrolled in Pat Pattison’s Berklee songwriting course on Coursera (the focus of a previous year’s SAC Challenge). Returning Challenge veterans welcomed newcomers and reacquainted themselves with friends from previous Challenges, and initiates jumped in fearlessly—or maybe not so much! The walls of comfort zones are tumbling down, and as brave souls inspire others to step out and step up, there’s been a chain-reaction of empathy. Everyone feels the heightening of the raised bar that a legitimate pitch possibility brings.
With the official Monday morning launch on February 9th, 117 participating songwriters were greeted with an inspiring video by artist Matt Dusk, calling on untapped Canadian songwriting talent to help him expand the musical landscape for his new record. Matt cited several reference songs, and much discussion swirled on the Facebook page as Challengers began analyzing the tracks and charting their approach to writing a song Matt would want to place on the record. Tempo, groove, BPM, chord progressions, arrangements, Matt’s vocal range, subject material for lyrics—all are finding their own way into the task, and many new co-writing relationships are being forged as well.
Canadian songwriters from coast to coast, along with some discerning U.S. music-city songwriters, recognize the value of coming together as a community under the umbrella of the annual SAC Challenge Event. We have guitar and keyboard players, producers and lyricists, vocalists and business-savvy music-pros, all reaching out to each other to lend a hand and make creative partnerships. The degree of support is amazing, ranging from offers of phone calls to help with technical, gear-related issues, to invitations to live regional events where writers can connect face-to-face. My fellow Challenge songwriting coach James Linderman has been instructing and encouraging between the lines of the Facebook communiqués, and has generously posted some much appreciated how-to videos on guitar techniques and on timing, tempo, and groove. He keeps us all laughing, and makes even the most challenging Challenge fun!
As participants engage in the creative process for the next 6 weeks, they are asked to write a weekly blog post about their experiences. Already the blog and Facebook posts bear witness to the benefits of taking part in SAC Challenges of years past. Writers have made contacts they never would’ve made, both locally and long-distance; written songs they never would’ve written, recorded songs for an upcoming record, and received a FACTOR grant for songs that came out of a Challenge. I know I speak for the whole community when I say we are grateful to Lily Cheng and The Songwriters Association of Canada, Barb Sedun and SOCAN, and Matt Dusk for this year’s Challenge. We are all excited to be involved in building a wonderful songwriting community as we develop our songwriting craft and embrace each new assignment.
Please post a link to your blog post for Week 1 in the comments section below. Your song for week 1 will be due at the same time as your song for week 6 is due.
We are excited to announce this year’s challenge is being launched by a REAL PITCH REQUEST! As such, you will have 6 weeks to submit a demo for this first challenge. Although you will not be submitting a song in 7 days, you will be required to submit a blog about your experience of the challenge thus far, the progress you have made, any collaborations you may have initiated, and challenges you have encountered in working towards this challenge.
We would like to thank Barb Sedun and SOCAN for helping us to issue this challenge.
Matt Dusk is an established Canadian artist who has a challenge for you. Take a look…
Good luck everyone!
Writing camps have become an increasingly important forum for songwriters to collaborate. In Canada, Justin Gray’s Creative Collective, and SonyMusic Canada’s Idol camps were among the first, both receiving support from the Songwriters Association of Canada. President of Tanjola Entertainment, Daniel Mekinda, remembers how the initial idea to stage a camp for Canadian idol turned out to be a great platform for launching the inaugural winner, Ryan Malcom.
“The first Canadian Idol Writing Camp was an amazing success. Every song on the album came out of that camp. It was an amazing experience to get more than 20 amazing songwriters congregating in one place for a week,” recalled Mekinda, who ran the camp while working for Sony BMG. While large-scale camps such as the Idol nine room extravaganza were common in Scandinavia, it was something new in Canada.
D-Pop is one of Europe’s most successful camps hosted by TG Management in Aalborg, Denmark. Held at various venues just an hour by plane from Copenhagen, the company that gave the world global superstars like Aqua has camped it up for more than 10 years now.
“I believe in doing what you love, and we love doing D-Pop” says organizer and partner Lotte Aagard. “We’re excited to hear every new song that’s been written. I truly believe as long as you have heart and passion in it, it stays fresh. For that reason, so has D-Pop.”
Thomas Wallen, the A&R head for Malmo, Sweden’s hyperactive Roasting House Music Publishing which has landed the No. 1 single in Japan, offered some advice on how collaborations should be put together. Spearheading a crazy roster of writers that has already conquered the Japanese market, he noted that it’s much more than throwing a few people in a room and saying “write!”
“I’d say you have to find a way of being both safe and bold at the same time”, says Wallen. “If you’re just one or the other, it gets boring and you don’t get the big songs you’re looking for. People need to get along, but the best result sometimes comes from when writers get together with skeptical minds and get overwhelmed by the skills of others. That’s when the magic happens.”
For the past seven years, the SAC has held its own professional camp called Songworks which has evolved from simply a “writer in the round” into one of our premier networking events. Held four times annually, Songworks has been introduced in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, and Vancouver to date.
Songworks is a professional invitation-only songwriting camp hosted by the Songwriters Association of Canada. The three-day intensive songwriting retreat is designed to offer writers the opportunity to collaborate on artist driven projects, allowing writers to develop long-term relationships with other songwriters and performing artists. S.A.C. members have the opportunity to submit for open chairs at a select number of SongWorks camps. Click Here for more information.
Vince DiGiorgio is an accomplished songwriter with sales that have exceeded 30 million units. He is currently President of Chapter 2 Productions. www.chapter2prod.com
A strong title can ensure that people will remember your song. Many music supervisors and publishers have to sift through thousands of titles to find the right song for publishing and licensing opportunities, so your title is a key marketing tool.
Choose fresh and innovative words and themes, then mix them together with the common words and themes. An example of this would be “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, or “Stairway to Heaven”.
As you build a list of potential titles, why not create a “Hook Book?” Most Nashville songwriters keep there titles and themes in a Hook Book and refer to it in co-writing sessions.
Titles, Titles, and more Titles
Use this list of title categories to brainstorm ideas on new titles which will hopefully lead you to new songs.
- Questions: What’s Love Got to do with it?
- Commands/Requests: Lets go crazy, Beat it
- Political/Social, Current Events: Imagine, We are the World
- Character/People: Alejandro, Vincent
- Places: Born in the U.S.A, N.Y. N.Y.
- Objects: Little Red Corvette
- Emotional State/ Condition of Mind: Just Can’t Get Enough, All Shook Up
- Action/Activities: Dancing in the street, Run to You
- Dates/Times: Workin’ 9-5, Last Friday Night
- Metaphors: Love is a Battlefield, Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall
- Similes: Like a Rock, Like a Virgin
- Numbers: 9 Crimes, Route 66
- Rhyming: My Guy, Rock around the Clock
- Alliteration: Seasons in the sun, The Way We Were
- Assonance: Rolling in the Deep, Sweet Dreams
- Music: Play that Funky Music, Your Song
- Novelty/Nonsense Word Titles: MMMMBop, Na Na Hey Hey
- Dance: Twist, Macarena
- One word: Blow, Fame
- Opposites: Ebony & Ivory, Sound of Silence
- Humorous: Forget You (FU)