11 Reasons Twitter Rocks…and why songwriters should use it

Not only is Ania Ziemirska the Membership Services Representative at the Songwriters Association of Canada, she’s also a singer/songwriter AND an avid Tweeter.  She came up with a list of 11 reasons why songwriters should engage in 140 character conversations.

In Ania’s Words 

Twitter, I love you, let me count the ways:

  1. 140 character limit – you’re actually practicing your ability to “choose the words that count”. How many times have you heard someone tell you that your songs are too wordy?
  2. It’s simple, clean and direct – there’s no games, no flashy ads, no groups to join or pages to like. You only have one box to type into and your message is sent to the world.
  3. Privacy settings are simple – you either share your tweets with the world or with your followers. And DMs give you the one-on-one privacy. (Side note: Apparently Protected Tweets are not cool)
  4. It’s cheaper than therapy – nobody likes a whino, but an occasional vent is okay and it’s nice to get an objective perspective from a bunch of (possibly) strangers.
  5. It goes beyond fan pages and websites – I feel like my followers on Twitter actually care about what I have to say and it feels like they’re “true fans”. I also have some great friendships that began on Twitter.
  6. Inspiration and motivation – I read and post inspirational quotes, articles, etc. Everyone has bad days and ruts, these little posts bring a little perspective and inspiration to my day. (Tip: Read tweets to get song ideas, people say the darnedest things sometimes)
  7. It’s personal – there’s something about twitter that feels like you’re actually having a conversation…because you are! It’s not just comments on a post, it’s one-on-on interaction.
  8. A quick way to discover and learn new things – retweets do wonders, so do hashtags. I will click on links of people I follow and re-post them if they’re interesting. I learn new things, find new music and much more! Sharing IS caring!
  9. It’s a search tool – Need a tip? Not sure how to use something? Reach out to your followers and you’ll be surprised how much info you’ll get…and sometimes quicker than you can sift through Google results (side note: I love Google)
  10. Keep up with the world (yes, music news too) – News, in little snippets. Twitter is a quick way to stay on top of what’s going on. Disclaimer: If something seems too wild, you might want to follow it up with a Google search…fake news travels faster than real news 😉
  11. It’s free and it works – Word of Mouth is still one of the most powerful advertising tools and Twitter is just that. It drives people back to check out your website, your music and you! And with a simple retweet, it’s quick and painless for others to share your info with their followers

Honorary reason: Twitter Chat! Pick a time and a unique #hashtag to connect with fans or like minded individuals. Here’s a useful tool for chats. I was part of a music marketing one and found it really informative.

Visit Ania Ziemirska’s Songwriters Profile.

Get en-Tranced with Melissa Loretta

Melissa Loretta is a professional trance music recording artist.  While she may be off your radar, she’s already making  a huge impact in the trance world, including hitting #34 in the Top 100 Trance Charts at Beatport.com, #33 on A State of Trance 2010 Top 100, and most recently performing in Poznan, Poland for ATB in Concert V.  In fact, 3 of her most recent collaborations appear on ATB’s latest album, Distant Earth,” which achieved Gold status just weeks after release.  For those of you who don’t know, ATB is a German DJ, musician and Trance producer who has been ranked as the number one DJ in the world.

Melissa offered to give us an overview as a Trance singer/songwriter.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to try to write a song in this relatively new genre.

In Melissa’s Words

“Trance Music?! What’s that?!”

This is unfortunately a common question I hear when meeting someone new in Toronto and explaining how my music career started off.  “Oh you are a recording artist, cool, so what type of music do you record?” they’ll ask.  “EDM / Trance Music” I reply, and then wait for the usual questions to follow.

Okay so maybe nearly everyone in Toronto has heard a Trance song or two before (whether they know it or not), but do they really know anything about the genre or that some of the industry’s talented rising stars are actually Canadian?  I’m not about to present a history of Trance here, rather I only hope to expose to fellow S.A.C. members what is starting to emerge as an exploding music scene.  Trance and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) in general is a growing phenomenon that is taking club/concert culture, youtube and other online portals by storm, and that is good news not just for fans but also for songwriters and vocalists alike.

Because Trance is so new compared to the likes of Rock and Country for example, there seems to be a greater window of opportunity for new talent to emerge.  Many Trance DJs/Producers are always on the lookout for new singer-songwriters to work with via a collaboration.  A lot of producers do not sing themselves so they are always on the hunt to find a unique voice to suit their tracks (female vocalists being the current trend though more and more male singer-songwriters are emerging, which is very encouraging).

And you don’t have to go pounding on doors to always find collaboration opportunities.  For me, what started as a simple comment on LA-based DJ/Producer Amurai’s Myspace page, eventually led to a collaboration offer after he took a moment to listen to my songs online.  From there our joint track was pitched and signed to a major EDM label in Europe and the rest is history.  Of course not every producer whom you tap on the virtual shoulder will lend your work an ear, but there may be that “one” who does listen.  So by showcasing your original works online (Myspace, Soundcloud, Youtube, etc.) and networking, you never know what can happen.  Of course you have to be cautious of internet scams that unfortunately do exist but it doesn’t take much to do a little research to see if the offer for a potential collaboration deal checks out.

So just what is EDM and Trance culture like?  All you have to do is type in #trancefamily in Twitter search results to get even a small taste.  There you will see a steady flow of tweets and chatter belonging to an enthusiastic community of music lovers sharing a common passion for the genre, and the word “family” is no exaggeration.  There really is a tight-knit online presence created by the artists and fans together.  And the social media sites are just where it all starts.  EDM festivals and concerts happen all throughout the year and around the globe bringing together the artists and supportive listeners.   Maybe I’ll see you at one of them?

Have a listen to some of Melissa’s songs:

One of Melissa’s collaborations with ATB and Amurai:

Katie Rocks the Home Recording

Every dream has to start somewhere.  For Katie Rox, it began when she recorded her first solo album at home, on Garageband.  Since that time she’s released 2 other solo albums, gotten song placements on several TV shows including Degrassi, Instant Star, and Lost Girl, in addition to being nominated for a BCMA, MMVA and Juno.  Previously a lead singer of the industrial-rock band Jakalope, Katie has transitioned into writing more personal songs with a country sensibility.  On her most recent release, “Pony Up,” Katie endeavoured to maintain the intimacy of home recording while bringing in established players for a polished sound.  Here is her take on the reasons and process behind her newest professional home recording.

In Katie’s Words…

When I recorded my first solo album, High Standards, in 2008 it was recorded at home, on Garageband.  It was my first time recording without being in a professional studio.  I liked the idea and the challenge of doing it on my own.  I did what I could with what I had (a closet, my mac and a 58 mic) and I think it turned out great.  However, it did lack the “professional” sound quality that you get when recording in a studio.  It sounded like a home recording – which it was.  Still, I’d love the vibe that was created.

For this record, Pony Up, I wanted to keep the natural, cozy vibe that recording at home gives you both in your comfort/ease while recording and also the “sound” in creates, but increase the quality of how it would sound to others, not to mention the caliber of most records out there.  A home, garage band recording can’t be played on the radio or in a TV show…at least, not the way I initially did it.  A friend of mine, engineer and producer Paul Forgues, travels the world recording live shows for bands such as The Barenaked Ladies and The Odds.  I asked him, “If that gear can be brought anywhere and set up anywhere…could you set it up in my apartment?”.  He said yes – and that’s exactly what we did.  No sound proofing or altering the room (apart from getting the bed out of the way!) as we felt the room was also what we wanted to capture.  I had friends come in and record their parts, including drummer Pat Steward (Bryan Adams, Matthew Goode, The Odds).  The drums were what made me the most nervous because of how loud they can be.  And LOUD they were, but with a guy like Pat Steward behind the kit, I knew he was a “one-take” kind of talent, and it was only loud for a few hours…and no complaints from the neighbors.

It was challenging when sirens would go by, my cat meowing, and a cement driller (or something) down below that made a horrible hum…but we made it work.  And I love how this record turned out.  And what’s even better is the amount of compliments I get about how professional it sounds.  That’s what you get when you’ve got a vision in your head and hire great people to help you make it happen!

Hear some more of Katie’s songs, click here.

Here is Katie’s music video for the song, “Airplane” from her latest album.

Why Just Having A Song ISN’T Enough

Brian Asselin is a mutlifaceted member of the Songwriters Association of Canada and a recent Featured Member.  He has spent many years teaching music and working as a jazz musician.  More recently, he discovered an interest in songwriting and while he finishes up recording his debut album, he has already gotten radio airplay for his song, “Tonight,” which was actually his first foray into writing a conventional love pop song.  In addition, Brian wrote a song of appreciation for teachers which has garnered over 300,000 views on his Youtube Channel.  We interviewed him to find out the secret of his success on Youtube and why he feels that “just having a song isn’t enough.”

Initially teaching music was a way of supplementing his income as a musician, but it soon became a passion unto itself.  So much so that he decided to attend teachers college where an assignment led him to write the song, “You Have Made a Difference.”  The song has captured the attention of teachers and students around the world, leading to Youtube hits, sales of the song, as well as sales of the music charts.  It’s success illustrates how writing a song for a specific target audience, along with the investment of significant time in marketing your song to that audience, can lead to sales and public awareness.

Contrary to what some many believe, placing the song on Youtube did not lead to immediate fame.  Instead, with diligence and many hours at his computer, Brian contacted teacher organizations around the world, in addition to anyone else who might be interested in sharing the song, including the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper from whom he received a letter of appreciation.  He even sent a copy to Oprah and Ellen Degeneres (but never heard back from either).  For 5 months he spent 2-4 hours online daily to share his song.  He sent out 200-250 emails, and mailed out 100 copies.  The 300,000+ hits he’s received has been a slow accumulation that experienced a significant rise on Teacher’s Day, on October 5th when his Youtube video received almost 10,000 hits in one day.  The song has taken on a life of its own.  The lyrics to “You Have Made a Difference,” have been added to a text book in South Africa, and the song was used as a theme for the Canadian Federation of Teachers for World Teachers Day.

It is expected that the song’s popularity will continue to grow as World Teachers Day is celebrated annually, and few songs have captured the sentiment of gratitude for teachers as captured by Brian’s song.  In the mean time Brian hopes that the success of this song, will help to catapult his upcoming album. When asked if he had any tips for fellow songwriters, he replied, “Jump into the deep end.  Just having a song isn’t enough.  No one is going to search for you (online).  Promote yourself as much as possible.”  Clearly, Brian has taken his own advice and benefited from it.

Visit Brian’s Songwriter’s Profile (and hear some of his songs).