On Your Mark, Get Set, The Challenge Begins…

On Your Marks
Photo by: lincolnblues

61 Songwriters across Canada have signed on to take part in the Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge otherwise known as “the Blogging Challenge,” as outlined in Ariel Hyatt‘s book, “Music Success in 9 Weeks.”  How many of us will make it to the finish line?

In last night’s launch conference call with Ariel Hyatt, some participants asked, “What can I expect to get out of this?”  The cool thing about this challenge is that you define your own goals.  Hence some songwriters may be focused on publishing, while others are more focused on lining up gigs.  Whatever your goals, I believe what you put into the challenge is what you will get out of it.  Former challenge participant, Meghan Morrison reflected that she had gotten a lot of intangible benefits from participating in the challenge twice before.  Namely, a better understanding of who she was as an artist and what she wanted to achieve.

The Songwriters Association of Canada is excited to be championing the first ever Canadian challenge and looks forward to the momentum it will create for participants.  We are also thankful to our sponsors: Ariel Publicity, Bandzoogle and Reverbnation.

So, here we go with week 1.  All participants, please post the following below:

1-Your artist name.
2-The URL to your first blog entry
3-The URL to your website
4-Your Twitter handler (if you have one), and
5- your Facebook URL (if you have one)

When a songwriter loses her voice…

Sora with Cindy O'Neil

What would you do if you knew you were going to lose your voice forever?  What song would you sing?  Here’s a guest blog by S.A.C. Member Sora whose work with someone in this very predicament is both moving and inspiring.  It is also a great reminder to those of us who still have our voices to keep on singing!

In Sora’s Words…

Every musician knows there are difficulties to be had in any recording experience.   Scheduling, financing, timing and technical issues are all fairly common. Yet,  in the end,  we overcome knowing that no matter how we come to the recording, the instrument is unfailing, that the ultimate joy is the moment when we move our songs through our fingers, through our voices, through our bodies from that ether realm of imagination into something tangible, something real.   Imagine if you would then, that in addition to the regular obstacles that there was one with a far more personal and devastating impact:  that your body had now become the greatest challenge of all.

I met Cindy O’Neil in 2007 at a SOCAN event.   We hit it off instantly and within weeks we were co-writing a song together.  It was my first co-writing experience and though I was nervous, unsure how to proceed, unsure as to how Cindy’s jazzy and my Celtic new age styles would mesh, Cindy’s positive, upbeat attitude had us laughing, chording and lifting our voices together in song.  By the end of the night I had recorded on my mp3 player the basics of a duet, “Wings in Flight”.

We always wanted to record it, especially after performing it live and receiving amazing feedback.    Everything seemed on track.  The virtuosic violinist and composer, Donovan Seidle, who is an old friend of mine agreed to write a string arrangement and we had someone to produce it in a studio.   Of course, the best laid plans often go awry and the recording dates fell apart.  These things happen right?  As an artist synergy in projects is important, it creates momentum, focuses and streamlines.  Cindy and I thought that maybe it wasn’t quite the right time, that there would always be another recording date.   A year passed and Cindy moved from Calgary to Ontario to be with her fiancé.  Still, I thought perhaps on my next recording project I could fit Wings in Flight onto it.  We thought that we had forever to record it.

Forever came sooner than we thought.

For you see, Cindy has been living for years with a life threatening disease, rheumatoid arthritis.  And the medication that allows her do even the most basic of functions, that allows her to get dressed, brush her hair, this medication is stripping away her voice.    Cindy phoned me and told me this earlier in the year and asked “can we record our song before I don’t have a voice left?”

We struggled to make a plan, with limited finances and cross country distance between us.  I contacted a producer and recording engineer I know in Winnipeg and though this seemed an ideal solution, dates could not be pinned down.  The song felt as though it might just slip away into oblivion.  But a second phone call from Ontario changed all that.  Cindy’s fiancé, Ken, was planning a surprise trip West for her and when he asked if they could see me, it was as if the Universe had opened up and given me a gift, the ability to put together the best surprise present I could think of:  a recording.

Within weeks it was all set up.    And this time, it all fell into place perfectly, the recording studio, the musicians, media.  I went into the studio and recorded the bedtracks and scratch vocal and hoped beyond hope that as the temporary guardian of this song, that I would do it justice, that I could manifest our joint vision to her satisfaction as well as mine.

Cindy knew nothing, until we stepped inside the studio.   The song was put on and Cindy‘s face said everything.   She was overwhelmed, crying, laughing and above all else, she was singing.   I can’t say it wasn’t a struggle, it was.  Cindy lungs burned with each take, but to listen to her beautiful voice soaring above the lush strings wasn’t my gift to her.  It was her gift to me.  It’s not every day the Universe gives you the opportunity to give someone a legacy.  And if a song, recorded as one’s voice fades -as the unfailing instrument cracks- isn’t a legacy,  I don’t know what is.

 Click Here to visit Sora’s Songwriter Profile.



Radio Tracking is a Waste of Money?

Is investing in radio tracking a waste of money?  Bobby Gale, a 30-year veteran of the music industry, says yes. He started off as a radio personality at stations such as Chum in Winnipeg, L’Espirit in Montreal and Q107 in Toronto. He went on to work in promotions and publicity at Polygram for over a decade after which he launched his own company plug (Music) Inc., specializing in radio, video and tour promotions. For the past 20 years, his company has promoted the talents of artists such as 54-40, Bruce Cockburn, Matthew Good Band, City and Colour, Luke Doucet, Emm Gryner, Andy Kim, Melissa McClelland, Danny Michel and a slew of other staples of the Canadian Music scene.  Bobby will be at Songposium 2012 to share his many years of wisdom.  Here’s a preview of what he has to say…

HEYYY!  Bobby “the Pitbull aka GaleForce” Gale here!  lol
‘Really looking forward & honored to address the varied questions & concerns of the modern day songwriter January 28th @ the Songposium!  (Click Here for details).
One naturally imagines that today’s songwriter is fretfully looking to monetize artistry & craft, and what better way to do it than via radio play.
Easier said than done, right?
And its waaaay more difficult than ever before.
How does one ever expect to garner airplay, you ask, particularly as a virtual unknown, when radio tells you they need to see chart activity, or market buzzz, or ticket sales, or iTunes sales, or social networking metrics, & the like?
Well, honestly, that can only be achieved by knowing what truly matters to the multitasking radio VIP/programmer; and it requires someone quarterbacking your branding objective who fully knows what & how to present to the radio gatekeeper what can arguably influence & make the difference.
In a nutshell, it comes from the veteran expertise of an industry person, who for many years has dealt with all facets of both the radio & recording industry side of the music biz.
Someone dealing with it day in, day out, in the ever evolving current landscape.
Which you may be surprised to learn a so-called “tracker” can never provide.
Tracking is for kids/neophytes, and ends up wasting money and jeopardizing careers.
I’ve always stepped up and flatly said to a prospective or existing client … “if you’re looking for a tracker” please look elsewhere” … You’ll quickly realize you’re wasting your money or that of an investor.   And you’re likely also wasting valuable shelf life or window of opportunity in artistry & production.
“Tracking” or following a records progress is something anyone can now do with appropriate electronic tools.  However, “breaking” records and strategizing to create the BRAND via radio, the essence of what really should unfold in a promotional campaign, is something few can truly offer the critical path to, let alone accomplish on a consistent basis.
Sure, there are no guarantees, but there are proven ways to success that more often deliver tangible results.
I will address several of those pathways at the Symposium.
But don’t be thinking I’ll be giving it all away.  Haha
In any case, there are certain songs that one may “think” radio wants to play, or could, or should … this is too often coming from an unrealistic/uninformed perspective and could be further maligned thanks to the novice judgement of the so called “tracker”.  Be forewarned.
It’s why I’ve staked my entire career (spanning 4 decades) & that of my clientele, on emphasizing that the artist or songwriter REQUIRES sage advice to succeed, and why a significant, if not bonafide history of promoting to radio (more than 30 years in my case) is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.  However, it has also proven to be a pivotal prerequisite to achieving greater airplay results, by having a record promo veteran with a broadcast acumen in several (major) markets leading the charge.”  ~Bobby Gale