A song resurrected, “At the End of the Day.”

When I first heard the news that the Cherry Suede song “At the End of the Day” would be the latest featured video on the SAC homepage, I was both grateful and a little amused.

You see, this is one of those songs I like to call a “problem child”. For whatever reason, it was trouble from day one. But, both my co-writer Randy Scott and I feel that if we’re irresponsible enough to start an idea, we should be responsible enough to finish it. We do our best to complete most of the songs we begin. Not to mention the fact that it may have seemed a bit hypocritical to abandon a song whose focus was on commitment and devotion.

The ongoing struggle with this song began with its influences. I’m a big fan of Country music. At the time, I had been listening to both “Woman in Me”  and “Come on Over” by Shania Twain, repeatedly. One listen to title track from the former and “You’re Still the One” from the latter – and I was hooked. I wanted songs like that of my own. So the idea was born and I cut a rough demo.

RS, who is not the biggest fan of the Country genre, wasn’t as enthusiastic. “Isn’t Cherry Suede supposed to be a rock band? guitars, drums…”, he reasoned. But after a bit of a debate, we both agreed that a good song will win out, and we should give it a shot. So he began to write…and write…and write.

He first locked in on the title. “At the End of the Day”, an expression a good friend of ours often used. We are huge on titles. The sooner we come up with a title, the sooner a song starts to feel real. The rest of the lyric wasn’t so easy.

“I literally went through verse after verse, chorus after chorus, and nothing felt right” RS explains. “Once I had the idea in my head about commitment and devotion, I would think about relationships like my parents, who were, and still are together … I wanted to write something worthy of that, so I became very hard on myself … and my writing.”

Once we finally had a draft, we recorded the song at Le Studio, in Morin Heights, QC. Although the facility was probably most famous for a string of Rush albums, I was intrigued by the fact that much of “Woman in Me” was recorded there. That studio was truly a magical place and I miss it dearly. ( It also had fantastic coffee! )

Of course the first recording of the song was a false start. We couldn’t get the feel we were looking for and the melody just didn’t sit right. The sessions were scrapped and we put the song away for another time. It was only by chance during a later session that RS took a whole different approach to the melody. Suddenly, we felt like we were on the right track. A final demo came out of of those sessions, but, in the end, it still lacked finesse.

“At the End of the Day” laid dormant for years. That is, until one day, film director Sean Michael Beyer in Hollywood heard the demo buried on Myspace and insisted he licence it for his movie “Resurrection Mary.” We worked out the details and got to work.

Because of the film’s deadline, we had to move quickly. We produced the bed tracks via iChat in Ottawa while they were being recorded in LA. Once the basic tracks were cut, the guitars and vocals were finished on the road in West Virginia. The final mix was done at The Barbershop Studios in NJ by Jason Corsaro and the song was mastered at Sterling Sound, NY by UE Nastasi.

Total turnaround from locking in the deal to delivery of the song was about a week to 10 days.

The song ended up in both a dance scene and as final credits in the film.

We’ve since included the new version as a bonus track on our limited edition re-release of the first Cherry Suede album and it has become an audience favourite. We have countless stories of the song being used as a wedding song, along with heaps of other positive feedback.

“At the End of the Day” has seen yet another “rebirth” with our recent acoustic version. The “featured video” on the SAC page, was part of the development for a Cherry Suede: Up Close and Personal acoustic live show and web video series. The video cost us about $39 dollars to make (rental of 4 lights) and was edited by 16yr old filmmaker Andrew Barrie.

The spread of the acoustic version of “At the End of the Day”, along with our free music downloads, and the Cherry Suede: Up Close and Personal series has already led to talks of bringing the show to the UK in May.

It’s nice to see a song that, at its core, talks about commitment and devotion, prove it’s own message to us time and time again. Had we walked away from it and not finished the song, we would have missed the beauty of the whole journey. And in the end, isn’t that what all this is supposed to be about?

Thanks for listening.

-RY

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6 Proven Networking Strategies for Songwriters

Everywhere you turn, it seems someone is talking about how the music industry is changing. This new thing is great, that new thing is bad – sales are up here, sales are down there. But it doesn’t matter whether you believe things are changing for the worse or changing for the better – some things will always hold true. And one of those things that is as true now as it was 50 years ago- the importance of effective networking and relationship building.

It’s no secret that I love what I do. One of my favourite things is that I get to meet many different songwriters and artists- sometimes it’s in person at a SAC Workshop or it might be through one of the many emails. tweets and Facebook messages I receive daily. After digging through the pile of impersonal “check out my music” or “come to my show” messages, I’ll usually stumble upon someone asking me for advice. Every so often I’ll get a very unique question, but more often than not, I’m hit with the same ones over and over. They usually go something like this:

  • Where can I find someone I can collaborate with on songwriting (music, lyrics etc)?
  • How do I meet other songwriters or industry professionals so I can move my career forward (get a publishing deal, manager, agent)?
  • Is there somewhere I can get feedback on my music to find out if I’m on the right track (reviews, critiques) ?
  • and so on..

And when it comes down to it, all these questions focus on the same core problem- “How do I effectively network in the music industry?”

Effective Networking

It almost hurts me to say that I meet so many songwriters who lack an understanding of how to network effectively.  They attend an event here and there, talk to one or two people and walk away- usually complaining that the event “sucked”. Others rely on serendipity, waiting for that elusive “big break”- only to find they rarely gain enough traction to fuel any real growth to further their careers. This is simply not enough. You must to do more. You have to go beyond chance and seek out new and creative networking opportunities to get ahead and be a successful songwriter.

Now in the end, you have to deliver. You must have quality songs and go beyond people’s expectations. Without great songs, you are fighting a losing battle. That being said, effective networking should be a driving force, if not a major part of your daily musical efforts.

Proven Networking Strategies

Here are a few proven strategies that are sure to help make your networking more effective:

  1. Give, then receive – focus on sharing and not selling. Networking is a two way street and people will often resist a sales pitch. Try to always offer your help and skills first.
  2. Know why you’re networking – What are you looking to achieve? Do you want a co-writer? Are you looking for a publishing deal? Do you need help recording songs? What problem are you currently trying to solve- and what problems can you solve for others?
  3. Do your homework first– Make sure to avoid questions that can be answered by a simple google search. If you’re attending an event, find out who will be there – and do some research. Prepare a set of questions you can ask. Maybe things like – What’s your favourite song? What kinds of songs do you prefer to write? How do you find opportunities for your songs? By learning about who you are talking to, you’ll keep the conversation going and make it more meaningful.
  4. Don’t ever be pushy or desperate – you can be politely persistent but respect the fact that people are often busy and may not have the ability, resources or desire to lend a hand.
  5. Always Ask Permission – Always….always…always! Get permission before doing anything that may infringe on someone’s rights or privacy.
  6. Say “thank you” – you would be surprised how common courtesy has become very uncommon – little things like this still go a long way. Be polite and courteous to everyone.

Things Rarely Happen Overnight

Things may happen quickly for you, or it may take you years to see results– most likely, it’ll be somewhere in between. Be realistic and persevere. Don’t expect to do something once, like show up to one meeting or workshop and expect everything to magically fall into place. Your network will grow over time as you develop bonds and connections with people. Take your time to build relationships that are solid and long lasting. Make sure you focus on the quality and not the quantity of your relationships. Like so many other areas in life, the quality of your relationships have a huge impact on how far and how fast you move ahead.

Organizations like SAC hold monthly songwriting workshops and meetings in most major cities. You should attend as many of these and other industry events as often as you can. If you don’t live near a major city, take advantage of SAC’s online community. There you can connect with other songwriters and share and exchange your ideas regardless of where you live.

Feel free to offer up any comments below, or join the discussion at S.A.C. Connect on Facebook.

And if you have any questions for me, feel free to drop me a line at anytime, either on Facebook, Twitter, by email or drop by my website, I’m always happy to lend a hand.

-Randy