Pro Member Interview – Darryl James

Darryl James - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/DarrylJames

Darryl James has been writing and touring with the Strumbellas for the past 9 years and has seen one of his co-written songs “Spirits” become an international hit going “Double Platinum” in Canada, “Gold” in the USA and “Gold” in Germany. “Spirits” also have over 120 million Spotify streams and over 54 million Youtube streams worldwide, so Darryl understands what it takes to write a hit single! 

Over the past 2 years, Darryl has made songwriting one of his main priorities with the goal of writing songs with for other artists. In the last 6-12 months, Darryl is now co-writing with grammy nominated artists and producers regularly, signed a recent publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing, and has judged for both SOCAN and CARAS for various industry awards. 

  • What inspires you to create music?
I love creating music that connects with people and what they’re going through in their lives. When fans tell me that my music relates to them in any way, it means the world to me and inspires me to write more!
  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?
Yes. First, I create the melody and chords in a voice memo. From there, I try to write another melody to connect the two or co-write with someone to create something unique. I generally work on lyrics last.
  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?
I’m an original member in the band, The Strumbellas. It was my first band, and first time experiencing the industry.
  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?
In The Strumbellas, we try to work with a new producer every record and push our sound to something new, and exciting. Each of us in the band is always trying to find new music that inspires us and then build from in our own projects.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?
Yes. I am signed to a publisher called, Kobalt Music Publishing. I pitch songs to other artists and for sync opportunities.
  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?
I enjoy writing for other genres, but feel most comfortable in writing folk/country songs.
  • Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?
Economically, the first 8 years of being in The Strumbellas was a struggle. I ran my own consulting business on the side, just to make enough money to support being in the band, and supporting my family.
  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?
Our lead writer in The Strumbellas, Simon Ward. He writes “Huge” hooks and is always working to write better songs. It has been inspiring to learn from him throughout the last 10 years, and he’s influenced my work ethic and style for songwriting.
  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?
To be honest, I love collaborating with anyone. I find the experience so memorable and inspiring.
  • How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?
It was very informal. I played guitar around the camp fire and then transitioned to bass guitar and song writing, but that wasn’t until I was in my 20’s. Therefore, never be worried about when and how you start writing your first songs. It can happen anytime.
  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?
Write as many songs as you can, and don’t be scared to co-write with other creators.
  • What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?
My fondest memory is when our song, “Spirits” climbed the USA alternative charts and reached #1 for 3 weeks. The excitement and opportunities that song presented over the last few years were life changing and inspired much of my current work.
  • What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?
I’d say a voice recorder and a note pad. When you feel inspired or even when you don’t feel inspired, write some melodies and lyrics at any time of the day, and go back and listen every month or so.
  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?
I’ve started to write songs to pitch to film and television and in The Strumbellas, we’ve had a lot of sync placements with our last record. Overall, it is an amazing experience to hear a song you’ve co-written in a film, commercial or video game. And, even more rewarding when fans/friends come up to you and tell you about those placements!
  • How can S.A.C. help you?
I’d love to use the S.A.C to build my songwriter’s professional network by going to songwriting camps and connecting with other writer’s.
  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?
For the industry to be more inclusive of females and minority groups in leadership roles along with equalling out the opportunities for females/minority groups in the recording/production, and live music scenes.
  • What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself? 
With the internet, and the ability to put your songs out into the world within seconds, I feel like the opportunities are endless. 15 years ago that really wasn’t possible, and I’ve seen first hand how a songwriter can be found from a song on a SoundCloud link or Youtube video.
#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Lillian Allen

LillianAllen

Writer; Poet; Performer; dub poetry embodies these three characteristics, distinguishing it from singers or poets. As a pioneer in the dub poetry world, Lillian Allen has written, recorded and performed for decades. The Juno award winner has published books, advised community advocacy groups and the government alike on various social issues and now teaches at Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University).

“Black History Month reminds me of the soulfulness of my ancestors whose vestiges of heritage and culture we carry with us as a people everywhere we go; what an amazing connection this gives us. We are like our own worldwide web. Black History Month calls on not just Black people but our entire country to reflect on and celebrate the resistance, hopes, sacrifices and achievements of Black people & our culture and our vital contribution to human enterprise, both tangible and intangible. It should also be a reminder that unequal societal conditions, marginalization, lack of opportunities especially among a section of our youth, was not always so and can and must be countered with culture, economic upliftment and participation in society’s processes.”

Lillian Allen grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica and emigrated to Kitchener/Waterloo Canada in 1969 and later moved to New York City to pursue her studies and back to Canada where she settled in Toronto in the mid 1970’s.

Reading and performing her brand of poetry at community events to much accolades, her first of many books, Rhythm an’ Hard Times was published in 1982. Her first recording came out the following year. Active in Toronto’s arts & culture scenes, she collaborated with many musicians and artists.

Allen’s interest in writing and performing dub poetry received a jolt when she encountered the original dub poet Oku Onuora at a 1978 writers’ conference in Cuba. Onuora recorded the first dub poetry album, “Reflections in Red,” in 1979. Music is a fundamental component of dub poetry; the beat, usually reggae, is meant to add momentum to the uttered verses.

Lillian Allen was part of the first wave of dub poets including Mutabaraka and Linton Kwesi Johnson, credited with coining the term in a 1976 article. Johnson later explained he was referring to the rise of “toasting” among Jamaican deejays which developed into chattering or even singing along with extant songs and instrumentals. Dub Poetry is not toasting or “singjaying” though; there is a gravitas to the words which is not a requirement in reggae singing or toasting.

She explains in De Dub Poets her desire “to work within a form whose aim was to increase the dynamism of poetry, to increase it’s impact and immediacy, a poetic form that could incorporate many aspects of other art forms: performance, drama, fiction, theatre” and other elements. Her records “Revolutionary Tea Party” (1986) and “Conditions Critical” (1988) won Juno awards.

Allen co-founded the Dub Poetry Collective in between publishing books and performing live before assuming a new role, as a professor, at OCAD University.

Allen is currently developing a new BFA program in creative writing. The program will include performing, digital art forms and other elements integral to creative expression in 2019.

 

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

 

WU-cover.jpg

Click here to listen to Lillian Allen’s new single on S.A.C.’s Spotify playlist Ep. 5 Black History Songwriters Series

 

Spotify Ep.5 .png

Playlist:

Song: Revolutionary Tea Party

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Rub A Dub Style Inna Regent Park

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: Conditions Critical

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Discogs

 

Song: I Dream a Redwood

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: AllMusic

 

Song: Woken & Unbroken

Performed by: Lillian Allen

Written by: Lillian Allen

Source: Spotify

 

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

A Conversation With Miranda Mulholland

Bill King was a recent guest on Blair Packham and Bob Reid’s In the Studio radio hour at Newstalk 1010, where Blair introduced him to Miranda Mulholland, a Canadian fiddle player and singer. In this interview Miranda talks about her festival, the Sawdust City Music Festival, and tells us what is upcoming for her this summer.

Read the full FYI Music News interview here!

logo_0

downloadmirandax
Follow Miranda on social media

Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svgfb-art

 

T-SHIRT SALES SUPPORT FAIR TRADE MUSIC CAMPAIGN

ftmi-shirt-promo2
Exclusive Offer

As you may be aware Fair Trade Music has been a focus and priority of the Songwriters Association of Canada for the last several years. In the spirit of the season, we are asking our members to consider buying a t-shirt (or two!) as a great Holiday season gift that will help us build Fair Trade Music (FTM). All proceeds will go to furthering FTM’s mission to achieve a fair, transparent and equitable music value chain for songwriters, artists and everyone in the music value chain.

In the future, the goal of Fair Trade Music is to certify anyone in the music value chain, including digital steaming services, record labels, ticket sellers, and anyone else in the music value chain between those who create the music and the millions of people who enjoy it everyday. Fair Trade certification will inform consumers who pays and who plays “fair,” so they can make better choices when streaming and purchasing music.

As a valued member of the Songwriters Association of Canada, we ask you to show your support for the Fair Trade Music by purchasing a t-shirt (or two!).

Email info@fairtrademusicinternational.org to add your name to the Fair Trade Music campaign mailing list.

Visit the new Fair Trade Music International website now in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

From all of us at the Songwriters Association of Canada and Fair Trade Music International, Happy Holidays and Happy Songwriting!

Thank you.

Isabel Crack
Managing Director, Songwriters Association of Canada

Greg Johnston
President, Songwriters Association of Canada

Eddie Schwartz
Chair, Fair Trade Music International

How to launch a video on YouTube

Screenshot from NJ Taylor's music video - "I Don't Care"
Screenshot from NJ Taylor’s music video – “I Don’t Care”

by: NJ Taylor (NJ’s videos have garnered up to 98K views)

As an independent artist, it’s always difficult to figure out how to successfully launch a new song or music video. We all hope to see our music video go viral but the truth of the matter is that the probabilities of that happening are really slim. There are thousands of videos being uploaded every minute so our video becomes literally one in a million. So how can you stand out? How can you get more views and generate more activity?

The obvious thing is to promote it on all your social media platforms but once again, there is so much information being uploaded every minute that it’s not enough. The way to go about launching a YouTube video successfully is with online promotion. But beware, there are many online companies that claim that can get you X amount of views/likes/comments for a fairly low price but stay away from these. Often what they do is ‘buy’ views/likes/comments or they get them by spamming people and you want neither. You want to be able to target people that will potentially become true fans.

First things first, make sure to tag your video properly. It’s seems like an obvious thing to do but not everyone seems to know that. When you edit your video, write the title as follow: “name of artist – title of song”. Below the title, you can add basic information; write a brief description (official video, etc.) and add all your main social media links. Then add all the relevant tags such as artists you are comparable to, location, etc. Don’t forget to monetize your YouTube video. You can do so through companies such as Google Adsense, Audiam and AdRev.

Here’s a list of online promotions that are worth trying:

  1. YouTube: The most successful way to promote your music video is through Google AdWords’ video campaigns. If it’s your first time using this service, call them and they will guide you on how to create a successful ad.
  1. Facebook: Create a Facebook event the moment you launch your video; invite all your friends to join the event and then create a Facebook ad to promote the event Raise attendance at your event. Also create a post on your fan page with the link of your YouTube video and make sure to boost your post. Then create a Send people to your website ad; go to “Create Ads – Send people to your website – then enter the URL of your YouTube video. More importantly, target your audience properly.
  1. ReverbNation: Their Promote on Top Sites and Promote Video campaigns are both excellent to promote a music video. Both campaigns feature the ads on premium sites such as MTV, YouTube, billboard, Pandora, Spin, Paste just to name a few. Make sure to have a good quality picture to use for the promotion. Your picture is the very first impression to your product and it’s what will make people click on your ad or not. I recommend in running your campaign for at least a month to see considerable results.
  1. Twitter: There are few different ways of creating campaigns with Twitter Ads. You can aim at one specific location such as a region or a city, you can target an interest (i.e. specific radio stations, artist similar to you, etc.) and many more. Create different campaigns and experiment to see which one gives you the best results. Create appealing tweets that will make people want to click on the link such as “Do you love pop music, if so check out my new single…”. They also now have a brand new feature to drive clicks called Quick Promote. This new feature allows you to promote one specific tweet that you already have posted on your Twitter page instead of running a full ad campaign.
  1. Promote the launch of your video to your fan mail or in your newsletter and also contact all relevant bloggers.

When promoting your video, make sure to focus on quality and not quantity. It’s better to get slower results that will make you gain true fans rather than fast results that won’t result in anything more than numbers. And if you prefer having someone doing it for you, you can hire a social media manager. Bottom line, make sure to create a budget for your online promotion.

Once you have done all that, make sure to promote it as much as possible and don’t forget to submit it the S.A.C.!

Visit NJ Taylor’s Songwriters Profile.
Visit NJ Taylor’s YouTube Channel.

Here’s A Pretty Ribbon On That Blogging Challenge Wrap!

Image of Two Bathing Beauties With Prize CupI logged in to Facebook early last week to discover the little earth icon in the navigation bar all lit up and a roll of “congratulations” in my newsfeed from fellow bloggers. And that, my friends, is how I found out I won the Canadian Social Media Blogging Challenge that I took part in this winter. Woo hoo! Social media in action.

I Never Was a Prom Queen, But…

Imagine the trophy is a dozen roses and the hat is a tiara.

Given my love of all things shiny and my diva-esque nature, I immediatelypictured myself among Pageant Queens accepting a bouquet of nailpolish-red roses in my arms, grinning cheek-to-cheek. Less Courtney Love, but still mascara running down my face** as I tearfully accept my sparkling tiara and sash ~ blowing kisses to the countless readers who have made my blog what it is today!! **This from the fact that the challenge was based on the book:Music Success In Nine Weeks!Hahaha! But seriously, I am super glad I took part in the challenge, and I am honoured to be selected as its winner… thanks Songwriter’s Association of Canada (SAC) and thanks Ariel Hyatt for putting on this first ever Canadian version of the Music Success In Nine Weeks Blogging Challenge. A most excellent way to spend the start of 2012. And as it turns out I didn’t even have to wear a bathing suit to win the fabulous prizes.

Queen For a Day, But This is No “Royal We” Here

I’d like to send warm fuzzies out to my fellow participants for doing the challenge with me (with a special shout out going to Lily Cheng, who not only blogged with us but also facilitated the challenge. Thanks Lily!) We spent a concentrated nine weeks tackling topics and tasks related to social media. Collectively we set up a pretty substantial Canadian corner of new Facebook & twitter music accounts. We got comfy with Youtube and rss feeds – and then we blogged about it so that our fans could join us on the journey too.

PS Speaking of Youtube, you should totally subscribe to my channel! I started a “Homemade Music Video Project” during the challenge: my goal is to make homemade, no budget videos for all of my songs. Me editing them and everything! (There are three so far and more on the way.) Other fun stuff you can do: sign up for my mailing list,follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook. Hurray! Phew… is that… it?

Sixty of us started back in January. Out of that emerged a core group of about twenty singer-songwriters who stayed in to the end, supporting each other through the weekly to-do list. We had (and in fact still have) an active Facebook group where people shared their successes and their challenges of the business and posted information and support for each other. Several genuine friendships started through this challenge that have extended beyond the end date. I still pop into the group quite regularly to see what everyone’s up to and to soak up some extra love when I’m feeling out of sorts with my workload. The DIY model says we are autonomous in exercising creative and administrative control over our work, yes. It is also clear that the “social” in social media truly drives us humans. We need connection and community to thrive.

Maybe that is one of the reasons blogging is so perfect in this day and age of friends & fans spread out across the globe. An artist’s blog is personal and self-directed and, yet it can be highly interactive too. Online connections are sometimes maligned as shallow, and for sure there can be a Pollyanna-ish-ness that can drive me nuts sometimes. However it seems to me that online relationships when properly nurtured can be pretty darn real too.

The Take Away

As songwriters, we are all-the-time creating narratives for ourselves and others to sing. But when it comes time to write ourselves into the world… that same creative glean can get muddied. (Okay, this might be a “royal we”.) One of the biggest take-aways for me from doing this blogging challenge was the shifting away from an emotional space of passive want: hoping someone will “discover” me [my music] and moving to that of an active space. Blogging is active. It is constructive. It is also relatively inexpensive to do. As a bonus, blogging is creative. You don’t need a record label or Billboard approval to share your thoughts and your work. You just need to trust in the strength of your creativity and your ability to connect. That, and a bit of time to jot it all down.

The Other Take-Aways

… are pretty awesome too! I look forward to talking with Ariel about the eight-week Cyber PR campaign. Can’t wait to find out what’s in store once my music goes out directly to her network of bloggers and podcasters. Will my work connect on that scale too? Thanks,Reverbnation, for their contribution to the amazing prize list, too. And I’ve already had a skype meeting with Dave Cool of Bandzoogle to discuss building a second website for my little indie record label, since I’ve already got www.karynellis.com (come visit!) I’ll let you folks know when the new one is up and running too.

Okay. Now… THAT’S a wrap of the blogging challenge. But, folks, you can be sure my musings will continue on. If you’re reading this somewhere other than on my blog — Letters To My Editor — do pop by for more posts. You can also subscribe while you’re there to get my upcoming posts directly in your inbox.

Till next time!
Karyn