S.A.C. Challenge – Week 6 – Choice No. 2 – Issued by Vincent Degiorgio – Write a Holiday Hit

Vince DegiorgioVincent Degiorgio is a multi million selling songwriter who owns and operates Chapter 2 Productions.

His global reach and career has included many facets, from writing for European superstar Caro Emerald to being the man who signed N Sync in America. He continues to write for artists around the world, with dozens of gold and platinum records to show for his work for artists ranging from Japanese pop stars Lead to Canadians Meaghan Smith and Julie Crochitiere. His Cymba Music Publishing company houses hitmakers like Aileen de la Cruz, Ian Smith, Davor Vulama and his newest signing, Edmonton’s Olivia Wik.

Here is Vince’s songwriting challenge:

Write the next great holiday song.

The timing is perfect for your quest to deliver the next great Christmas song, or one to be celebrated during the holidays. Aside one new song on the globally loved Michael Buble Christmas album, new songs that have transcend the holidays are few and far between. Songs that challenge the system like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” and N Sync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” are few and far between. Your challenge is to lyrically and melodically enter the creative stratosphere of great songs like “The Christmas Song”, a timeless masterpiece, and songs like “Let It Snow”, both of which were written in a California heatwave. While the former speaks of the setting of the perfect Christmas, the latter evokes all of the settings of a holiday celebration without mentioning Christmas itself.  Remember, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” was a fisherman’s lament. What I am looking for is a song of any tempo in any style, that speaks of your personal imagery and memories of the holiday season. Pour yourself into the idea that you do not have to be culturally specific, but you do have to deliver the message what this December past time means to you. Songs should be no longer than 3:30 long.

Many of the most beloved holiday classics were once written for movies. Use that imagery when you write your song. Rather than be jealous of yet another cover version of “White Christmas”, change the landscape for me and anyone listening with your song. 

When I was the A&R person for N Sync, I put together an album I am very proud of for five great singers. It was tailored after the Johnny Mathis album “Merry Christmas” – to provide a timeless, or timely representation of the talent at the time. Today, one is considered “The King Of Pop”. The other a timeless icon, who is the undisputed king of holiday albums.

Show me your talent with your song. Because for music supervisors and publishers, the holiday season for movies actually starts in April, not November. 

Good luck,
Vince Degiorgio

Please submit the following by Monday, March 23, 11:59 EST.
1.  Link to a blog post about your experience with this challenge.
2.  Link to your song (preferably on SoundCloud) with lyrics posted in SoundCloud.
Comments posted by people who have not registered for the Challenge will be deleted.
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Challenge No. 1 – The S.A.C. Songwriting & Blogging Challenge

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!

Fair Trade Music Principles for a Better Future

2012 was a ground breaking year for songwriters and composers worldwide. For the first time our organizations formed alliances both in Canada and around the world.

In Canada, the S.A.C. joined with the Screen Composers Guild and SPACQ, our counterpart in Quebec to form Music Creators Canada.

Music Creators North America was formed following a meeting with the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) and Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). We have also joined hands with our colleagues at the European Composers and Songwriters Association (ECSA), and the International Council of Authors and Composers (CIAM).

The work will continue in 2013 and beyond to strengthen these newly created relationships so that music creators around the globe can and will speak with a united and powerful voice.

But what will that unified voice say? Surely, with so many organizations from so many parts of the world involved, agreeing upon a common narrative will be difficult.

Well, we have good news on that front. Almost all of the organizations have agreed upon a set of principles: the Fair Trade Music Principles.

In the coming weeks, I will present each of the Principles and explain the thinking behind each one.

Here is the first:

We call for new (and existing) music business models built on principles of fair and sustainable compensation for music creators.

One only has to think of Apple, a company that transitioned from a niche computer manufacturer to the most highly valued company in the world. The transition was built on the incredible popularity of the iPod, which originally had one purpose: to play music. (The iPod of course led to the iPhone.)

In addition, we have Spotify, Rdio and Pandora, not to mention Google and Internet service providers, generating combined revenue streams in the billions of dollars annually.

Without music these businesses would not exist, and yet those who create the core element to this vast wealth, the music creators, are the beneficiaries of very little, if any of this massive value chain.

So we find ourselves in much the same place that Third World coffee growers were in before the Fair Trade Coffee movement, and this is a situation that music creators must and will work globally to correct.

It is time music creators were fairly included in these value chains based on our collected works. The fact that we are working together internationally to achieve this goal is a real step forward.

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

It’s a Youtube Universe! – The Challenge Week 5

Get your YouTube face on! Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons License by Yu-Ta Lee

Once upon a time, people had to travel somewhere to see you play music live.  Although one could argue that YouTube is still distinctly different from watching a show in person, gone are the days when a shroud of mystery enveloped artists until you were able to see them on television or at a show.  These days, having a presence on YouTube is a given and not a bonus part of your social media marketing plan.

Here are some interesting stats (provided by YouTube):

  • 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day
  • Over 3 billion videos are viewed a day
  • Users upload the equivalent of 240,000 full-length films every week
  • More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US networks created in 60 years
  • 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US
  • YouTube is localized in 25 countries across 43 languages
  • YouTube’s demographic is broad: 18-54 years old
  • YouTube reached over 700 billion playbacks in 2010
  • 800M unique users visit YouTube each month

Clearly, anyone who wants to connect with people through their music wants to be a part of this explosive kinetic activity.  While some may passively view YouTube videos, like any another TV channel, in fact, YouTube is very social.  Much of the traffic on YouTube is driven by sharing.  In addition, rating and commenting have become an integral part of the YouTube experience.

So, this week, participants of the Songwriters Association of Canada’s Canadian Songwriters Social Media Challenge (based on the book, “Music Success in 9 Weeks,” by Ariel Hyatt), are putting their best YouTube face forward by building or tweaking their YouTube Channels.

We’ll see YOU on YouTube!

Here are some highlight videos from our participants!

Instructions for Challenge Takers living on the edge:

1.  Link to your blog entry for the week. (exact URL)
2.  Link to your YouTube Channel.
3.  Link to a YouTube video created specifically for this week.

Adi Braun takes a leap of faith with singer/songwriter debut, “Canadian Scenes I”

Adi Braun CD Cover

Adi Braun has garnered a sizable list of accomplishments as a vocalist including releasing 3 critically acclaimed CDs, one of which was shortlisted for a Juno nomination.  She has toured the world and established a name for herself as a leading jazz vocalist.

Over the years, Adi has gained confidence as a songwriter and this week she releases her debut singer/songwriter album, “Canadian Scenes I.”  Adi shares with us the gems of experience and inspiration that have led her to this release, as well as some advice for fellow songwriters.  In the end Adi encourages us to “take a leap of faith.”

1.  Congratulations on the release of your 4th album.  What is the over arching theme or inspiration behind this new album? I have been singing songs by other Canadian songwriters as well as my own originals for several years now, but somehow I only now found the courage to capture them on record.

2.  This is your debut album as a singer/songwriter.  When did you begin writing songs, and what inspired you to branch out your creativity in this way? I actually began writing songs when I was about 16 years old and living in Germany.  Then when I moved back to Toronto two years later my life took a somewhat different turn as I began classical vocal studies (both of my parents were opera singers) and so this little dream of becoming a pop singer/songwriter “went to sleep” for many years.  I performed as a classical singer until I was in my mid-thirties and only then followed my true calling back to jazz, pop and cabaret music.  Over the past few years my fans, family and friends have repeatedly asked me to record my own songs and I have also been very encouraged by Canadian Singer/Songwriter legend Shirley Eikhard to put my song-writing foot forward.

3.  What unique challenges did you encounter approaching a singer/songwriter project that were different from your previous CDs? I honestly felt that it was more a revelation than a challenge that was truly unique in this project.  It is an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by such players as I was who appreciated and felt my music as deeply as they did and played with such heartfelt sincerity.  It was a deeply moving experience.

4.  How did you come up for the funding of this project? All of my CDs have been funded privately by myself.  It’s not been an easy road to travel on and has involved lots of hard work but the rewards have been beautiful.

5.  What are your marketing plans to support this release? To sell this CD at all of my other upcoming performing events and to continue to sell all of my CDs through different on-line stores as well as on i-Tunes.  Then there is radio-airplay which is always tremendously helpful.

6.  You have hired a PR company to help in promoting this project. Why did you make this decision and what criteria do you think is important in choosing a PR company? As an independent artist without a big agency representation you are often the only person who is responsible for all details of your work, so it is extremely helpful to have someone who is able to carry forward the artist’s intentions to the media.  My advice to anyone thinking of hiring a publicist is to carefully check them out and ask for references.  Make sure he/she is committed to your unique artistic voice.

7.  How long did it take to make this album? This album has been in the works for at least two years – in the heart and the mind, that is.  But the physical recording took place this May and by the end of June it was all completed.

Adi Braun

8.  If there was one piece of advice you could give to people embarking on recording a singer/songwriter CD, what would it be? Take the leap of faith and do it!  I have heard from others in the field (jazz, mostly) that recording an “all-original” CD might not be a good decision.  Instead – they suggested – to record only one or two of your own songs nestled among several standards.

While I find this an interesting choice and possibility I do feel that it might encourage artists to feel that they need another person’s work to “hide” behind.  I’d say – if you are not in a position to record an entire album of originals, record an EP (which is what I did).  The feeling of giving birth to something that can capture your own inner truth and authentic voice is unparalleled in my mind.

To find out more about Adi – click here.

Facebook is Favourite for Communications

The Songwriters Association of Canada ran a survey about fan communications and found that Facebook and traditional email lead the way for fan communications.  See charts below:

Question 1:

Other:  Myspace, Reverbnation, Face to Face, Weekly gigs, website, internet radio, S.A.C. website and Bandmix
Surprising Answer: I have no fans (submitted by a few respondents)

Question 2:

Question 3: