Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TAXI on YouTube

For those who know about TAXI, there are a series of YouTube videos that TAXI has posted in its YouTube space on Earning Your Living on TV & Film Placements. It's an interesting concept, and along the lines of the Major Maker article earlier today, may be something I'll want to work at...

The Theory of Appreciative Comparison *Part 1*

An interesting songwriting article by Kole (Kyle Hicks) for Muses Muse as the first in his series of columns on Songwriting Techniques and Theories. The Theory of Appreciative Comparison *Part 1* examines the classic technique of juxtaposition of opposites for effect. The example he gives is the lyric "You don't know what you've got, until it's gone." The words underscore the "appreciation" of one's present situation when cast into the opposite of that situation...

So, I should be thankful that I'm unpublished... Perhaps, I shouldn't be trying to get published...


Jeff and SOCAN

Congrats to Jeff for having his SOCAN application accepted!

From Maynards to iTunes!

Toronto indie band Major Maker had their song Rollercoaster put out on iTunes today as the catchy tune from a television ad for Maynards Candy (see it on YouTube here) has been watched over 54,000 times on YouTube and resulted in an onslaught of requests for the tune.

You can read more about it here at ChartAttack.com. Good on them! I have to start thinking about all the alternatives (TV, Film, Commercials) if I want to get my music out there... and the viral marketing that goes along with it!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

I just saw an hysterical show (HBO Original that is shown on TMN in Canada). Flight of the Conchords is a show about two New Zealand singer/songwriters trying to make it in New York... It's very funny and has two likeable leads (Bret & Jemaine).

Each episode follows them in the pursuit of their dream and showcases a song or two (always tongue-in-cheek humorous songs). As requested by HBO in its promotion of the show, I'm embedding a sample of one of the songs from an episode... if you get HBO or TMN, check it out...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

SongwritersResourceNetwork (SRN)

I linked up with the SongwritersResourceNetwork (SRN) site. Steve Cahill, President of SRN, runs a terrific site that "is a trusted news and education resource for songwriters, lyricists and music composers." (from their Mission Statement).

From their email replying to my request to be added to their links:

  • Hi Lorenzo,

    Thanks for your note. Nice work on your blog.

    Yes, please feel free to link us up. We'll be happy to provide a reciprocal
    link for you.


    Steve Cahill
    President, SRN
It's always nice to get some good feedback... Ci vedimes...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CIRAA and RevAudio's Newsletter

Well, I joined the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association, CIRAA, on the promotion of Revolution Audio. Check out RevAudio's latest monthly newsletter here.

As for CIRAA, this is what you receive when you sign up for free:

  • Congratulations. You are now a Founding Member of the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association.

    As our first order of business together, we now ask you to please help us spread the word about CIRAA. Please send your musician network a link to www.ciraa.ca and urge them to sign up. Every musician you know. Even if they receive 10 emails from different musicians asking them to join, it can’t hurt and they’ll get the point.

    We must unite politically if we are to have enough negotiating power to improve CANCON, FACTOR and the many other issues facing us. It's precisely because we have had no voice on these issues that unsigned artists have been neglected. This must change.

    Please do what you can to spread the word today.

    Thank you,

    CIRAA Membership

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Song Construction - Hooks

I'm not a member of TAXI but I am signed up for the Newsletter... This is a nice piece on "Hooks" by the venerable John Braheny who literally wrote the book on The Craft and Business of Songwriting. I have the Second Edition and see that the Third Edition is now out and would recommend it...

Song construction: Hooks
by John Braheny

"Hook" is the term you'll hear most often in the business and craft of commercial songwriting. (Well, maybe not as much as "Sorry, we can't use your song," but it's possible that the more you hear about hooks now, the less you'll hear "we can't use it" later.)
The hook has been described as "the part(s) you remember after the song is over," "the part that reaches out and grabs you," "the part you can't stop singing (even when you hate it)" and "the catchy
repeated chorus." Some of the world's greatest hook crafters are commercial jingle writers: how many times have you had a jingle stick in your mind? Here are several categories of hooks.

In this category, part of the structure of the song functions as the hook. The most common is the
"hook chorus." It repeats several times during the song, and it should contain the title or "hook line," usually the first or last line (See "Chorus Construction" in next months article.). We may also consider memorable "B" sections, particularly in an AABA form, to be hooks, but the chorus is almost
universally referred to as "the hook."

There are melodic phrases in songs that may not be part of the vocal melody, yet stick in our minds as though they were. In the last line of the chorus of The Beatles' "Something" after "Don't want to leave her now, you know I believe and how . . . " is a melodic guitar figure that we think of whenever we think of the melody, though there's no lyric over it. If we heard that figure by itself, we'd be able
to "name that tune." The repeated riffs or loops that introduce and run beneath Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and Jay-Z's "Can I Get A . . . " are as memorable as any other parts of the songs.
Too often, I think, songwriters tend to believe that creating those instrumental hooks is the
job of the arranger, producer or studio musicians. It should be kept in mind that if those are the hooks that sell the song to the public, they'll sell the song to the producer and artist if you create them first.

Have you ever heard a song and afterward couldn't quite remember the melody or the exact words but you could remember the story? Sometimes the story itself is so powerful and evocative that it's the thing that stays in your mind longer than the exact words or melody. Examples are the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl," Clay Walker's "The Chain of Love," and Eminem's "Stan."

Production hooks aren't always possible for a songwriter, but today more writers than ever before have access to sophisticated instrumental and recording technology. The sounds on both demos and master recordings have become very important. Experiment with the way various instruments sound in combination. Experiment with electronic keyboard synth "pre-sets" combined with acoustic instruments or natural sounds. You can digitally sample sound sources or buy them on disks, tapes or ROM cartridges and modify them yourself. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology has made possible an almost infinite variety of sonic combinations.
Early recording effects such as "phasing" and "flanging" were later incorporated into electronic boxes that you could use at the tap of a button and today virtually any sound modification device used in the studio has been converted to some portable digital form that you can use at home or on stage. Certain sounds will evoke certain emotional responses. Use them as artistic tools along with lyric and melody to create mood and emotion. One of the most effective hooks is a sound no one has ever heard before. Remember, however, that once you get into the technology of creating sounds, it can be so much fun that you can easily forget that the song is still the most important thing. No matter how exciting those sounds are, they won't make up for a weak song.

Hooks are essential in commercial music. They are points of reference that keep us interested and focused on the song. They're devices that help us remember and an entertainment in themselves. Part of your job as a commercial writer is to be able to use as many different types of hooks as possible.

Performing Songwriter - DIY Feature

I don't subscribe to the magazine (yet), but thought I'd give a plug for a nice feature on the Performing Songwriter magazine webiste. It's there Top 12 DIY section (archived back to Jan/Feb 2006) that showcases independent songwriters who have released an album without the backing of a label. If that's you, there's a link on the page that invites you to send your CD in for a chance to be featured.

Good luck! (Me? I'm still working on putting together a CD...)

She's My Favourite Place

Since I've learned how to embed the player, I'll torture whoever is brave enough with an old song of mine. I put this one up on the Muses Muse lyric & music critique message board and was told the vocals were too low in the mix (need to work on learning how to do that), that the snare was too pronounced, and that the lyrics were too wordy at times... All good advice...

She's My Favourite Place

This is just classic
Sitting here all alone in my fortress den
Singing "Happy Birthday" to a wayward friend
Once upon a time I loved these walls
But now some aching voice inside me calls
The echoes I try to trace

She's my favourite place...

Certain expressions will always remind me of her evergrowing beauty
Suggest my detest at her senseless sort of duty
But in my trademark ignorance for her heart I still persist
Despite all the rejection I must face

She's my favourite place...
She's my favourite place...

I have made love to her in so many indescribable ways
That would have brought other girls down to their knees
Begging me "please"
Instead I'm left aghast and bewildered
And my heart remains abused with it's hidden treasures pilfered
She's a thief who takes yet never pays

Caught in her own lie she's trapped by my weightless hands
That have cause to crush her but would rather stroke her auburn strands
I see her beauty mark to the side of her left ear
Everytime I close my eyes and picture she is near
Like the sun she emits her forceful rays

She's my favourite place...
She's my favourite place...

It's a dream I've never dreamt which stokes the blaze inside
I could never dare to touch her, hold her as she cried
Tears of confusion were never on my mind
But should they flow I'd turn her water into wine
Her chestnut eyes burn within me all my days

She's my favourite place...
I have made love to her in so many indescribable ways
She's my favourite place...

(©Lorenzo D. Policelli, 2007)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Singer-songwriters, or just singers?

Singer-songwriters, or just singers? - Yahoo! News

Singer-songwriters, or just singers?

By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music WriterMon Jul 23, 4:35 PM ET

Of all the names in music, Chantal Kreviazuk may be the least likely to appear in a headline. Though she recently released her own album, the songwriter usually stays behind the scenes to pen hits with artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne.

But earlier this month, Kreviazuk rocked the pop music world by suggesting that Lavigne was a collaborator in name only. Although she quickly retracted her comments and others defended Lavigne, the flap illuminated a long-standing fraud that has become more prevalent than ever: "singer-songwriters" who do much less songwriting than their publicists would have you believe.

"It's crazy!" exclaimed Grammy-winning songwriter Diane Warren, who has written for artists such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mary J. Blige. "How can someone look in the mirror and know they didn't do something and their name is on it? For money? For credit? It's a lie."

This being the music industry, money is of course a factor, since the writers of hit songs can earn more than the singer over the long term. But today's singers also press for writing credit because it gives them more of a cachet, presenting them as more of a "real artist" in comparison with a star who doesn't write a note.

"It's a practice that's been going on but now it's really prevalent in every situation," says songwriter Adonis Shropshire, who helped pen the hit "My Boo" for Alicia Keys and Usher, and has worked with Chris Brown, Ciara and others.

Shropshire says that many artists will only allow songwriters to work on an album in return for song credit, and "if they do write, they ask for more publishing than they honestly contributed ... it is the way it is."

The practice has been prevalent for decades. Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, maneuvered to give the King songwriting credits on early hits like "Love Me Tender" even though he never wrote a word. James Brown was sued by an associate over song credits. Lauryn Hill settled a lawsuit by a group that claimed she improperly took sole production and writing credit on her Grammy-winning album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." And Diddy seemed to acknowledge claims that he wasn't really writing his raps in the "Bad Boys for Life" song with the brushoff line: "Don't worry if I write rhymes, I write checks!"

The notion that serious artists have to write their own songs seems to have grown over the past two decades. Today, even the fluffiest of pop acts is credited as having written their own material.

"We as an industry ... don't look at someone who has an incredible voice as an artist, whereas having an incredible voice is artistry," says Jody Gerson, an executive vice president of EMI Music Publishing. "I think people place more of a value on an artist if they write their own songs, it gives them credibility."

Indeed, Lavigne's songwriting abilities have been touted since she broke out as a teen with the hit "Complicated." But how much she contributed to her music has long been scrutinized.

On her first album, Lavigne worked with the writing trio The Matrix, but ditched them on her second album when she felt they were taking too much credit for the songs. "I am a writer, and I won't accept people trying to take that away from me, and anyone who does is ignorant and doesn't know what they're talking about," she defiantly told The Associated Press in 2004.

She connected with Kreviazuk for her sophomore album and the two became close friends. Kreviazuk lauded her songwriting ability in an interview with The AP, also in 2004 — which made Kreviazuk's comments to Performing Songwriting Magazine all the more curious.

"I mean, Avril, songwriter? Avril doesn't really sit and write songs by herself or anything. Avril will also cross the ethical line, and no one says anything," Kreviazuk — who was not included on Lavigne's latest album — told the magazine before retracting her statement. The Matrix later came out to defend Lavigne's songwriting integrity.

Grammy-winning songwriter Dallas Austin says he's had a manager rave about a song Austin wrote all by himself, and then tell him, "We wanna know if we can get a piece of the pie on it because (the artist) wants to feel like she has a part ownership on the song.

"And I'll say, 'In all fairness, no. ... If you want to work with me at least sit here and put something into it, instead of coming after I've done everything and try and claim percentages on it.'"

Gerson calls the practice unfair but says it's "pretty prevalent in pop and R&B ... I think the way people now divide publishing splits is who was in the room. 'OK ... I changed the word "the" to "a," and I deserve 10 percent of the publishing.'"

Sean Garrett, who has created smashes for Beyonce, Kelis, Fergie and others, says he gave up credit when he was just starting out, which is common for newcomers. "It bothered me but I knew it was just a price that I had to pay to continue my career and stay focused with the big prize," he says.

Ne-Yo, a true singer-songwriter who co-wrote Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," says early in his career he had to deal with the same thing. He says some artists feel they are doing a novice a favor by recording their song — especially if it becomes a hit — so they deserve a piece of the royalties.

"If you're an unknown songwriter and you are lucky enough to get on a superstar's album and you know that the song is going to be a single," Ne-Yo says, "and it means if it becomes No. 1 everyone is going to know your name because you wrote it, I think it's worth giving up a piece of publishing ... you are going to make your money back."

Shropshire recalls working with an A-list singer, whom he did not want to name, who wrote two words on a song and ended up getting a large piece of the publishing rights. But he couldn't complain when the song became a hit.

"It didn't really bother me that much. The song came out and it did wonderfully well," he says. "That's just the way the industry works."

That shouldn't be the case, says Warren. Although she had credit taken from her early in her career, she quickly put a stop to it. Later, one major superstar demanded some of Warren's royalties for the privilege of said superstar recording her song. But Warren refused.

"It's like, 'OK, you want some publishing? OK then, give me a piece of the money you're making touring for the next five years for the hit I just wrote you."

But now that songwriters like Warren, Garrett and Ne-Yo are established, they rarely find themselves taken advantage of any more.

"I give other people credit where credit is due, like Beyonce really did vocally arrange ('Irreplaceable')," Ne-Yo says. "So for someone to come in and take my credit because they are who they are? That doesn't work for me. I don't care who you are. ... I'm not going to give you something you don't deserve."

Friday, July 20, 2007

SOCAN gets in your hair...

SOCAN is sending letters to salons countrywide "reminding them that under Canadian copyright law, they are supposed to pay royalties for playing recorded music on their premises.
And that's got some people stickier than a well-coiffed beehive."

The entire Globe and Mail article is here. I'm with SOCAN on this one... the salons are in the service business and, by their own admission, the music really sets the mood and adds to the salon experience... Deriving that added benefit from the music, and a benefit that adds commercially to their enterprise, should be moral basis enough for SOCAN to enforce the licensing fees...

Polaris Music Prize

Just a plug for the Polaris Music Prize... a $20,000 Prize for a full-length Canadian album, judged solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre or record sales...

This is like Britain's Mercury Music Prize and it's very prestigious... I think there's some great nominees this year, with great product... Check them out at CBC's Radio3 podcast for Polaris here... and while you're on that site, don't forget to check out my Radio3 site as well...

Keep the faith... and ci vedimes...

Songwriting and Context

Well, I neglected to mention that I signed up for 3 months of SongU through Muses Muse. It's a songwriting resource site with courses to take and the ability to make pitches to the "industry" folk, as well as take some Feedback courses given by industry types. Sort of like "Date with a Demo" put on by SAC, but over the internet. Here's my SongU page, btw...

I did this last week for Pause and Wonder and just listened to the transcript of the instructor (Robin Frederick) who liked the "rawness" of the tune and greatly admired the "powerful" lyrics, though she felt it was incomplete (who is the man I'm singing about? where is the chorus?) and incorrectly named... She also reminded me that listeners are "stupid" in the sense that they don't know the CONTEXT of what I'm writing about the way I do... She spoke of an exercise where you re-jig the song to a third person point of view from a first person point of view (though that wouldn't work with this song).

Finally, she spoke of a quote from Sean Lennon along the lines of: 'Songs are myths about things that happen to us.' In other words, the song isn't a literal re-telling of what actually happened, but our skewed/subjective view of it... so go "all the way" and turn it into a "myth" that might appeal more universally...

I like that notion...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Role of a Music Publisher - Article

There's a nice article in the latest edition of Words & Music put out by SOCAN that's entitled: The Role of a Music Publisher - A new skills study reveals the complexities of the business.

There's a reference in the article, which discusses the Canadian Cultural Human Resources Council (CHRC) survey of publishers' duties and talents, both with respect to signed artists, and in the self-publishing arena. The CHRC site is a nice resource for someone looking to make a career in the arts...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FACTORing Technology

I received a letter from FACTOR today that contained the following:
  • We attempted to assess the song submitted however the song file provided would not play through the various means we tried.
I don't know why I can't get the technology on my side when I've embraced it so...

I took a feedback course at SongU last week and that was the same problem (I was able to upload the song during "class" so I was able to have my song heard and receive feedback on it)... You'd think that since I rely on technology so much that it would be kinder to me...

Live and learn...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jeff's Second Pro Gig!

Well we had some fun at Boston Pizza last night! The place was packed (all of Jeffie's friends and family attending, along with a rather large and inebriated group of golfers coming from a company tournament). Jeff sure knows how to work the crowd as you can see above (that's him being Elvis by the way).

He had a lot of fun in the earlier sets with his kids and their friends there. The little ones danced around the stage. Afterward (read, after dark when all the kids were gone) there was no shortage of drunken requests coming from the patio patrons and Jeff quickly obliged.

I came with my guitar, as you can see below, and we did play my Butterfly and Scotch song, but in the end, it was Jeffie's night and I sat down and listened... And now that he's got another notch for a paid gig, and now that he played his original tune last night (Cultural Genocide), I hope he joins SOCAN with me...

Great show man! But while I may not have been needed much on stage, let's just say it was a good thing I came though (certain amp issues and broken strings, stuff like that).

It was great to see Petie and Rico too (and Dave) and to scarf some free food (thank you golfers!). Ci vedimes...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Revolution Audio - "Free Summer School" Series

From Revolution Audio's latest newsletter:
  • "We hope your Revolution continues even during the summer months. This is just a quick e-mail to remind you of the Free Sonar/Cakewalk Clinic at Revolution Audio in Mississauga, ON this Wednesday night July 11th 7-8pm. Jeffery Lyon will be here from Roland/Edirol Canada talking about Advanced Drum Programming: from Roland TR styles to severe audio manipulation!

    This is part of our "Free Summer School" series - Each Wednesday night during the summer we offer a free clinic taught by one of our expert staff or a special guest.
    July 18th 7-8pm: How to Setup a Home Studio - Intro to Home Recording For Beginners
    July 25th 7-8pm: Intro to Sonar 6 with Will Snodgrass
    Aug 1st 2007: Digital Guitar Tour with Lyle Crilly of Steinberg/IK Multimedia Canada

    Click below for the full schedule:

    Also, if you were thinking of attending our 1 week boot camp - July 16-21 we only have two open slots remaining (at the writing of this e-mail) so you will want to signup today. http://revolutionaudio.ca/store/product_info.php/products_id/352

    For those subscribers in other parts of Canada and beyond, I have had many requests for classes and clinics in other cities. I am sorry that we cannot accommodate this at this time, but if you are interested please let me know so we can plan ways to respond to the demand.

    Thank you for your continued support of the Revolution on every front..."

I am very sorry that I'll be missing tomorrow night's class and the class scheduled for July 25 as I have previous commitments. Those were definitely lessons I could use...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Note from a listener!

A listener that found me from a post I just made in usenet newsgroup (rec.music.makers.songwriting) took the time to listen to my music and made the following thoughtful comment (that I greatly appreciated):
  • Hey - I listened to your tunes and what I think of them is that they are good singer songwriter type songs but they would be hard to pitch to any band. As a publisher I would turn them down for that reason. If they were marketed for soundtrack songs they might fit a script but then if you played them out, you don't stink and you could easily be
    the guy that sells albums.

    Songs are product that get marketed for a purpose. If you don't have the tool (band or singer) to present your song you can't very well market them. Some songs work for a generic anyone to sing and others need a personality. Don't stop trying to do what you feel is right for you based on any or all critics but you may want to think about
    becoming your own marketing source. You have the basic knowledge of recording. If you make better, more complete recordings that would please your listeners, you can sell your own CD's and probably make more then you would expect.

    If you get "published" (and that would mean getting a cut on a CD) you get so little from the sale of the records it is almost insulting. If you don't have the hit song you never get airplay royalties. If you record and sell your CD's at a coffee house gig and say, make 10 sales a night for 150 nights a year and sell your CD's for $15 you make $22,500. If you want to get a publisher to shop your songs you are going to record them anyway but to make that much money you need a song on a CD that goes AT LEAST gold!!! Granted you would have 10 songs on your CD that you sell but you will need more then 10 songs in the hands of publishers to get lucky enough to go gold.

    Anyway, you are always your best marketer and you will always believe in your songs better then someone else no matter how much smoke they blow up your rear.

    Like I said, this is just my 2 cents but do the math, think it through and realize that you have a market. Just figure out who, what and where and get to it.

    Lots of luck

Christine Tier

Email as received from Christine:

  • Hello folks,

    I will be playing this Thursday, July 12, at 8:00, at Latinada, 1671 Bloor Street West (south side of Bloor, 1 block east of Keele / Parkside). Its the place that looks like a log ski chalet. We'll be upstairs. $8.00 admission, $5.00 for students, children under 10 and pugs.

    It will be a quiet, acoustic show, with just myself and Robert Reid on guitars, Susan Reid doing a couple of background vocals and Eric doing a little bit of percussion. See you there.

Support your local songwriters!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Jeff at Boston Pizza - July 10/07

I think that Jeff was inspired by the songwriting faculty performing last night (see previous post) so that should get him geared up big time for his gig on Tuesday. Here's the details as sent in an email from Jeff:

  • I’m doing a live music performance at Boston Pizza on Tuesday night from 7pm – 11pm. Here are the directions:

    It’s a plaza on the South East corner of Courtney Park and Hurontaio south of Derry Road. Take 410 North and the very first exit is Courtney Park. Turn right and head towards Hurontario – Hwy 10 and the address is 50 Courtney Park Drive East. There is an AMC Theatre there, a Denny’s and a McDonalds.

    See you all at Boston Pizza on the patio


I'm looking forward to the evening... I have a dentist appointment (unfortunately) so I'll miss some of the first set, but I'll be there for most of it... Break a leg Jeffie... (Maybe I'll bring my guitar, just in case...)

Humber Songwriting Workshop - Free Concert Last Night

Well, all I can say is WOW! It was very inspirational to see these fantastic songwriters (members of the Faculty at the 2007 Humber Songwriting Worskhop) present their work (2 songs each) in an intimate setting. Most of the audience were participants in the workshop, but I'm lucky enough to live close enough to walk on over and enjoy a great night. My buddy, Jeff, and Norma and Liana from my SAC Songwriting Group, also came.

I walked home and picked up my guitar right away... I sincerely valued all of the songwriters who told their stories and played their songs, some new, some old, but all wonderful... Kudos to the entire 2007 Faculty who all presented their tunes with flare - coupled with gusto or trepidation, but always entertaining... I'm definitely going to enroll next year...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Pause and Wonder #2

Well, I've learned how to embed an MP3 player directly into my blog, so now I can post my creations right within the post... so that's cool. Please listen to the song and make any comments you'd like to (I can always delete them if they aren't kind :)

I received some nice feedback on the song after I posted it on Muses' Muse... Here are some of the comments:
  • I think this is a good song that you should pursue from the arrangement standpoint, so that it works better for the casual "I'm only going to listen to this once" type audience
  • I think you should just add the full drums at some point in this... I think it needs a little more work on the vocal (intonation). Enjoyed the listen!
  • I like it as a song, and I would love to hear it with some of the "clutter" removed. Right now, it is as though I am having to listen through other stuff to get to its centre.
  • Lyrically, this is a really good.
Always nice to get some feedback and helpful criticism. I need to make more use of this fantastic resource.

Ci vedimes...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Garrison Guitars Goes To Gibson

Not that I could ever afford one of these (and I'm very happy with my collection of Ibanez, Takamine and Fender guitars), but I thought it interesting that the company that makes one of the standards for singer/songwriters - the good old Canadian Garrison acoustic guitar made in Newfoundland - has been sold to Gibson Guitars Corp.

Here's Gibson's press release and here's the article from today's Globe & Mail, Business Section:

  • Gibson grooves on Garrison's guitars
    From Thursday's Globe and Mail
    July 5, 2007 at 3:51 AM EDT
    Build a better guitar and the music world will beat a path to your door.
    St. John's entrepreneur Chris Griffiths was banking on that logic when he sketched a revolutionary acoustic guitar design on the back of an airline napkin in 1995.
    On Tuesday, industry giant Gibson Guitar Corp. of Nashville announced it had acquired Garrison Guitars, the company Mr. Griffiths started when he was 19.
    But Mr. Griffiths has no misgivings about a hollowing out of the Canadian hollow-body guitar industry.
    "I just don't see how we could have grown as exponentially as we're about to grow by just continuing on in our current path," he said, pointing to Gibson's plans to increase production fivefold over the next 12 months to about 60 guitars a day.
    The current path, however, has already put Garrison guitars on shelves in 35 countries and in the hands of big-ticket bands such as The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo and Rush. Garrison recently reported annual sales close to $5-million, but would not comment on its current financial performance or the terms of the Gibson deal.
    With the acquisition, Gibson is buying into a unique system that uses injection moulding to build a single-piece guitar frame which is 40 per cent glass. The remainder of the moulding is comprised of what Mr. Griffith's called his "secret sauce."
    Mr. Griffiths started playing the guitar at age 12, and in his teens started a business repairing and handcrafting the instruments. After touring various guitar makers' facilities in 1995 to learn about how the instruments were made, on the flight home Mr. Griffiths had an epiphany: "Wouldn't it be more efficient if we could make all the braces out of one piece?"
    And since carving an entire guitar out of a single block of wood would never do, the idea of using synthetic components followed.
    "This was the first time anybody had tried to strictly make the bracing system out of man-made material and allow the rest of the product to be made out of wood," he said.
    After securing patents for the design in 2000, Mr. Griffiths raised the $3.5-million needed for a facility in St. John's, complete with lasers and robotics. With Garrison's method, it takes all of 45 seconds to complete a guitar frame, as opposed to the two hours required to individually machine and assemble the 30-plus wooden pieces that make a traditional frame.
    Gibson will produce its new line of Garrison guitars out of the same plant, and will add 40 workers to the staff of 65, including Mr. Griffiths, who will stay on as general manager.
    According to a Gibson release, the acquisition "will further Gibson's expansion in the acoustic guitar market, offering a new series ... aimed at the median price point."

Newspaper clipping #2- Songwriter Lawsuit!

More knocks against Avril Lavigne... This comes from CANOE:

Avril sued over 'Girlfriend'
TORONTO (CP) - Canadian punk princess Avril Lavigne, repeatedly dogged by accusations she doesn't write her own songs, is now being dragged into a legal battle to prove she penned her chart-topping hit "Girlfriend."
A pair of U.S. songwriters allege her contagious single sounds suspiciously like a song called "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," released by the Rubinoos in 1979.
The American song features the upbeat chorus: "Hey, hey, you, you, I wanna be your boyfriend," much like Lavigne's boppy refrain, which declares: "Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your girlfriend."
San Francisco lawyer Nicholas Carlin said Wednesday that the similarities are clear, and accused Lavigne of copying substantial chunks of the song from the one crafted by his client, Rubinoos founder and songwriter Tommy Dunbar.
"She's made a lot of money off of my client's song," Carlin said by phone from northern California, where the claim was filed.
"The entire song is not the same, they have different bridges, but the heart and soul of her song is directly taken from our client's song."
Lavigne's manager, Terry McBride, scoffed at the charges, calling the suit "baseless" and little more than a "case of legal blackmail."
"Avril's a great songwriter and she's proving it over and over and over again," McBride said from Vancouver, where he runs Nettwerk Music Group.
"Avril's very, very sensible. She knows music well. If the chords had been similar, the melodies had been similar, lyrics had been similar ... she would have gone, 'OK, I can see their point.' But nothing's similar."
McBride said the suit was filed July 2 but that he received a draft of the claim roughly six weeks ago.
It names as the plaintiffs songwriters Dunbar and James Gangwer and names Lavigne, Avril Lavigne Publishing, and the 22-year-old's songwriting partner Dr. Luke among the defendants.
While Carlin admitted that the lyrics and melodies differ, he insisted that the main hook of Dunbar's song was ripped off.
"You don't have to have the entire song to be similar to the original song for it to be an infringement. It just requires a certain, substantial similarity, meaning an important part of the song," he explained.
He went on to recite the lyrics to Lavigne's upbeat track, noting they morph from "I don't like your girlfriend" to "I want to be your girlfriend."
McBride said he hired a musicologist to study both tracks and the expert found no basis for the allegations.
"This one came back so solidly on our side it's just ridiculous," he said.
Still, McBride admitted he's considering settling the suit out of court if the costs of defending the case prove too high.
He noted that a similar claim against his client Sarah McLachlan about 10 years ago cost roughly $500,000 to defeat in court. When Nettwerk tried to recoup the costs from the plaintiffs, they declared bankruptcy, he said.
Veteran entertainment lawyer Paul Sanderson said copyright suits are common in the music business and are often settled out of court.
"There used to be a saying in the industry: 'Where there's a hit, there's a writ,' " said Sanderson, a Toronto lawyer who used to represent Lavigne and whose current clients include
Chantal Kreviazuk and Ron Sexsmith.
"It really is about the money. If someone thinks that they have a possibility of making some money out of the claim and there's money in the pipeline that's been earned by a song ... there's money there to argue about."
McBride said his current legal battle is "an unfortunate part of this business."
"We will try and settle for costs that will be less than defending," he said. "Emotionally, it sucks. But at the end of the day you have to take that out of it."
The legal blow is just the latest in a series of jabs that question Lavigne's songwriting claims.
Last month, Kreviazuk suggested to
Performing Songwriter magazine that Lavigne took credit for a song Kreviazuk wrote called "Contagious."
Kreviazuk told the publication she gave a song called "Contagious" to Lavigne two years ago and was surprised to see a track with the same name on Lavigne's current disc with a credit to Lavigne and songwriter Evan Taubenfeld.
McBride said Kreviazuk has never even heard the Lavigne track and has since retracted her statement.
"I know, personally, she regrets saying what she said," said McBride, adding the songs are nothing alike. "The interviewer obviously got Chantal on a bad day."
Lavigne, who grew up in Napanee, Ont., has also had to deflect accusations from the
Matrix, the production team behind hits "Sk8er Boi" and "I'm With You."
Lauren Christy told Rolling Stone that Lavigne did little but "change a word here or there," but Lavigne has insisted the pair crafted the melodies and lyrics together.
McBride said the barrage of criticism facing Lavigne is just part of life at the top of the charts.
"Everyone comes after the stars. If Avril was not successful, they wouldn't really care," he said.

Canadian Musician Songwriting Article #2

I enjoyed the Songwriting article in the latest issue of Canadian Musician magazine. It was written by Emm Gryner, a Canadian songwriter, musician, producer and label owner.

While admitting that everyone wants to write a "hit", a popular song that "people love", she also points out:
"But to write primarily with feeling, with your senses alive, and your heart in the right place means something very different than to write with your head in overdrive, thinking, 'How can I get this to sound like Maroon 5 in 20 minutes or less?'..."

Ms. Gryner goes on to describe a typical day of writing for her (not necessarily what any other songwriter should do) and points out:
  1. The need to sit at her piano (where she writes) first thing every morning, without distractions.
  2. She goes where she can be completely alone and where her instrument sounds best.
  3. She jots down melody ideas as musical notes next to lyrics she's written so she can remember those melody ideas that go with certain words. This can also be done by singing into her telephone and leaving herself a message.
  4. She goes with her superstitions - same tape of paper, same pen. AND she writes the alphabet on the top of the page to help her with her rhyming.
  5. She knows she's done when she gets a "good feeling" about her song.
  6. "Write what you love, not what is trendy."
She's very wise... ci vedimes...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Newspaper clipping - Songwriter Catfight!

From today's Globe & Mail Review Section... the article speaks for itself:

  • Chantal accuses Avril of crossing 'ethical line'
    From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
    July 4, 2007 at 3:48 AM EDT
    Two of Canada's most well-known chanteuses, Chantal Kreviazuk and Avril Lavigne, share the same orbit in the Canadian music scene. Both are signed to Sony BMG Music, both have management through Vancouver's Nettwerk Music Group and the two have even collaborated from time to time. But now an apparent rift has emerged between the two, with Kreviazuk taking aim at Lavigne and her work in a recent interview in an American music magazine.
    In the June, 2007, issue of Performing Songwriter, Kreviazuk pokes fun at the notion that Lavigne is a songwriter and suggests that the pop singer from Napanee, Ont., may have lifted a song title from Kreviazuk's own work.
    "I mean, Avril, a songwriter?" Kreviazuk is quoted as saying. "Avril doesn't really sit and write songs by herself or anything."
    Kreviazuk goes on to say in the interview that she sent Lavigne a song called
    Contagious two years ago and that Lavigne then included a song by the same name on her most recent album, The Best Damn Thing.
    "Avril will also cross the ethical line, and no one says anything," Kreviazuk said in the interview.
    "That's why I'll never work with her again. I sent her a song two years ago called Contagious and I just saw the track listing to this album and there's a song called Contagious on it - and my name's not on it. What do you do with that?"
    In a response to a question from the interviewer, however, she said she would not seek legal action.
    Lavigne's Toronto-based entertainment lawyer, Chris Taylor, said yesterday that he had no comment on the remarks made by Kreviazuk. Both Sony BMG and Nettwerk were similarly mum about the tiff between the two stars.
    Evan Taubenfeld, who collaborated with Lavigne on four songs included on
    The Best Damn Thing and who is the singer for the L.A.-based band Black List Club, said the Contagious that made Lavigne's record was one that did not involve Kreviazuk.
    "I honestly can't speak as to the song that Chantal is claiming to have sent or not have sent," Taubenfeld said.
    "The only thing I can say is that Avril and I wrote a song called
    Contagious for my record. We started it from scratch. We wrote it at her house and we wrote a 100-per-cent original collaboration that only her and I were part of, and that we came up with the concept for it on the spot. I was going to use it for my record, and then at the last second she used it on her record."
    As for the relationship between Lavigne and Kreviazuk, Taubenfeld said he could offer no explanation as to what led to the dispute between the two musicians.
    "Av is probably my closest friend in the world and I think she's always treated Chantal fairly and with great amounts of respect and dignity," he said.
    "I'm not sure what happened. I know they had a great relationship for the last record and they wrote some really good songs together. But I'm not really sure, exactly, what happened on this record."
    He reiterated, "I can say that
    Contagious was 100 per cent between [Avril] and I. Chantal had nothing to do with it."
    Rick Taylor, managing editor of Performing Songwriter, said Kreviazuk's comments simply came out in a regular conversation between the singer and freelance writer Bob Cannon.
    Cannon said he felt the controversy between the two stemmed more from the fact that Kreviazuk was not mentioned as an influence on Lavigne's song.
    "I think Chantal, without saying so, ... was a little bit hurt by that," he said, adding that feuds over credit are common in the music industry.
    Neither Lavigne nor Kreviazuk could be reached by The Globe and Mail yesterday for comment.

Free Concert - Featuring a Dazzling Group of Singer/Songwriters

I think I saw this event in the past, and LiANA, my Songwriting Workgroup leader, just sent an email about it, and it's right near my home, so I should really be going to it... The concert is sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Canada and features numerous singer/songwriters performing in a lead-off event for the Humber Songwriting Workshop.

The news release issued by Humber College last week states:
  • TORONTO - A truly exceptional group of prominent singer/songwriters – including Jules Shear, Danny Michel, Shari Ulrich, Damhnait Doyle, Justin Gray, and Haydain Neale – will perform at the Bluebird North: Where Writers Sing and Tell concert kicking off this year’s Humber Songwriting Workshop.
    Sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Canada, the free concert is scheduled for Saturday, July 7 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall located on the south-east corner of Lake Shore Blvd. West and Kipling Avenue in Toronto.
    Brief Bios:
    Damhnait Doyle - (member of Shaye: award-winning vocalist and successful collaborator)
    Justin Gray - (songwriter/producer, works with Joss Stone, Ryan Malcolm, Emma Bunton, Snow, and others; nominated for Grammies, Junos, and British Music Awards)
    Danny Michel - (writer/producer/performer – making rare Toronto appearance)
    Haydain Neale - (soul writer/singer/ producer, winner of Juno Award for best R&B/Soul recording of jacksoul)
    Jules Shear - (originator of MTV Unplugged, writer for Bangles, Cyndi Lauper, and others; making a very rare Toronto appearance)
    Shari Ulrich - (noted composer, producer and performer coming all the way from British Columbia)

    About the Humber Songwriting Workshop
    The Humber Songwriting Workshop offers aspiring lyricists and musicians an opportunity to spend a week writing songs with a faculty that includes some of the greatest names in songwriting. The workshop runs from July 7 – July 13 at Humber’s Lakeshore campus. For details, please contact Pat Tait at 416-675-6622 ext. 77172
I really have no excuse not to go... I'll let you know how it goes...

Pause and Wonder - Soundclick

Well, I tried some of the vocal tricks I learned in the Revolution Audio class last week (EQ/Compression/Reverb) and put them to use on my song Pause and Wonder. Please have a listen and let me know what you think...

It's late... I'm off to bed...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Muses' Muse

I've been visiting the Muses' Muse for a long time now... I haven't posted up there lately 'cos I've been remiss in providing my opinions to other songwriters' tunes, but I always enjoy dropping in on the message board in the lyrics and lyrics & music critique sub-board of the songwriting message board... It's great to have that resource available for quick, inciteful feedback from your peers (some of them pros)...

I also subscribe to the Muse's News Songwriting Newsletter and this month, I was lucky enough to be a winner in the monthly prize giveaways... I won a copy of a book THE SONGWRITER'S JOURNAL by Stan Swanson. As reviewed by Ed Teja for Muses' News: "it should make anyone a more prolific songwriter, which will provide the opportunity for improvement. It should help tickle a sleeping muse awake, and that can't hurt." - That's good news for me... I need that muse awoken at times...

Thanks to Jodi Krangle - Proprietress of the Muse's Muse for this great prize... Jodi is a fellow Canadian in the GTA and she runs a wonderful resource for all songwriters worldwide. A great debt of gratitude is owed to her... KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!!!

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