Friday, August 26, 2016

Apparently, I need to get cable.

These are the cable shows that have licensed this song. I've never seen any of these shows. The last reality show I watched was "Project Runway" during the first couple of seasons. I kind of gave up TV when I went to graduate school and while I can certainly binge it out on Netflix with the best of them, I never have enjoyed reality TV much.

As far as I can tell, "Kardashians" is, well everybody knows what that is, and the "Bellas" and "Divas" are about female pro wrestlers, and "Challenge" is a "Survivor/RealWorld" thing, and "Bad Girls Club" is, well, probably what it sounds like. And "Born This Way" is about people with Downs' Syndrome and that sounds really great.

Despite my lack of, uh, experience with these shows, I'm very excited. In the world of placements this is definitely starting somewhere near the bottom. Don't ask me how much money it will make. But it's still something to be proud of.

The song, "Not This Time Again," is the first song my singing friend Sydni Stinnett ever demoed for me, when she was thirteen years old. It's one of my favorites, because it's a song from my single days and everything in it really happened and everything in it is meaningful to me. I also love the song because it's done well. I was offered my first publishing contract on this song, which I didn't sign for various reasons, and the song has done well in most but not all contests. I can play it out live, which isn't true of all of my songs.

And it's not an uptempo. It's a breakup, middle-of-the-night song about the repetitive nature of romantic disappointment with some stealth hope at the end. In the sync world, depressing ballads have more opportunities than they do in the trying-get-a-cut world, so that's good. Trying to make headway in a segment of the industry that abhors "negativity" is like going to a highly dysfunctional elephant-in-the-room-denying Thanksgiving. Every day. Of course, someone will end up getting to #1 with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" anyway, but it's never you and it's never me.

Anyway. Since the nature of licensing is that some music supervisor has my song in the pile and may or may not use it, I don't know when, and the only way I can see my song on TV is to, uh, probably watch the shows. Or check on them after they air.

This puts my need to see my song on TV in conflict with my general snobbitude, and seeing my song on TV is the ball I've been trying to keep my eye on these last few years. So I guess I'm getting cable.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sometimes you're the pearl #2

Sometimes you're the pearl, sometimes you're the swine.

This is my cute thing that I say when my song(s) don't do well. And boy did my songs tank in the Smoky Mountain Songwriters' Festival Competition. I entered a few, and the last time I checked they're as good as the ones last year, but not one made the finals. This, as it turns out, is not the end of the world.

Is it braggy to say that winning contests held me back in some ways? yeah probably. Contests were helpful to me when I needed confidence, but like David Wilcox says, "you can get what's second best but it's hard to get enough." ("Eye of the Hurricane" lyric). Apparently confidence is something I need to generate on my own, and I'm working on it. In the meantime, I get to actually have fun at the festival playing out and seeing my friends, and making new friends, instead of being in my own head about nailing the performance at the finals, and who's gonna win.

Does it bug the crap out of me? Kinda. But it's also helping me walk without the contest crutch.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Remind me to tell you about 1) the guy who didn't read what he signed and 2) Cheesy. I keep forgetting to write about those.


When I was single, as a grownup, my friends and I came to realize that meeting someone, liking someone, feeling hopeful, talking, messaging, maybe even going out once, were no guarantee. So we stopped telling our friends. Because when you're 11 (or, in my case, 33), it's fun to talk to your bff for hours about what it meant, really meant, when he said "see ya later" or "I like that song too." But then when your friends ask you a week later "so did he call?" and (in my case), he didn't, it got old. Because, really, there was nothing to tell, so I stopped telling. I was just looking for someone to hope with me.

When I was infertile, a good friend said that she would hold hope for me, because when you hope and then are disappointed, it's like the hope burned you; and you get to the point where you wish you could just stop hoping. But you can't. I've tried. I'm grateful that my infertility ended, and no waiting-for-music-business-news type of situation can touch the deeply personal grief and desperation of IVFs 1-5. #6 was the winner.

The important thing to remember, and if anyone reads this, please remind me that the important thing to remember is that I have these things even being considered. 1) A country song (amazingly) is in the hands of a song plugger who is doing whatever they do - pitching it? thinking about pitching it? trying to get the meeting where he will pitch it? sitting around with his friends playing it and saying "what was she thinking?" I don't know. Anyway, he's a respected song plugger, and I pitched it to him and he "took" it. The Eskimos have 50 words for snow and the music biz has at least that many for "maybe." So there's that. 2) An A-and-R person from a Major Label has that country song, too, and she may or may not be doing the above, or her people, maybe. My song is a fit for the band I pitched it for, (I think) and she shot down a couple of other songs of mine within 24 hours, so she isn't on vacation. 3) that same song has gotten through the NSAI gauntlet to "recommended" status, which I don't get excited about but it's a nice corroboration from a very non-affirming source.

The amazingness of this can't be overstated. Well, it can, but I'll try not to. Because the country music industry has not thrown its doors open to me. They engage in the most shell games, the most "we liked that yesterday but we hate it now" or that guy thinks it's too serious but that other guy says it's too light hearted and the third guy thinks the Ford should be a Chevy. Suddenly a song I wrote by myself is past the troll under the first bridge.

That's been going on for about 2 weeks. In addition, a couple of songs of mine are being pitched for a cable TV show; these are different songs, songs that the sync people seem to love but haven't placed yet. Yet. This is the second specific pitch for a specific show (that I know of), and it's really encouraging. Thanks, Broadjam. Broadjam rules because they show you which songs get picked for pitches, so when I'm not chosen I can see who is, and learn from that. Bonus: when my songs are chosen, the world gets to see. Which I like, because me.

Some of these might yield a "pass" or some other kind of final answer. Some might just wither and die out there. I have ways of stalking (I call it "research"), like following the artist on Twitter. Artists can be counted on to tweet that they have been in the studio "cutting amaaazing songs" or "writing with amaaazing writers" which tells me that mine wasn't chosen.

Back in my single days I learned that sometimes good news happens fast. When I was sitting around wondering what some guy really meant when he said "see ya later," some other girl wasn't wondering anything because he was taking her out, three days after he met her. If a man wants to call he will. (not now, of course, #toolatesuckas) If somebody wants to cut my song they will. The best response, to everything, is always to be working on the next great song.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


This is the second song I've written with Adam Byrd, who is a great collaborator who has taught me a lot.

I wish Reverb would make it easier to say who wrote the song - when I go looking at artists it's really hard to figure out who wrote the song, and it's really hard for me to credit co-writers when I post a song. Sorry Adam. The guy who cut this song for us ended up not wanting to be associated with it, which is super flattering, the tale of which can be filed under "the guy who didn't read what he signed," which will be a spinoff blog post I will get to. Sometime. There is too much that is good right now for me to think about a that minor bit of unpleasantness. I like his vocal track well enough.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I can't make up my mind.

Bullying is kinda hot right now. A thing that a lot of us have been through (some from both sides) is now being talked about in a sympathetic way, when it did not used to be. It's hard to understand bullying when it's not a mean kid at school who hits you. It seems to me that when someone has power over you and abuses it, that's bullying. Except I am still not sure.

I've experienced a particular thing that hurt a lot in the past several years where a couple of people in positions of power have used it to advance themselves, and had to throw me under the bus to do it. Is that bullying? Maybe. Am I just a crybaby who didn't get what I want? Also maybe. Can it be both? I think so. I know that I was raised to be tough and resilient, and I am, but I was also knocked around in ways I wish I hadn't been, by life and by people who I thought were on my side.

Since the bullying has given me the tough and the resilient, I kind of appreciate it. The recent bullies have torn me down in various ways and I went with that for a while, and this has helped me. In a couple of situations it has greatly clarified what's important (friends and drawing closer to God) and what isn't (being affirmed by someone who isn't ever going to do that).

I wrote this lyric a while back and felt shy about it. This might be the worst impact of bullying; it makes us feel that it's our fault, or that we invited whatever is happening. It always makes me feel that the rest of the world is enjoying respect and harmony and that I'm the only one who seems to invite the opposite.

For all the wrong reasons, I finally got this song done and I'm so happy I did. I found someone to sing it who I admire; I'm her fan and hope to co-write with her. It's also kind of broken the seal on the more personal, confessional songs that used to be my main thing. It's all about letting my freak flag fly again, I guess.

Anyway, this song. I love how it turned out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Worst Thing You Can Do to Me

In the songwriting context, that is.

In the songwriter-education industry, there are lots of opportunities to get song feedback and critique, which I love and use. For the past couple of years, I've had access to an industry pro who's generally blunt, sometimes kinda caustic, and generally straight to the point from a commercial standpoint.

I loved it.

The first time she heard one of my songs, she hated it. So much. She thought that the verse was so long that she couldn't stand it (the chorus came in at about 45 seconds.) She wasn't rude or mean but she made it clear that the song was a little bit pathetic. I hate being treated like a beginner (it is, however, not The Worst Thing You Can Do to Me), and I was newer at this than I am now. I couldn't sleep that night and I felt raw and miserable from that kind of critical assessment. I can process all kinds of criticism and become grateful for it, but it's not pretty.

She was right, and she helped me. A lot. I realized that it did not bug me that she didn't think my song was good. It struck me that my song made her angry, and I couldn't sleep until I understood why. I figured it out, I think. My song, which wasn't good and was euthanized shortly thereafter, was what I thought a country song could be. It was (to be fair) what a country song might have sounded like 20 years ago; it was kinda jokey, kinda hokey, and made fun of itself the way country songs used to.

It finally occurred to me maybe that she felt I was condescending to the entire genre. And you know what? she was right. I hadn't noticed that contemporary country takes itself very, very seriously. In general, it seems like country music is very tired of being the cute sidekick or the joke (to the non-country world), and is demanding to come into its own as a serious art form celebrating sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And trucks. No one likes being condescended to, but my song was the one doing it this time.

That pro helped me so much. For a while after that she heard several songs of mine, and for a while she continued to be blunt. In three sentences she has told me that my song is good (or not) but she can't pitch it because the idea is flawed or no one will want it. She's liked one of my songs very much, and she's hated some and she's been crystal clear about what needed to be fixed. I have valued her opinion so much, and I had decided that getting a thumbs up from her on a song was a significant goal.

But now, for no reason that I can understand, she has been nice. Neutral. She's said that she likes the song, there's nothing she would change, that it works. She doesn't want it, she's clearly not excited about it, and I hear her thinking "Next!"

I do want to say that industry folk like her who listen to millions of songs, most of them bad, and still have reserves of kindness and patience to give feedback, are doing good in this world and I appreciate and admire them. I also think it's right to save the most kindness for the beginners, and if there's nothing left for the likes of me I'll be okay.

I wish there was a "preferences" tab for relationships. I wish I could turn the "honesty" slider way down so that people wouldn't say they would love to hang out with me when they don't, or that they're not mad at me when they are, or that they'd love to work with me but they're just SO busy right now.

This is the worst thing you can do to me. There is something she doesn't like. The song is maybe just nothing new. The song is maybe just technically good but not likable. It could be me. Not everybody likes me. I wish I'd tried harder to be the most polite and least objectionable version of me with her, but I always wish that. Might not have helped anyway.

So I'm thinking "Next!" as well. I'm confident that I can find some industry person who believes in me enough to not be quite so "nice."