A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘lyric sheet’

Books are full of song ideas

I don’t usually suffer for a lack of ideas to write songs about because I am always open to them. I read lots of books and always find a way to keep notes or make sure I can find my way back to lines that caught my attention.

I recently found a highlighter that also has a Post It flag dispenser in it. This means that with just the one device you can highlight your notes and put  flag on the page so you can find it again. Many of the books I read, especially non fiction, are full of Post It flags.

I also found a card of different colored Post It flags which is like a bookmark, so I often carry that with me as well, especially when I am travelling. Really handy when I’m on a plane and I’ve forgotten to take a pen out of my jacket which is now in the overhead luggage compartment and I have thewindow seat.

Something else that you need is something to take notes on, or even write lyric ideas. You need to have this anytime, anywhere. I have 2 lyric books, which are A5 (half an A4) and ringbound, so I can easily fold it around and write on both sides easily. Sometimes, such as the previous example, I don’t have quick access to it. I often carry around a blank A4 sheet of paper in my jacket as well. If neither of those work, I use anything and a common one for me is the back of a business card. It’s amazing how much you can fit on one of those if you are desperate.

Sometimes you are in a position where you have to memorise what you have written, such as when you are in the shower.  Then I go back to the rote memorisation I learned at school, just repeating it over and over again and hope that I don’t get distracted by anything or anyone before I can get pen to paper. That’s what I did with my new song that I am still writing, ‘When Madison Smiles’, but now I’m digressing.

Basically what I wanted to share is that the books you read are full of ideas that you can write songs about. The key to me is a subject that touches you strongly, or that you have a strong opinion about. Good songs are written with passion and from the heart. If you keep that in mind when you are reading, writers block should not be an issue. Of course if you don’t read books, magazines and newspapers are also great building materials to grow ideas from.

The most importand things are:

  1. Be open for new ideas all the time
  2. Have a way to highlight or find the idea again later when you need it
  3. Keep paper or books and a pen or pencil handy at all times, even when you are in bed asleep, especially when you are in bed asleep and this is often when you are most creative.
  4. If you are really organised, find a way to catagorise the texts you have highlighted. Coloured tags could be a way to do that. Most songwriters though don’t tend to be that well organised in my experience, but you should consider whether you are writing for fun or as a hobby or as a mental health tool, or whether it is a business or career, If it is the latter then you should treat it the same way as you do a job. If you are doing a job, of course you have the right tools on hand.
  5. Finally, if you do become successful and maybe even famous, the paper you originally scribbled your lyrics on could become very valuable, as collectors items although not necessarily to you personally, but perhaps your children or other important people in the future. For example someone made 1,000 prints of the John Lennon song ‘Little Flower Princess’ from his original writing and is selling them for $150 EACH at eBay right now!

What is the best way to send your demo to someone?

I’m not convinced there is ‘the right way’ it depends a lot on the circumstances. For example, do you know them? Will they listen anyway?

So the first thing is whether it is an artist, a record company, a publisher, a critic, an A&R person, try to talk to them. If you can get their phone number, try to ring them and talk to them. If you do, be polite and friendly, introduce yourself but get to the point quickly.

So there are 4 main ways you can send your demo.

  • You can send it as an attachment to your email. The risk is that their mail server will not allow your email to get through at all, or that it doesn’t accept large files. Don’t do this without their permission. It is an easy solution because they don’t have to do anything to get it.
  • You can use a product like You Send It which allows you to set an FTP site. FTP or File Transfer Protocol is designed is a secure way to send files from one computer to another via a 3rd party and there are several free services. Another one you can use is SendThisFile. Basically the way they work is that you upload your file to their site and they send an email to the person you want to have it, telling them how and where to access it. It means that they can get it when it suits them.
  • Another solution is to direct them to your web site, whether it is your own .com (Don’t have one yet? Check out GoDaddy) or your MySpace or other music site. If you want them to be able to able to download the song, not just stream it, make sure you have enabled the download.
  • The other option is in the mail. If you do that, make sure your presentation is very good, as in artwork, or at least make sure the name of the track is printed on the CD as well as your name and contact details. Often the CD will get separated from the case, so if you don’t have everything on it, they may love it, but not remember where it came from which would be a disaster. You can buy CD pens, or better still get a Lightscribe Drive so that you can etch the details straight onto the CD. It isn’t beautiful but it is much more professional than scribbling with a CD pen.

Of course you also need to send a lyric sheet. I always include chords above the lyric lines. I do this in Word, but there are lots of software packages that do this very nicely. I have a copy of Finale Notepad, but I’ve never actually used it.

So what is the best way? I still don’t know. I think the best way is to ask the person who has approved you sending it to them, what their preference is. Make life easy for them and the act of asking and doing what they asked, will help with recognition when they get it and your demo will then be more likely to be the one they listen to.

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