A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘youtube’

Temporary Home Song Analysis

I’m in the process of fine tuning my new song God If You’re Listening, which is a Country Christian Christmas Song. As part of that I am analyzing Temporary Home as an example of both a hugely successful song and one that I love, written by Carrie Underwood, Zac Maloy and Luke Laird.  I want to emphasize that I have utmost respect for all of these amazing writers and that this analysis is to help me improve my craft, rather than to comment on theirs, given that they are all hit song writers and I am still working on becoming one.

At the end of this blog I have included a YouTube clip which displays the lyrics, rather than the official video, so you can see what I am referring to in my comments. You can see the official music video on my previous blog here.

So here we go. The first think I looked at was the hook, which is also the song title. It fits perfectly and is repeated twice in each chorus, so you are left in no doubt as to the point of the song. People who like the song will know the title even if they have never been told it. This is of course important for marketing if people hear it and want to buy a copy.

The theme of the song is consistent. It’s all about people who are in diffifult transitions in their lives, but accepting that better is to come, one way or another. I have read some critiques which said that the song is too simplistic, but I disagree.

I understand that Carrie knew exactly what she wanted to write about when she sat down with Zac and Luke during a 2 day writing session. They each drew from their own experiences, and songwriting teachers always say write about what you know.

There is a balance between writing a song that tells you an exact story, complete with detailed imagery, vs telling a story allowing you to insert your own imagery and imagination, being able to make it yours, based around your own experiences. Someone who listens to a song that matches their emotions and experience and has that special moment, wondering, how did the artist know that about me, is going to be a much bigger fan.

The lyric moves between the 1st and 2nd person, building a word picture then making it personal. I really like the imagery of “windows and rooms”, which is sufficient for you to fill in the gaps from your own memory or imagination, getting you involved in the story. The same with the old man. We know he’s in a hospital bed, we know he’s dying, but it is more powerful to not say it.

The only part I would change would be the beginning, with the 6 year old. The words do not belong to a 6 year old, rather to a commentator. What I’m trying to say is that a 6 year old foster child probably wouldn’t have that positive attitude unless it came from the advice of their caregiver. Like Luke Laird, I also had a time when our family hosted several foster children and they tended to arrive insecure and socially inept and certainly not thinking positively about the long term future. But then most people would not notice this and you quickly move on to the next vignettes and the old man situation which so many more of us can relate to.

The structure of the song is excellent whilst again simple. Whatever the critics say, I believe that commercially simple is best. People can learn the song quickly and sing along with it. The melodic repetition also supports this. Most won’t have Carrie’s chops but they will enjoy singing this song. The build from a boy, to his mother to the old man is linear. Carrie’s performance builds to long sustained notes with the song climaxing with the old man dying and the tension is then released in a more subdued chorus. The cadence from the 1 note to the 4 note at the end of each verse builds expectation and identifies the arrival of the chorus.

The arrangement is excellent for the song. There is a lot more in it than you will hear first time around, but ultimately this is a showcase for the power and clarity of Carrie’s awesome voice. Her phrasing makes so much impact on the song, for example “Looking for a way…………….out”. Great sustained notes and some sweet harmonies.

The backing band is tight as you would expect from Nashville, with the vocal taking centre stage, again I understand a Nashville recording prerequisite. There is some nice pedal and as I mentioned, each time you listen you will here something more, which makes it nice to come back to.

I found it interesting that the song runs for 4.29, which is long for a pop song, but probably less noticeable for a country track and one that tells a story. I would have expected a bridge chorus at the end or for the final chorus to go up a note for a final climax, but the writers kept it simple.

So what was the point of all of this?

  1. Just like an art student studies the great artists, a songwriter wanting to write hit songs, has to study hit songs.
  2. I want to write not only hit songs, but songs that tell a story, engage the listening and evoke emotions. The best way to do this is to understand the crafting of songs that I like, that do this.
  3. I am often too impulsive in writing songs, as I mentioned in my last blog. This exercise is forcing me to slow down and rethink the specific song I am currently writing, “God if You’re Listening “.

So my conclusions? I am now going to rewrite my new song again. I’m going to remove the bridge and do a 3rd verse which will be about the husband and father, thereby telling a 3rd part of the story. In my bridge I have moved from the story to a commentary and I’m thinking that this commentary should be coming from the listener, not the singer.

I have also decided, as per my previous blog, to make the performance simple, just lead vocal, guitar and bass. If I do a version with more, it will just be for fun, but I am not writing as a singer songwriter, I am writing for someone else to perform. I believe that the more elements I add, the narrower the appeal will be for someone to pick the song up.

This has been a personal exercise for me, but I hope it also gives you some ideas for your own writing. I would welcome any feedback.

Rarotonga

I’ve just spent a week on the beautiful island of Rarotonga. Of course my guitar came with me and I deliberately turned my mobile off and stayed away from the Internet.

I was lucky on the way over, the woman at the check in counter had a son studying violin and went and asked her supervisor to waive the $75 for a second piece of luggage. Had to pay on the way back, but that’s how it is these days. If I had more legs on the trip it would have been cheaper to buy another guitar than pay the excess luggage!

Whenever I have a holiday, whether its domestic or international I try to write a song to remember the place by and Raro was no exception.

I bought a new video camera before I left. Haven’t read the manual yet, but I managed to take some video and photos. When I got back I got on to my trusty Tascam and recorded a couple of guitar tracks and the bass.

I was hoping the camera software would have a feature allowing me to add a soundtrack to the video clips but it didn’t. Fortunately when I came back, my computer wanted to do an update of Windows Live, which I don’t actually use, but I saw it came with Windows Live Video Editor, so I thought, “why not?”

Turned out to be really easy to use. I didn’t need to read a manual and figured out how to upload clips, edit them, do transitions, title etc and upload the soundtrack and match the video to the length of the track. This is all a first for me and I was pleased to see that Windows Live also included an upload to YouTube feature, so I now have a new YouTube Video.

I hope you will have a watch and let me know if you like the song. I’ve been wanting to do YouTube videos for ages and so far, bar one the only YouTube videos featuring me were done by other people.

So here is my view of Rarotonga. If you like it, please tell someone else (and me:)).

Weaving a story

Many people will tell you that there are 2 key ingedients in writing a great country song, the first is telling a good story and the other is roping you in so that you get emotionally involved in the story.

Today I received a ‘friend request’ on my MySpace page from Kirsty Lee Akers. Her voice sounded a little like Dolly Parton’s and that isn’t a bad thing. But this girl is from Australia and is totally her own person. She has some really good songs, covering a range of topics that show up her talents and belie her age, but one of them prompted me to stop what I was doing and really listen.

Any song that really makes you listen and can evoke emotions the way The Territory did in me, shows great talent. Kirsty Lee has a great voice, clear and crisp, but what stands out is the story which even without a great video is very moving. Another thing you should do is have your own website and hers is crisp, modern and yet you get the impression that she is sharing herself with you.

I recommend a close listen to each word for an example on how to craft a great song.

MySpace and YouTube as a promotional tool

This may be old hat to you, but I’ve just started trying something new to me. I have a couple of videos on MySpace, which are basically slide shows of 2 of my songs, Only Memories Survive and Watch Me Daddy.

I’m trying to promote W atch Me Daddy because I want a great singer to pick the song up and I am also trying to market it as a song that I will edit (commercially of course, I am trying to forge a career as a songwriter) and turn into a new son that someone can give to my daughter. Wouldn’t you love your daughter to have her very own song?

Anyway, what I have started doing is when someone sends me a friend request, having listened to their songs and left a comment, I embed the song into my comment so they can watch the video and listen to it without having to go to my MySpace Page, where they can also of course watch it.

I’m doing the same when I leave a comment for an artist who I think will like the song. It’s not technical. All you need to do is go to your video on YouTube and copy the ’embed code’ which you paste into the comment.

Something else I have started doing is including a photo, like this one, into my MySpace comments. You will have seen that there is now an Add Photo command when you put comments onto someone’s page. It is a little confusing because you follow the instructions, click on the photo you want, but it is not obvious what to do next. All you do is click on the x to close the page and the photo is magically there.

Me, jammimg in Jamaica

Me, jammimg in Jamaica

Now if only they would fix the counter on my page. Last week MySpace changed the default music player. At first I had almost a thousand listens on my page and knew that was wrong, so I got them to fix it. But now it has stayed at zero for a couple of days and I know that is wrong too. Hopefully they will get it right soon.

Tube Mogul Promote Your Music Video

I only have a couple of video’s at the moment and video is really stretching it a little because they are my songs played to a photo slideshow. You can find them by searching for me on YouTube or going to my MySpace page.

Only Memories Survive was my first. Both of these were done by my friend Noel Schlachter. If you get him to do one for you, tell him that I referred you. I don’t get anything for that, I just like it when people know that I have recommended them:)

The other song video, which you can find here, was Watch Me Daddy.

I hope to do my first real music video this summer, for my song Muriwai Beach, which you can hear on my Music Forte page.I’m just waiting to get my broken wrist back in shape.

Anyway, whatever your music video is, I recommend checking out Tube Mogul. I haven’t actually used it properly yet, because I don’t have accounts with many of the sites that it supports and the ones where I do, I have already posted my videos.

The concept is that they post your video to a huge list of websites, so that your music will get heard, which is awesome, but there is a lot of time involved. In order to post it on all those sites, you need to have an account with them. If you are going to have an account with them, it will mean completing all the forms, creating bio’s and all the other things you need to do, but then if you want to get heard, you have to do something.

So this gives you a list of all the places you can post your video’s, but it does much more than that. It allows you to go to one place for reports on how many times they have been played on each site and lots more.

I’ve decided I really like this site. I’m going to stop blogging and get into it. You should too:)

Everybody’s talking about, Slot Music

New York, Paris, London, Munich

Everyone’s talking about, Slot Music.

At least, it finally hit the NZ Herald today . Beaten by downloads affecting retail store sales, major record companies inlcuindg  Sony BMG, Warner and EMI have decided to make their music more accessible by putting it on 1GB Micro SD Cards.

They plan to still put them into CD cases and say that with the extra space, they can include the liner, liner notes and other information. They will be DRM free and you can even play your music on your computer by using the Micro SD Card with a dongle. The music will be in MP3 format at 320kbps they say on the info site, which they say is very high quality music. Really?

The say that hundreds of millions of phones, Personal Computers and in the future lots of car entertainment sytsms will be able to listen to this music.

Well hello! Do you think we consumers are thick? Let’s go back to the future and do a different thing in the same way and charge a premieum for convenience.

So here’s the thing. Back in the day we had audio casettes and vinyl. Audio casettes were cheap because they weren’t going to last long, especially on cheap walkman units that stretched the tape if they got dropped, got hot or for lots of other reasons. Vinyl was great, you got big liner art and photos, quite often big inserts with lyrics, interviews and more photos.

Then came the CD, which they said had far greater sound and extra space to put more information on. In the future, they said, they could include music videos, interviews, games, photos and much more. Of course we had to pay more for this amazing technology but it was going to be worth it. In many cases the quality was superior, even the nice ambience of the needle was no longer there.

But the extras? Well they are the exception rather than the rule. In most cases we got less liner information, because of the size. Inserts happened sometimes but not very often and the additional material? Sometimes there was a hidden track, that was fun. Occassionally someone would add a music video and a few like BB King, put out a CD ROM with interviews, games and lots more. I still have mine, it was cool. Of course I don’t play it any more, but I felt I got my money’s worth and was chuffed that an old timer like The King could do something so modern.

So here’s my take on this. I have large quantities of CD’s and DVD’s pressed, not of my music unfortunately, but for car navigation. I also have large quantities of SD Cards duplicated, also for car navigation. Firstly, even at volume pricing SD Cards are much more expensive than CD’s or DVD’s.

Universal Music is going to release about 30 ‘Slots’ to start with, from their eLabs Digital Music Unit. Sounds more like a test to me, but anyway, I do applaud them for trying new technology. I think it’s a good idea to try new technology, given that CD’s are losing ground rapidly to downloads.

Will they add extra information to the SD Cards? Maybe for some of those first 30, but then it wil be the same old story, new media for a premium price (for the convenience) and nothing more. If they had listened to people like me 10 years ago (Netguide wouldn’t publish my opinion), they could have reinvented a format giving loads of extra value, far more than people could afford to download and created a whole new generation of fans and collectors. But no, they just wanted to increase cash flow and profit. After all, they knew far better than we consumers, what was good for us.

In my humble opinion, they created the monster we have today where people download and share music for free. And it is a monster friends, because what is happening is people are downloading music for free and the poor songwriters and performers are getting ripped off.  Sure there are big bands making truckloads of money for themselves and their promotors, but they are the minority. Most of the people in your favorite bands have to work a day job in order to be able to write and perform music at night. This might not be the case if they got fair remuneration for their work.

I ask you this. Do you work for free? Do you expect to go to work and build widgets or whatever you do and expect other people to reproduce them for peanuts and give them to your mates? Will you accept a 90% reduction in your income because people have found a way to clone your products? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, after that minor digression, this is a storm in a slot. Sure they will make some of these. Then they will cry foul when people copy them (if they can be bothered). They will weep when these cards don’t get sold, except on eBay, Craig’s List or Trade Me after people have copied the music onto their computers and shared them with their mates.

I love new technology, but when I can go to iTunes and for a couple of dollars, buy the only song as a track that I like (because I am happy for the band to make some money from it), why would I buy a little SD Card that I will probably lose.

In my humble opinion, the music industry got this one wrong. Can they redeem it? Only if they figure a way to genuinely add value. They want to offer the music on iGB SD Cards. (Interesting that I struggle to even buy 1GB SD Cards anymore.) Why not do something smart and offer us real value. Do what you should have done years ago and you might find a couple of years of legs in this yet. Use 4GB cards. Load it with the music, the live performance video, the interviews, the music video, lyric sheets (the mechanical rights people can still get a share) and a personal spoken message from the band or artist. You could sell that for a premium and create collectors items that people will want to keep.

Of course when real broadband arrives, people are no longer going to buy music in hard copy. I’m sorry but they won’t. Why would you. The other day I sat down in front of YouTube an had a great afternoon watching videos and listening to music of my favourite bands of the past and the present. All it cost me was a bit of internet access (and I do have ADSL 2 from Orcon so speed wasn’t an issue.

I think the future will be:

New York, Paris, London, Munich, Nobody’s talking about Slot Music.

Take lots of photos of you and your band

You never know when a photo will be useful. It might be photos for your tracks, an album cover, photos for your bio or web page.

Many web sites where you post your music, like MySpace for example, let you post photos with your tracks and so many people use the one photo for all tracks, which is boring. Boring reduces interest value.

If it’s a photo for your Press Kit or EPK, I recommend that unless you have a great photo, get a portrait photo done by a professional photographer. It could be the classic head and shoulders, or you doing something. You should at least have one clasic shot because it says you are mature and professional and you treat your music career as your business.

Shots for Facebook like this one, which my daughter took of me playing in Montego BayLuigi Cappel performing in Montego Bay

Luigi Cappel performing in Montego Bay

in Jamaica are fun shots, but not good enough quality for professional use.

If you are going to use shots in relation to a song or for an Album cover, make sure they are relevant, if it’s a song about a beach, like my song Muriwai Beach, then show a photo of Muriwai Beach. When I record my album Greenhouse, I have a photo of me holding a very large chunk of ice in my hand at Franz Joseph Glacier. The glacier is melting away with global warming and fits nicely with the title song which is also called Greenhouse. You can hear it at Music Forte.

If you don’t have a performance video, then video slide shows are a great way to add your songs to sites like Youtube. This one was done for me by my friend Noel of Powershows. In this case he supplied the images from his photo library.

There are lots of plug ins for websites like Photo Bucket which I use on my MySpace page. It lets you have some fun and easily put up a slide show. Photos add interest to your web page, especially a slide show, which attracts attention. It also helps people connect with you and feel like they know you a little. It makes them want to come back, or leave a comment, its about developing a relationship.

Even if you don’t need them now, take them anyway, you will find good uses for them. Take a camera to your gig and even if you don’t have anyone you know there, someone will take it for you.

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