- Friends, friends of friends [remember friends may not do your project first in their list of projects...]
- Websites you like – find the designer name in the footer of the page and contact them directly*
- elance.com – you can post your ideal $$ and RFP
- elance.com or others – look through the various designers pages and portfolios and see if any speak to you. go to the actual sites and see how the activity of the business looks
On July 21, I was so honored to host the fundraiser for West Coast Songwriters in Redwood City.
Executive Director Ian Crombie asked me to host the evening, to get folks in the mood to support this 33 year old organization. What an honor!
I serve on the Board for the organization, and have been inspired by the work since I entered the music industry in San Francisco in 2004. The generosity of events, networking, and connection that they create is known around the country. It was a blast to grab the mic and pump up the silent auction items. I created a bid-off on an item that I thought was incredible: Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket was offering a free online concert or songwriting lesson to the winner. So #fresh.
Something got into me up there. Ended up making the band members from Luce do dramatic poses for each increased donation, followed by an improvised song about $500, accompanied by those awesome guys.
Here’s a neat write-up by Alison Williams at WCS recapping the event. Hope to do it again!
Made was one of my favorite shows when it came out on MTV. Kids share their story with MTV: I’ve always wanted to be a cheerleader, a dancer, a football player. Often the odds are stacked against them, where physically they haven’t been trying to move towards this goal, and to get there the MTV coaches have to teach, support, and offer the trainings the kids will need to be successful.
Here’s where I came in – the Songwriting episode of Made.
Nic wanted to become a songwriter, and had gone through vocal and artist training with some great folks from LA, such as my buddy Steven Memel. I hosted an event for West Coast Songwriters at Freight & Salvage that he entered his song and performance. It was such a great experience to see young talent inspired by the multitude of talent of California [such as David Luning, Karmina, and Chi McClean, for starters!].
Here’s the gallery, and don’t forget to watch the show!
Last weekend I attended a 3 day conference in Hollywood hosted by ASCAP. The ASCAP Expo featured panels, workshops and one-on-ones with folks addressing all of the elements of the business of being a songwriter in 2012. From a session-file exploration of Katy Perry’s “Firework” with Stargate to an interview with Bruno Mars and the Smeezingtons, it was a star studded event, but one with substance.
The attendance crossed genres and hometowns from LA to Maine, but when it came down to it, everyone in the room was a creator, a songwriter, a visionary. We all had voices in our heads. Melodies that woke us up in the middle of the night, and voice memos to prove it.
This is one thing I love about being a musician and a creator – we have this whole secret society slash community-at-large that follows us no matter where we are in the world. On vacation in Hawai’i last year, I ended up spending the week with a local producer and a singer-songwriter, in between surf sessions. In LA, in line for some club, I’m talking to the bouncer about how to honor the muse.
In any case, in addition to making several new friends and collaborators, I learned a few new things at the conference, and feel like sharing them with the music folks that read this here blog. We’ll start with Film/TV.
Contacting Music Supervisors
Music Supes are kind of the “it girls” (& boys) of the business for us songwriter/artists. No one talks about meeting someone from a label. Everyone wants to get their music licensed. Many want a publishing deal. And music supes are the gatekeepers to this promised land. The panel I attended that I found extremely honest and helpful was called, “Getting Your Music Licensed in Film, TV and Beyond,” presented by the Guild of Music Supervisors.
The speakers were all fantastic – and were really open about how they like to be communicated to, and what their jobs are like in 2012. Here are a few tips on communication:
- Connect with the various companies that are connectors to music supervisors. Some of them named: Lipsync, Talent House (more independent), Secret Road (more singer-songwriter), Zinc. These companies have established credibility with the supes and relationships – they know how to communicate and what might be good matches.
- MP3s are ok. Vocal only and instrumental versions of your songs are absolutely necessary. You don’t have to send them all at once, mind you – but you need them available for usage.
- Songs must be pre-cleared for publishing, and it is easier when you own your masters. Pre-cleared means that you are the administrator of the songs and/or have an agreement where all of the composers and contributors have signed off that one person can clear placements. Oh, and have a copy of those agreements! Need an affordable lawyer? Contact California Lawyers for the Arts.
- 90% of music received today is digital. This means supes have tons of digital files on their computers… and if yours just says “Track 1″ you’re out of luck. Label your MP3s metadata with all of the content related to the songs. Genre: Make description of all of the genres. Information: Include pre-cleared, contact information (email/phone/name/PRO/songwriters names and splits). WHAT? It was so helpful to hear this by the way… If someone has left the band that would still need to get clearance from, include their contact information as well.
- Communication Don’ts: Don’t send attachments. Don’t type your subject header as “following-up” or “checking in” in any correspondence. Don’t include photos or press kits. Don’t tell someone that your song would be amazing for X film when you haven’t seen X film. Never say you have the perfect song.
- Communication Do’s: Have appropriate metadata. Compose a brief, 3-sentence email with the kinds of music you are submitting, and where you are from. Don’t make it boring. Include a link to download that does not expire – preferably one where they can stream directly (Box.net was recommended). Be okay with the fact they may not listen to your songs for a month or two.
Here’s some other information I thought was interesting:
- The loss of the soundtrack format post-film changed the revenue model for music supervisors as well as artists.
- The amount of time to place music in a film vs TV is vastly different, and internet is all over the place. Knowing this helps understand the demands on the Music Supervisors. Films are in production for a year, in TV they have 2-3 weeks per episode, Internet is all over the place.
- Online content will likely be the next TV. Publishers are looking at this placement accordingly, and negotiating for more appropriate %.
- Hard ends are great – long intros and builds are as well. (You used to hear otherwise in a songwriting review session.)
- Music libraries are filling the gaps in between songs and dialogue – you can always pitch composition for them. In breaking as a composer, use your songs, create a reel, and show it to film folks to see how your music fits.
- Film and TV guide comes out with contacts every year through Hollywood Reporter.
Hopefully this helps other songwriters – time for me to get back to work!
Most musicians get started by singing along to their favorite songs, picking up guitars and strumming out the chords – or banging the rhythms out on the drums. We all have to play covers as original musicians to keep our audience engaged, too – since people need familiarity to place your sounds and stories in context with sounds and songs they’ve already heard. I have often covered Annie Lennox, both because her songwriting is incredible and because the connection to her voice and artistry is one I wanted to draw as a performer.
In any case, when you decide to RECORD the songs, you have to take a few more steps. So, I recently wrote an article on how to record a cover song. Not on how to set up the mic (like Pomplamoose, pictured here)… but on getting the permission/clearance to release it on your album and distribute, whether it be on CD, iTunes, YouTube, or what have you.
It’s actually easier than you think – but costs around $100-150 on average per song, so if you’re planning a revival cover album, plan on a Kickstarter campaign before hitting record.
When I’m not playing piano and jamming out with the Mr. Right Nows, I’m actually pretty serious at making children’s music. For the past several years, I’ve been working on a project called Alphabet Rockers.
I actually get to use my crazy rap skills that you never see in my shows listed on this site. Yea, that’s right. Drop beats, do dances, and even scratch the records. It’s pretty fresh.
We’re releasing a new album in just a few weeks, so I’ll be posting updates on that for all you folks who want to bring some new tracks to the youngest generation. We have a cool booking video you can enjoy until you see us up close.
I’m going to be a featured performer at a special fundraiser for the writers series “Lip Service West.”
I read at the series last May, a first for me. I began to rediscover my writers voice in September of 2010, when my friend Zach Clark posted a call for entries for his arts magazine Composite. When I told him I was interested, he first said, “This is not music-related, Kaitlin…” but he gave me a chance to put a narrative together for their inaugural issue. (You can read that here.)
After that, another friend demanded I write for Lip Service, convincing me I had a unique point of view to share. But I felt like I had nothing to say. Every few weeks he would nudge me. Eventually, in May 2011, I read a piece after a month of writing and deleting, called “Lessons from a Beatdown.” The piece is not for the faint of heart, but reading it gave me a sense of closure to an event in my life, and gave me the writers’ bug. Which is not a cockroach, FYI. Since January 2012, I’ve been working on a narrative/memoir, inspired by the brilliance of my friend Tony DuShane (published writer and contributor to LipService West). Until I get a draft done on my book, it will just be my exploration to enjoy and be challenged by; a true compliment to the musical journey.
Tonight I’ll perform songs at the fundraiser for LipService West. Tony will read. Joe Clifford, the founder and rockstar behind it all, will I believe read and sing. He gets it – he uses both the guitar and the pen.
See youat Lip Service West.
BOOKING HOUSE CONCERTS: Maximize Your Gigs by Going Off the Grid
Earlier this year, I interviewed a few of the go-to experts in the Bay Area on house concerts and songwriting careers: Ian Crombie from West Coast Songwriters, and KC Turner from KC Turner Presents. It takes a lot to take your career to the next phase, and they inspired me to start booking more house concerts instead of always going into venues! The last house concert I performed was after my first album was released, when I did a show just for industry friends in San Francisco. I’m overdue!
Check out the article here as published in Electronic Musician.
Here’s a clip from a music industry house concert I set up in 2009.
The song features the same cast of characters from Christmas Without You. We recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios, San Francisco, in November, 2011. The song was Produced, Engineered and Arranged by Enrique Gonzalez Müller, who really made my vision his vision as it came to life.
This was one of the most intense songs I’ve written in my life.
In January 2011, I was assaulted on a street in Oakland. Though I walked away relatively unscathed other than bruises on my face, it cut deeper. It was horrible, to walk at 7 p.m. and have two kids, one listening to headphones and singing, the other seemingly enjoying a Sunday evening, turn and attack me. I tried to push through. I even continued to do a performance later that week at a San Francisco venue, though in shambles physically and mentally. Then it set in. The fear, the sadness, the alienation. For weeks, I was not in my body, I couldn’t sing, I wouldn’t go out at alone. When I finally broke down to nothing, I reached my dad on the telephone, and told him how I felt. He told me the most important thing was to keep talking about how I was feeling, even if I did feel alone – that it mattered. Then he said, “does it feel like everyone’s gone to the moon?” And I knew that yes, I was understood, and that this would be the start of healing.
The song I scribed in May after going back to voice and piano studies with Pollyanna Bush. The lyrics came in a flood, the music emerged from the piano as if it was already complete. In August, I reached out to Enrique, whom I had admired for years, to see if he might help me bring the song into a record of the highest merit and message. I am so happy with the result. The band believed in the song. I’ll never forget Kyle’s performance in our rehearsal, how when I told them what it was all about, he played as if he was fighting for my life. When we finally got to the vocal booth, it came unravelled, and the last part of the session was the outro. Spoken. Improvised. Sparkling. I sang a high A in the final cry – and it came from a part of my heart that was just absolutely free and expansive. And that is the place from where we draw the ability to carry on.
Everybody’s gone to the moon
Everybody’s left so soon
Everybody’s lost in the blue
No one’s left to hear my tune
Looking for stars and I can’t find them
So I make wishes in the dark
Wondering what will come with morning
Can I find someone, a spark?
Everybody’s left so soon
Everybody’s lost in the blue
No one’s left to hear my tune
Turning my head to seek a way out
But I find I can’t run away
Guess I’ll shoot arrows from my heart strings
and I will sing and fight and pray
Vocals: Kaitlin McGaw. Piano/Rhodes/Hammond B3: Greg Sankovich. Guitar: James DePrato. Bass: Jesse Cafiero. Drums/Percussion: Kyle Caprista. Cover Art: Zach Clark.
Everyone says how the music industry is all about who you know.
Yes, perhaps. And yet you can go to some “networking” events, and feel like you don’t know where to start, who to “know,” and whom it is okay to avoid…
So, I wrote an article: “OLD-SCHOOL NETWORKING RULES STILL APPLY.” The way I look at it, Old School Networking RULES.
This is a bit more sassy than other pieces I’ve written, probably because I am no longer employed in the business and can laugh at the way people talk to you when you’re in an industry position. It’s good times, believe me.
Read the full article here.
Here are two stock image photos of networking that make me laugh.