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The Muse's News
The Muse's News
The Muse's News
An E-zine For And About Songwriters.
Issue 14.10
January 2012

In This Issue:
* Editor's Musings
* Music Reviews - Cyrus Rhodes & JJ Biener
* New Artist Spotlight Additions
* Songwriting Book Review - by Anastasia Karalekas
* Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
* Muse's Clues - Songwriting Web sites that inspire - brought to you by Songwriter's Hall of Fame member, John Brhel.
* Featured Article: Quick Tip: On Your Mark, Get Set ... No! - by Brad Dunse
* On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your viewing pleasure.
* Classifieds & Useful Services
* Contact information
ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998-2011 - Jodi Krangle.
For more contact information, see end of issue.


All sorts of products and services especially for songwriters, negotiated so that you get the best price possible. You'll find means of promotion and distribution, songwriting aids, educational products, musical instruments and their accessories, and lots more. Any of these items would make a fantastic present for a songwriter in your life (even if it's you! :-) ) Check it out!

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)

Sign up for a Free Sample Course at Berklee College of Music!CHECK OUT EXCLUSIVE MUSIC BUSINESS INTERVIEWS FROM BERKLEE

Berkleemusic is the online extension school of Berklee College of Music. Watch their free, exclusive, music business videos from Berklee's Rethink music conference, covering topics including business models of the future, music publishing, music licensing, copyright challenges, technological innovations that are shifting the industry, and more. offers more then 130 online music courses and certificate programs in music business, songwriting, music production, music theory, arranging, composition, orchestration, guitar, bass, voice, piano and drums.

Enrollment is now open for their January 9th term.

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Editor's Musings:

Hi folks. Well, here we are just after the Holidays ... I hope you all had a wonderful time with family and friends. :) This time of year does tend to inspire a lot of writing ... whether about the good stuff or the bad stuff. Here's to whatever works for you. :)

It's been a pretty quiet month as some things are concerned. But that's understandable, given the time of year. Thanks for sticking with us for another month. I'm really glad to have an opportunity to connect with you all and it's my sincere hope that this newsletter and the information it imparts, will be a helpful part of your new and very productive year.

That said, there are some new resources and contests you should check out in the Musical Notes section, and a few new articles from our columnists and from our regular writers here in the newsletter. (And a sincere thanks to them all for all they very generously contribute!)

I'll get right to the raffle winners this month so that we can move on with the meat and potatoes. :)

  • Mike Airton from Darlington, England, has won a 6 month membership to GMC has tons of helpful videos, instructors and lessons along with a forum for chatting with teachers and students 24/7, recording collaborations, attending video chats, & content for bass, drums, singing, piano, etc.

  • Tim O'Brien, from Hoover, AL, has won a free 3 month membership to SongU, an Internet-based learning environment providing online coaching, co-writing and pitching opportunities, in addition to over 70 multi-level courses developed by award-winning songwriters.

  • Nancy Klein, from Kanawha, Iowa, has won a copy of Virtual Studio Systems' Lyricist software.

Once again, remember: if you'd like to be considered for a raffle prize yourself, have a look at the various prizes offered at the top of The Muse's News webpage, decide which prizes you'd most like, and email me with your top two choices along with your mailing address so that I can get the prizes to you. Yes, it's really that simple. :) (And yes, the mailing address is kinda important. I promise it won't be used for any other reason than to send you your raffle prize - and to mention your approximate location in the notice of raffle winners you see above here.)

Thanks again for sticking with me here - and I wish you a very productive and lucrative 2012!

All the best,


Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)

(And Muse's News readers *still* get a special discount!)

Looking for something really special for that songwriter in your life? (Maybe it's you!) MasterWriter 2.0 is the most powerful suite of songwriting tools ever assembled in one program. MasterWriter is endorsed by ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, NSAI and is used by some of the world's leading songwriters including Gwen Stefani, Rob Thomas, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jimmy Webb, Kenny Loggins, Trent Reznor, Clint Black, and many more.

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MasterWriter's NEW price is now only $199 - but you'll still get a *$20* discount (your price is just $179!) by ordering through The Muse's Muse! Take the Tour, Download a Free Trial, and get a $20 discount! Note that the auto-inserted discount number 3004 will apply the $20 discount when ordering online. Windows and Mac compatible.

Music Reviews: Cyrus Rhodes & JJ Biener


Cyrus Rhodes:

* Ken Dixon
* Heather Styka
* Bill Kapac

JJ Biener:

* Chris Standring and Kathrin Shorr

Click here for bios on each of the reviewers. If you're considering sending in your own CD for review, you can also view that page to find out which reviewer reviews your genre. Thanks!

Artist Spotlights:

Great music is only a click away!
Here is a selection of the great artists and bands highlighted
in the Artist Spotlight section of The Muse's Muse.



"Veering expertly between Westerberg styled smart-guy rock and classic Brit-inspired pop, this is the kind of disc that radio programmers should glom right onto. Each of these tracks is well produced and, thanks to a remarkable roster of musicians, rendered eminently listenable." 
-- West Coast Performer Magazine

Songwriting Book Review By: Anastasia Karalekas

"Your Private Guitar Teacher"
by Dale Schmidt

I’m a self-taught guitarist. I had always wanted to learn to play an instrument all my life, so I tried piano, or keyboards, but always gave up after a few weeks. Finally, I chose to go with a guitar, and I found it much easier to apply myself because, well, you can pretty much play (and practice!) a guitar anywhere. However, from the moment I picked up “Your Private Guitar Teacher” by Dale Schmidt, I wish I would have had this book from the day I decided to get myself that guitar.

This book not only teaches you how to play, but it also helps you out in choosing a guitar, and inspecting the one you have. Find a problem? No problem. Find out what can be fixed, and when it’s time to buy a new guitar. All this as well as some great ideas on how to always stay interested in continuing to learn your instrument.

So, where do you start? Anywhere you want to. One of the great things about this book is you don’t have to read it in a linear fashion. You can pick any chapter, and practice whatever you’re finding particularly challenging, or even just learn something you’ve never learned before. Dale Schmidt wanted to create a book that felt like you had a teacher by your side; well, he succeeded.

Really, the best way to learn to play guitar is with a real live teacher. You can ask questions and get answers; you will be corrected if you’re doing something wrong, before it becomes a habit that’s harder to break; your lessons will always be tailored to you personally. The next best way to learn is to read this book.

As I read through it, I was very aware that, if I had any questions, I may have to do some research to find my answers. But what I found fascinating is that the author covers all areas of learning to play guitar, and almost magically seems to have the answer to any question that popped into my head before I had a chance to even think about formulating it. He is that thorough. He’s thought of everything that both new students and more advanced ones might have questions about. Taking lessons long enough to learn all that you learn here will cost a lot more than this book.

Learn how to properly hold a guitar AND a pick. Learn how to change chords without pausing. Scales, solos and riffs, all covered here. I’ve gone through quite a few guitar instruction books myself, but have never found one that includes all that is included in here.

Along the way, you’ll find interesting tips and problem solvers in the margins of every page. This is why no question in your head goes unanswered; Dale has been teaching for 15 years, so he knows what questions typically pop up in a given situation, and he quickly covers it by providing explanations. I also like that every chapter stands alone, and you can choose to take a different path anywhere, be it moving on to another chapter that progresses from what you’ve just covered, continuing on in your current one, or just plain switching topics altogether.

And yes, as with all guitar instruction books, you get a CD with all the sound bites.

Once you have finished going through this book, chances are very likely that you will not file it away for good. I’ll keep mine handy right next to my guitar for instruction or reference, whatever the case may be. And the author doesn’t leave you with just a simple “good luck” at the end. Instead, he provides a chapter for you to answer some questions for yourself, and to find out where you want to go next. It just continues, page after page, to feel like you have your own private guitar teacher sitting right next to you.

And if you’re like me and can’t get enough guitar, check out his websites. Both sites (listed at the top) provide more information on his book, “Your Private Guitar Teacher”, as well as an extensive list of articles that Dale Schmidt has written over the years.

So, if you’re looking for just one book to help you with your guitar learning, I’d say this is the only one you’ll EVER need. Bar none. ; )



Anastasia Karalekas is a self-taught guitarist and music absorber.  When she is not learning, learning, learning, she spends her time writing fiction and poetry. After taking some private guitar lessons, her teacher encouraged her  to try putting some of her poems to music, and she's been writing songs ever since.

If you'd like *your* book reviewed (as long as it has something to do with songwriting, of course!), please do email us and let us know!

Sponsor Message:
(Many thanks to the sponsors that help support this newsletter!)


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Musical Notes: Songwriting Contests & Market Info.

In the interest of conserving space (when I need to), I will be including only changes to this listing in this newsletter. All other contests and market information that have already been listed here, are displayed at &
Please check there regularly for updates!


Hurry! Only 8 Weeks Left!
It's that time again! The Sandra James Music Foundation is pleased to announce the Sandra James Songwriting Contest 2012, now in its 4th year! This contest will provide an opportunity to promote the music and message of Sandra James by having entrants compose new songs that mirror her ideals. The foundation hopes the contest will amplify her message and present more opportunities for others to hear Sandra's songs and know her passions. The contest will run from now until January 31, 2012. Start NOW to get your song in by the end of January. First prize is $2500! Visit us online for more information: or . We look forward to hearing from you!


The John Lennon Songwriting Contest is an international songwriting contest that began in 1997.  The Contest is open to amateur and professional songwriters who submit in any one of 12 categories.  The JLSC is open year-round and features two Sessions - with 72 Finalists, 24 Grand Prize Winners, 12 Lennon Award Winners and 1 "Song of the Year".  Session II Deadline is Dec. 15th.  For more information and to enter, please visit


The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival is looking for the song or instrumental work that best defines the spirit of this annual event, which celebrates Spring as symbolized by the transient beauty of Japanese Cherry Blossoms - or "sakura". The grand prize winner will receive a $3,000 cash prize presented by the non-profit Japan-America Society of Tennessee and a chance to perform the original composition at the festival on March 24th. In collaboration with Nashville Arts magazine, the winner will also be featured in the magazine's February issue. Download the entry form and official rules here. Entry fee per submission is $25. Deadline is January 15, 2012.


Award winning songwriter Jane Eamon is offering songwriting one on one classes via Skype. These sessions are one hour in length and can cover any topic you'd like to address. From writing, to critique, to ideas and games. Or just to share your thoughts and get feedback. If you're interested in a session contact to schedule a class.


Hooktheory is a free resource that can show you how to integrate basic music theory into your songwriting process, making it easier to write catchy chord progressions and melody. Hooktheory currently consists of three main areas:
1. The Hookbook demonstrates basic principles of music theory and how they relate to popular music. It's filled with multimedia-rich content explaining musical concepts synchronized to real songs so you can hear what you are learning and make connections easier.
2. The Music Editor lets you write chord progressions in Roman Numeral notation and listen to them in any key. Add a melody, save your work, share it with friends, or export it to Garageband, sheet music, or guitar tab.
3. The Analysis Wiki is a user-generated collection of analyses of popular songs. Look up the chord progression and melody of a song, or use the music editor to create your own analyses.
Check it out now!


VibeDeck is a free direct-to-fan music sales solution that's easy to use and quick to set up. All you need is your digital tracks, some album artwork and a PayPal account. When a fan buys your music, the money goes directly into your PayPal account so you can access it immediately. VibeDeck does not take a cut or charge a service subscription fee. It's truly free, easy and invaluable for any artist with music to share with the world. 

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MusikPitch is a brand new website where songwriters can find the latest opportunities from companies, studios, and individuals looking for custom songs. It's a straightforward marketplace, where you can get your music heard and win contracts, regardless of your experience and location. New projects are posted daily — from big name movie studios and company brands to non-profits and schools. Start browsing for great new opportunities today!


The Hype Hustle is contest a for musicians which measures online hustle over musical talent. The contest has a one month registration period and runs for the entirety of the next calendar month. Applications are free and are available during the registration month before the competition. HHP or Hype Hustle Points, are used to keep score, and are awarded for various ways of connecting with fans. At the end of the competition, those with the most HHP will be awarded prizes including professionally mixed and mastered singles, music videos, photo shoots, web sites, and viral marketing campaigns. Only 3 artists will win, but all artists will enjoy the publicity and and internet exposure the Hype Hustle provides for up and coming musicians. Official rules and regulations apply and and can be read HERE. Applications are FREE and available upon request


Pete and Pat Luboff are offering a special rate to Muse's Muse readers on a single song consultation: MM readers get a $5
discount by sending $15 via PayPal to instead of using the $20 single-song button on the site. Please email the songs to the same address (mp3 attachment with the lyrics in the body of the email - lyrics only are fine).
Response will be by email.


32,000 live music venues of all sizes are featured including clubs, bars, restaurants, lounges, coffee shops, theaters, halls, churches, book stores, community centers, house concerts and open mics. There are also 1,500 festivals listed as well as over 1,000 colleges for any artist that wants to plan a college tour.

Jumpstart your tour today! Click here for more information!

Muse's Clues - By John Brhel

©2011-2012 John Brhel. All Rights Reserved.
Used By Permission

“Cause they say 2,000 zero zero party over, oops! Out of time!
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”

--“1999,” Prince

The year 2000 is ancient history (heck, 2009 is ancient history in this day and age). We managed to survive the Armageddon of Y2K unscathed and ready to embrace Lady Gaga and lolcats. Regardless of whether or not the message of Prince’s apocalyptic 1982 single “1999” is still relevant (it’s a nuclear weapons protest song disguised as a club anthem), its call to arms, to get things done – in this case to party – is just as applicable as it was upon its release during the Cold War. Either that or I’ve just been listening to “Raspberry Beret” a lot and wanted to give The Purple One a nod in my monthly column.

Whichever artist helps kick off your new year, be it Prince or Lady Antebellum, one thing’s for sure: there’s no better time than now to pursue your songwriting in a professional manner. A problem many songwriters run into at the beginning of the year, however, is to fall into the trap of being overzealous about New Year’s resolutions.

Is this you? You read about some mega-successful songwriter, say Jeffrey Steele or Diane Warren. Inspired and with a sense of urgency, you start brainstorming all of the things you can do to get from point A to point Z / multi-platinum sales. You spend day and night signing up for every songwriting organization under the sun, submitting demos to every publisher from Nashville to the Netherlands, and setting up co-writing appointments with guys who know friends of Dr. Luke’s dentist’s nephew. You drive yourself crazy day in and out attempting to accomplish every possible thing you were told you had to in some ASCAP seminar until it hits you a few months down the road: you haven’t written any songs.

Anything in excess, whether it be shotgunning demos or downing an entire bottle of whiskey in one sitting, can be a bad thing. To quote a well-known idiom, “Everything in moderation.” You’ll get in over your head and have no sanity left to write (unless that’s your MO) if you attempt to accomplish too many songwriting goals at once. With that in mind, I suggest reading Doak Turner’s article One Thing a Day for my Songwriting Journey over at Disc Makers’ blog. In this informative article, Turner, owner of the songwriting website/newsletter The Nashville Muse, extols the benefits of accomplishing one task a day while in pursuit of a songwriting career. He writes that making the decision to focus on completing one task a day helped him develop a strong network in Nashville and better prepared him for his move to the city.

Make a New Year’s resolution to accomplish big songwriting goals by 2013? According to Turner, you’ll improve your chances of landing a cut, finding co-writers, etc. if you break down this one huge goal into simple tasks you can complete one day at a time. It doesn’t matter what you do each day so long as it's something that will help to further your career in some way. This can be as simple as coming up with a hook or calling an old cowriter you haven’t spoken to in a while. It can be as easy as reading a chapter in a songwriting book or signing up for a BMI seminar. By completing small tasks along the way and diversifying what you do day by day, you’ll slowly amass a network of industry contacts, collection of great lyrics and/or hooks, etc.

The one day/one task approach will allow you to focus on the many skills you need to make a living as a songwriter, including creative, social and business skills. Devoting huge chunks of time to one element of your songwriting career, be it melody writing or contact building, can actually backfire on you. Unless you’re someone like Justin Vernon (of folk band Bon Iver fame), hiding away in a cabin for three months to write songs might not be the best idea. You certainly won’t get any networking in (unless you know a woodchuck with connections on Music Row). On top of that, you just might not be at your songwriting prime at the moment. The one day/one task approach is great in that you can focus on something you’re feeling strong about at the moment, whether it be coming up with a hook or finally building up the nerve to call an industry contact.

Say your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight. You wouldn’t spend 12 hours a day on a treadmill, right? So why should you go overboard making good on a resolution to achieve songwriting goals? Do one thing to further your songwriting each day and you just might land that dream co-write with Prince. Should you not be interested in writing sexy funk-rock, send him my way.


John Brhel is a songwriter from upstate New York who wrote his first batch of pop songs before graduating from elementary school. A lover of all music, John writes country songs, plays in a punk band and spends a good deal of his free time listening to Diane Warren ballads. John regularly attends industry events in New York and Los Angeles and is a member of ASCAP and the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. A lover of melody and the left-field chord change, John lives and breathes songs. He is always on the lookout for Skype cowriters.

Featured Article - By Brad Dunse

QUICK TIP: On Your Mark, Get Set ... No!

Hold it … wait … right there! Before you get cranking on your new song, you know after you got that killer title? There’s something you need to know.

You’ve got to grab a listener right out of the gate. That’s right, you’ve got to give them a first impression that leaves a listener thinking … “Hmm, that’s pretty cool,” “What did she just say?” “I’m there with ya pal,” or “OK, you got me, tell me more.”

Please don’t start your song with … “I’m sitting here on this park bench…,” “You’re lookin’ in my eyes …,” or “I’m just walking in the country …” type of line. A listener doesn’t’ give one rat’s hoot where you are; the song is not about you anyway, it’s about them. What a listener is really interested in is you getting them into the song somehow, and I’m sorry, those cautionary lines above will turn attentions to the fly stuck on the windshield wiper, the smudge marks on the computer monitor, or the ant crawling up the wall; … anything but your song.

“Crap! I just wrote one with a line like that!” Is that what I just heard you mutter? Relax, it’s all good, all is not lost. Check this out.

OK, let’s take the “I’m sittin’ on this park bench” line. Why couldn’t you say, “The lonely screeching of the park swing might as well be my heart.” Does that give some indication of emotion? Do we know where the singer is? Of course, and it tells so much more than the story of flattened butt cheeks. Think of something you might find in a park and attach emotion to it. An old man with a walking cane watching his grandkid feed the pigeons, the smell of ketchup on hot burgers from a couple strolling buy, or the feel of smoothly worn chain links of the swing you’re sitting on. You can find something to hone in on, use your senses and involve the listener.

What about the “You’re lookin’ in my eyes” line? These are classic booboos because if someone was looking in your eyes, don’t’ you think they know that already? Do they really need you to tell them what they are already doing? Why couldn’t you say something like, “The blue in your eyes swallows my heart.” Again does that give some detail, some emotion? Does it not put you right in front of the person staring deep into their eyes? Again find something you might see and write it down. “Your long lashes are canopies of the windows to your soul,” “I know the reason for every wrinkle on your face,” or “The stud in your tongue flashes in and out like a snake’s when you talk.” Or should it be “The ‘thtud’ in your thongue ‘flathethes’ like a ‘thnakethe’s’ when you ‘thalk’.” Sorry, I couldn’t ‘rethitht.’ Just messin’ with ya, back in the day it was … well to not date myself we’ll say it was just other things we stylishly wore.

Another song starter is using conversation. Maybe Something like, “What do you mean, ‘It’s all good,’ you just stomped on my heart!” Or maybe, “Shut up and kiss me, let’s not talk anymore.”

Whatever tool you use to start a song: a question, provocative statement, conversation piece, or something descriptive to cause curiosity or an emotion; the important thing is to grab their attention right off before they have a chance to hit the scan button on the radio, drift off in thought about the phone bill they just got, or start talking to the person at the table next to them if you are at a live gig.

Take a listen to the first lines of some of your favorite songs, the more standard songs, or oldies that have stood the test of time. You’ll find exceptions as in anything, but go with the percentage of good starter lines and you’ll be cool.

See ya in 2012. Happy writing!


Brad Dunse is a performing songwriter based deep in the country's heartland reflecting sensitivity of daily living in his songs. Writing primarily in Folk, Country, Pop, or Americana, he occasionally writes CCM. Co-writer of The Wall, a tribute to Viet Vets receiving major market airplay, he's also received airplay on NPR, local public, independent, and web radio. He is a freelance writer, is board member of Minnesota Association of Songwriters, been member or involved in ASCAP, NSAI, SongU and other organizations. You can visit his web site at WWW.BRADDUNSEMUSIC.COM as well Add As Facebook Friend or Follow Him On Twitter.


Rock Revival pt 3 - Davina Robinson - by James Moore

In my 3rd installment of "Rock Revival" I was treated to a very detailed and in depth conversation with the powerhouse voiced and very driven Davina Robinson, who's new album is appropriately titled "Black Rock Warrior Queen". Davina can relate to the independent artist's struggles and concerns, and I'm confident this interview will provide a wealth of encouragement to any musicians out there looking to share their music with the world.


Quick Hits on 2011 from Blue Collar Rockin' - by Mick Polich

In my 3rd installment of "Rock Revival" I was treated to a very detailed and in depth conversation with the powerhouse voiced and very driven Davina Robinson, who's new album is appropriately titled "Black Rock Warrior Queen". Davina can relate to the independent artist's struggles and concerns, and I'm confident this interview will provide a wealth of encouragement to any musicians out there looking to share their music with the world.

Classifieds & Useful Services


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Indie-Music is seeking artist submissions for its prestigious annual Top 25 Awards. This exclusive competition features the best independent artists and songs in a year-long campaign which exposes their music to thousands of potential new fans and industry backers. Artists worldwide are invited to submit their music for placement on the website, which receives millions of hits every year. All genres welcome.


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Lyricist is the first-of-its-kind word processor designed specifically for musicians, songwriters, and poets. The software includes a Rhyming Dictionary, Thesaurus, Album Categorization, Chord Charting, Chord Generator, Song Arrangement, and On-Line Copyright Link.

The new version 3 release adds support for "Piano Style" chord symbols, Nashville Number System, and Transposition features - all in one easy-to-use package - and all for only $54.95! (That's $5.00 off to all Muse's News readers who purchase from the review link at!)

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Limited Introductory Offer of $12.95 for Digital Download Discounts for CD, and CD/Digital Download Combo shown on ordering page.

For Classifieds: US$50 Max. 7 lines (though I do make exceptions), where a line = 65 characters including spaces and punctuation. All contracts must be prepaid. Write to:

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Contact Info & Credits

Jodi Krangle, Editor:

The Muse's News is a free monthly newsletter for and about songwriters. Subscribers are welcome to recirculate or reprint The Muse's News for nonprofit use as long as the appropriate credit is given and the ENTIRE text of the newsletter is included (including credits and information at the end of each issue). Others should contact me at All articles copyrighted by their authors.

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