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The Muse's News

Issue 2.10 - January 2000
ISSN 1480-6975

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I n   T h i s   I s s u e :

@-- Editor's Musings
@-- Q&A with Nancy A. Reece from Carpe Diem Copyright Management
@-- Music Reviews - by Ben Ohmart
    YAHOO IN THE 21ST CENTURY - by Matthew Montfort
@-- NEW! - Song Spotlight & Critique 
@-- Book Review - by Jodi Krangle
@-- Musical Notes - Songwriting Contests & Market Info.
@-- Muse's Clues - by Irene Jackson 
@-- Songwriter in Spotlight - James Martin, founder of the Tucson,
    Arizona band, PATHOS.
@-- On Site Featured Article - An article already online for your viewing pleasure. @-- Classifieds & Useful Services @-- Contact information ================================================================= ISSN 1480-6975. Copyright 1998 - Jodi Krangle. For more contact information, see end of issue. =================================================================
If you enjoy The Muse's News, why not suggest it to friends? ----------------------------------------------------------------
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E d i t o r ' s   M u s i n g s :

Hi everyone!  First of all, I'd like to wish you all a very
wonderful holiday season and the happiest of New Years ever.  A lot
has happened here at The Muse's Muse over the last year and I'm
hoping things will simply continue to grow as they have been. It
would be absolutely impossible for me to make any predictions but
that much, I'd be happy with. ;-) Thank you so much for all of your
support and contributions over the last year.  They've been greatly
appreciated. Hopefully this newsletter and the improvements in the
web site have helped you find your muse a little more easily.

Once again, this is a long issue - but I hope you'll enjoy it
despite the amount of time it takes to download.  There's a new
feature here called the Song Spotlight & Critique and I hope you'll
take a moment to read about it and participate.  I think it could
be really great for all of us.  It's in its beginning stages and
will probably take some refining as time passes, but I hope to have
made a good start.

Our winner of this month's book raffle, Jason Blume's 6 STEPS TO
SONGWRITING SUCCESS, is Christine Baxter of Victoria, BC.
Congratulations Christine!

To be absolutely honest, I'm not sure what next month's book
give-away will be - but I promise it'll be a good one.  :) There is
currently no book review scheduled for next month.  If you have a
book that you would like to have considered for a review, feel free
to e-mail me at so that we can talk about it.

And that's about it.  I hope you enjoy this issue and that your New
Year is a happy, healthy & prosperous one.  See you next century!

Back to Menu
================================================================= C o p y r i g h t & P u b l i s h i n g Q & A : with Nancy A. Reece of Carpe Diem Copyright Management ----------------------------------------------------------------- How do I publish,my own songs under my own name? -- Tracie ------------- Thank you for writing Tracie: If you created the work in its entirety and have not previously assigned the copyrights to another party then you remain the owner of the entire work. The traditional pie cutting of "writer's share" "publisher's share" refers only to specific arrangements with the assignment of copyrights. It can be very good for a songwriter to create his or her own publishing company as a separate business, then sign themselves and/or their works into that publishing company. This may help with estate planning or even in the future selling of the entire catalogue. For most, the advantage is more in the book keeping of the business expenses. Refer to other articles on this site on proper registration of copyrights. If you need further assistance in the creation of a publishing company to hold your works, please let me know. --Nancy ------------- Hi Nancy, Can you point me in the right direction for how to copyright and publish songs using a pseudonym (like Lotta Soul, etc), and what legal ramifications/drawbacks there are to this? Thank You -- Scott H. ------------- Thank you for writing Scott: You can not copyright a title or name. To secure these things requires Trade Marks or Service Marks. You can work with a trade mark counsel to consider different areas of registration. Conducting the searches in those markets for previous use can be about $400 per search. That's just to see if someone hasn't already secured the TM or SM at the time of the report. You have to be ready to proceed with the filing, which can be expensive as well, depending on the price of your counsel and the quantity of areas you'd like to register. If you conduct the search and then delay the filing even a few weeks, you run the risk of needing to research again as someone may have scooped up the name in the interim. If you use a registered trademark in a lyric then you run the risk of the trademark owner filing a cease order. Tina Turner's private dance for example; the lyric says "American Express will do nicely, thank you".. The sound recording owner (Record Label) and Publisher of the work had to settle with American Express to avoid having to recut the song. If you really must use the trade mark in a song, it is smart to get permission. You never know, if it is a product mentioned, you may have someone fall in love with the idea to use in in advertising. You do always run a risk however of needing to rewrite, so keep all these factors in mind. Finally, keep in mind the parody rules that may make it possible for you to use trademarks and servicemarks without risk. Also, public figures can be fair game as long as you are careful of libel issues. As to your attorney. I recommend King & Ballow in Nashville, TN - - Nells Jacobson is an excellent Trademark counsel there. --Nancy. ** ADDENDUM: A considerate reader wrote this in response to this question: I noticed that you never answered the question from Scott H in todays newsletter. He asked about copyrighting a song with a pseudonym, and you answered about trademarks. Big difference. Pen names have always been allowed. He can obtain a copyright in his legal name and as the form allows, state that he is writing under a pseudonym. From that point on, it is shown on Performing Rights Agreements, label copy, BMI/ASCAP/SESAC, printed music, etc. as written by ______ ________ (the pseudenoym he chose.) When he gets his checks some will also be made out to that name, so he should register that name with his county clerk to prove that his bank deposits are indeed legally and personally his. Thanks, David M. ---------------------------------------------------------- New Questions & Answers for December 1999 can be found at: ---------------------------------------------------------- ***** Carpe Diem's owner and president, Nancy A. Reece has been involved in the music business since 1983. She was the president of an independent advertising agency for eight years as well as a successful personal artist manager for nine years. She represented the careers of several recording artists and songwriters including those with EMI, Zomba and Liberty Records as well as Benson, Starsong, WoodBridge, Temple Hall and N'Soul Records. She also represented, for a number of years, a Grammy and Dove nominated record producer. Reece has won awards of excellence in print magazine advertising and has been named as one of 2,000 Notable American Women (1995) as well as being listed in the International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women (1993). She was also named Cashbox Magazine's Promoter of the Year (1989). **If you would like to ask Nancy a copyright or publishing question for our continuing Q&A section, please send your e-mail to She can't guarantee she'll get to all of the questions, but she'll certainly try.** Back to Menu
================================================================= M u s i c R e v i e w s : by Ben Ohmart -----------------------------------------------------------------
Krystal - Three Chords and a Song Don't be fooled by the title. More than 3 chords here. Many more. It's like comparing the blues to Foreigner. In fact, the band reminds me a bit of Foreigner - maybe the guitar - but no one else will say that. See, the lead voice is that throat-scratchy, loud mouth that sings very well in Hard rock. Krystal nicely bridges the gap between pop, rock and hard rock. As one who doesn't listen to hard rock, I can take this stuff fine. The band is selling nicely, I'm informed, on and I'm glad. They rock. In the rockest sense of the word. Just listen to 'Bad n' No Good' if you don't believe me. Forget Guns n Roses, remember the Krystal. --------------- Sianna Lyons - Songland Minimalist pop? Gothic romantic? Whatever you call it, if you're into women whispering, you'll dig 'Disappear'. And 'We' sounds like a lover's gift to her lover. A romantic song, homemade, playing in the background. 'I adore you. There was no innocence before you'. '11th Hour' has lead vocals through a radio filter. 'how long can we stay strong in a world that's gone so wrong?' Good question. A pretty, though slightly dismal ballad with an odd guitar solo. Could the guitar have been produced on keyboard, or what is that? Some lovely moments here. If you're into the production of Queen, you won't like this cd. It's more intimate, more love-to-love, more small club than disco club. I recommend it to those who like secrets whispered in their ears. --------------- OTHER NEW MUSIC REVIEWS SINCE LAST MONTH INCLUDE: Crying Out Loud - Ramiro Medina - Pope Jane - Dropout - Josh Bloomberg - Caliban - Robert Burke Warren - The Birth Of Neon Venus - The Cry Ugly - Goodtime Rush House - --------------- ****** Ben Ohmart has had 100s of stories and poems in zines and journals, and had 4 plays produced last year. His lyrics will be on 2 CDs this year, 1 a gothic album, the other a rock album. He's currently writing films, with hopes of having one done in Malaysia soon, and is also trying to break into the prison of television. He's white, 26, single and loves British comedy. He lives in Boalsburg, PA, and enjoys watching rabbits eat his garbage. Contact him at: . **Ben has kindly consented to do music reviews for this publication and also for The Muse's Muse itself. If you have an independently released CD or tape that you'd like to get reviewed, send it off to: Ben Ohmart, P O Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827 or drop by his Music Reviews web section at for more details.** Back to Menu
================================================================= F e a t u r e d A r t i c l e : THE ADVENTURES OF USTAD GLOBAL LOOPMASTER YAHOO IN THE 21ST CENTURY - by Matthew Montfort, who is in the story. ----------------------------------------------------------------- It was 4:15 A.M., Halloween, in the year 2038. The esteemed Ustad Global Loopmaster Yahoo (UGLY) had just put the finishing touches on the new MTV-NET streaming home theater surround sound release for his latest world groove dance mix, which was going live on the MTV-NET Avatar Ball at 6 P.M.. He was really proud of this new release. He had even hired the best in the business to do the plastic surgery for his latest image. He could afford it with his new Microsoft Music sponsorship. The free downloads of the last UGLY release had made it number one on the net music chart, and Microsoft Music was throwing money around to buy the top charting artists. Music was free on the net. That's what consumers demanded. So the only way to make a living as an artist was to sell a high ranking download site to a corporate sponsor. And Microsoft Music was the best! Sponsorship by them guaranteed an artist a coveted channel on the Microsoft Music browser in addition to being on the Microsoft payroll. The Artist IPO alone was worth millions if it happened in a bull week on UGLY had arrived at this lofty position because he had a knack for knowing what the fads would be a *full week* before they happened. At the beginning of his career, he had hooked up with a young plastic surgeon who had found a new way to offer the coveted image change operations much cheaper, and UGLY had just the right image a week before it became the rage. His site was a big hit, and his in-store appearances at Borders were SRO because the buzz was that his image was *real* and not just an avatar. People wanted to touch him just to make sure. Borders was the only surviving bricks and mortar international music store because they added a *huge* surround sound holographic theater at every store just when CDs were on the way out. A brilliant stroke that made them the only place people were willing to pay for music. UGLY had become a pioneer in the multinational corporate world dance music movement. He changed his image race every three months, always picking the race that would be "in demand" for that period. His music used vocal samples (translated into all languages) over a knee hop groove (hip hop went out years before, and no one wanted to hear about the very retro sock hop anymore). Yet UGLY was also feeling a little disturbed. He used technology to make music, and had no training in music at all. But he was tired of the music loops in his library. He had no idea how to create from scratch. Yet he was getting a feeling that next week the fad just *had* to have something a little different. Something *not* in his library. Problem was, no one was making new loops, because in 2020 the Microsoft Music marketing department had commissioned a study that found that the audience could only understand three different rhythms anyway. Any deviation from these three was commercial suicide. But now UGLY needed to find someone who still could make music the old fashioned way. This was very hard to do, since music training in the schools had been outlawed a year after the National Endowment for the Arts had been dismantled by President George Bush Jr. in his second term as an act of compassionate conservatism. It was like shooting a horse with a broken leg: the fine arts were just hanging on anyway, and this ended their hopeless struggle. The few people around 30 years later who could remember having musical careers playing real instruments were hard to find. But there was hope. The National Web Archive listing of the first sites on the net, combined with a "where is" search turned up the whereabouts of the leader of the world music group Ancient Future. He was found in a mental institution because he wouldn't quit playing music on real instruments and was deemed insane. He had found a way to play music on the plastic trays institutional food came in. So UGLY posed as a therapist and began making daily visits to the mental institute claiming he could cure any patient of a desire to play real instruments by pretending to learn music from them. Within three days, UGLY had a new groove that was close enough to the three approved grooves not to arouse suspicion, but different enough to be the fad for next week. UGLY was saved. He was able to stay on the charts for the next three years before his ugly little secret experiments with real instruments were found out. An illegal hand drum was found in his apartment by an ATFM (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Musical Instruments) Agent posing as a groupie. UGLY became the 21st Century's first Milli Vanilli: a fraud to virtual reality. He had been caught using a real instrument on one of his songs. His stock plummeted. He lost the Microsoft Music sponsorship, and became a cell mate of his music teacher at the mental institute. ****** Scalloped fretboard guitar pioneer Matthew Montfort is the leader of the world music group Ancient Future. When he is not performing on real instruments, he keeps himself busy as webmaster of, giving away hundreds of free mp3 files daily and getting dosed with electromagnetic radiation, which seems to be giving him special powers to see into the future of the music business.
Back to Menu ================================================================= New! S o n g S p o t l i g h t & C r i t i q u e : ----------------------------------------------------------------- I'd like to try something in honour of this new year's worth of exchanging knowledge. I'd like to get you a little more involved in helping your fellow songwriters improve their craft. How, you ask? Well, it has been suggested to me (by the songwriter of this month's Song Spotlight, in fact) that it might be a good idea to have one or two featured songs per newsletter, include an e-mail address for the songwriter that wrote the song, and then ask you (if you would like to) to offer a critique of the song that might help the songwriter improve it. This isn't an obligation, by any means. It's entirely up to you if you want to respond. But I think it might be a great exercise for all involved. A few things before we begin though: 1) I know you all are a *great* bunch of people, but I do have to mention this anyway. If you don't like a musical style at all or can't see anything at all good in what you're hearing, please don't write a nasty note to the songwriter. That doesn't help anyone and the idea in all this is to give encouragement along with *constructive* criticism. 2) Write to the songwriter directly - but please cc' the message to me at . That way, if the messages are particularly insightful, I can print them either here in the newsletter, or on the web site. I think that could ultimatey help a lot more people than simply the songwriter in question. 3) If you want to be considered for this sort of a critique and spotlight, please make a suggestion by sending an e-mail to me at Send me the link directly to one song's lyrics and a sound sample of that song. The sound sample can be in real audio or MP3. Either will be fine. I do ask that the song be a complete song rather than a "work in progress". I also ask that there be some sort of musical approximation of the song. It doesn't have to be a full-blown demo by any means. It could just be you and your guitar or you and your piano. But I do want to stress that this is a *song* critique and not a *lyric* critique. What that means is that the music becomes as important as the words. The two go together. Complement each other. Enhance one another. I'd love for critiques to talk about the music as much as they talk about the lyrics. And with all this said, here's the first Song Spotlight: ********************* GODBOX - Behind It Lyrics: Music: Send your critiques to Luana at ********************* This is Luana's first demo and she's interested in hearing what people think. She's also the one that suggested this new section - so I thought she should be the first to benefit from it. :) As mentioned, please send your critiques to her at the above e-mail and cc' them to me at . Remember that the critiques and words of encouragement sent in to Luana and myself might also be posted either here in the newsletter or on the web site at a later date. Back to Menu ================================================================= B o o k R e v i e w : by Jodi Krangle 6 STEPS TO SONGWRITING SUCCESS by Jason Blume ----------------------------------------------------------------- There are a lot of reasons I was impressed with this book. It's written cleanly, concisely and dispels a lot of common myths about the songwriting process that I, myself, have been under for a long time. The publication itself is a sturdy hard cover filled to the brim with information, ideas and instruction. But much like Harriet Schock's BECOMING REMARKABLE (reviewed in an earlier Muse's News), there's a lot of *heart* here. It's true that this is a book meant to teach people how to be able to write "commercial" songs - but Jason has also managed to make it understood that writing commercial songs doesn't have to mean that you've sold your soul or that you're compromising. Yes, you have to be choosy about a lot of things when you write not only for yourself, but with other people's enjoyment in mind. But no one has pointed out to me quite what "commercial" really means. Jason's book goes that one step (or *several* steps) further. It takes the basic concepts of songwriting and expands upon them to show you, the songwriter, how you can make your songs enjoyable for a lot more people. You can still write from the heart and certainly, you can still write for yourself - but you can increase your odds of *reaching* people too. What makes a hit song? This book takes apart some of the most popular songs of all time and analyzes them with this in mind. What are these songs doing right that you can do in your own songs? Song structure, effective lyric writing, rhyming techniques, how to handle re-writes, melody composition and even writing songs for specialty markets like comedy, children, Christmas songs, etc. - it's all here. That's the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a book of this nature. But Jason goes farther still. There's information about how to produce a successful demo, *mixing* that demo, understanding publishing agreements, and information on how to pitch your songs. Throughout each section there are checklists, and at the back there's an appendix filled with all sorts of information that will be useful to you like songwriting organizations around the world, publications of interest and online resources (The Muse's Muse is mentioned, too! Thanks, Jason!). 6 STEPS TO SONGWRITING SUCCESS covers a lot more ground than the title might suggest. From beginning to end, it's packed with all the information serious songwriters need to have in their trade toolbox. ****** Jason Blume's songs are on albums that have sold over 25 million copies in the past year. He is one of only a few writers to have singles on the country, pop, and R&B charts simultaneously. His songs have been recorded by the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Collin Raye, Boyz 'n Girlz United, John Berry, and the Oak Ridge Boys. For more information, drop by his website at ****** Jason Blume's, 6 STEPS TO SONGWRITING SUCCESS was our review and book give-away this month. There is no book review scheduled for next month, however there will still be a book give-away. Stay tuned for next month's winner. It could be you! Back to Menu ================================================================= M u s i c a l N o t e s : Songwriting Contests & Market Info. In the interest of conserving space, I will only be including 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! ----------------------------------------------------------------- GGM SONG CONTEST 2000 Enter today for our 1st Annual Song Contest. Participating Categories: R&B, Hip-Hop, Rap, Reggae, Gospel, and Country. Genre: Christian and Secular music. Lots of great Prizes to be won. Overall Grand Prizes: Over $10,000 Value! Enter as many songs as you desire! Entry Deadline: 01-31-2000 Click or visit here to get Entry Form and Info: ----------------------------------------------------------------- NORTH WEST SONGWRITING COMPETITION 2000 Brought to you by The Busker's Ball of Bolton, England. This year we are part of the BBC's (British Broadcasting Corporation) 'Music Live' event, plus we have support from local radio. They will broadcast winning songs! It is a performance competition with the final taking place on May 29th (and might also be broadcast). Prizes include recording time in top studios, music gear, etc., and we have built up a good reputation in past years. As a musician myself I have always been determined to make it as fair as possible. We may very well have an international section this year, (if there's enough interest) but if not, entrants will be expected to perform their work live at a series of heats. There will be three celebrity judges at each heat. Anyone wishing to enter should write to the address on the website (or phone or email me) and I will send entry form and set of rules. Alec Martin ----------------------------------------------------------------- NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS BSF Songs is currently accepting material for a new female artist demo/CD project. Only material suitable for country music radio is acceptable. Strong hooks, all tempos, ala Mandy Barnett, Lee Ann Womack, Sarah Evans, P. Loveless, P. Tillis, etc. Submit only three songs on cassette or CD. Include lyric sheets, name, address, telephone, and/or e-mail. Material needed January 30, 2000. All submissions screened on a yes/no basis. No critiques. No material returned without SASE. No material reviewed without submission code. Please contact for permission and code. Nashville BSF Songs P.O. Box 1080 Lexington, KY 40588 Please note on your e-mail reponse where you saw this listing. ----------------------------------------------------------------- BMI PUBLISHER SEEKS NEW SONGS The songs we sign to publishing contracts meet our only standard: they qualify, in our opinion, as "genius" pieces of music. With the current expansion of our catalog and the early-2000 addition of our sister company, Gold Rush Music Publishing (ASCAP), we now seek new material that fits that genius category. If you have written music and lyrics that you believe to be appropriate, please send your best 1-6 unpublished songs (no submission code required) to Emstone, Inc. Music Publishing, PO Box 1287, Hallandale, FL 33008. (No classical, jazz, or opera.) Tapes and CDs containing music we don't publish will be returned with SASE. Michael Gary: ----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 4TH ANNUAL "CRUISIN' FOR A HIT" SONGWRITERS CRUISE We value your time and money that's why we're offering you this fantastic deal! Join us on the Costa Victoria for 7 nights of learning and fun! Workshops, Seminars, Guitar Pulls, and Critiquing are just a few of the events that will be taking place! An incredible line-up of top faculty songwriters and pros! Prices start at $802 per person, dbl. occ. and include all port charges and taxes! Visit our site at: or call us toll-free at 888/711-7447. Space is limited so call us today!! ----------------------------------------------------------------- ONLINEROCK IS A WEB-BASED COMMUNITY FOR MUSICIANS, MUSIC PROFESSIONALS & DIE-HARD MUSIC FANS: Visit OnlineRock and build your free Web site, post classifieds on our musician's 'sounding board,' learn about the latest music gear, recording technology and more. OnlineRock's mission is to empower musicians so that they can promote, distribute (and soon sell) their own music to fans anywhere in the world. Drop on by when you get a chance. (You can sign up for a free web site with OnlineRock directly through The Muse's Muse! Have a look at ) ----------------------------------------------------------------- NEW PUBLISHER SEEKING ORIGINAL MATERIAL Now accepting songs of all styles. 3 songs on CD or cassette with lyric sheets and SASE. All songs will be considered. * prefer positive upbeat material, must be original and unique. Contact info: LISTEN LOUD PUBLISHING BMI 1006 HYDE PARK CT CLEBURNE TX 76031 jbeaurpe@flash.netBack to Menu ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ M u s e ' s C l u e s : by Irene Jackson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In Grade 11 I had an English teacher who was a Beatles fanatic...we discussed their lyrics ad nauseum, and his face would flush with excitement when he spoke of the "pure genius" of songs like Eleanor Rigby. What does the writer MEAN when he says that Eleanor keeps her face in jar by the door? Most of us hadn't actually thought of listening the the WORDS before! I loved the music, but English 11 was a real eye-opener when it came to lyrics. When it comes to the subject of songwriting, the internet provides an infinite number of possibilities and places to explore, but occasionally it has its limitations. For instance, in the newsgroup, a complaint that often arises is the fact that the music isn't as easy to discuss as the lyrics are, simply because a newsgroup lends itself to text more easily than it does to music. And if you've ever read a book on songwriting, you KNOW that it's easier to understand a musical "point" when you can actually hear it, rather than just reading about it! BUT, having said that, a site was recently brought to my attention that examines some popular songs with a virtual microscope. It's "Alan W. Pollack's 'Notes On' Series" ( And guess what? They are songs by the Beatles, 184 of them, in fact! Beatles fans, for sure, will be astounded...even writers who are not Beatles fans will find a great deal of valuable information here. Alan W. Pollack analyzes each song in great detail, including style and form, harmonic organization, rhythm and phrasing, melodic motif, lyrics, and arrangement. It can get pretty technical, but you may come across a word or phrase that defines something you already know or do in your songwriting ("hey, I wrote a song that is 'appoggiatura intensive' and I never knew it!"). Because we know these songs so well, when the author dissects each part, we can actually "hear" it. When I'm teaching guitar, I teach popular songs because I know a student will instinctively remember more from already knowing the song, and this Notes On series does exactly that. In fact, it's very much like training without the sound, and ear training is essential to any songwriter! Did the Beatles scrutinize their songwriting as much as this series does? Somehow I doubt it! In fact I can't imagine anyone sitting down and writing successfully from such a left-brained place. But why do these songs work? What special blend of rhythm and lyric and melody makes them so special? Some of the answers are simple and some are not! Alan belongs to the newsgroup and I simply can't believe he has taken so much time to do so much work. Fortunately for the rest of us, he's also provided a great learning tool for songwriters. So if you drop by, tell him the Muse's Muse sent you! ****** Irene Jackson is a performing songwriter from Victoria, BC in Canada. Aside from writing, recording and performing, she also maintains a website for songwriters that includes tips, articles and more links of interest. Her latest CD "Motor Scooter" has had attention everywhere from Japan to South America, and a new release is due out sometime in 1999. Songwriting Tips: Homepage: Songs on MP3: Back to Menu ================================================================= S o n g w r i t e r I n P r o f i l e : Bryan Kelley
Bryan Kelley's CD, CHARMING THE GODS sure charmed me!  I really
loved his sound and the thoughtfulness of the songs.  I decided to
spotlight him on The Muse's Muse not so long ago.  You can have a
look at if you're
interested.  Having heard his stuff, like many of the other
songwriters I admire, I had to ask him HOW.  The resulting
interview is below.
*Q*: How did you get involved in music and songwriting? Did you
have a musical family?
*A*: I got involved in music at the age of five, when I learned how
to play ukulele in the Philippines.  My mom, however will tell you
that I started singing much earlier.  She always comments on how I
used to sing "Rolling Down the River" by Credence Clearwater
Revival as we were shopping in the commissary.  I've always had a
love for cleverly crafted songs, and would dig into how they were
created.  So...writing is something that has evolved for me.

My family was great-grandfather played clarinet
in John Phillip-Sussa's (sp?) marching band, and my grandmother was
an opera singer.  I'm considered the black sheep of the family.
*Q*: Was there a particular incident that made you decide music was
your calling?
*A*: No.  Playing, writing, and performing music has never been a
choice - I've never even questioned it.  It's something that feels
so natural to me, that it's hard to deny.
*Q*: Where do you get your inspiration?  Other songs?  Other
musicians?  Do you find certain incidents in life that most inspire
you to write?
*A*: Life incidents are definitely an inspiration for me.  The
birth of my daughter for example, was significant in my writing on
"Charming the Gods".  I actually find reading to be one of my
largest contributors - there's nothing like a great book that takes
you to another place and puts your imagination to work.  My writing
process is fairly simple in its complexity...  Since guitar is my
main instrument I'll find an open tuning that I really enjoy, then
I just mess around with different chord progressions, in that
tuning, until I find something I like.  The hardest part is always
deciding what to write about, and that's where life, reading, and
any other experiences I can bring to the table appear.
*Q*: Do you ever experience the phenomenon of "Writer's Block"?  If
so, what do you do to get over it?
*A*: I believe that "Writer's Block" occurs when your not in tune
with your mind,body, and soul.  I use to experience it earlier on
in my songwriting career. "Stream of Conscience" writing for about
ten minutes a day first thing in the morning, plus reading fiction
have really help me eliminate that problem. Exercise and Yoga have
also helped me be more in touch with myself, keeping me with a
clear mind.

Every writer is different though, I can only say that those
exercises work really well for me.  There's a great book out that
I'm sure you've heard of, "Artist's Way".  It's a must read for
those who are interested in taking their art to another level.
*Q*: Do you start with lyrics first or music?  And whichever one
you do start with, why do you think that is?
*A*: The music almost always comes first...that's probably due to
fact that I've been playing guitar longer than I've been writing
songs or lyrics. I also really enjoy that will
often times inspire me to create a new song.  Once I have the basic
chord structure, the melody is usually quite easy.  I'm a
perfectionist when it comes to lyrics, so that usually takes the
most time.
*Q*: When you say you're a perfectionist about lyrics, what do you
mean exactly?  How do you keep your lyrics on track?  What
measurements do you use to judge their effectiveness and how do you
work on improving that effectiveness?
*A*: I'm a fan of thought provoking lyrics, so...when I say I'm a
perfectionist,I'll go out of my way to make sure that my lyrics
aren't an insult to a potential listener's intelligence.  I work
hard to keep things fresh and different, if not for anybody else,
at least for myself.
*Q*: How have you gotten your music heard?  By that, I mean, what
sorts of methods have you tried to get yourself gigs, to get your
CD around, to get your music played on the radio, etc?  Is there
any advice you'd have for other songwriters on this front?  Any
books that have helped you or other materials that might have
*A*: When my CD first came out, I took it to all of the
restaurants, coffeehouses, clubs, and retail stores I could think
of.  I was so excited...I just wanted to get my music heard by as
many people as possible.  I also wanted to get out and play for as
many people as possible, and that's still the case.  I don't know
how to say this other than, 'I'm on a mission'.  Considering that
I'm independent, I've had to do most of my own booking, promotion,
and press - it wasn't until recently that I've partnered up with a
booking agent, an independent radio promoter, and hired someone in
the office to help me out.  Artists generally want everything to be
handed to them, and it just doesn't work that way.  If you believe
in your art, and are willing to work your tail off, you'll be
*Q*: What's in store for you in the future?  Do you have any gigs
planned, another album, or are you working on any projects right
now that you'd like to talk about?
-----------------------------------------------------------------'s funny you ask, because I've been thinking about the
future quite a bit lately.  It's difficult for me to write on the
road because I'm always traveling.  When you're a solo act, you
have to be the performer, manager, driver, travel agent, etc.
So...due to the fact that radio has been so supportive of my
project and continues to be supportive, I'll continue touring on
this record until the end of May.  I'm really itching to write, so
I've decided to stay home during the summer to work on new material
for the next CD.  With my new acquisition of ProTools and other
little toys, I have plenty to keep me busy. 

Bryan Kelley cut his musical teeth on the ukulele at the age of
four, while living in the Philippines. By thirteen, he'd moved to
guitar and Seattle. Growing up in several Northwest bands over the
next few years he emerged as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, a
new voice in the best tradition - an edgy poet-musician, musically
rooted in folk and modern rock.  For more information, sound clips,
CDs, tour dates, and to join our mailing list, please visit Bryan
Kelley's web site at to Menu


    " O N   S I T E "   F E A T U R E D   A R T I C L E :

          The Ramblings of an Independent Artist
                   by Christina Fasano

Christina is our newest columnist! She has kindly allowed us to
follow her step-by-step struggles as an independent artist. Every
month, she'll show us what she's done, her latest revelations about
independent CD production, promotion and songwriting.
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