Have you ever wondered what it would be like to write a hit song? Perhaps you have asked yourself why do some songs become commercial successes while others end up in the dustbin?
Journalist, talk show host, teacher and consultant, John Braheny, provides us with the answers to these queries as well as many other topics in his blue-ribbon manual The Craft and Business of Songwriting-Second Edition.
Braheny was one of the founders, along with Len Chandler, of the Los Angles Songwriters Showcase. For 15 years he was intimately involved with this national non-profit organization that was dedicated to creating opportunities for discovering aspiring songwriters. As a result of this relationship, he accumulated an exceptional amount of knowledge pertaining to the business and craft of song writing. The reader is fortunate to have all of this information neatly wrapped up in a compact manual that is split into two main sections, the craft of writing songs and the business of selling and marketing songs.
Within the section dealing with the craft the author delves into such topics as creativity, inspiration, subject matter, media, listeners, lyric writing, song construction and possible collaboration with other writers. Naturally we would probably be sceptical of a book that purports to teach us how to write a song. Some would say you are born to write a song, others would disagree and say it is possible to be taught the craft. Braheny believes that you can't be taught inspiration or imagination. However, you can be taught ways to get in touch with what you have to say and how to communicate it effectively. Using this premise as a base, the book provides us with the tools that will perhaps uncover our hidden talents.
The second half of the book deals with the business features of song writing and as the author states, "writing a great song is only part of being a successful songwriter. Unsung thousands possess the talent and craft to write great songs, but without understanding the business and knowing how to protect your creations and get them heard by those who can make them successful, those songs are like orphans." Perhaps we should refer to the second half as the entrepreneurial skills needed to sell, promote and market your songs. Within this section we are introduced to such topics as protecting your songs, securing money, publishing, self- publishing, demos, marketing, Internet and record deals.
The appendix of the book provides the reader with a very comprehensive listing of songwriters' resources containing names, addresses, phone numbers, web sites and general descriptions of the various references. No doubt this inclusion will save anyone who aspires to be a songwriter a great deal of time and effort.
After reading the book are you guaranteed that you will be successful songwriter? Probably not. Unfortunately, we don't have a crystal ball indicating who will succeed and who will fail. However, at least after reading and being exposed to the elements of song writing, you will have a better understanding as to how the music industry works in relation to the songwriter, or writer/performer. As the author asserts in his introduction, "it will demystify and humanize what can often feel to a newcomer like a cold, monolithic, and impersonal industry."
The above review first appeared on the reviewer's own site