The Art of Songwriting and the Business of Survival

The Art of Songwriting and the Business of Survival

Addressing eternal pop music questions at two very different universities By Mike Errico I’d wanted to teach for decades, but I waited, because I felt I had to deserve it. There’s a good reason Gandalf, Dumbledore, Yoda and Miyagi are years — centuries? — beyond us, and it’s because older teachers teach time. So I went out to earn the holes in the elbows of my metaphorical cardigan sweater. I learned the craft of songwriting, lived the business of music, and, last semester, put my findings into “The Art and Business of Songwriting,” a class I taught at Yale. Yale has never focused on popular music, and as I walked into the classroom for the first time, students literally shook my hand and thanked me for showing up. Everyone seemed to be on a different page: There were rank amateurs, people who’d already walked away from publishing deals, EDM remixers, bluegrass ukulele ringers and minimalist prodigies who needed paper extensions so they could tour conservatories. What do you teach students like this? What do you teach Caitlin Pequignot, a sophomore in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology who’s learning Chinese, has a YA novel just kinda sitting on her hard drive, and, when asked to write a song to a pre-existing video clip, turns in something as brilliantly heart-wrenching as this? (After screening it in class, a fellow student summed up the mood: “Whoever’s going next? Good luck following that.”) What you teach (besides “do more of that”) is context. There’s no understanding songwriting without it: that song intros existed so the DJ could tell you the time, weather and...
Teaching at NYU, New Writing, Guitar Lessons, and More

Teaching at NYU, New Writing, Guitar Lessons, and More

Teaching Songwriting at NYU’s Clive Davis School of the Recording Arts Break out the violet cardigan sweaters: After a successful semester at Yale, I will be teaching songwriting at NYU’s Clive Davis School of the Recording Arts this fall. We’ll be focusing on the establishment of a personal songwriting voice, and oh, we will write. And write. Can’t wait. New Writing: “The Art of Songwriting and the Business of Survival” I just published an essay for Medium about my experience as a songwriting professor at Yale and NYU. It features “Still Beautiful to Me,” a great song and video by Caitlin Pequignot, one of my students. Mike Errico Guitar Lessons Now On YouTube Guitar players: Here are some videos that explain the techniques I use on songs like “Springtime,” “1000 Miles,” “Johnsburg, Illinois,” and many others. There are some cool electric guitar licks in different styles, too. Enjoy them, and see if they spark something in your own playing. Deluxe Editions of the Mike Errico Catalog. Pay What You Want. Thanks to your generosity, this experiment has been a success, so let’s keep going: you can pay what you want for new, deluxe editions of my recordings. This includes demos, remixes, extended versions, unreleased tracks and more. $.99? $10? $55.32? It’s your call. But, to reiterate, your generosity makes it possible for me to keep doing what I do and bringing it to you. As always, the official site updates regularly with any news/changes: http://www.errico.com. More Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Bandcamp || iTunes Tallboy 7, Inc. Box 20463 NY NY...
MY Holiday Omen for 2012

MY Holiday Omen for 2012

After the Holiday Show, two lovely people came up and presented me with “My Holiday Omen” for 2012. A beautiful gesture, and I love to watch the spirit of this ritual spread outward. As for why it picked me, well, just like you, my task is to figure it out… 2012 Holiday Omens written up in BOOKREPORTER: CLICK HERE What are Holiday Omens? CLICK HERE For music, shows, announcements, giveaways, videos, etc.: Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Bandcamp || Pandora Tallboy 7, Inc. Box 20463 NY NY...
Tom Shillue and Mike Errico, “The Oracle” (Live)

Tom Shillue and Mike Errico, “The Oracle” (Live)

Master storyteller Tom Shillue joins Mike Errico at the Living Room in New York City. Cello: Jen DeVore “The Oracle,” by Mike Errico, originally appears on the official site: http://www.errico.com Tune in for music, shows, announcements, giveaways, videos and all that stuff, here: Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Bandcamp || Pandora Tallboy 7, Inc. Box 20463 NY NY...
“New Dystopia,” by Mark Von Schlegell

“New Dystopia,” by Mark Von Schlegell

Psyched to crack this, from the very brilliant Mark Von Schlegell. From the sleeve: Put together in the wings of the “Dystopia” exhibition at the CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, acting as a resonance chamber, this illustrated novel raises the issue of possible futures in the form of a critical fiction, and involves the outposts of the novel to come. About New Dystopia, the city in which the novel’s protagonists live, the narrator states: “As an American … one only came to New Dystopia City to become an artist. That only there was it a way of life.” According to von Schlegell, we are living in that new metropolis. He states, “Dystopia is today.” Plus: The exhibition Dystopia is the offshoot of a fiction written by the American science fiction novelist and theoretician Mark von Schlegell. Curated by Alexis Vaillant of the CAPC, the art-works of 46 international artists are presented within a world turned horror film. Utopia’s wretched flipside is presented not as subject matter but as setting, not as end but as point of beginning. According to von Schlegell and Vaillant the enlightenment tradition of Dystopia—“the imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible”*—offers contemporary art specific pathways (of re-mix, collaboration and radical tradition) into present-tense science fictional struggles with the disintegrating real past and imaginary future. Immersed in the present, dystopian art presumes a weakest-possible point of view within an unresolved fictional narrative presumed to be worsening. As with the theory of black holes birthing new universes within them, it is within concentrated dystopia that the actual utopias appear.(*Oxford English...
New Fiction: “Volunteers”

New Fiction: “Volunteers”

Storychord.com has published a short story of mine, entitled “Volunteers,” an account of my brief tenure as a teenage volunteer fireman. Every other Monday, Storychord.com features one story, one image, and a one-song “soundtrack” — ISSUE #48 pairs me with photographer Connor Pell and musician Matt...
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