Hi. I’m Your Songwriting Professor.

Hi. I’m Your Songwriting Professor.

“Hi. I’m Your Songwriting Professor.” “Don’t throw your guitar down the staircase and tell me you’ve written a new song, because the artist in me will agree. The problem is only that there is no criteria by which I can inform or instruct you on that impulse, so that would be an example of something that falls outside the scope of the course. Informally, perhaps over a crisp ginger ale, could we talk about whether the staircase should’ve been carpeted? Or whether it’s a sonic metaphor of 20th-century iconography colliding with the noble architecture of the Federalist style? Could we title it something snappy like, “The Wisdom of the Staircase,” or “Soundtrack to ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’”? Oh, sure. I have all day for stuff like that. I am, after all, the one who assigned a book of blank pages.” Hi. I’m Your Songwriting Professor. BONUS: Last Songs on “Albums” Playlist “The real truth is that I love the last songs on albums, the ones where the agendas and obligations lift like the dampers of the piano, allowing all creative strings to vibrate at once. This is when the artists reveal themselves, tell their inside jokes, and foreshadow their ambitions.” – From “Hi. I’m Your Songwriting...

Dear Jack Conte, I’m Sorry No One Read Your Article Correctly

I don’t get into inside baseball here, but saw something that needed to be said, so I said it. Jack Conte from Pomplamoose recently wrote an article where he outlined his tour budget, concluding with the fact that, although the tour was successful on many levels, they lost money. It seems everyone jumped on one of two bandwagons: that music is dying, dying dead and all is lost and here’s the proof; and that if Pomplamoose can’t figure out how to create an accurate tour budget, they’re just idiots. The Internets took a-hold to these narratives, and added one – that it was a secret cover up to promote Conte’s startup, Patreon, or something – and the Echo Chamber took off, bouncing this horse hockey from URL to URL. Usually I’d watch the ping-pong match and shrug, but this annoyed me, because Conte was very clear in the management of his expectations. He invested in the show he wants to stage – and investment is very different than a loss. In the same way KISS could have saved a buck by cutting back on the blood packs (but didn’t), a larger concept was at work. I was shocked that no one seemed to read this with an eye toward self-actualizing artist development. Key being “self-actualizing,” because in a world with diminishing label development, self-reliance is the gold standard – not asking for permission, and doing what you have to do to create the art you want/need to create. So, it bugged me. So, I wrote something. Here it is. Dear Jack Conte, I’m Sorry No One Read Your Article...

Special Thanks: Stephen Trask, Bob Brockmann

Another amazing class at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute. These guys opened up about how they got their starts; how preparation made them ready for luck to happen; and how they have navigated the rapidly changing music environment. Funny, cutting and doggedly optimistic, they brought a semester’s worth of classwork to life. (L/R): Stephen Trask: Ex-music director of Squeezebox; composer of Hedwig and the Angry Inch which received eight 2014 Tony Award nominations, and won four. The movie version also received a Grammy nom, and he has gone on to score films including The Station Agent, Dreamgirls and Lovelace. http://stephentrask.com/ Bob Brockman: Producer, mixer, engineer based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn whose past clients include The Fugees, Notorious BIG, Craig Mack, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Cee-Lo Green, Christina Aguilera, Brandy, Mary J Blige and many others. He has 30 Grammy noms and two wins....

Presentation at Stream-Tech Music Conference

Thanks to NYU, the Norwegian Consulate General, and organizer Stein Bjelland for inviting me to this conference to discuss how streaming is impacting artists and content creators. I talked a good bit, some of it was funny, some was definitely not, and I’m hoping to collect my notes and post them at a later date. For an itinerary of the day’s events:...
Songwriting at the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute

Songwriting at the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute

I’ve done a lot of things – writing, playing, performing, photography and on and on – but nothing I’ve ever done was harder than auditioning for acting roles. My respect for what actors go through is immense. Thanks to the National Theater Institute and the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center for having me in to talk songwriting, journaling and how to balance an often unbalanced life in the arts. I also got to stick around and watch a performance class with the brilliant Kelli O’Hara. The students, some of whom had never written a song before, came out of our workshop singing their own compositions for the first time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worked with...