I enrolled in Songwriting 1, and Activities in Music Industry. Initially, I wasn’t too excited about Songwriting 1. I’ve been writing songs for years, and had already taken a songwriting class at McNally. What more could they offer? I was pleasantly surprised. In the first two weeks we’ve talked about copyright law, different songwriting techniques, and learned the signal chain of the school’s studio space. We’ll have access to it for projects!
Much of the class is devoted to a podcast called Song Exploders: a show where well known artists discuss their songwriting processes. They share early recordings, rough drafts, and the story of how a song takes shape. We’ve heard Weezer, Chvches, Metallica, the Gorillaz, Courtney Barnett, and Kimbra. All successful artists, but with very different approaches. Weezer steals chord progressions, Metallica focuses on riffs, the Gorillaz prioritize sound design over form, and Courtney Barnett is all about the story. I highly recommend it. If you can’t afford an education just listen to the podcasts.
Activities in Music Industry has been a lot of fun too. I’ve never looked too much into the business side of music, but it’s been really interesting and useful. Our teacher said that email is the number one driver of revenue for music. That blew my mind. I always thought of email as being outdated. When I was in school in 2011, teachers pushed social media as the most useful tool of modern marketing. That’s no longer true. Not only is social media over-saturated with other voices, but the cards are stacked against us. Facebook will allow only 10% of your fan base to organically see your post unless you pay for them to promote it. Email on the other hand, is a direct link to your fans.
For Songwriting 1, we’ll each be releasing a three song EP by the end of the semester. Before the final EP is completed, each song needs to have three demos submitted. The first demo is a basic sketch of the song recorded on a cellphone, the second needs to have the basic song idea finished and recorded, and the third needs to have all the other elements added (drums, bass, synth, ect). At each stage we’ll be receiving notes. For my first song I’m going for a laid-back, Chet Faker vibe.
My teacher likes the piano and the chords, but thinks the melody needs to be cleaner. He’d also like to hear more contrast on the verse to chorus transition. Stay tuned for updated demos!
(I was originally going to attend MSU part-time, but due to them losing my transcript I am now enrolled as a visiting student. I’ll still be able to take classes, but since I’m not officially accepted into the college I’m not eligible for financial aid. That’s a huge downside, but I decided to take two classes and just pay out of pocket. I didn’t want to wait.)