Writing Music For Artists And How I Got In To That: Michèle Vice-Maslin Sweetersongs/ Mob Force Productions/Music is My Air/ From Song To Sync
Hi Randy and your subscribers. Thank you for having me! Hope this finds you well and creative! I usually do audio and audio/video discussions so this is great to discuss on the written page!
I started out as so many music creators do, as a singer/ performer. I later morphed in to being a songwriter, music producer and music publisher of my works. Now, in addition, I have morphed into a public speaker and educator while still creating and placing a lot of music.
I tripped and fell in the “school of hard knocks” time and time again and learned what I know now and continue to learn always! I also continue to trip and fall. LOL
The songs I originally wrote were for myself to perform and record as the artist. I really didn’t even consider, when starting out, that people wrote songs for other artists other than themselves. I just never thought about it. Of course I knew there were famous songwriters around but I didn’t apply those possibilities to my own songwriting and performing of the songs I wrote. I performed in bands and solo.
Years went by before the first opportunity presented itself for me to create songs for other artists, other than myself. 11 years to be exact, if that makes anyone feel better. 🙂 I was a professional performer, making money, playing live gigs mainly in cover bands before I took the plunge to perform my own original music.
Next is what happened that was the turning point...
To make a long story short I was friends with a film director who was directing his first feature film and he asked me if I had any friends who wrote R&B Soul style music and if so, if they could submit some songs for his film. There was a soul duo in the film comprised of two famous soul artists that needed songs to record and perform. The style of music I created and performed for myself in those days was very interactive avant-garde alternative performance art. If made today it might be compared to an artist like Bjork. That is why my friend did not ask me directly for soul R&B music to submit but rather if I had any friends that did since all my friends were musicians and songwriters.
Well I took this as an opportunity to jump on the brief and give it a try. I grabbed my writing partner (who is still my main writing partner to this day), and we listened to a bunch of R&B soul music, and then wrote and produced a song to submit. I submitted it saying that a friend wrote the song, not me. Lo and behold, I got the song in the film and that is how my career began writing for other artists. That set me on the path forward to do so.
The key thing really is that I saw an opportunity and grabbed it! I joined a PRO, got paid a little, learned to write in new styles. It was all very exciting and fulfilling! So my first major artist cut and music placement happened at the same time. That was in 1987.
Then a couple of years later I wrote another song for that same director for another film. That time I got to produce the song and that song became my first major artist production.
That same year, 1990, I also co-wrote a song for a major hip hop artist in the UK and had a hit single. From that I got a major publishing deal, again not really knowing what I was doing but just going with the flow and...getting paid which was incredible! I found it so fulfilling and amazing writing for other artists; in fact so much so I pretty much lost track of being an artist myself for quite some time.
I learned how to write and produce in all kinds of genres by listening and doing. I learned all about co-writing from being set up to do so by my publishers and others. I learned how to write for other artists and still stay authentic. I learned how to co-write with the artists themselves in addition to other songwriters. Magical!
I also learned, on my own, how to make connections and research and pitch the songs I created! In those days there was no internet and no personal computers so it was much more difficult but it was doable. We used the resources available. Books, directories, the telephone, telex, eventually fax machines. I went to countless live events and in person meetings.
I pitched to A&R, managers, other publishers and to music supervisors too! I learned how to pitch for film and tv projects. I got the major label artist cuts and placements from my own direct pitching. Only once in my decades long career have I gotten an artist cut from a publisher I worked with and that was in 1991. We must be pro-active and I learned that early on.
So what I am saying is ...it is possible to do this and learn how. It is not easy and very very time consuming but it can be done! For me personally, actually, it has not been easy at all! Some people have it much easier that I have. I have had to work at it very very hard and pitch a lot and be rejected a lot! That is how I further know it can be done!
Not much has changed today. Only that computers and the internet have made things easier pitching wise.
I used to spend about twenty thousand dollars a year in the post office mailing cassettes and then CDs. Now I spend 0. I used to spend thousands of dollars on the telephone calling the “powers that be” all over the world to pitch songs to them. Now I spend pretty much 0. I used to spend thousands on blank tape and cds and packaging materials. Now I spend 0. I used to spend hours and hours going to events and flying to events. Now so many of them are online and virtual.
One still has to network, always expanding their networks. One still has to cold contact people and push themselves to do so. Somedays are easier than other emotionally because one still has to withstand all the endless rejection. That is and always will be the same. Every so often however someone says “yes” and that is all that matters! We build our careers on the “yeses” not the “nos”! The “nos” do not matter! The “nos” hopefully can spur us on in determination to get those “yeses”!
As for the creative aspect of writing for artists vs. writing for sync or writing for myself as the asrtist. For me it is the same. I want to create the best song possible. A song that is good for any use possibilities. Full of fresh non generic imagery and metaphor lyrically. A great catchy melody. A stellar master quality radio ready production. These things are still and always the same
These days where the music creators are so sync-crazed not as many pitch for artists as we did back in the day. I say go for it! Artist cuts and hit songs are very prestigious! Back in the day the songwriters did not want to have their music used in media/sync. (films, tv, ads, etc.) It was considered very low class. Writing for major label artists was the goal. Now I say a balance is terrific.
So that is how I got in to writing songs for artists. I seized the opportunities that came along and went for it. I learned about the business of music and how to navigate it. I keep learning every day! I have had cuts and hits with major label artists all over the world, in addition to my thousands of sync placements.
The inspiration of the story, I hope, is that anything is possible!
We can not get bogged down thinking things are impossible! To pitch our songs and get them cut and placed we need to get educated on the business and how to navigate it! Anything and everything is possible!
Emmy Winning Hit Music Producer Songwriter Publisher
who composes (both music & lyrics), produces/arranges for artists/ films/ TV / ads /promos / games, etc. with numerous major label hit songs & cuts worldwide as well as over 5000 film/tv/media music placements for her companies Mob Force Productions and Sweetersongs. Her music airs on TV/radio everyday /365 days a year.
Television Academy Music Peer Group Executive Board Member
PMA (Production Music Association) Composer Advisory Board Member
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http://www.sweetersongs.com/mimavideocourse001.html FROM SONG TO SYNC ... AND MORE course