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This past Tuesday evening I attended a great mini-seminar on the Power of Pre-Production for Songwriters. The hosts, Kim Copeland and Dave Isaacs, offered some very valuable information regarding the critical and often missed step of PRE-production when it comes to recording your songs. This is especially evident if you've ever had one (or more!) of your songs done at one of the many "demo mills" here in town (or anywhere else, for that matter). They're not interested in you OR your song, only in getting as many customers through the door as possible.
One of the valuable steps that are discussed in a pre-production meeting include what your goal is for your song. Do you just want to record something to pass down as a legacy to your family, or do you want the finished product to be something you can take to Music Row and pitch it major artists? Are you a songwriter wishing to create a finished product ready for pitching to The Row, or are you an artist and want to create a product that will highlight your talents as a singer? Perhaps a fun example may help to make this point:
This is from the Lewis Carroll story, Alice in Wonderland, and is a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
You'd be wise to not even take the time to set up an appointment to make a demo of your song until you can answer the question, "What's my goal?"
Another couple of topics to discuss are "What's the attitude of the song?" and "What's the main emotion you're trying to convey with your lyrics and/or your music?" Your producer can discuss your ideas with you as well as offer a few of their own in order to explore a variety of possibilities and perhaps introduce you to some different directions than you were originally expecting to go. They're the pros, so you can trust them to be helpful, but ultimately the final choice is yours.
When it comes to studio musicians many of them are like the family dog - friendly, and ready and willing to please. They don't want to be told how to do their job, but they want to know how you'd like the song to sound. Offer a few ideas and then sit back and let their creativity take it from there.
Kim and Dave offered many more very valuable tips than I have space available here, so my best advice is to not miss future sessions!
Both Kim and Susan Tucker will be sending out a notice very soon in order to register for July's session. You'll want to pay attention to your emails and/or the notices you see pop up on your Facebook pages and register as soon as possible because space IS limited (only 18 maximum!), and when I say people come from miles around I'm not kidding. Attendees at the last two sessions have driven in from Lexington (KY), southern Alabama, and Mississippi, as well as within a 30 mile radius of Music Row just to attend these sessions! Most of them are not full time in the music business, but they're taking their understanding of the craft and business of songwriting seriously. Shouldn't you?
The Power of Pre-Production for Songwriters
Review by Jace Carlton