Archive for September, 2010

Performing Songwriter resurfaces

September 23, 2010

I received this email from Lydia Hutchinson, founder and editor of Performing Songwriter magazine.

Hi, Everyone!

When I folded the magazine in June of last year after a 16-year run, I wrote that Performing Songwriter was a community of music lovers that just wore the clothes of a publication—and it was simply time to change clothes. I had no idea what that new outfit was going to look like, so I followed the mantra I woke up with one morning: Be patient, be open, be brave. And I’ve spent the past year breathing, dreaming, learning and walking around in all the ideas that were making themselves apparent. (And I finally got to go to Italy!) It has been, without a doubt, the most extraordinary year of my life, and I’ve arrived at this point of the journey renewed, healthy and ready for the next chapter.

What happened was that I was led right back to why I started Performing Songwriter over 17 years ago: I simply love music. What songwriters provide us with has immense value in our lives. So Performing Songwriter Enterprises is re-establishing itself through music-focused media initiatives to continue the mission of “celebrating music and those who create it.”

Under the Performing Songwriter umbrella I’m launching Be Heard Music Media, a home for songwriters, musicians and journalists to tell their stories in print, video, audio and digital formats—separately and as multimedia projects. And 2011 will see the “Be Heard Songwriter Series” of books written by songwriters, available in multi-formats and with digital enhancements. It’s all very exciting!

The first offering of Be Heard Music Media is “Letters From Lydia,” a collection of almost two dozen “Notes from the Editor” that appeared in the magazine, plus photos, an introduction that looks back over the past year and an afterword detailing the process of letting go after closing the magazine. It’s available at in hardback gift-sized book, audio CD and MP3 download, hi-res pdf and digital edition for iPad, Kindle and other e-readers. Also available in the online store are digital editions of the last five years of the magazine and over 500 articles, all in hi-res pdf format so the beautiful designs and photos are preserved in high quality.

I’ve immersed myself in not only learning to create different forms of digital media, but have also built a website and online store. One of my favorite things about the site is the “Be Heard Jukebox.” I always regretted that artists would work so hard on creating a CD, and then had to succumb to the music business model that allowed for a few weeks of promotion, a tour, and then have to start work on the next album, convinced the life-span of that release was over. But music lovers don’t care about release dates—new music is simply something we haven’t heard before. And music has no expiration date!

So I made a list of CDs I might have missed if I hadn’t published a music magazine, or didn’t live in a town with a great non-comm radio station, or didn’t go to music festivals. And each week a fave of mine (or of a special guest’s)—regardless of when the CD was released—will be available on the home page of for visitors to listen to in its entirety. All the links go directly to the artist’s site so visitors can buy the CD and directly support songwriters who create the music we love.

The Be Heard Jukebox’s premiere CD is Jonatha Brooke’s The Works from her own label, Bad Dog Records. It’s a gorgeous collection of songs that she wrote with Woody Guthrie’s previously unpublished lyrics, which she discovered after she was invited into his archives. I hope you enjoy it, and pleas e spread the word to anyone you know who loves music—it’s an open invitation to stop by and listen to something they might have missed. And for most artists, all they’re asking for is a chance to be heard.

Thanks so much to all of you for your support over the life of the magazine and your good thoughts during my time of dreaming up this next phase of Performing Songwriter’s life. I have no idea where it will all lead, but I sure am enjoying the ride. And I know, without a doubt, that music matters.

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Countdown to your album + 11 ways to increase sales

September 15, 2010

This summer Electronic Musician magazine published an article titled 10 Things you should do before you put out your next release, subtitled Countdown to Your Album. The same list also appeared recently in Echo, the newsletter from Disc Makers.

Turns out these are 10 extremely important steps and they’re all fairly easy to do. For example, step 9 tells you to get an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) for each of the tracks. It also tells you how and why in one short paragraph. I told you it was easy. If you don’t know what an ISRC is, read the article to find out. Step 2 tells you how to make track names and artist names automatically come up in music players (including iTunes and other computer-based music players).

If you use CD Baby to sell your CDs and mp3s online (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to know the 11 ways to increase sales on CD Baby. Again, this is not brain surgery, but it helps to have a checklist.

Just doing these 21 things (you’re probably already doing at least some of them) is a painless (and relatively easy) way to advance your music career.

Role of guitar in songwriting of James Taylor

September 13, 2010

This interview with James Taylor comes from Acoustic Guitar Daily, and focuses on his use of guitar as a songwriting tool.

See Acoustic Guitar for more articles, lessons, a video library and more, all of interest to acoustic guitar players.

Acoustic Guitar Daily, Instruction, Information, and Inspiration for Guitarists.