Tuesday evening I had the privilege of being a panelist at SPONY again. This go around I was joined by Mike Boris of McCann Erickson and Tim Joyce of Cherry Hill on the panel, and it was webcast. Before my recap, I just want to give a shout out to Joy Novie who runs SPONY. She continues to work to improve all the aspects of SPONY including format, education, and even the website. She’s done a great job so be sure to drop her a thank you note if you appreciate all her work.
There were a lot of great points to take away for me personally at the event, being that I was on a panel with someone who would be a client of mine (Mike), and someone who does something similar to my job for a different music publisher. But from my perspective, I think there were a lot of similarities in what we were all listening for and I’d like to point those out to aspiring song-writers:
+ All of us were listening for songs that went somewhere. It was described as an “ah-ha” moment, as telling a story, tension and release, and so on. To get a good idea of what this means take a listen to some film trailers, TV promos, or of course ads on TV. You need not write something that’s only 30 seconds long, however your song should ALWAYS be moving somewhere.
+ There was definitely an appreciation for songs that were sonically and musically interesting. That is, those who have been writing music for a while and can speak the language of music more fluently than others really stood out.
+ Lyrical subject is irrelevant, however lyrical craft is highly desired. Often times the music was relatively strong but lyrically it was unthoughtful and seemed almost secondary. Lyrics are great, but if you’re going to write them: edit, edit, edit!
+ Energy. This was Tim’s big thing but looking back it should definitely be emphasized. It sort of ties into my first point, however, you most often won’t hear tender, slow ballads in ads or video games. Keep it moving.
+ Ad basics. Mike pointed out that mostly in advertising things need either to be relatively positive, or, if they’re negative, it is often due to humorous context.
+ Depending on who you contact, production value can matter more or less. However, I will say that a decent production value will go a long way in making you stand out. It just means you worked that much harder on the song.
+ Be respectful of the people you’re contacting. Mike mentioned not liking getting mp3’s via email, and we all want metadata on the CDs we get. At any rate, it’s best not to flood us with info. Just send a nice introductory email with a link or two, or send us a CD. The more professional you are, the better the chance we won’t hit delete (or toss your disc in the trash).
+ Add value. How can you make it 100% easy on the people you’re submitting to? How can you learn about the person? How much do you know about how you can best help them? As I said on the webcast, Google goes a long way!
I hope everyone who has a chance to check out SPONY takes away as much as possible about how to get better at their craft, and at selling their craft!