Our Song Critique Service

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 6:16 am

By: Staff


 
Want to know how your song REALLY stacks up to what the pros expect? Wish you could get more than just a "pat on the back" by your peers in the Open Mic? Well, we have the solution – the SongRamp Critique Service. 

SongRamp is a wonderful community filled with very talented people who freely share their love of music with one another, both for the sheer love of it and for many, in hopes of improving their craft. In such a vibrant and positive community the praise and platitudes are spread wide and often, and we think that's a good thing. But, there are a number of our members who are looking for more than that pat on the back - they're looking for unbiased, constructive reviews from their peers. We all realize, at times, the type written words can be misunderstood and, as such, how difficult it is to give constructive criticism in an open forum such as our Open Mic. With that in mind, the SongRamp Board of Directors and Shareholders developed the SongRamp Critique Service as a way to help our members get those critiques they are looking for in a way that will benefit all members. We have a panel of some willing and very experienced folks to volunteer their time to our critique service. Many of our evaluators have 20 or more years experience in various aspects of the music industry. Our panel of evaluators is made up of songwriters, composers, lyricists, vocalists, performers, musicians and producers whose accomplishments range from major and indie cuts by artists, cuts in television and motion pictures/films, published writers, and professional performers. The SongRamp Critique Service uses much the same evaluation criteria as NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International). Basic level members get 1 free critique per year, Pro members get 2, and Premium members get 3! If you've used up your allotted free critique(s), extra critiques can be purchased for $15.00 from the Ramp Store. 

Free Members are welcome to participate. However, since a Basic level membership costs only $33 a year and includes 1 critique, you might want to consider spending the extra $18 for a Basic membership, get a free critique and 150MB of storage space for your songs, instead of the 20MB storage space allotted for free members.

Your song will be carefully listened to and reviewed by one of our evaluators – and as mentioned - using a formula based on Critique sheets that NSAI uses. You'll get your review via email within 7 days (or less) of submission.

We hope you take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to improve your craft and support the finest Music Community on the Web…Viva La SongRamp!! How does it work?

Upload the particular song you want critiqued into your Private Listening Room (PLR). If you have a password set up for your PLR, please remove it so that the evaluator can get in to hear your song. (You can always put the password back on afterwards). 
 Upload your song's lyric along with the song. If you’re a Free Member or you’re a Basic, Pro or Premium member and have used up your allotted free Critiques, simply go to the SongRamp Store and purchase a Song Critique HERE.
If you’re a Basic, Pro or Premium level member and want to take advantage of your allotted Free Critiques, go to the SongRamp store and make your selection HERE. In the payment section, you will need to enter the coupon codes found in the item descriptions, which are as follows:
For Basic - 1BasicCritique
For Pro - 2ProCritiques
For Premium - 3PremiumCritiques
We will assign a Reviewer to the Critique requests we get on a rotating basis.
Reviewers will remain anonymous. They have each been assigned just a number. Once they have completed a critique, the finished critique will be emailed to you.

Here is an example of one of SongRamp's critique forms:




Not already a member of SongRamp? We welcome you and invite you to join our community and take advantage of this and our many other services and benefits.  Please click the banner below to become a member:

 

To upgrade your membership from Free to a Basic or above, click HERE.

Member Opinions:

By: rathole on 2/3/10
Great idea... hope people take advantage of this new offering...Thanks Songramp

By: RJC on 2/3/10
How much for a really good critique where they just say good stuff? I'm trying to impress my mom.

By: musician on 2/3/10
Great idea as long as it is a tru critique by a member who has experience in recording.

By: TheChiggers on 2/3/10
Rob - For you, $350.. :-) Seriously - Your mom already told me she likes most of your stuff..

Jack - we have 13 reviewers who all bring different backgrounds to the table - some are lyricists, some are versed in the TV/Film industry, some are successful songwriters, and three are doing specifically recording/mixing/production reviews - one of whom you may just happen to know :-) And you're free to specify what sort of review you're looking for and we'll route that submission to the appropriate reviewer. You can be assured your song will get the reviewers undivided attention and you'll get an honest, constructive critique in return. - Steve

By: Tromminator on 2/3/10
Fantastic idea. I hope to take advantage of this feature in the near future. Thanks, my Ramper friends.

Mike. {:~)

By: musician on 2/3/10
Very exciting news Steve. Sounds like a real pro approach to this. Looking forward to it.
Jack

By: sheilerk on 2/3/10
Wonderful idea!! I love that the ramp community is so supportive, but sometimes what is in order is a swift kick in the pants, and some straight talk. I'm guessing this will be just what the doctor ordered, and will be a huge value add for those that choose to take advantage of it.

By: angie on 2/3/10
I think this is a great addition to Songramp and makes our membership more valuable! A big thumbs up from me!

By: rittmo on 2/4/10
I have a question

how does one critique indescribeable?

rittmo'

By: teleman58 on 2/4/10
I think this is a great idea. Way to go staff!

By: kansascomet on 2/4/10
Fantastic idea. If my songs were as good as the reviews I've gotten, I'd be in Nashville already. :)

I was going to let my membership lapse till I heard about this. Sign me up for another year!!!!

By: FastEddie on 2/4/10
I can't turn my back on you kids for a minute, can I? A couple of weeks away and look wht you get yourselves into...geez...

Well written description of a superfine offering. I hope that those members with pro aspirations will take advantage of this. I know the Critique Team - this will result in onest, direct and meaningful input to the writers / artists here.

Nice work, Team!

By: PrimaryOrange on 2/5/10
I may only be a free member, but I have been a member for many years and Songramp is my home. I have a few thoughts on this.

This type of system is gray area not talked about often on writers boards. Although this system is being done from a positive
place looking for positive results, you will have to be careful not to cross the line to snake. My concern is giving people a false sense of what they are paying for. The impression I get from reading this is someone in a commercial position with industry experience will critique your song, and tell you how it scales in worthyness. From there you will know "What to do", to make it radio ready. In reality it's more like you are paying for 1 person's opinion on your song. Something millions of people on earth would love to do everyday for free.

To give some example senarios -

1) Let's say I purchased a critique for my song "Green cheese and motorcycle top hats". It gets fired back with 5 star reviews on everything. It's a hit! Woot! Now what? Does the song make it's way to a record labels doorstep with the critics recommendations? No. I now have to find another believer who's *looking for songs* and likes it just as much. I am back at square one and down $15 bucks.

2) I purchase a critique and the song is terrible. No commercial appeal, the critic feels so sorry for you he gave you participation star. You are given a few opinions on what to do to take the song to the level of industry standards. You re-record the song, fix it up with all the critics suggestions and BAM! It's time for another review. I think i'll pay another $15 to make sure the song is where I want it. In comes critic #2 who doesn't like the first critics opinion and suggests you change a few things. Now you are down $30 and are starting to feel robbed.

3) This is best case senario and equal to winning the lottery. You get the critique back, its amazing. Gives you the drive to
show everyone. A week later 100's of people knockin on your door wanting copies of the next hit. Suddenly people who havn't seen you in years call you up just to tell you that song rocks. Best $15 bucks I ever spent.

So you have to be careful you don't give the impression #3 is what you are selling. Songs fall into 2 categories when written. It's either created purely for the art, or, the artist hopes to have it one day break open their career. The song that is written just for art's sake, doesn't give a stink about another's opinion. The one written for career DOES. And this, unfortunatly, is one of the LEAST effective ways of boosting your career. So a program like this, in its current form, offers very little to anyone who actually seeks it. Personally I think asking for $15 for a fancy review is a bit steep. That money can be spent to in many other better ways to help further ones songwriting journey. Unsigned artists are already some of the poorest people on the planet. I think there should be additional incentives for this program. -

1) Perhaps songs that get a really good review, get bumped up to another teir and given free reviews from the other reviewers (mutiple opinions). If that song receives great reviews from all the critics, you guys drop it in a folder called "Songramp future hits" and start sending the folder out to the connections I am sure the critics have built over the years.

2) As Rittmo pointed out. Not every song falls into the same category and MUST be critiqued accordingly. There will have to be multiple templates for all genres and styles.

3) Help promote deeper reviews from our peers and current members through this program. Have a "Review of the month" or something on the front page. A simple addition where members are rewarded with a FREE review of their own, if they were nominated multiple times as somebody who is taking the time to write a meaningful critique. So I could be like has really taken the time to review this song well, I am going to vote this review for "review of the month". receives the most votes for great reviews that month. The Songramp team selects one of the ones voted and posts it that month as an example of the meaningful reviews that are appreciated, and recieves a free song review with the pro's.

Just some thoughts. I am not bashing the idea and I appologize for the wall of text. I just believe with all the creative minds this community has we can come up with a much positive system that actually produces results. Instead of just having a crystal clear "buy an opinion here" cash sink.

Thanks for listening,

Brandon

By: RJC on 2/5/10
Hi Brandon!

You raised some very good points!

You only need to have your song reviewed if you're looking for some honest, constructive feedback and suggestions as to what might take your song to another level, If you're not looking for that, you don't have to get one!

I'm sure that if you are looking for some specific feedback on some specific aspect of your music that we haven't formally addressed, just state your needs and I'm sure we can custom tailor something for ya!

As far as it being one persons opinion, that will always be the case, but the reviewers are qualified and will give their undivided attention, as Steve pointed out above, and will honestly look towards offering suggestions in a friendly and helpful manner!

Hope this helps!

:-)

ROB

By: pickelsongs on 2/6/10
Yes, honest, constructive feedback would be helpful. I find that here on Songramp it's a bit of a 'love in'...Pat's on the back for what is clealy a badly structured song.
Today i read several positive reviews for a song that has no chorus. No Chorus!!!
It's ridiculous and if this site is to help songwriters, than I certainly hope the 'love in' ends and reviews become more
productive. In the intro to the site it's mentioned that "you'll get what you put in", if you want people to review your material, then you must review theirs....so, what's happened is that people are being all too nice, in order that they will get a listen back, and maybe a 'favorite '.
If it's a srong song, than by all means say so, but if you know where it's weak then it should be pointed out. We owe that to each other, or this is just one big HUG.
Here's hoping the new 'song critique' reviewers understand STRUCTURE, like V,Pre-CH, CH, Br. Hitting the CH by 1 min, having the title in the CH, preferrably at the end... a great melody from an old rehashed ,heard it a 1000 times one, and that lyric is storytelling, not a liscence to be esoteric and poetic to the point of people having little idea what the heck you're talking about.
As songwriters, people don't want to hear abt us, they want to hear abt themselves in a song, abt their lives, or someone they know.
I believe in encouragement. Could one not say " This is a lovely Verse, but where's the Chorus!" Or, Wow I like this lyric mostly, but i found the chorus to be so similar to the Verse. A Ch should 'pop out' from the rest of the song" or "I'd kill that 2d V to get to the Ch. sooner...you hit it at 1:34!! yikes, way too long a wait till the hook."
Whether it's Taxi, or SongU, you are unlikly to have a coach stroke you into believing your song is even good, unless it is.
Amen.
All IMO.

Eric :)

By: GillySlinn on 2/7/10
I can only assume that the above post is the opinion of somebody who's experience in the world of songwriting is mostly limited to the books he's read. Or the many profitable seminars, teach-in's and coaching classes that convince the naive beginner that songwriting is akin to building a flat-pack coffee table.(ie. - anybody can do it providing they read the instruction manual.) The modern global music industry has moved on immeasurably - I respectfully suggest Mr Pickles does a little research before he makes this type of comment. The sweeping statement regarding "licences to be poetic or esoteric ..." is just the tired, damp ammunition of those frustrated by their own fruitless mediocrity who, unable than expand their own imagination and creativity, prefer to snipe at those who can. As an occasional reviewer for a UK company affiliated to several London labels I can confidently say that it is those who demonstrate the ability to alter the mold with original and imaginative work that sets the label ahead of it's rivals is what the business is about. Those who simply clone what's already out there will be disappointed.

Songramp is offering a service here.It won't be perfect - there will be flaws, because the whole issue of "critiquing" is a very gray and subjective matter, for reasons already mentioned in previous posts. But nonetheless, many willl find it useful. Those who choose to use the service will benefit from a more objective opinion, suggestions and advice which they can consider and use to expand their perspective on their work.
And I applaud this. Of course opinions will vary regarding a particular song - they always do - and it is likely that there will be contentious issues that ruffle a few feathers. There always are.
But it's a good start, reasonably priced, and Songramp should be congratulated for trying something new.

By: pickelsongs on 2/7/10
My 'opinion' on the importance and prevalence of structure and lyric is proven time and again. GillySlinn is in the UK, so they are aware of 'Adele', my favorite signing that year. In her single 'Chasing pavements' - she hits the CH at 51 sec.,
there is a lovely original melody, and interesting, yes poetic lyric, a singer-songwiter lyric. She's an original IMO. So we agree on the fact that being original and
stepping out of the 'mold' is a great thing.
But there is both, a repect of structure and a lyric which does speak to people, while as well being poetic. :
Even if I knew my place
Should I leave it there
Should I give up,
Or should I just keep chasin' pavements
Even if it leads nowhere

I think this is a great lyric.
I am hardly a naive beginner.....having been in the business for 30 yrs. I do work with Coaches, but they are Grammy nominated ones, or one's who have placed over 200 songs w/ some top artists in several Genres, or writtn 4 #1 songs....so, ya, I hear what they tell me. If you listen to the radio it speaks volumes abt how song structure and relatable lyrics are important
in writing.
Gilly wrote: "is the opinion of somebody who's experience in the world of songwriting is mostly limited to the books he's read:
- Not at all, Yes, I have studied alot about songwriting, but I've also recorded over 160 songs, toured, did my first album in 1983 and currently have 3 songs in Nashville being pitched by a Grammy Nominated producer. So, I've really learned mostly by doing, and listening.
Whether it's Adele, Gavin Degraw, Pink, Lady GaGa, or Tim McGraw - structure matters, and they ALL realize it.
Again, all just IMO. If Gilly thinks having no chorus, or hitting one at 1:40 sec. is cool and original, than that's OK.
Having said all that, I do think being reviewed by a coach is a great thing and applaude Songramp for offering the service.
An experienced coach will speak of structure, of lyric, of melody so it's great. If a CH sounds like a Verse, or there is no Ch, they'll mention it.
Best to All :)

By: PrimaryOrange on 2/7/10
Pickle & Gilly are both correct. I don't have a list of musical achievments yet that I can slap around like mud, but it doesn't take a genius to see that most commercial friendly music follows a pattern, and those able to re-invent its "vehicle" and adapt are the most sucessful.

I also think much of what you speak of is more production than songwriting. "Hey Jude" could be re-structured or turned into a dance-techno groove. And somewhere in there the essence that is the song won't ever change. Message and melody writes the song. Production makes people want to play it on the radio. At least that's how I see it.

This is a discussion we should of started somewhere else hah. But it's good to know we have people who feel passionatly about the music.

I am looking forward to hearing feedback from the first person to try this new service out. I am also going to improve my efforts in my own comments on songs on here.

Cheers everyone.

By: RJC on 2/7/10
Well spoken!

There is room here for all perspectives, genre's, nationalities, genders etc.

If you feel that an outsiders perspective would benefit you, use the service, if you don't, go and make beautiful music!

:-)

By: geediane on 2/7/10
I love music - almost ALL music. Maybe not every one is my perfect cup of tea, but every writer has their own beliefs, tastes, and level of talent. I respect that. I appreciate the effort and expression. Am I so bad to tell people? :)
Bad Blingy...

By: Speakinglyrics on 2/7/10
This is my first foray in SongRamp. We songwriters can be very overprotective of our songs.Having a critique is like asking for a "second opinion". If the critique helps you to improve your songwriting; it's a $15 well spent.
Each song you write is an experience for the next one. Sometimes we focus too much on writing a "hit" song, instead of writing a song that means something to us.
PrimaryOrange made a valid point about song structuring. A well structured song can be transposed into any musical genre.
I would suggest to anyone using the critique service to make a self critique of their song, and compare the comments. That way, you can measure the relevance of the critique.


By: pickelsongs on 2/8/10
I think the coaching service will be great.
I was told that if you hear similar comments from several people, then you really should consider what they are saying.
This is why I try to give constructive comments particularly regarding structure. The greatest lyric in the world will fall flat if it's not written within common structure. It won't grab the listener, particulrly an industry one, the way that it should. It won't lift in time, it won't have that killer Ch. and all those lovely words will be trapped within a song that will never be pitched...what a shame.
I have been told by several coaches
who are actually in it, doing it, placing or producing songs, that the days of 'album cuts' are gone. That everyone is looking for the single because the album cuts are tied up by the producers who write, & by the writers who have a track record. I was told that to break in today, as a writer ( not an artist or band) that we have to pitch songs that are even better than all the people involved in the artists album.
So, the competition is fierce, cause all those people? They all want a writers royalty and many of them, most, actually live in Nashville, or L.A. or NY and are able to network and make things happen. In regards to focusing too much on writing a hit, instead of a song that means something to us...I think that most hits do mean something to the writer...the best songs are heartfelt. It is one and the same. These great writers are able to express their emotion, tell their story, wihin structure. That's the trick, and it's not easy. It means cutting out lines and saying what you want to say within time limits. To write within structure is a whole different endeaver than to simply write from the heart and let it flow....disregarding when to hit the chorus, or how to lift up to it. It's much easier to just let it flow. The challenge is to write from the heart within structure. After writing within structure for a long time, you will just do it naturally. You will stop yourself and say " Nope, I can't use those 2 lines there...I've got to get to the hook."
Several years ago i was told that writing is really writing, then re-writing, then re-writng and re-writing again! This year one of my coaches, out in L.A. spent 6 months re-writing the same song, making every phrase count, every melody perfect, before pitching it to the artist. He's placed over 200 songs! To Celine, to so many top artists..over 20 years, and HE spent 6 months reworking one song!!! Which, btw, is now the single on a big artists new album.
I was told years ago, don't trust what your family or friends say. Trust people who know a lot about songwriting, people who are GOOD at it. To this end, when it comes to songwriting I try to say something
helpful, at least about what I do know.

The coach plan is a great plan if you want to really know how close, or far off you are from target. I generally shoot my stuff out to at least 4 coaches and that gives me a good indication where the song needs work. I will rework a song and send it to them again, sometimes several times.
Working with coaches will improve your writing, a lot. In 2 years you will listen back to something you send to a coach today and think, what was I thinking? That song will have been so off the mark, after all you will learn. Then you will just naturally write with all you've learned in mind. That's a great thing.

Coaching? Absolutely a great plan.

Eric

By: MatsonMusicBox on 2/9/10
"Today i read several positive reviews for a song that has no chorus. No Chorus!!!"

I'm sorry .. but are you freakin' kiddin' me? "No chorus = bad song" ? hahahahahahahaha! Here's a few songs with no formal chorus and that don't follow your silly musical structure constraints.

Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Yesterday - Beatles
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Money - Pink Floyd
Can't Find My Way Home - Blind Faith
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Suite Judy Blue Eyes - CSN
Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers
My Generation - The Who
And the list could go on and on and on ....

My biggest concern is that song critiques would try to fit everything into a simplistic set of criteria ... the form I see is already skewed in favor of the general "singer/songwriter" genre and style that is so prevalent here at SR.

OMG - the LAST thing we need is anything pushing people more toward the cookie cutter songs that are on the radio these days! HELP!!!!

KenM









By: TheChiggers on 2/9/10
We will have a different "form" to use for each of the types of critiques that are requested.. There will be some common elements among them but, obviously, a Lyric Only critique form will be a lot different than a Mix/Production critique form.

By: JamesCain on 2/9/10
When you have a song critiqued all input is indeed welcome. Is it all good or even helpful sometimes yes sometimes no.

That is why it is important to have a group of folks critiquing who have experience at it.

But more important than the critique is to listen to what is being said. I can give a few examples of listening to others who give solid advice on a song and the follow up result.

Eric (Pickelsongs) has made a few comments on my songs that I felt were very good points. I re-did the songs and felt it impoved the overall sound and texture of the song.

One song the advice was to Hit the Chorus a little harder and take it up a notch. Deafening was the song and after I did as Eric suggested I felt the song was improved.

Eric also suggested that on Hillbilly Heaven I stop the music when the bride says "Whatever the heck he said I feel the same way." I thought this was also a great critique and acted on it. Now the song has a new layer of interest and I feel is a stronger song.

Point is a good critique session should focus on positive improvements that will improve the song. The songwriters job is to set aside his ego and listen to what is being suggested and then acting on it or not depending on wheter you agree with the critiquer.

Is critiquing important Hell yes!!!. It can take an average song and help transform it into a great song.

This critique service will take SongRamp to a new level of excellence so to me this is not only a place for songwriters to post songs but a great place to grow as a songwriter.



James Cain

By: FastEddie on 2/9/10
I absolutely LOVE the diversity that is SongRamp! And the diversity that is MUSIC! Structure / non-structured - Chorus / None - it's all about the the musical goals of the writer, no? Thankfully, we are are cool enough to get that.

By: GillySlinn on 2/9/10
"'Chasing pavements' - she hits the CH at 51 sec.,"

"I'd kill that 2d V to get to the Ch. sooner...you hit it at 1:34!! yikes, way too long a wait till "

"If Gilly thinks having no chorus, or hitting one at 1:40 sec. is cool and original.."


Eric - do you by any chance sell stop-watches for a living?

By: JulesLayne on 2/9/10
Unlike many other critique services out there, we are offering very specific choices for members at the time they submit their song. They can choose the level of critique they feel best suits them and they can choose the type of critique they're looking for in addition to indicating specific things they'd like addressed. While subject to change, those choices are currently:

* Commercial/Cuts
* TV/Film Placement
* Live performance/Entertainment (to which a link to a video may also be included)
* Mix/Production Only
* Lyric Only
* Instrumental Only

As requests come in for different or more specific reviews we will do what we can to add those choices and find reviewers who can accomodate them. The form above is merely an example. As Steve mentioned above, depending upon the type of critique requested, the form will vary.

Hopefully, this is a service members will find useful and helpful to them in their songwriting endeavors. We offer a number of free critiques at certain membership levels so there's nothing to lose by trying out the service if someone wants to. For anyone who is opposed to song critiques in general, that's absolutely okay too because we understand that this service will not be for everyone.

Many thanks to everyone who has weighed in here. I'm with Eddie in that I just love the diversity here!! You guys and gals are all top notch in my book. : )

By: keythBridge on 2/11/10
Well I am with Matson. SR is so wonderful because we all can make free forms, just like we want to paint our thoughts to tunes. Of cause, if someone wants to learn to write chart stuff and sound exactly like all the industry-songs, OK. Nevertheless, in my opinion talking about music is like reading about sex. If you ever make a mistake in your solo, repeat it 2 bars later and its jazz. Love you all. KeythBridge

By: Beeswing on 2/11/10
LOL @ Harald-Keythbridge!

Couldn't agree more! :)

By: rittmo on 2/12/10
Thanks Harald

Now that I know the secrets of the universe, what else is there to do? LOL

rittmo'

By: pianoman3 on 2/12/10
Having enjoyed being a member for over 5 years, I've heard the diversity of songs on here and opinions are equally diverse. Viva la difference!

IMHO, there is no "right way" to write a song unless you're aiming for a particular market. I don't believe that "marketing songs" is creative writing, no more than MacDonald's are creative chefs!

There are many fluke hits and deliberately written crap destined to be a hit because that's what it is.
I, for one, hate the "Birdie Song" but I wish I had a dollar for every time I've found myself whistling it!!...lol.
I would suggest that writers (eg like staff writers) who write to order are different to the ones who write originals like MacArthur's Park, Isn't She Lovely, Rock Around The Clock etc. None of these songs have a "chorus" and nor do many predictably structured songs either. Some are just verses with a couple of "middle eights", some only repeat the same pattern over and over, like Jailhouse Rock.....

If we all wrote according to the "experts" music would be as boring as... er..I'll leave my opinion out...lol.
If we go back before the birth of R & R and Pop and ask the experts of the 30s, 40s, and early 50s how to write they'd refer to:-
Refrains, verses, choruses, modulations, middle eights etc. Thank God that new post-WW2 writers ignored those pre-Pop "experts" and broke the mould(s).

Some of us write instinctively, and naturally, and some want to learn the craft. It's only human to try to apply logic, reason and a system to anything we like and want to recreate. That being the case, I think it's a great idea to offer honest critiques to those who want them.
I see it as one more reason to be a Songramper (in fact, a paying Songramper). It's an extra service, not a rule, so why question it?

I, for one, can't wait for someone who's had a S/R Critique done and will let me read it. I do like the idea of us being able to tailor critiques to suit/help the writer.... Heck! Even this forum, just talking about it, is helping and enlightening. ~ John

By: FastEddie on 2/12/10
so THAT's how you do jazz...okay, no more blues for me...all jazz, all the time.

Goals are goals. Let's not forget that they can be as different as we all are. Those who do not wish to have a critiqued are hereby excused from the process. I'll give you a note for the teacher.

By: pickelsongs on 2/12/10
KenM thinks lots of hit songs have no chorus.....

No Chorus? Hmmmm. well first i'd point out that all of these songs are more than 20 years old. Hear anything structured like Pink Floyd these days? Furthermore, some of these songs, like Yesteray DO have a Chorus.

"Why she
Had to go I don't know
She wouldn't say
I said
Something wrong now I long
For yesterday"

There is a clear change from the verse at this section.


Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Money - Pink Floyd
Can't Find My Way Home - Blind Faith
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Suite Judy Blue Eyes - CSN
Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix
Midnight Rider - Allman Brothers
My Generation - The Who

Yes, Gilly i do have a stopwatch...yawn.
They're not expensive, you may want to pick one up...... or...just listen to structure, it's all around you.

I have no problem with people writing the way they want to write. I guess my critiques are assuming that those who write dream of someday placing a song.
This is not 1970....when rules to writing were far more flexible.....you could have a 5 minute song, or even a 20 second dru solo!
Although many of us hail from then, we need to be aware of what's happening today.

Thanks, Eric :)

By: pianoman3 on 2/13/10
Eric. As I said in my post (above), many songs (new included) do NOT have a chorus. As you quite rightly said, a chorus has the hook/title in it and should occur asap in the song.
"Yesterday" has a MIDDLE 8 (bars) and is one of many songs that has the title/hook (mainly) in the verse(s). I guess a good way to describe what a chorus is, it's the part that most people recall, or sing.
All these names are OK for communication but I don't think a good song has to follow a strict structure to be good, or "work". Originality plays a BIG part in creation, IMHO, otherwise we're only copying.
Funny thing is... It's not the writers who popularize a song, it's the listening public.
(

By: GillySlinn on 2/13/10
" I guess my critiques are assuming that those who write dream of someday placing a song.
This is not 1970....when rules to writing were far more flexible.....you could have a 5 minute song, or even a 20 second dru solo!
Although many of us hail from then, we need to be aware of what's happening today."


Eric - I don't think you have any idea about what's happening today - that's the point. Your opinions are mostly either misleading - or just plain wrong. I could tell you why - but I'm forming the opinion that you simply refuse to listen to those that DO work in the industry (myself included) - who DO have songs published. So I'm not going to bother.
Of course structure needs to be taken into consideration - nobody said it didn't - but songs these days remain "negotiable" between writer, artist and producer - right up to the point it goes into the studio. Nothing is set in stone until then. And even then there are still different edits made for the different outlets and formats.(Hard CD, download, radio TV - even video.)
Immediately your obsession with split-second timing becomes utterly redundant as these different versions are timed to coincide with their intended format.
Do you seriously think a great song is going to be turned down simply because the chorus/hook/grabber is not spot on the second?
Do some proper research Eric.

And yes - I DO know Adele. I worked on a couple of the demos she made prior to signing.

By: MatsonMusicBox on 2/13/10
Hey Pickle ... maybe there's some of that really don't WANT to sound ANYTHING like what is popular today and would actually like to see it CHANGE?

Formulaic songs have been around since recording started - probably from before - it's not a new thing.

Wanna know a difference between those "old" songs - including several I mentioned - and all the "new" ones following your formula today? 100 years from now they'll still be playing all those old classics, and not a one of the new ones you're trying to get us to sound like will ever be heard from again.

KenM

By: pickelsongs on 2/13/10
"It's not the writers who popularize a song, it's the listening public"

- I think that's true. I think that's why
styles change over the years. What record co.'s look for changes often determined by what's popular.

There is a difference in writing as an 'artist', and writing as a songwriter trying to place songs. All of my suggestions have been based on 'songwriting as a songwriter'. I am too old to get a deal as an 'arist', so, for me, it's abt placing songs. I think that's probably the case for many, if not most, here at SongRamp. It took me several years to realize I had been writing as an artist, and not like a songwriter. Some of my favorite songs received comments like "this sounds very pesonal", or "The Ch should 'pop out' more", or "it's too long", but mostly,
"I'm not sure who I'd pitch this to...?"

Writing as an artist really doe let one go with the flow more, and as you say, come up with something really original, and to not be too concerned with structure and such. You can have a 'sound' which can get you signed. But if you're older...well, it seems all the deals are going to young artists..
It took working with coaches to realize that while a song may be beautiful, it's commercial potentiality, today, in a business where everyone's looking for the next single, was limited. That was a shocker for me! How coud a song be great, but not pitchable? So.... great for an artist seeking a deal, but not great as a songwriter trying to pitch the song?... it's still something i wrestle with every time I write. Had 'Adele' been a songwriter trying to pitch songs...who would she pitch
'Chasing Pavements" to? Or who would Gavin Degraw pitch ' Chariot ' to? These are singer-songwriter- artist songs. They sound original to that particular artist. Having said that, both songs do respect common structure as we hear it today, and hence they became the singles on the records. So these artists write 'originally' and I'd point out, are not 'copying' anything other than common structure as we hear on the radio in most instances, today. One can have a fresh original sound and still write within boundries.
All i can offer is what I have learned and been told time and again when pitching songs. Yesterday was written many years ago, it was The Beatles, and it is an 'artists' song. Same for all the other songs on the above posted list. If you're 22 yrs old, building a huge audience on You tube & MySpace, than you can write as an artist. But...If getting a deal for yourself is next to impossible, than what you need to do is write 'pitchable' songs. It doesn't mean all the heart, or an original melody is sacrificed...It means the songs have to be GREAT - great in theme, melody, structure, length, title, lyric.I think the best songs being pitched are usuallywritten by writers who are really 'atists', but have
learned to write within todays common structure. I would site 'The Climb', sung by Miley Cyrus. It was written mostly by a woman in Nashville who has been trying to get a deal of her own, to get on the Charts herself... It's, I think, a great song. It's
a single, a hit, no doubt. it lifts just when it should, it has a great lyric, it has beautiul melodies...written by an artist, but one who knows how to write a song which can be pitched.

I mentioned i think in my first post here, above, that I was referring to songwriters trying to pitch songs, not to artists or bands seeking a deal.
I know there are exceptions...but my comments re: structure, pop out Ch's, Title, length etc. are all based on what I have been told time and again by Producers, publishers and coaches. And i believe they are right. The best artist songs adhere to
rules abt songwriting. That killer V,lift,CH, Br, that Great Theme, Great lyric, that strong title...

Eric :)





By: mlprat on 2/13/10
Chorus ??? .. heck I'm still working a time signature .. :)

By: JulesLayne on 2/13/10
I'm going to go ahead and close the comment section on this article which was intended to announce a new SongRamp service. We welcome all kinds of discussions in the forums, but would rather keep them from article comments. We appreciate your understanding. : )

By: JulesLayne on 4/30/10
Comment section has been reopened... ; )

By: donnavalentine on 5/17/10
This is a great new service. For people like me who have commercial aspirations, I really appreciate a professional opinion. It helps me hone my skills. They don't always say what I want them to say (sighs) but I learn from them! And when I start hearing the same things again and again... I may actually rewrite!! Lol!

I think the majority of rampers are more artist-driven, so this may be a service that appeals to folks like myself.

I'm just very glad to see it and think it will be a nice addition. People pay for voice/guitar/piano lessons and such. I pay for critiques and memberships to song sites. Have for over a decade. I think it's helping- my song "toolbag" is getting better!!

By: reddog216 on 8/19/10
Over the years I have enjoyed several sites
listoning to other artist in all styles and types of music. I believe song writers are like finger-prints,where none are exactly alike. I also feel that each person who puts in writing what they feel in their heart is saying something unique and sometimes those words can look and sound like a messed up jig-saw-puzzle,however, with everything we know, experience will always make a poor painter into a good painter in time.(more than not)I think if one who has written a song and intends to try and get it out into the world for the purpose of it bringing fame and fortune no matter small or big,then that song should be judged by someone or a group who is looking for that kind of material to promote. I have seen over the years where one mans trash is anothers treasure.15 dollars to some is chump change,and to some it could be afew more meals on the table. It is all up to the one who has to spend it and what satisfaction that 15 bucks is going to bring after all is said and done. I think this site and its creater(s) found a way to coushion a spot here and there,and it depends how valuable their time is. As with any hobby or business,it does take time and money to keep it running smooth. if your really a song writer at heart,you will know how good your songs are and they will stand up on their own merit. Fun is fun,and it boils down to enjoying this site and what pleasure it gives.

By: EddieR on 12/15/10
My brother Robert got real tired of submitting songs to NSAI only to be told in each case to purchase and read Jason Blume's book on songwriting. He and I both had already read this book and I told my brother I sure was glad I wrote and recorded my first CD before reading Jason's book or else I would have been paralyzed with the fear that I wasn't doing it right and I might never have written or recorded those songs. I have now produced two CDs and one EP with a lot of help from my brother with backup vocals, cowriting and encouragement. I will definitely be using the SongRamp critique service.

By: DinoWodini on 2/9/11
This has sure been an interesting and drawn out battle of right and wrong song writing formulae but wait - isnt this about critiquing a song. Boy oh boy!!

I guess we all want our moment of glory and unfortunately, some will never get the 'big' break but a lot of us do get 'mini' breaks from time to time. A simple comment can sometimes satisfy the soul.

I have been writing and recording my own songs for some 6 years now and I tend to be a "flow of conciousness" writer. I dont write fabulous 'hooks' or magnificent choruses but I do write from the heart. Whether that will make me an 'icon', a 'star', a 'legend' or any other word you might care to use is not of ultimate importance to me. What is important to me is 'having a go' and 'sharing'. If a major artist/manager/producer happens upon one of my songs and loves it then that's all good and well but until that time comes along I will just keep doing what i do.

I find self promotion a very very hard task.

Amyway, this particular SR Page and Comment is for the Critiquing Service information and not to decide "Songwriting 101 on Hit Making".

A lot of comments have been made and i analyse that and can see both sides of the coin. It is just very difficult.

I am only a 'free' member at the present time but am considering the jump to the next level membership and in that case would support the idea of a totally unbiased but knowledgeable "critique" panel. There are really no negatives as far as I can see.

Keep up the good work guys and gals.
Dennis

By: missijohnson on 3/10/12
ok, i submitted a song, the questions on critique form look great

By: Stonelamorna on 12/6/12
Sounds Good, but we all have to learn how
to be honest and brutal with our own work.
If we cant do that whats the point.
A pro writer would not use a service like this
But an Amateur May Benefit

By: DaleCrockett on 12/6/12
Stonelamorna, I wholeheartedly agree with you in regards to all of us having to learn to be honest and try to be as objective as possible with our songs. But, unfortunately, that can prove to be difficult at times. Sometimes we all need someone else's objectivity regarding our songs. That's where our Critique Service can really be useful. No, a pro writer probably wouldn't use a service like this, but it is our goal to try to help "amateur" writers get better and possibly get up to that "pro level."

By: johnwestwood on 12/6/12
In every sphere of endeavour it doesnt hurt to have the "emperors new clothes "syndrome where someone on the outside ask the question " why is it so? or Why isnt it not so?
In songwriting sometimes an opinion from an unexpected direction can create a whole new perspective on a song/lyric absolutely regardless of what the experts might say
Take the Beatles.
Turned down so many times until a guy with a classical background in a studio/label known for quirky saw the potential and asked " why not?".
George Martin was not the establishment in the recording industry
Whatdid he know about POP music of the time ? ZILCH but he heard something ..potential , something outside the square and was willing to buck the system

By: BillyJ.Thomas on 6/4/13
Most all songwriters who have written a "hit" (commercially) have the ability to immediately recognize that a song has something about it that makes it appealing, and has the "grabs your attention" aspect to it, no matter whether it follows a specific "structure" or not. It's not the "way" a song is written that makes it appealing, it's how it appeals to the listener and "grabs their attention". If people like the way a song sounds to them and it "grabs their attention", they will more than likely go out and buy it (or download it nowadays). Do you think they care about "structure", etc.? Nope, they just like what they are hearing. When I first heard "I Want To Hold Your Hand" it wasn't because of any song structure, or formula, or lyrics (which were a little silly), it was the different sound and beat that "grabbed" me. Listen folks, producers, critiquers, and anybody else who thinks they know the formula for a successful song are just kidding theirselves (and you), else they'd be putting out hits everyday on a regular basis. People like a song that "grabs their attention", whether it be the lyrics, the beat, or whatever. How do you know if your song has that "grab your attention" aspect about it? Perform it publicly and watch the reaction to it. If it has that "grab your attention" aspect about it, then you'll get a great reaction (not just a good reaction, a great, excited, entertained reaction) from the audience (not just a group of family and friends). Put it out to the public on places such as MySpace, YouTube, etc. and see how it does. If it gets a huge number of hits on the website then it has that "grab your attention" aspect. That's how Taylor did it, and it worked. AND, by doing so, she got the attention of Industry people. Isn't it funny how you get their attention after you do all the work...hmmmmm. Folks they're looking to cash in on your hard work, period. You are just a commodity to them, a "cash cow". But, that's how the Industry works, to make money. Taylor could have done great on her own without them, but, she was promised to be made a "superstar" and, evidently, that's what she wanted. The Industry had the money, influence, control, and the means to do it, and they did just that.

My point here is don't be limited in "how" you write, write something that has the "grabs your attention" aspect about it and you'll be just fine. THAT'S what makes a song successful! And, of course, I'm reffering to being "commercially" successful. Otherwise, any song that makes another person happy, or feel better is a success, whether it be one person or a hundred...

Take care,
Billy J. Thomas

By: DaleCrockett on 6/4/13
Although some good points were made in the previous comment, I feel that as one of the SongRamp Administrators and the Coordinator of the site's Pro Critique Service, I need to respond to a couple of comments that stood out to me, in defense of SongRamp.

1) In regards to the comment about producers and critiquers thinking they know the formula for a successful song and are just kidding themselves (and you) -

Each of the SongRamp Critique Service evaluators have achieved success in the music business, so they know what they're talking about, and they know what to look for in great songs. They go by the same critique evaluation criteria that was developed and is STILL used by NSAI. They are knowledgeable about the formula for successful songs - they know what songs need to have to reach the "bar", as far as successful songwriting is concerned.

2) Regarding the comment about "folks looking to cash in your hard work, and seeing you just as a commodity, or "cash
cow" -

Although there are companies, organizations, and individuals in the music business that look at others as "cash cows," SongRamp is not one of them. Although SongRamp does charge for memberships and their Critique Service (as does NSAI), the site is not in existence to make money for anyone. The site exists to provide songwriters, artists, etc. with an online community to be involved with. It is necessary to charge for memberships, Critique Service, etc. to "keep the lights on" and the bills paid. No one is getting rich with SongRamp - the CEO, the admins, moderators, etc. In fact, no one is getting paid for the positions that they are in. They do it for their love of music and to support the purpose of the site.

By: BillyJ.Thomas on 6/4/13
Whoa, you got things turned around there, Dale. That post was not an attack on SongRamp, per-say, but was referring to the Industry as a whole...

And there's that word "bar" again. That's an Industry word and it has intimidated a lot of songwriters into giving up. Nowadays, with the internet, you don't need the Industry (or meet their "bar" to have a hit song (Taylor has proven that), you can make it happen on your own if you know how to do it. Now, that really scares the Industry doesn't it, losing control of the marketplace. And, they are already feeling the effects of the internet on their monopoly, and a lot of them are struggling to compete. Why do I not feel sorry for them...well, look at what they have done for the last 20 or 30 years, bought up all the major radio stations, controlled the playlists, told us how to write our songs to THEIR standards (the "bar"), determined what we would hear, squashed any competition to where it's an inside only game now, period. What goes around comes around though, and thanks to the internet, opportunities are now there for anybody, and there's nothing they can do to stop it. So, it's just a matter of time until they won't be needed, and that's a good thing brother, songwriters will finally have a REAL shot at getting a hit song out to the listening public, not just the ones the Industry decides to put out there that meets THEIR standards.

I'm not attacking SongRamp's critique service either, I'm just saying that a critique (even by a quote "Pro") is just that, an opinion, albeit they have had some success, it's still just their opinion. Some here may choose to use it, and some may not, that's their decision. But in reality, all critiques are just an opinion and you may get three or four different opinions from three or four different critique-ers, and what good would that do but to only confuse the songwriter even more. But, that's a decision each songwriter has to make on their own, whether they are worth it or not....

I fully expected to get slammed by that post (and this one), and will not be surprised at what will be coming, but hey, that's life, and I won't take any offense at anything anyone has to say...

Billy J. Thomas

By: DaleCrockett on 6/5/13
Hi, Billy -

Looks like I took your first post completely wrong and misunderstood some things, Billy, and for that I apologize. I kind of thought that those comments were a "slam" against SongRamp, and I felt the need to go to SongRamp's defense. But your second post really made the major points that you were trying to get across become clearer. You've raised some excellent points, actually, in both posts. And yes, I will agree that a song critique is essentially just that person's opinion, no matter WHO they are, even when going by the guidelines that are used by the evaluators.

And, I really agree with you on your comment about the "bar." It does seem to be something that intimidates a lot of writers, and gets them thinking "What's the use?" But your comment regarding "not needing the industry" is right on the money and does offer hope, especially with what is possible these days via the internet. And I'm with you 100% in not feeling sorry for the big industry players who are feeling "the squeeze" nowadays. They've done it to themselves because of greed and love of "power". I wouldn't be surprised if ALL the major labels go down in flames in the next few years, only because people are able to "go around them" much more easier now than ever before and make things happen on their own.

Again, I apologize for totally misunderstanding what you were getting at in your first post.

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