Preparing to release new music

With over 60,000 tracks uploaded to Spotify every day (according to Music Business Worldwide in February 2021), there are so many people out there busily making music.

When you think about all that goes into a song as it moves along from an artist’s mind all the way to your ears, it’s pretty incredible. From a sole concept or idea – and sometimes only one word or phrase – somehow it turns into a full song, brought to life through music, lyrics and production.

Each aspect of each song – music, lyrics and production – all require numerous skills that people develop over years and decades.

It’s all so complicated and yet so many people are called to do this work and fortunately that’s the case because that’s resulted in so much music. And since different people connect to different kinds of music, there’s something for everyone.

As you read this, people around the world are busy making music. Some with super cool-looking equipment like this, and others with a computer, an interface and a microphone hoping that the dog won’t bark before you finish recording the second verse on the vocal track because your voice feels like it’s finally warmed up and you’re sure you’ll finally be able to sing the second line without your voice cracking this time.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted here – especially in contrast to all of 2021 when I was posting a new song every week for the 52 Weeks in 2021 project. However, my songwriting journey hasn’t halted, I’ve still been writing, nearly every day.

In February, I worked on “Why Didn’t I?” a song about disillusionment and seeing someone how they really are (which turned out to be exactly what they had initially told you). In March, I couldn’t help thinking about the heartbreaking war in Ukraine and worked on “Wake Up World,” which never made it out of its very rough work tape stage. Then I started another one about what’s happening in Ukraine but haven’t yet written any music to it.

What I’ve really been busy with is a fantastic course that started in January, called “Hit Your Stride: Release Music Like a Pro,” a 12-week mentor program that provides a step-by-step guide for songwriters to record and release their music. It was all very serendipitous. Sherilyn, a professional singer-songwriter for more than two decades, had posted in a songwriting Facebook group about wanting to interview songwriters who wanted to take their songwriting to the next step but weren’t sure how to move forward, as she was conducting surveys for a project she was working on. Her message spoke to me and I replied and scheduled an interview.

I don’t remember all the questions but I may have gotten teary-eyed from at least one of them as I tried to express how much it meant to me to someday have my songs out in the world.

After the interview, she shared that she was preparing a course that would guide songwriters through the steps of releasing a song. That was at the end of October 2021. A few days after she announced the details about her course, I came across a Facebook post on the Friends of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts page about an Artist Opportunity Grant application from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Arizona Community Foundation, geared for artists working in all disciplines to “take advantage of specific unique opportunities that have the potential to significantly impact their professional growth.”

That pretty much described the “Hit Your Stride” class and with the grant application submission deadline a few days later, I applied for the grant. Oh, and the amount of the grant was exactly the same amount as the course.

Although the course started before I received the notification that I received the grant, I took the leap and signed up for the course anyway (with a payment plan arrangement since I wouldn’t get the grant check until months later).

One of the great things about this course is that there are only 10 people in the class – in eight different times zones as the course includes people in different cities in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand! This allows for a very personalized approach as we meet each week for curriculum calls and Q&A, as well as give updates on our projects on these calls or in the Facebook group. The course also includes several 1:1 mentor calls with Sherilyn where you can discuss your own project, ask questions, etc. Besides all the knowledge she has accumulated through her years in the music industry – which she shares in an organized, extremely helpful way throughout the course – she’s also super supportive, encouraging and easy to talk to. She’s also had several featured guests, such as a producer, a music attorney and a publicist. It’s also been great to meet the other members of the cohort and follow their journeys.

I’ve learned so much in the past few weeks and am ready to take the next steps toward my first release. I’m working with a producer on one of my songs and hope to share more about this soon. I sent him my lyrics and chord chart and he recorded the guitar and additional instruments on an instrumental track and my next step is to finish recording vocals. I’ve already spent several hours working on the vocals but after some technical issues when trying to fix certain parts of the lead vocal track, I decided to start from scratch. (Last week during our 1:1 call, Sherilyn went through my vocal tracks and gave me tips about phrasing and editing takes that was SOOO helpful I wanted to start fresh with this knowledge rather than to go back and try to fix everything.)

I’m grateful that I have a place at home that I can record vocals because going into a studio would have likely added hundreds if not thousands of dollars to my production cost because I have spent HOURS trying to get my vocals sound like I want it to. Of course my makeshift studio has its own challenges (refrigerator ice machine noise coming from the other room, a dog snoring on the couch or scratching on either side of the door to go out or in, a helicopter flying overhead.) At one point the house was finally quiet and through my headphones I heard a little bird chirping outside. I may have opened the back door to investigate and screamed, “Seriously?!” then watched a bird fly away from our tree’s branches to a neighbor’s yard.

Anyway, although the recording process has at times been frustrating, I’m also very excited to be taking this next step. I’m also incredibly grateful that Sherilyn has put together this wonderful course!

If you’re a songwriter who thinks Sherilyn’s mentor program sounds like something you need right now, here’s a video about her program – her next cohort begins May 1!

Meanwhile, stay tuned and I hope to have more news to share soon!

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