Confusion...

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tedsingingfox
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Confusion...

Post by tedsingingfox » Mon May 12, 2008 12:09 pm

(Edit: scroll down for the link to the song and the lyrics)I sent my country tune "Someone to Hold" to TAXI for my free critique.the first time I ever submitted this song to a listing, the critique I got back gave me a 7 on the music and a 9 on the lyrics, and his comment was, "You can NEVER go wrong writing great lines like, "I was so scared to blow it, I tripped on my rented tux pants." Cool.this NEW critique said that there wasn't enough contrast between verses and choruses, musically, but he gave me a 9 on my music, anyway.Then he said that the line "I was so scared to blow it, I tripped on my rented tux pants" was terribly awkward, and the exact first moment when my song started to fail. And he still gave me an 8 on my lyrics. HUH?How are these two clearly conflicting critiques (I'm a master of alliteration, BTW... ) supposed to help me figure anything out?And, yes, these are the only two critiques of this song I've gotten so far. The good news is that BOTH of them concluded with a statement to the effect of... "But I am convinced you have the goods/the chops to write a killer song...(this newest one), and "You keep working at this and you will be a serious force to be reckoned with in the very near future..."...(the first one). That IS encouraging, no doubt; but I want to make THIS song better and more pitch-able, and this didn't actually tell me anything other than every screener's ears are different.Talk to me? Please?Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.TedJust was hoping for clarification, not further confusion.
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Re: Confusion...

Post by billg » Mon May 12, 2008 12:24 pm

Well Ted, I think the line is awesome . . . Here's the way I'd look at it; YOU wrote the line so obviously YOU like it, the first (pro) reviewer liked it . . . so there ya have it! It could just be that 2 out of three people (three out of four if you count me!) are gonna like it. Heck "four out of five dentists" was good enough for a bazillion dollar add campaign . . . you just need one more dentist! (er, I mean critic).

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Re: Confusion...

Post by matto » Mon May 12, 2008 5:33 pm

Hi Ted,without hearing the song and seeing the lyric there's not much that can be said...I feel the 2nd half of the line would sing awkwardly, it's very choppy with too many consonants...if you did this on purpose to conjure up aural "tripping", then kudos to you, but it might be too brilliant for it's own good.

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Re: Confusion...

Post by aimusic » Tue May 13, 2008 5:27 am

Yeah I always get nailed for making my lyrics "too smart" or "too clever" ya know, those kind of lyrics when you write em go "OH MY GOD, WHY HASN'T ANYONE EVER THOUGHT OF THAT" and then when you get someone else to read it, they just don't see where you're going without you having to tell em...To be fair Ted, I'd have to hear the track before I could provide you with an idea.....Take CareB

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Re: Confusion...

Post by aubreyz » Tue May 13, 2008 5:36 am

Ted,Hope this doesn't hijack your thread in another direction, but your post hit a chord with me that I would like to expound on. The learning curve and process of benefiting from Taxi and peer critiques as well as forwards/returns has at least several stages. The first one for me was the “wake up call” --- you’re not as good at this as you thought. I mean, I had been a pretty big fish in some small to medium ponds--- and thought I was more than ready for the big water. The first critiques/returns stung, bit, and took me back to basics. I worked my butt off, improved my craft, and became more objective in critiquing my own work. Sure enough, many forwards followed.Because of the whirlwind of life that blew me around the past few months, I’ve had less time to produce but more time to evaluate. More than new stuff, I’m submitting proven winners (as far as forward history) and I’ve been somewhat surprised by the seemingly randomness of the results. I went back and compiled my critiques and forward history on each song. One in particular had rave reviews lyrically, and on the other hand wasn’t forwarded because of the lyrics. So, my conspiracy theory brewing, I think it must be those dang screeners—so I made a list of every screener and the results. Other than one screener who has never forwarded me, I couldn’t find a consistent pattern that made any sense.I spent some time scratching my head, questioning, much like the context of your post – “How do I improve with such conflicting input?” Well, I can’t say that I have an absolute answer, but do have a theory that seems to make sense. It’s much easier to improve when you are farther from the mark than when you start hitting the target. When you are close, and are objective enough to analyze your own weaknesses and strengths, I think it is easy to get confused. My first theory was that something was wrong with the Taxi process or screeners. Yet when I succeed, I think it’s great. What is the missing link here?I’ve referred to it before, but there was one epiphany moment for me at the rally that helped me tie it all together. A panel of top industry decision makers split right down the middle on one song that was played. Two thought it had potential, two didn’t. On the songs that were clearly not up to par, the consensus was mostly unanimous, but on the “close” stuff, there was often division. So here’s what I think that means. Screeners will have the same tendencies because this is a game of opinions, not exact science. I got one return with high marks and praise for melody, lyric, hook, performance etc., but the final reason was that the screener didn’t get goose bumps. So how do you work on that?Early in the game, I think one’s focus should be on quality not quantity. Submitting three inadequate pieces won’t help you near as much as trying master one good submission and get the feedback. Later on, one should focus on quality as always, but when the quality starts getting over the bar, then quantity is much more important. Back to the panel, let’s hypothetically say that example song was heard by only one that didn’t like something about it. The knee-jerk reaction is that there must be something wrong with the song. But if you keep at it, and keep submitting, the two on the panel who liked it will eventually hear it. Once you get quality, quantity is much more important.So is your song good enough with a possible weak line? It’s hard to say. If somebody were to read the lines to “Swingin’” without John Anderson’s delivery—the point is there is more to a song than words on a page. At this level, the production and delivery are very important.So here’s my synopsis of this whole matter. I work as hard as I can to refine everything I write and produce. Though I still have much to learn, I am much more aware of where the bar is and how to get over it. If something gets dichotomous results, I try to objectively consider which result has the most long term potential. Is the success a fluke, or is the return? If something has been forwarded several times, and also rejected – I tend to believe the half of the panel who are on my side and keep submitting. If something isn’t passing the bar, I move on – at this point I think the odds of me writing a masterpiece are better with new stuff than trying to rework something that was just okay.Ted, you’ve had enough success to know where the bar is. 50/50 isn’t that bad of odds if it continues – that could mean every other time your song is going to get in the right hands to hear it. On the other hand, the one positive critique could be the fluke. I think you probably have a pretty strong gut feeling about the potential of this song. If you think it needs and is worth fixing – then fix it. If you think your odds are good enough, submit it—see if the return/forward ratio complies, and keep writing winners.I still value the consensus of opinion, but I also have evidence that my gut instinct has proven capable of passing the high bar. As of yet—there is no tangible evidence that this is working. I have lots of forwards and no deals, but I believe in the long run the quantity of quality submissions will pay off. I’m just waiting to hear from the other side of the panel.Aub

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Re: Confusion...

Post by squids » Tue May 13, 2008 6:07 am

Good point, Aub. It's been frustrating to me of late, the inconsistencies. I think bill g and I had an email exchange about it once. Your example from the Rally really hit home with me, that there're personal tastes involved in choosing what is "good enough" to forward and what isn't. We're not talking jes about the screeners either but the bosses who come in to sort through what they want with the adage "I'll know it when I hear it." I remember being frustrated reading about a super nice Taxi member who got forwarded for a "sultry" listing with a song that was clearly (by everyone who posted) a suspense track. It was a dispatch listing, I believe, and someone from the company was coming in to hear it. A lot of songs that were clearly "sultry" didn't get forwarded but the suspense track did. It's becoming obvious to me that what we term "language" here on the forums is not even close to what their (the bosses) idea of language is. They use adjectives to describe what they want, we interpret them to mean something close to what the dictionary says about those adjectives and it turns out they (the bosses) have a personal spin on the adjectives that we couldn't possibly know beforehand. We're musicians, not mind-readers or mood-readers or psychics or fortune tellers. All we can do is try to produce quality work that appears to fit the adjectives they use and then live with the results.As for po Ted (whose head probably aches in frustration that we've all hijacked his thread, po baby), I would love to hear this track but I can tell you right now, before hearing it, that judging from what you've said, you could be a victim of "they'll know it when they hear it."

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Re: Confusion...

Post by 53mph » Tue May 13, 2008 7:31 am

May 13, 2008, 9:07am, squids wrote:We're musicians, not mind-readers or mood-readers or psychics or fortune tellers. All we can do is try to produce quality work that appears to fit the adjectives they use and then live with the results.Actually, I am a mind reader. I bet I can read your mind over the internet....I bet you are thinking of the word "bullshit".I've tried reading the screeners minds but they wear special lead helmets like Magneto. Bah!

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Re: Confusion...

Post by hummingbird » Tue May 13, 2008 9:20 am

Good post Aub, and Squid. That panel at the Rally was a great example of experienced people in the industry disagreeing over whether something works. I have been confused myself when a piece enthusiastically forwarded for one listing is returned for another even tho it's indicated as 'on target'. This confusion stems from my belief that once something was forwarded, that it had reached it's zenith, that it had leaped over the bar, and was totally pitchable. For so many years my eyes were on the "forward" that I didn't see that there was a post-forward post-mortem which said, 'yes, this is good, but it could be better.' And/or a non-forward that says, 'okay that might have worked for that specific need that you got forwarded to but it doesn't work for this because....'There are so many subtle things that go into deciding whether a piece 'fits' or not, I don't think it's an exact science. Just read any thread here on Peer to Peer and look at the varients in the reviews.
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Re: Confusion...

Post by tedsingingfox » Tue May 13, 2008 10:26 am

Thanks you guys for taking the time. Aub, Squiddie, 'Bird, Matto...ALL of you speak clearly and truthfully. Thank you.I guess my confusion may be a little TOO focused on that one particular line, just because that one screener loved it and the other didn't care for it.Someone to Holdhttp://www.taximusic.com/song.php?song_id=2314&stream=1BTW... these lyrics are just a word or two off from what I sang on the scratch demo this link will take you to...Someone to HoldIn a blue ruffled shirt and a pink boutonniereI took a deep breath before I asked her to danceWith less than a week left in our senior yearI was so scared to blow it, I tripped on my rented tux pantsShe giggled and smiled, then she offered her handI could not believe how she put me at easeHer head on my shoulder, my heart in her handsShe closed her eyes, I begged PLEASE let her bechorusSomeone to Hold on the dance floorTo sway with me, stay with me forever, AmenI want someone to hold on the dance floorFor more than one night, for the rest of my life in a world without endWe both found summer jobs by the middle of JuneWe saved what we could, though the paychecks were smallA September wedding was coming up soonbridgeShe got a gown from the mall, I got strings of tin cansTied to the fender of my old red Trans AmBut OH, those two golden bands had no guaranteesHearts have their seasons and sometimes they freezeThey say the thaw will come to us all by degreesNow I'm alone at the Sagebrush when a band starts to playCouples join hands as they head for the floorRhythm and affection on public displayAnd I watch from the sidelines like so many times beforeI look up to see this most elegant pairSmiling like the king and the queen of the promDressed up and graceful, with silver white hairSomebody's Gran-dad and Gran-momRenewing my faith that Springtime will comeAnd the freeze will be over and done and I will findchorusSomeone to hold on the dance floorTo sway with me, stay with me forever, AmenI want someone to hold on the dance floorFor more than one night, for the rest of my lifeLord, I want someone to hold on the dance floorTo sway with me, stay with me forever, AmenI want someone to hold on the dance floorFor more than one night, for the rest of my life in a world without endIn a world without endIn a world without endIn a world without endoutroI want someone to hold on the dance floor'Cause love never grows old on the dance floor ... X2
The truest of tears
Seem to me to be the ones
Shed in gratitude
-Haiku by TF, 1982

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Re: Confusion...

Post by Casey H » Tue May 13, 2008 10:39 am

The reality is that screeners (although they have special training and evaluation criteria) are still human like any A&R person who hears your song. Clearly, you can send the same demo to different publishers or A&R folks and get different responses. What floats one's boat doesn't float another's. I believe there are two components to a review of a song. The first is the initial emotional reaction, independent of specific criteria. The second is the actual criteria- the technical details of structure, lyrics, hook, target-fit, etc.An analogy (I love analogies, if you don't know ) It's been noted that for job interviews, most of the decision for a particular reviewer has been made within the first minute- when the candidate walks through the door, shakes a hand and sits down. It's that initial chemistry and impression. The rest of the interview is evaluating the technical criteria for the position but the interviewer's reactions have been tilted a bit by that first impression.I'm NOT saying that screeners base most of their decision on emotional reaction. They don't because of their specific training. But, some of it's got to be there. Something "grabs you" or not.I have one song that had been signed with a good publisher, put on the list for an artist's next CD, and has current film/TV interest. I pitched it to an A&R person last year who said "it doesn't have a hook". How could that be? Other industry folks were very impressed with it. Humans... MOST IMPORTANT, IMHO It's harder, I know, when you get conflicting feedback from a company for which you pay for services. Things to think about: (1) If you didn't pay for the service, would you even had access to the opportunity? Most often, not. (2) Remind yourself that a rejection is just one and you will pitch many more. (3) This is my weakness. Write A LOT of material. If you have a larger catalog, a single rejection won't mean as much.It's also important to gather up a few sets of comments before jumping to change anything. If you hear the same thing from multiple reviewers, give more thought to making a change. If one says "too fast" and another "too slow", wait until you see what more pros say.Now, if you get a review that seems WAAAY out of character for the song or when compared to many other previous reviews, use the 800 taxi number and politely ask if you can talk to someone about it. They don't bite... Casey

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