How can a musician be more creative?
Be creative together: what are songwriter camps?
Songwriter camps have become more and more important in recent years. But how do songwriting camps work? What is its use? Together with the music publisher Michael Menges, we have put together the most important practical information for you.
In the past few years, songwriting camps at many music publishers have seen an increasing boost. The causes can be found in digitization and in the general change in the music industry.
The role of music publishers
The right of reproduction as a source of income plays less of a role. Musicians and bands are therefore no longer so dependent on record companies. Nevertheless, the number of releases has increased significantly and with it the need for songs.
Music publishers bind songwriters to themselves by contract and pass on the songs written by these songwriters to performers, but also to film producers and advertising agencies.
The core business of music publishers is therefore to create the right environment for the creation of songs and to evaluate them economically.
This also applies to the license fees to be paid to GEMA for reproduction, performance or broadcasting on the radio, TV or online. The GEMA income is divided between authors and music publishers according to a certain key.
Songwriter camps are particularly widespread in pop and hit songs. In this genre it goes without saying that there are performers who sing songs written by others. The music publisher must therefore endeavor to place songs by the authors under their contract with artists who record, publish and perform these songs in the studio.
There are different approaches to this. Some publishers organize songwriter camps in general for specific genres in order to offer the resulting songs to different performers. Other music publishers concentrate on a single performer at a songwriting camp, who in quite a few cases is also personally present and who writes down the songs.
The essence of the performer
One of these is the Mannheim music publisher Michael Menges. His songwriting camps bring authors together to specifically write songs for a specific performer (i.e. a singer). In his case these are, for example, Roland Kaiser, Howard Carpendale, Marie Wegener or actor Tom Beck.
Michael Menges prepares himself and his authors specifically for his songwriter camp. He writes a concept in which he tries to convey the essence of an interpreter in text or audio samples. To this end, he exchanges ideas with the performers himself, but also with his record company or his management.
Basis of trust
The aim is to create a coherent picture of the performer so that the authors are able to create songs that are completely tailored to this performer. In terms of language, choice of words and sound aesthetics, it is crucial to write songs that meet the zeitgeist. "Pop culture is contemporary art. Everything that is successful comes in a contemporary guise," comments Menges.
Menges is convinced that the targeted approach pays off. The interpreter should recognize himself in the songs written for him. Their quality should not only convince him, but also record companies and management. This requires occasional persuasion by artists, as they are supposed to work with authors who are otherwise unknown to him or her.
It is also crucial for a successful collaboration that the music publisher has the trust of his authors and is actually committed to the evaluation of their songs. Only then does the cooperation also have an economic basis from which both sides benefit.
Dealing with setbacks
It often happens that not all songs created during a songwriting camp are actually recorded and published by one author. Some authors are successful with their songs, others are not.
It is also possible that record companies, managers, producers or performers themselves change the tracklist of an album at the last second. In the worst case, a song that the publisher and his authors have relied on will fall victim to these changes. This requires a high tolerance for frustration on the part of the authors, but also of the publisher.
But even if the song ends up on the album, that doesn't mean that success is inevitable. The majority of the songs that are created in songwriting camps end up under also ran with regard to the evaluation. Only a small part turns out to be extremely successful. Dealing with this is not easy for everyone. But that's the nature of the music industry. Only a few songs or a few artists are economically successful.
It's not that difficult to be at a songwriting camp. Many music publishers offer online contact or application options for songwriters, lyricists and composers. For Michael Menges it is not important that the songwriter can already boast chart successes, what matters is whether the songs he writes meet the quality standards so that he can offer them to his interpreters.
The collective work serves to achieve this standard. Songwriter camps make it possible to learn new techniques and approaches through creative exchange with others. Michael Menges is convinced that this creates friction, but also inspires creativity. The presence of the interpreter can motivate those present again.
Informal is also possible
Of course, that does not always mean that such meetings function under the title "Songwriter Camp". Informal cooperation is at least as widespread without it making much of it public.
Menges does not share reservations of some musicians about such an approach: "We are dealing with an entertainment industry that lives from the reproduction of emotions." The same also applies to concerts: "Musicians perform a song a hundred times and not in every love song does the singer share his feelings that move him at the moment.
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