by Doug Minnick
Dear TAXI,

If a listing asks for one to three songs and I send three, but only one is good enough to get forwarded, will I not get forwarded because of the other two songs?

Jesus Velazquez
Patterson, NJ

Hi Jesus,

It depends on what the listing is asking for. For example, if a listing is looking for songs for another artist to record, or for a film or TV show, the one song would usually be forwarded.

However, if a listing is looking for artists or staff songwriters where consistency and depth are important, then all three songs would usually need to be top-notch in order to get forwarded.

Hi A & R Guys,

I recently submitted songs for a number of "Country & Western" listings. Although the songs themselves received good reviews, they were not forwarded because they were not considered the right kind of songs for the listing.

When I submit a song, I listen to the song in my mind with a country singer singing them-with a 'twang' and country phrasing. I'm a professional musician and songwriter and have been for many years. I've had songs recorded by many different artists with divergent styles, but I have found that many, not all A&R people listen to a demo with jaundiced ears.

What I mean is this-I'm black but I don't write black songs, I write songs. When I submit a song with me singing the demo, I expect for a true A & R professional to listen to the song and do as I do; imagine a country singer with the range and power to sing the song, and not put the song in a box because I'm singing it. I will never get a mainstream recording if my songs are judged by who is singing the demo.

I'm going to find myself a good white singer, so that my songs won't be prejudged, but I think that that's disgraceful. I'm asking all of you A&R folks to start listening properly, because I'm not a recording artist anymore but I am a songwriter. Here's what I'm talking about; If Ray Charles sings 'America The Beautiful', it comes out sounding soulful, but if Garth Brooks sings the same song with a different arrangement, it sounds country. Same song, different artist. When Whitney Houston sang, 'I Will Always Love You', it was Pop-when Dolly Parton, (who wrote the song) sang the same song, it was Country.

Please don't get upset about my criticism I've been running up against this for a long time, it's not new, but I'm paying for un-jaundiced ears to listen. Best Regards,

Thanks again

Earl Foster
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Earl,

Thanks for writing. Here are my thoughts:

It takes more than a vocal sung with "twang" to make a song right for the Country market. Lyrics, subject matter, and melodies can all be more or less appropriate for Nashville and for Country radio-which is what the labels are up against, after all.

It's also not accurate to compare standards and songs that have already been hits to new songs by new (to Nashville) writers. Songs being forwarded to Nashville have to be at least the equal of what is already on Country radio, and what is being pitched by current hit writers and publishers on Music Row. Songs that have already proven to be hits are judged in a completely different way.

Whatever the quality of the song, the demo singer is an important ingredient in how the song is received. Demos don't need to be elaborate productions (they can actually be just guitar or piano and vocals) but the vocal should be as strong as possible-and it doesn't hurt to have it be as close as possible to the artist for which it being pitched. Why? Because virtually every song on the desk of the producer/A&R guy is pitched that way, and they tend to gravitate to songs that don't require a lot of changes to work for their artist.

There are no absolutes in the music business-a great song is a great song, and can still get through, even if the demo doesn't follow the "rules", but why not optimize your chances?

I haven't heard your music, so I can't say if the demo vocal was the only thing keeping it from being forwarded. Look at the critique and see if there were reasons beyond the vocal that the song wasn't forwarded. If they said the song wasn't right stylistically, that could mean many things beyond the vocal performance.

I hope this will help to make the screeners reasoning more clear.

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