I have no idea how they do it (perhaps they have a selection of pictures of songwriters in compromising positions) but they have interviews with an amazing range of people. There are 69 podcasts at time of writing, many of them famous but there are a lot that I think “Who is that?” I then check them out and find they have written loads of songs that I love. For example Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who wrote ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin”, ‘On Broadway’, ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’, ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’, ‘Don’t Know Much’, ‘Just Once’, ‘Here You Come Again’ and ‘Somewhere Out There’. There are loads more people like this who write classic songs, all the way from the Brill building up to more recent times.
There are also more recent writers that I haven’t heard of but I know their songs, check out the chat with Eg White, he sounds great fun. There are also loads of singer songwriters that you will know Chris Difford, Glen Tillbrook, Rufus Wainwright, Billy Bragg and Tom Robinson. There are so many classic song writers in the list that you owe it to yourself to take a listen.
When writing songs, poems or other creative words ideas always seem to occur when we are out, walking, driving, working or otherwise away from home. Unless you get those words down quickly they may get lost. A book or phone works well but there is always the fear that it too will get lost. The best option for many is to use a phone or a tablet to capture the idea and immediately make a copy of the work . This article explains how to automatically save the notes using the internet (“In the cloud” is another expression) and make copies on your other device(s).
There are lots of different places you can store the information. Apple has icloud, Google has “Google cloud”, Amazon has “Cloud Drive” and there are many others. I have written about Dropbox here as I have a lot of experience with it and it just seems to work every time. It is free ( for 2 GB) and there are Apps for all the common devices. The ideas should work for all the other varieties but you will need to adapt them and check they work with all your devices. e.g. iCloud is focused on Apple kit. Setting up DropBox
The first thing to do is to get a free account with Dropbox. When you sign up you get 2Gb of space included. Unless you need more than that then you need never pay a penny to Dropbox. (2 GB is roughly equivalent to very roughly 50,000 A4 pages of text.)
Go to www.dropbox.com and choose “Signup”. You then need to enter your name (first and last), your email address and a password. Select agree to conditions and then “Create account”. Now choose the “basic” plan. And click continue.
Now download the free app that works with the device you are using (PC, MAC, Tablet or phone). Once this is installed you will be able to copy a file onto Drop box and have it available on all your other devices. You can also access the file using a browser. This could be handy if you need to print a copy but you only have an internet café available.
So you now have the basic set up, your words will always be backed up if you copy them to Dropbox. There are a couple of other things to think about to make the system work smoothly. Automatic copying and updating
If you want to make some changes to a file then you can copy the Dropbox file, change it and then copy it back again. This is OK but there are ways to make this automatic.
On a PC or an Apple Mac the Dropbox program you download will have a copy of your files on the PC. If you change the file it will automatically synchronise those changes with all your copies.
On an Android phone/tablet you need an app to do the synchronisation for you. I use “Dropsync Pro”. There is a charge for this of a few ponds but I think it is good value as it means I never forget to sync things. It just works and I don’t have to worry about which copy is correct.
On an ipod touch, ipad or iPhone it is part of the dropbox app.
I also have a tablet running WebOS. There is a great app for that called “Tapnote” which does everything for you. Unfortunately HP don’t make WebOS stuff any more.
When you have the system set up the way you want then test it a few times to make sure it is working properly and that you understand what it does.
Use a standard file type.
I always write my songs and ideas as a text file (.txt), this will work on all tablets, PCs, Apple MacBooks and phones and tablets. It is a simple file type and doesn’t have a lot of formatting options but because of this it works on everything. Change on one device and you will be able to read it on another.
There are other file types that are almost universal like Microsoft.docx , .Doc and “rich text file” .rtf but I think .txt is the safest option. It just works on everything.
Most devices include a program or App for opening .txt files but if not they are available at a low price. I use “Jota+” on my Android Phone. I want to hear from you
I’ve described what I do with my equipment but I expect many of you will have interesting variations worth sharing so please let me know if you have any tips.
The BBC have an amazing program of talks, workshops and shows to encourage new artists. BBC Introducing
As part of this they have master classes. Each masterclass has an hour long session on song writing. For some weird reason they are not available from the home page but they are still there is you search around.
Here is a great session from from Tom Robinson, some really good ideas here.