Did you know that songwriter compensation is established by three judges in DC every five years, based on two laws – from 1909 and 1976, respectively? Or that, until this year, songwriters were not eligible for “Album of the Year” awards at the Grammys for records that they wrote?
My guess is that your answer to the first question was a hard “no,” and unless you’ve been on an award-winning song, you also answered” no” to the second. How could you have known? There isn’t a whole of information out there for aspiring songwriters. In many cases, people who love to write songs may not even be aware that they can pursue a career as a songwriter.
“And the Writer Is…” is a podcast hosted by multi-platinum songwriter, Ross Golan. Each episode, with a few exceptions, he sits down with the songwriters behind the biggest hits in the world. He delves into their upbringing, their journey into songwriting, and the stories behind some of your favorite songs.
Why These Episodes Are Important
Music Business Education
I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Hollens at a workshop at the University of Oregon. He discussed the lack of business education in university music programs, and how learning the business behind the music industry may be one of the more important things when trying to make it as an artist (or songwriter).
Every single episode of “And the Writer is…” discusses the business dealings of each songwriter, from their own lens. What you’ll find is that there are seemingly endless ways that people “make it,” but how many of them face the same challenges.
At the very least, listen to Episode 28 featuring David Israelite. He is the President and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), where he has achieved landmark successes for publisher and songwriter royalty rate agreements and increasing the value of intellectual property. During this episode, he explains everything you need to know about getting paid in the streaming era and provides the history of copyrights.
Who better to learn from than the experts?
Let’s start with the host, Ross Golan. He’s penned some of the biggest hits of the decade, including “Same Old Love” (Selena Gomez), “My House” (Flo Rida), “Compass” (Lady Antebellum), and “Dangerous Woman” (Ariana Grande). He was a touring musician, released a critically acclaimed musical (The Wrong Man), and won BMI’s Pop Songwriter of the Year in 2016.
His guests include:
- Desmond Child – songwriter and producer who has had top 10 hits in five different decades (Kiss, Cher, Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez)
- Bonnie McKee – one of Katy Perry’s most trusted writing partners, and a solo-artist
- Mike Caren – an A&R executive and esteemed songwriter (Bruno Mars, Kanye West, Beyonce, and more)
- J-Cash – the songwriter behind hits from Charlie Puth, Jason Derulo, and Maroon 5.
Why You’ll Love This Podcast
As a songwriter, it’s nearly impossible to find content that provides tangible, real-world guidance. Most of the materials available are music theory books. Even then, it can be difficult to access premium materials unless you’re attending school specifically for songwriting – in which case you’re spending thousands of dollars.
So…the question remains: outside of “critical information,” why will you love this podcast?
It Will Inspire You
From love and loss, to getting songs recognized and struggling to put food on the table – it’s all there. Hearing how writers have gone from rock bottom to the top of the charts (in some cases more than once) and they lay their hearts out in these episodes. Knowing that the biggest writers in music have been in your shoes is comforting. Moreover, listening to people geek out about their passion – which also happens to be yours, will get you FIRED UP!
Each Episode is a Lot of Fun
Ross has known some of the guests for years, making for some hilarious stories and some true “behind the scenes” discussions.
Listening to how some of the biggest songs in the world came to be are fascinating. Often, the personalities behind those songs are even more interesting. Ever wondered how Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” came to be? Want to hear a happily married man explain his wife’s thoughts on hearing him write “Side to Side” for Ariana Grande? Curious as to how “My House” by Flo Rida was originally intended to be an Adele ballad?
…what are you waiting for? GO LISTEN TO IT!
Top 5 Episodes
1. Episode 28: David Israelite
David Israelite delves into the business of music copywrites, publishing, and his continued fight for songwriter rights. It’s all you need to know about how songwriters are getting paid, and the political climate surrounding their rights.
2. Episode 3: Savan Kotecha
Savan Kotecha is responsible for writing and producing some of the world’s biggest records and is considered to be one of the elite top liners (one who writes vocal parts over pre-made music) in the industry.
- Confident – Demi Lovato
- Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd
- Side to Side – Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj
3. Episode 30: Rhett Akins
Featuring an esteemed artist, one of the top country songwriters (25+ number one hits), and the proud father of Thomas Rhett. From playing frat parties to writing with the likes of Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Rhett Akins delivers one of the most honest, humble, and funny episodes in the podcast’s history.
- Hey Girl – Billy Currington
- Boys ‘Round Here (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends) – Blake Shelton
- Drink a Little Beer – Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins
4. Episode 8: Evan Bogart
This songwriter has a story unlike many others. Unlike most, he didn’t break into the industry as a writer, but as an executive. As a side-gig, he wrote hits like Beyonce’s “Halo,” Ashley Tisdale’s “He Said, She Said”, and Rihanna’s “SOS”. He also happens to be married to one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE ARTISTS, ZZ Ward.
- Criminal – ZZ Ward
- SOS – Rihanna
- Ride – ZZ Ward, Gary Clark Jr.
5. Episode 25: Charlie Puth
One of the biggest up-and-coming artists, a man with PERFECT PITCH! This episode may have the most energy out of any guest, as Ross and Charlie dig into what exactly constitutes perfect pitch, how it plays into Charlie’s writing, and how Justin Bieber inspired him to kickstart his career.
- How Long – Charlie Puth
- Attention – Charlie Puth
- See You Again – Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth
“And the Writer is…” is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and other podcast listening apps. Visit their website for more information: http://www.andthewriteris.com