What do you do for feedback on a new song you're writing?

Derek Sivers' BLOG Topic  

from HeatherSong: Balance between practicality and receptivity. If you followed up on everyone’s advice you’d never finish a song. Ask for criticism and you’ll get it. I’ve been told many times and directly by the truly accomplished: opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one! Not to be disrespectful, and a little crass. But you must respect YOURSELF as well — your GIFT and INSPIRATION — so as not to eternally expose yourself to overwhelming and meaningless feedback. Just time lost.

People are different. Their hearts, brains and experiences are different. We process thought, imagery and emotions differently — and use language accordingly. Your song is SURELY not for everybody! Impossible. Your drive will tell you whether you have something to say. Then you must nurture the skills that take you to the core of things. After all, you probably still want to hit “universals” that have a chance at touching many. And maybe earning some food for your table?

I’m good with language and lean verbose. So I’ve had to practice for years at grabbing that kernel of thought. I like the song form for that reason. It’s limited by nature and its focus has spared me from novel-writing. I’m grateful. I can learn to say great things succinctly. Thank God! There is hope . . .

For years I took songwriting classes and willingly “subjected” myself to mass-scrutiny. It was good. I learned much and was well-received. I’m a good writer. I did NOT begrudge the lessons and am better today for it.  But I’m not young now, and I’m driven and prolific as ever. This is my life’s greatest gift and I intend to make good. I’m at the top of my game just about now. I no longer run around asking for opinions. I’d certainly still reflect on serious comments from a respected mentor. I have “become one” with that Great Editor and am completely amazed at this LIVING PROCESS each time I work in my studio. I write/sing/produce my original material now — slowly, meticulously — and the rewrites and finessing come magically with the marriage of the music, etc. I literally never know in advance exactly how my production will evolve! It’s exciting. And I certainly don’t lack structure or creativity. I ooze it. Yet THE PROCESS is certainly beyond who I am and I am privileged to step beyond myself for this interaction. Years of study improve my natural expression and I am left with awe at this process. It is indeed mystical, and we cooperate. Of course, I speak for myself. And mine is a strong observation.

So be honest. Have you done your homework? Have you embraced your own arrogance just to comfort-zone? We used to call it GETTING YOUR ROCKS OFF in Los Angeles songwriting classes. Just how serious an artist are you? Do you want to hone your skills, or do you just like attention? Know yourself. YOU decide how far you want to go with this. At least in dedication. Then there’s exposure. Then THE PUBLIC decides, I guess. I’m still workin’ on that . . . ENJOY your GIFT, and GOOD LUCK!!!

Hi Heather -         

Thanks for your comment on http://sivers.org/songfeedback 

Very interesting discussion there.

Not at all what I expected!

Derek Sivers    http://sivers.org

The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician.  Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on      a hot night or something said long ago.  Louis Armstrong 

         When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.  Ed Howe

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel           that you, too, can become great.  Mark Twain

                  The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, ​a long plastic hallway where pimps and thieves

                                     run free and good men die like dogs.  There's also a negative side.    Hunter S. Thompson, Writer​

Songwriting & Production BLOG:  the Craft

It's about the song!  (and sometimes the story behind it)

Creativity, inspiration, development, criticism, collaboration, marketing, production, support, Programmers & DJ tribute, "Label that Spine!" 


Outside the box . . . right where I belong!  Indie.

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Dick Scott of Motown gave me similar personal advice when I was with his company in Detroit.  It was a sad, challenging time for Detroit as Motown was in process of moving to California, early 70s. To paraphrase, Dick told me many can sing, but not everyone can write.  He had taken keen interest in my songs . . . surprising me with music by THE CHAPTER FIVE and the directive to sing my original, with their production, to the whole company.  Dick Scott filled my heart with a lifetime of gratitude for extending himself as he did.  He seemed that kind of man, nurturing talent in others.  

hear the whole song here

Eventually I incorporated new dialing underway, and reached offices of dashing French singer/composer Gilbert Becaud of WHAT NOW MY LOVE, LET IT BE ME and other well-covered outrageously successful romantic hits.  Mr. Becaud was not present, but I was welcomed by Jean-Jacques Timmel (I retain his business card) – his Directeur Général who thankfully spoke great English.  As I predicted, he enthusiastically favored PLAY A LONELY STRING and would try to help.  He was very kind and couldn’t have embraced my songwriting efforts more generously.  He did not speak about himself at the time, but current research tells me he was at one time production manager at Philips, produced abundantly for Rod McKuen and many others, and in general was a very active and accomplished producer.  I was in good company and seemingly well-received.  Now, a trip to Paris isn’t usually tough to take, but this seemed the Crème brûlée to me!  Nobody could say I wasn’t trying either. 

Turn this ON for shared tips to Artists, DJ Tributes . . .

and OPEN this door for more about HeatherSongs! 

In 1986 Kurt and I vacationed in France with another couple.  This era was technologically pre-web, and I wanted to prepare for the rare trip abroad by researching music marketing ops.  I purchased an international music industry guide, scouring Paris offices.  In Paris, relying on high school French minus a refresher, I cold called.  This was hilarious as, unknown to me, Paris was in process of area code changes so I was not really reaching numbers in my valued directory.  Not fully conversant in French,  I quickly went on (in French) about how I sing and write songs – and did they know English?  Luckily patient recipients politely inquired “pourquoi”?


Read about the WaterWheel  in

MUSIC OF LIFE and help! 

Collaberation and ALBUM 7

Generous support from the very accomplished

                                                                          First album released at CDBaby PRO LEVEL  . . . meaning HeatherSong elects to

                                                                  make CDBaby her PUBLISHING RIGHTS ADMINISTRATOR internationally.          

                                                                  HeatherSong has long been affiliated with BMI, but CDBaby will enhance

                                                                                             BMI functions and beyond.

I hired Doug Cotler to produce four of my originals in 1984.  Album 7 releases three; I plan to release the fourth.  It was an honor to be invited into sessions to dynamically interact with Doug’s accomplished musicians.  This "creative courtesy" was not necessarily typical of producers.  Doug seemed to have regard for creatives.  I appreciate that and am so pleased with results.

The following describes the extent of my collaboration. In the 80s in Los Angeles, songwriters were encouraged to collaborate. The theory was that this would improve marketing attempts through shared interests. Networking ops.  As a prolific writer, I minimally experimented with this approach by inviting a writer in after my song was basically written.  I asked them for chords to add color and drama to the song.  Also, since Doug preferred sheet music for musicians and I’m not reliable there, my chosen collaborator could maybe cover that?  So I did two songs in this fashion with Rob Michaels, one being PLAY A LONELY STRING.  My first shared copyright (chords) is with Barney Malin.  He produced/performed a fine production (hope to release it soon) of YOU USE ME UP.  I did a more typical collaboration in the 80s with Edward Montes for WEATHER REPORT.  Edward orchestrated a smooth production and we got lots of interest, coming very close to success.  Minus details, at one point I had a contract from the famous TREE PUBLISHING on my desk for this song.  Edward approached me with his tune already underway, and I contributed substantial theme, words and music.  We were proud of our collaboration which was well received at Los Angeles Songwriters’ Showcase, LASS (Len Chandler and John Braheny), where I held professional status, volunteered, and was offered their office manager position which I had to decline given my new focus.  

    We're out of touch, Robert Michaels and Edward Montes.  Please contact me?

PLAY A LONELY STRING is one of my strongest songs, and has received high praise from high places.  I own previous versions, but this is its first release.  It has been submitted for projects, coming again very close.  Doug Cotler showed thoughtful interest in my writing when he inquired specifically about the writing of this song.  I conveyed to him my “fashionable” experimentation at the time.  He politely took me into his living room to show me his mantel-featured GRAMMY just won for co-writing MANHUNT for FLASHDANCE.  At which point he deliberately suggested I write alone.  I was truly touched by his careful message and understood its wisdom.  My few collaborations were fun and successful, not problematic – and the writers were wonderful.  In fact, Rob’s first remark was that the song was already done and didn’t need his touch.  It was me who did the convincing, and I am historically a big fan of gorgeous, creative chords.  Yes, I love jazz, and know a chord book can do me wonders.  But Doug’s getting me to re-focus was not the first time I’d heard that writing emphasis.


My guitarist friend and I were the only Caucasians among the talent at the time.  And I was nobody’s girlfriend either – we were all there for the cause of music!  Dick was active trying to regenerate the long neglected DETROIT ORCHESTRA HALL.  The company performed on TV I’M HERE FOR GOOD for Bill Packer’s Packer Pontiac car campaign celebrating Bill’s determination to stay in Detroit in the face of the flight fashion.  Poor, beloved Detroit can’t shake these car industry problems easily as things are far more challenging today.  Our troupe was to fly out to Los Angeles to appear on the FLIP WILSON show, and I witnessed the exuberant announcement.  My brief experiences with Dick’s company were positive, inspiring and interesting.  Supportive and memorable.  In his career, Dick was Berry Gordy's right-hand man, road manager to the Supremes, manager of New Kids On the Block – with many more accomplishments that involved Boyz II Men, Patti Austin, James Ingram and others.  At the historic Pasadena Playhouse in California, Dick’s 1996 production of Sisterella was the most successful in 80 years there. Much more recently in Portland I saw Martha Reeves apply high energy to her hits like HEAT WAVE and DANCING IN THE STREET at Jimmy Mak's. In line for a cd and signed photo, I mentioned I had been with Dick Scott's company. All eyes gravitated to me in disbelief and a "you were?" -- it was clear they all knew Dick Scott. 

Dick died in 2006 in Los Angeles.  Thank you, Mr. Dick Scott, and I shall never forget!

Cold Calling in Paris: Bonjour?​

This Page to be continued . . .