Episode 85: It's Got to be a Great Song

Jul 05, 2023

 Episode 85: It's Got to be a Great Song

There’s a misconception that great production can make up for a bad song.  Guest host Josh Doyle and Mike Meiers  debunk the myth and  emphasize the importance of a strong starting point.

Especially in the fast-paced realm of music licensing, it's easy to overlook the fundamental role that the song itself plays. 

In this episode Josh and Mike chat on the telltale signs of a great song,  how you can identify those hidden gems as well as insightful tips and strategies to help you hone your discerning ear.

Let’s set the record straight!


Listen here or read the transcript below...

Hey, friends, Mike Meiers here with the Songwriting for Guitar Podcast, episode number 85: It's Got to be a Great Song. In this episode, we got the one and only Josh Doyle back for his 400th. Which I love Josh, you know how he's been one of the biggest mentors to me. So and he's one of our coaches. So it makes sense. He's been back a lot. And in this episode, we're going to talk about a great song. Yes, literally just that a great song. You know, in the world of licensing, which Josh and I are in a lot. There's this myth that I, you know, just has to be some good production, or I'll do some extra things, the song doesn't really matter. And it's just, it could be a bit. It's not that but no, it has to be a good song. And we talked about that all before production all before all the extra stuff, a part of it. Ask yourself, is the song really good? What are signs? The songs really good? And if not, what do you do about that? So this episode, we're going to talk all about that and more. So let's dive into it. Episode number 85. It's got to be a great song.

The return of Josh Doyle, this is your 29th return to the podcast. It's

Josh Doyle 1:53
like SNL, it's like gonna be me and Heather Taylor in a small room, John Belushi.

Mike Meiers 2:00
John Goodman, I think has the he has like, I think he's, he's hosted 12 times. Yeah, maybe more than that. And I'm like, really? I'm like, wow, John Goodman. Okay. But that's not what we're here to talk about. I feel like we've talked a lot about, you know, co writing, we've talked about dissecting briefs, we've talked about, you know, the relationship into, you know, how we've communicated and how we've collaborated. But it ultimately comes back a lot of those things. The song. Yeah, and this is like the bare bones, the essential part like the the health and structure of your song production is not going to cure that

Josh Doyle 2:39
there's like, rarely going to be a point where you can write a bad song in production is going to just turn it all around. Why do people think that because it's hard, and it's easier just to hand it off to the producer and be like, they're gonna polish this and make it sound like the thing. But no, it has to be a great song. And so,

Mike Meiers 2:59
if that means it has to be a great song, when we talk about the idea of references, when we talk about, it's like, that's why you need that at the front end the beginning. And you kind of have to use that as your, your, your guide your map, because if you're not, especially if you have any aspirations, of, you know, making money, like, I think as soon as money comes into the thing, if you're making it purely out of joy, pleasure, the just the art for the sake of rings, that's cool. Like, you can have the standards that you feel you need to but immediately when you go like, well, I want money for this, I want this to be used, you know, in TV and film, I want this to be used here, then, then there's a playbook.

Josh Doyle 3:43
The tricky thing is, is like knowing like when, when have you written a great song? And when is it ready to go off to the producer, like what things can, what things can be dealt with in in that production phase. And kind of like the struggle that I always had, and I think this is worth talking about is knowing when like adding those gang vocals in the production is really going to make that chorus pop. And when you're really just kind of making excuses for yourself of writing up a poor melody for your chorus. And I've done this to where I'm like, I want this chorus to be huge. I want it to land and big gang vocals big moments. And I'm thinking okay, if we just stack like 20 vocals, that'll do it. And then I've been in you know, obviously I'm producer songwriter, I've gotten try that and I'm like, You know what, this is just not a great hook. It's a hook that's failing here.

Mike Meiers 4:41
That takes a level of, you know, quieting of the ego. Yeah, to to be like, that's not a good melody. Like it's not gonna like who am I kidding? Like, it's not really it doesn't work. But knowing when like, okay, you know what, that is a great melody, anything did I do to it here with a group set is just going to enhance it. Yeah, to get there, you have to write a lot. And you have to be, but you also have to be actively engaged in it. That's the thing to not necessarily detached way,

Josh Doyle 5:15
right. And honestly, like 100%, you have to fail, you have to like, like, what to your point, like, you have to write a lot, and you have to have some failures. So that you can, I mean, just for example, like this, like idea of like, I want my chorus to be big with like big gang vocals and stuff like that. Like, you could write a really catchy chorus, melody, and it could just be super busy, and just not lend itself to like, because the more gang vocals you put on the more vocal stacks, especially if you're trying to go after that big bar yell kind of energy. If your melodies too busy and moving all over the place, that just not gonna work, it's just gonna be a hot mess. And even though you've written a great hook, you've got to write a great hook that like a bunch of drunken, drunken people at a bar can all sing along to, you know,

Mike Meiers 6:06
not stumble over each other and what they're saying, Oh, that is, but I mean, even what you're describing their TOS envisioning that the value of someone that's producing and being part of the songwriting process, and they're in the ground floor, and helping shape it to make that process easier to foresee, like, what it's going to be, and ultimately help guide the others that are riding with them to ultimately the end result. And you know, when they get a great production, they're like, oh, this works perfectly? Well, it's because at the very forefront at the beginning, while you were writing you were thinking about that, a lot of people don't always do that.

Josh Doyle 6:46
No. And how many times can we say, because this is difficult, this is hard, it's hard to like, be thinking about, you know, making your, your chords and the way that you're playing your guitar part as catchy as possible. And then think about your, your melody, and then your lyrics, and then envisioning, okay, how is this gonna be produced? And what kind of layers are they going to put on to it? It's a lot of steps. But it's, it's one of those things where like, you have to like get, what are the say, like, you have to get in the, in the woods. And then you have to step back and look at the forest. And then you have to get in the woods and step back and look at it. It's like the stage of like, an even when I'm co writing with people, I'll get in there, I'll get in the nitty gritty get surgical. And then just like while they're working on, they're saying, Just give me man, I've got this idea. That's when I'll like, I'll be sitting here being quiet. And I'll be thinking, Okay, what's this? Like? What have we done here? Like, how is this gonna work in the production? And are we heading in the right direction? And sometimes I have to be that bearer of bad news of like, you know, what, we've been writing this melody, not at the BPM that we aimed for, we've slowed this down. And if we now sing this at the BPM, it's just too wordy. It's too much, you know, so.

Mike Meiers 8:00
So what you're describing there, too, is like understanding ownership of your roles. Because you're all songwriters, everyone is in charge, the end result of a great song. Yeah, you're kind of at the helm to understanding like, Okay, this is the end result that we want. Because it may be a little like, Oh, we've got to rewrite this now. But it in the short term, it may be a little annoying in the long term, it's gonna be way better, because like, Nothing's worse than like, you know, you build out a production somebody goes, could I move that down five bpm. But you can't, because like, if you've recorded a lot, you can't it's not easy to just like, you know, just move it out.

Josh Doyle 8:42
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And it's, it's that like, what you just touched on there for a second of like, I forget exactly, just phrased it, but the idea of the frustration of having to like write a song and then do the rewriting, and then then tweak this and tweak this all before it goes into production, that that feeling that frustration, that kind of disappointment, of like, kind of having to rework this idea, even when you thought it was fine. That feeling is going to happen if you don't do that. It's just gonna happen after the production is done, and you're gonna be disappointed that this thing did not turn out the way that you hoped. So you need it's kind of like, eat your vegetables now so that you can like have your dessert later.

Mike Meiers 9:27
Oh, that is I didn't even think of that the idea of like, you're just avoiding the disappointment and the question is do you want it now? Or are you going to have it later where it's too late? Like you know, which one do you want? And I feel like someone that takes ownership goes like you know, if we do this now yeah, I'm not happy with it. Neither can communicate that to to their CO writers like hey, I'm not crazy about either, but they can say here's why if we do this now, it's gonna be way easier. And then when they get to the finalized product, everybody's happy and everybody's like, overjoyed. Like, oh, man, you know, I'm so glad we did that. I feel like I I've had conversations. I'm glad we did this because now I'm happy, as opposed to the verse like, Man, I wish we would have done that. And if only we had known if only somebody had warned us,

Josh Doyle 10:10
right. And that kind of the whole BPM thing that you were talking about, like, as a producer, the person that's like running the DA, that's like, my least favorite thing to do is to have to like go and re record at a new BPM because you didn't get it right the first time. I hate it. But man in terms of like, just eating my vegetables and just doing it, because I know it's going to end in a better result. Because if I don't, I'm just going to be disappointed. I know that I have to do this difficult thing now. And yeah, so the songwriters out there who are like, you know, think that your producers, giving you all the tasks, like sometimes the producer is like, has to be the one to like, do the unfun thing,

Mike Meiers 10:51
I feel, it's also a little bit of the, you know, I'm trying to think of the best way not like, we always say like steering the ship, that producer, it's like, if you're going to produce, you kind of have to be involved in all the aspects, even the ones you may not necessarily enjoy the most. Right? You if you're going to take on that role, and you're going to take that on, you have to be if you're like, I don't like the songwriting process that much. But a lot of the issues are going to come up early on in those stages, you better enjoy being there. You mentioned something before we hit record, and I never thought of this kind of like what the producers role, you know, from a label standpoint, what the producer does, and how they're the ones that are held accountable,

Josh Doyle 11:32
thinking of like how the music industry is run for, you know, the last 100 years. And, yeah, typically, like it's the major label, who hires the producer to produce their artist, and the producer can't say, can't come back to the label and say, like, Oh, I'm sorry, you don't like the lyrics or I'm sorry, you don't like the melody. I didn't write that. You know, it's they don't care. They hired the producer to deliver a great hit song, you know, whatever, whatever they're looking for. And it's that producers role to like, make sure it stays in budget, make sure that the song is as strong as possible. I mean, if you've listened to what was that, that Santana, the biggest Santana's song from with Matchbox 20, Rob Thomas singing on it, it was a monster hit monster hit that I can't remember the title right now. But anyway, there's a story of how many times that song had to be rewritten before the label. It was some smooth, smooth, there you go. It's smooth. Yeah. So Santana is smooth, that song had to be rewritten. And it changed like songwriters, so many times change producers, like all kinds of things until it got done. And these are like a list people that it like, got taken away from handed to another like guy with 100 hits. And then another person was brought in just it. It's not easy, even at the highest levels of the highest performing people. It it takes a lot of rewriting and refocusing,

Mike Meiers 13:03
and just really dialing like, you know, one producer that I love is like the late Jerry Finn, if you think of like everything he like, did you know rancid out come the wolves he mixed green days, Dookie, but when it came, he was like the third member of like blink when or the the fourth member of Blink 182 Because like, all their super, super high level successful albums he produced and he was kind of like, like anima the state Take off your pants, a jacket, self titled One, the whole thing. Wow, he was very much in the kind of like, in the stages of writing, guiding vocally and direction and all that and pushing a producer is kind of that person that rallies everybody together to make sure that the whole thing works. And that's why being involved in that songwriting process is so important. And why producers probably do like pre production. Yeah, because it's like, before we even get to the realm of like working on stuff. Can I just see how this sounds and like,

Josh Doyle 14:09
you know, when we were talking about how many aspects there are to just songwriting when you're trying to like N Get a end result, you know, writing at the right tempo, making sure that your singers singing in the most optimum key so that when their voice breaks and that cool way, it's like, it's that moment, you know, so many things, you know, writing syncopated melodies in the style that you're going for. There's so many things that can easily be forgotten about or not enough attention is paid to that, that that's where that producer in the pre production are just being involved in that. Just kind of having that that perspective of like, oh, this is great. You did a lot of really cool things here. But I think you lost focus on this aspect. Let's go back and re rework this a little bit.

Mike Meiers 14:53
It has to be because otherwise I don't know. That's where I I don't think everyone's on the same page. Yeah, and that's really important before anything's recorded. So it's like, you know, the producers there, but the, the singer, the artists, they have to be involved and understood, even if they're just like, I don't do production. But to understand some of the visions, some of the things that are going to be flying, it's, I feel like in the writing stages, too, if it's not clear, that's where a breakdown happens. And when you get, you know, somebody presents a song. In the end, it feels disjointed, there was some sort of breakdown early on that you could probably find back at the writing stages, like, oh, that's where it kind of just veered off and it didn't like take shape the way it should.

Josh Doyle 15:37
Yeah. And in one of your other episodes, I think the one that you did with Heather Taylor, and she was kind of like asking you questions, you really drove home the point of communicating with your co writer and really making sure that everybody really is going after the same goal. And that nothing's like kind of implied, like, I think they get what we're going after, you know, like that. That's like, because then like your you and your co writer are really writing two separate songs.

Mike Meiers 16:07
Yeah. And you end up just getting something you're not crazy about. And they realize you, it seems like, as we're going through this, people are like, Wow, sounds like auto or it sounds like it's like, yeah, but you understand, it's also saving you a ton of work on that back end, and wasted time, man with an end result that you don't even want. Yeah, and it's like, it seems like it is. But actually what happens too, is like if you do that again, and you can be okay with being like you write a song, and then you realize, like, it's not right for production. And it's just like, it's just not a good song. Yeah, that's okay. That's alright. I think a lot of people are not okay with that. Because they're like, whether it's like, they just want it so bad. They just want it now. And then it's just like, it's got to happen, it's got to happen. So they produce it out. And they do that, and that's okay. But it's like, you could also just write another one with that person, and then produce it and then go like, well, that's not that song. Let's do it again. Let's do it. Let's repeat the process. I think people are so, so quick to show all the songs so early on where I'm like, You need to just not

Josh Doyle 17:14
right. Like, I'm a big fan of taking pieces of like writing a bunch of songs. And taking pieces of like this chorus and matching you up with this verse that I wrote three days later, that whole thing because you think about the odds of like, the this like purest idea of like songwriting, and like, I'm going to sit down, I'm going to write this three and a half minute song all in one go. And that is going to be the song that you're going to string together the best verse idea, the best chorus idea, the best bridge, and it's all going to just happen. It doesn't happen like that. And it's so difficult if it ever does. It's a miracle. So I'm a big fan of like writing several songs. Yeah. And and like being like, ooh, this chorus is really strong. Let's match that up with this. Like I said, you know, this other verse, or this other bridge from, like, two months ago, I'm always like saving lyric ideas or melody ideas. And piecing things together,

Mike Meiers 18:09
right with intention, but write another and then do then write it again, and then write another one and write another one. Because through repetition, it's bound to get better. Yeah. Because I can also hear in my voice, some people that are like, but Mike, I do, you know, I just make the track and I wait for a top liner. And I get that I've had some songs where it's like, you know, I build out then they do the top line, that's great. But I feel like I can do that. Now, after writing a whole bunch of songs and a whole bunch of productions of then building a formula. I think, if I did that way too early. Yeah. Those for the it's just what it just be bad. Because then that was me to missing an opportunity to be engaged in the writing process. It's too easy for me to just be like, Wow, just, I'm not gonna be set and just like, you know, washing my hands of it and leaving it up and not guiding them on the melodies on because I realized, even when I have a top letter, I'm still being like, hey, I really like some heart. I'm guiding where I want the harmonies and direction. I'm not necessarily like everything you give me, I shall throw it.

Josh Doyle 19:15
Yeah. No, that's, that's a great point. Like, and I think there's a lot of, and it's easy to be insecure, there's a lot of insecurity about, you know, a co writer, giving feedback on an area that they're weak in, right, like, say that there's somebody that's like, Oh, I am horrible at writing lyrics. And, you know, God bless you for acknowledging that. But you know, like, I'm just really not, I don't enjoy it. I'm not strong at it. But you are allowed to say, those lyrics are cliche, and I think that we can do better. You know, and the one thing that I always try to do is if I'm going to critique something, or suggest something's not working, I try to at least come to the table with an idea. Like don't don't just be that person. Like, Oh, that sucks. And that's no good, right? Like just being like Pooh poohing on everybody's ideas. So like, at least like, come to the table with, you know, you might not be able to replace it with like, the best lyric line, for example, but you shouldn't be able to be like, Alright, I think this is too cliche. Could we write? Can we try something else? Maybe from a different angle? Like come to the table with something? Yeah. Yeah,

Mike Meiers 20:23
it's challenging. It's just kind of also challenging yourself to grow a little bit. Because you realize, like, Oh, if I grow a little bit more melodically in this area, let's say it's melody that you're weakened. If I grow melodically, I'll know how to communicate more effectively to a co writer, what they need. And I feel like a co writer that wants to grow with you, is willing to be like, Oh, you mean data, data? Get on the language and the terminology? Oh, yeah, that's what I mean, cool. Now you've got that info so that you can share with you know them again and with other people that you are going to collaborate with. But like if you're more engaged in the process with them, as opposed to seeing it as such a separate, transactional detached way. I feel like a lot of the songs that have worked well, a lot of it was kind of like working on, you know, just the bare bones, the essentials of the song together to where we were all like, yeah, that's in a good place. Yeah. Because the ones that I look back that I've struggled with, there wasn't a lot of that because either they were you know, I was like, Hey, let's bam. I don't know if and, and so it was just like, Oh, no wonder nothing really, or I'm not really motivated. Yeah, crazy about that song.

Josh Doyle 21:36
Yeah. So so much that I agree with there that, you know, if it was like a three way call, right, let's say and, you know, you've got somebody in the in the group that's strong with melodies, somebody who's strong with lyrics, and then somebody who's great with, like, chords and progressions and stuff you want, like, it's kind of like they're all doing their own, like quality assurance on the song. Yeah. You know, because like me as like, the chord guitar guy. I might not really be passionate or knowledgeable, or whatever about melody or lyrics. So I want them kind of like checking in on it. And everybody should be really using their powers to make sure things are working.

Mike Meiers 22:19
I love that idea of quality control, because I think of I've been binging on little clips of like, Hell's Kitchen. And you think of it in the kitchen there stations. Yeah. And they all have to be communicating with each other. And when they're when it always falls the shit or Gordon blows up. Because you're not he's I feel like the one thing he was like, communicate with each other like he's really set. You've got to tell me how many more minutes until this? How many more seconds in this? Where are we in that stage? Yeah, that is the fundamental the core of the song has to be communicating. Cool. You're the melody chords person. Awesome. How's it shaping? How are you feeling is working with the melody? Is it working with? Or do you feel like, is it kind of like stuck? Does it feel like it feels a little forced that you know, don't be afraid to say like, even if you don't know the words of melodically what needs to happen? say like, Hey, I feel like something's up with this. Maybe it's on my Can we just go through that? Yeah. Because that's sort of openness to being like, hey, let's also start to fix some of this, like, get the initial idea out, and then go through and then let's start to kind of like, look at the sections, transitions, is everything flowing? Can we play through it? That's another big thing that I realized a lot of people don't do. I'm like, Hey, could you just play through your song? And then they kind of like, look at each other, like, you know, well, you know, we, we, that that, to me is a huge red flag. You can't walk through neither nobody can. So that means something's not sticking. Something's not staying with it. Yeah. And you really got to think about that ground floor. And you have to think about that idea. I know, we've talked about briefs, but like, cool, if we're writing for a brief or we're writing, let's say we were starting to accumulate briefs and we're starting to like now build a library. The writing phase of that really has to be dedicated. I feel like you drilled that into me when I was doing all those half songs, that I got more into a habit of just just writing cool. Writing cool. Writing again, and just you know, what I thought wasn't possible, which was like writing a whole bunch because I thought that's like, that's a lot. Yeah, I was surprised that once you start writing and you start having a lens in which you're kind of like, okay, is it like the brain? No, it's not bad, but like I can do better. Cool. Let's do it again. How much that can make your future songs so much better.

Josh Doyle 24:48
I love that and man, so much stuff I want to touch on there. So one thing going back a second. Then I want to talk about the brief thing, that idea of like communicating when you know one person is saying, you know, like, kind of checking in with other co writer, and just having that exactly what you said, like that vulnerable kind of conversation of like, I really want this chorus to again, you know, like kind of hit hard. I want it to be this big moment and I just don't feel like it is, what do you think? Can you? You know, can you help me figure this out? And then at that point, you really have to be open to them saying, Well, I think it's because you're landing on this chord, it's not my melody. And it might be your fault. Or you know what I mean? Like, or it might be theirs, it totally might be and you can try their idea. And but basically, like, if you really want to solve the problem, you have to be open to the idea that it might be something on you,

Mike Meiers 25:45
I love that. I feel like people need to sit with that for a second. Like, it might be you. That's okay. And I think that's, that's the sign of someone that's, like totally mature in their songwriting, and just their confidence of like, you're right. It might be me. It might be something I'm doing, I may have to just like, you know, and being okay with that, if you can get into that space. Oh, man, that's where it's like you're gonna, you're gonna be fine.

Hey, it's Mike. And I just wanted to jump in the middle of this podcast to ask you this question. Have you ever struggled to get a great demo? Have you even outsourced this and you know, when to other people, you spend a lot of money and you get it back and you're like, I don't think this is worth it. Listen, at this day and age, you need to be doing your own demos. There's so much technology at your hands. And you've probably searched YouTube looking for examples, but you went down this rabbit hole and you're even more confused. What I want you to do is go to songwriting for guitar.com and look at our free trading series dot 101 With Madeline Finn now Madeline is one of our coaches, and extremely amazing songwriter, you know, she's racked up over 24 million, yes, million streams on Spotify. She's had multiple placements. Plus, she was a top 70 contestant in American Idol. So she knows a thing or two when it comes to music. And she has a great series Breaking down the process. So you can start doing your own demos from home. This is kind of your go to where you don't need anything else. So go to songwriting for guitar.com Scroll down to our free training series and click da 101. All right, so let's jump back into the episode

Josh Doyle 27:41
this just popped in my head when you were saying this. So when I first started writing to briefs and started pitching my songs, I remember distinctly when I would send out these songs, I would be thinking man, I hope they get to the chorus because it's really the chorus. It's really the chorus that is matching this brief my my verses kind of garbage, I hope they just skip over that or I'll put like, I'll put a little thing of like chorus starts with 30 seconds. Please listen to that. Ignore everything else. I had so many songs that were like that of like, Oh, I hope they listen. Like the verse really fits my chorus is garbage here I you know, like that kind of thing. That is a great like talking about like just writing a bunch and learning from those feelings. Yeah, and like the next time you do that, and you're like man, I've I want to pitch a song, where they can just start at the beginning, they can just start at the beginning of the song and I am completely confident that they are going to just that they could use the intro, they could use the verse, they could use the chorus, bam, bam, bam, just strong, strong, strong. That's when I really started getting kind of obsessed with really good song writing. And not just saying like, Oh, it's just a bridge. It's just, you know, it's just a verse, my chorus is really what they're gonna be using. That's when like I've really started having successes is when I at the at the songwriting level, I could write really strong parts and then the production just really took off to

Mike Meiers 29:10
I feel like we've talked about one side of it, which is kind of the insecurities people are worried about, like if I don't take owner you know, all of this so, and then there's the other side, which I think is laziness, which is just like trying to relinquish control like, oh, this I did my part. It's you know, if you're gonna get your percent you got to do your thing. And so if it screws up and it doesn't work out, it's not my fault. I did this part. That's all it's just like that is like putting someone under the bus or just like here, let me help you bobbing for apples a hold your head down really? Like it's that sort of, especially if you're saying you're the producer. And then you're going in and I'm like, Well, you know, and you know, are there some harmonies and you know, bla bla bla bla bla, well, I got I got this top liner to do it. Okay, did you give them instruction? Well, I just let them do their thing. It's just like, oh, no, you know, you got, you know, I don't have kids. But if I had like a kid at home, and I was like, what do they have for dinner? I don't know, I just let them go in the kitchen, they'll figure it out. It's that sort of detachment, that I'm like, Oh, that's not gonna be good, then

Josh Doyle 30:15
the thing that has always helped me is just being in service of the song. Like, that is all I really care about. I just want to make a great song. I don't care if I didn't write a bit of it, or I don't care what role I have to play, somebody else produces it, somebody else writes the melody. Yeah, whatever role I need to take to, like, make this song great. I just, I just want that thing to exist, you know, and the ego or the it's not my fault. Yeah, like they did it. They did this part that you don't like, I kind of don't care. Like, I just want the song to be great. And like, you talked about kids, like, I feel like it's that thing where like, one kid comes up to the parents, like, they did this and they pulled my hair out. And the parent is just like, I just don't care, I want you to just get along. All I want is this thing to go well, and

Mike Meiers 31:17
but that's what's ultimately going to cause a good song to do well,

Josh Doyle 31:21
that's what everybody is doing that if everybody's in service of the song, if everyone

Mike Meiers 31:25
is in service of the song, you are going to be fine. Because you're either all going to admit we need to write another one. This wasn't bad. But you know what, in the general scheme of things, it's maybe not gonna hold up so but you know, what we're working really well with. That was great communication. We're building something. So let's keep on going. Yeah, or you're gonna write a song, you guys this is great, is clear. I find like anytime that if I take on a new project, like I took on one recently, because they had written a great song, like they had written just like, it was a good song. And it was Ariel, who was in the mastermind, she kept on writing with this, Kirsten and bringing them in. And I'm like, her voice is awesome. Like, the structure of the song is awesome. Like, they were bringing me these barebone demos of just like guitar vocal, and I'm like, or piano and I'm just like, that is, that is fucking awesome. Who's producing this? Oh, we don't have any one produced. I'm like, you know, can we, you know, work on this. Because I think this is really good. It was just clear that they were clear on their structure and their roles that it was anyone who listened to it was like, visibly could tell, oh, wow, this is really good. And they were open to the present. And it was like, that's where I feel like I can be the serve the most and bring the you know, my goal was to just like, the song was already awesome. I just want to try to like, amplify it a little bit more and bring out even, you know, highlight the best parts even more. And the best part should just be the whole song not just the part. It should be the whole song.

Josh Doyle 33:02
Yeah, you're that's exactly why when you can write the great song. Like, it's gonna be easier to find a producer because you know what I mean? Like you write a great song. I, I can to anybody out there that thinks that like, you know, whoever. I don't know, maybe the coaches are a little bit harsh. And we're just always like, nitpicking and blah, blah, blah. And we just love like, torturing you guys out there. No, one ever present Exactly. Like Mike, I want to be surprised. I want to be excited about like, I want this song to be great.

Mike Meiers 33:36
I think you're just reiterating to Yeah, it's just like, when I see someone that you know, in this case, it was in the mastermind. I was just like, I knew every time that we had a listening session, she brought another song that she had written with her. And I was just like, yeah, it's gonna be kind of I was like, Is this the same one that your last time I love her voice? And she was like, yeah, it is. And I'm like, and you know what, when she can't, she lived in Nashville. And so when I read to record vocals, she came here. It was so easy. Like, the voice that I heard in that demo, was the voice that she would do on the first take the second time. And I was just like, This is great. And I'd be like, Hey, could you give me like a third? And she was like, yeah, like this? And it'd be like, Yeah, that's exactly. And it's just like, That, to me is where it's like, oh, this is gonna be really good. Like, this is exciting, because, like, I feel like I'm, I can't believe they're letting me be a part like, this is like, this is gonna be really good. And now the song is like, you know, and I'm like, Cool. Let's move on to the next one. You know, send me another one. Because I know that they've got a good process, because at the heart of it, it's a great song. And I can see kind of what you said, like I can be there and see the tree, but then I can back away I can see the whole forest and where it needs to go, because they're visibly clearer on their roles and their parts. And it's not a harshness when we tell someone to write again, because we want to be like, holy cow. I can't believe it. That is amazing. I like we did a listening session. I remember I think it was Sarah jealous. She brought in one that was just like guitar vocal. She was like, Yeah, I just recorded vocals. It was awesome. Like, it was just like it was just again. It doesn't have to be a crazy demo, it could just be. And I think in the beginning, that's good to just have a very sketched out view of the song. Because then you can, it's a lot more easy to maneuver parts around, as opposed to the whole thing's built and be like, Okay, let's move this.

Josh Doyle 35:34
Yeah, I mean, honestly, I mean, I know that you're like this to, like, so many great songs that I've gotten to work on, have just been voice memos. The first time I heard it, yeah. And you can tell everything that you need to know if it's well performed. And the in the vision is clear, you can tell exactly what you need from whether it's gonna be good or not. From a voice memo. Yeah, you know,

Mike Meiers 35:57
that's right. Like the ones we did with Maddie, I just sent you all three. And that was just a day where she just came over, and was like, let's just write and we just, we ate food. We hung out. And we're like, let's write another one. Let's write another one. Let's read another one. Yeah, and that was it.

Josh Doyle 36:12
Taking a step back when we're talking about, you know, everybody being in service of the song, and it's like you and a co writer, what happens? And how do you handle it when, say, you think that this song could be better, like things need to be improved, but maybe your co writer, this is the best thing that they've ever written? And they just see like, oh, man, this is I'm like, at the peak of my game right here. But the other person is like, no, no, we could get this better, this could be stronger. And there's that kind of lack of vision between the two?

Mike Meiers 36:46
That's a good question. Okay. So if I feel like, okay, they're, they're performing at their peak right now, like, what I mean is like that, they're all the knowledge they've consumed. They're utilizing it, but they've got a long way to go in terms of like, growth. My question is, do I see them continuing to grow? Do I think they're going to consume, you know, they're going to advance like, you know, they're going to go to, whenever I hear that someone's gone to a conference that they've gotten, they've traveled somewhere they've taken, they're doing this they're implementing, I can see that they're actually making time, I'm like, okay, they're gonna do fine, because they're really bettering themselves. So if I looked back, and I see that they've been doing that, and they're on track to do that, I would just be patient and be like, cool. Let's read another one. Let's do another song, let's do another song. I could go like, Hey, let's go back to this one. Or I could be like, You know what, maybe this is just their first kind of like, this will help them for the next couple that we write that maybe the next one, maybe not the next one, maybe not the next one. But maybe that third one, that's the one where I'm going to be like, there we go, we've gotten to a rhythm flow, they get a little bit more comfortable with me. And so they start taking a little bit more chances vocally, or whatever the role was. So it's like, I have to also not only see, you know, the vision of the song, but I have to see like the vision of the person if they are going to be growing? Or do I get a sense that they're going to turn off the FOSS? Like, you know, cool, I've done it. And now just wait. Because I think a lot of people do that. They're like, Oh, I did you know, I did this one, you know, I did two sessions with so and so. And I'm like, Cool. When are you doing the next two? Oh, no, no, no, that's good. I really feel like you've scraped the full amount of knowledge from it. Is that what you really think it's because the people that have done really well have literally invested 1000s upon 1000s upon 1000s of dollars. And as they grow, the next investment that they take is basically like, all of their past investments in one like, you know, like, maybe they've invested, you know, 8000 in their career, well, this next opportunity that they're going to, it's 8000 for like that weekend or that thing, it's like, yeah, the the investment, just the anti gets higher. If that person is okay with it, then I'm willing to work with them. If they are, if they are not like that, and they're almost like I've I've now stopped. This is as much as I will, is probably not going to be good. No, I

Josh Doyle 39:17
completely agree. I also think that it's on, like a related topic to that, that some things that I consider is maybe we're writing the wrong song for their skill set. Oh, yeah. You know, and we're trying and that's happened, you know, that whole thing of like, you get a brief where they're like, We want like, a Scottish lullaby, whatever, you know, it'll pay $3 million. And you're like, we've got to write to this. Do you know anything about Scottish? All right, nope, let's do it. You know, and basically, like, you know, that's an exaggeration, but you could be writing the wrong song with the wrong person. And you might hear that it needs to be Improve, but they, they're they're trying their best, but they just don't write well in that style. So, you know, what are you gonna do?

Mike Meiers 40:07
I love the you know, that's. So it's like, yeah, they could be the wrong top liner for it or it's like, you want to write a pop song but you got to producer that does like local singer songwriters. And so it's just like, they're not going to get the and then you're like why does this feel like a singer songwriters? What do they do? Are they they've done some local singer songwriter cool Have they ever done? You know anything that's like, you know the you know that you know Jackie had turned off kind of stop Ah, no, he doesn't know who that is. Okay, then why would you expect? It's like going to McDonald's and being like I was here for healthy food? How? Like, that's not the purpose. That's interesting. It's just like, it's not that they're not good, but just the role is not what they're meant to be. That's, oh, yeah.

Josh Doyle 40:55
I like and that's what, that's why. And I know that you and I have talked about this like that. Like our phone is filled with a bunch of like, really talented people in a bunch of different styles. Yeah. And we are careful about who we call, we might love working with person A and they've got an amazing voice. But we're writing in this other thing. And we need somebody different, you know, so just Yeah, yeah, there's a lot of there's a lot of ways that the song, the songwriting process can feel like you're hitting your head against a wall and just being aware of what is what is tripping up the process, as you're doing it is going to be helpful.

Mike Meiers 41:35
And that it just makes total sense. Because all of these things that we're talking about are just taken care of in the initial songwriting. Exactly. We're not saying like, Oh, this is totally a mixing thing. Oh, this is totally when you're learning like stalking? No, we're like, hey, this isn't the ground floor. So it's like, the whole point of this is, if you have been slightly present in the writing, or like, a little detached, or it's just like you haven't even, it's been an afterthought, like it or it hasn't even been a thought, this is the whole thing that's going to separate you from doing it well. And just doing it with little result. Yeah. I'm trying to think of the nice, but it's just like, because I feel people that are listening to this, or, you know, that have, you know, entertained thoughts like this, because they know, it's possible, but they're, you know, at some point, there was a kink in the chain. And it always goes back to the writing. And I just look at my own, like, Oh, why didn't that were there? The writing? It was it was just like, it just wasn't that good? Why didn't I? Why did I think production is going to like, you know, there is an old producer or what he was an engineer when we were record locally. And his name was Doug. And he was like you could always tell that he did a lot of drugs at a certain period of time. And he was the guy that would run like he was always there no matter what the you know, year that he was always there, a brother he and kind of look like Chad Kroeger from Nickelback a little bit or just like the off brand version of Chad Kroeger. But he would always say this thing where he would be like, you know, turn his chair back. You can't polish a turd. And then he was just like, but I you know, there's different sayings of it, you just heard of it, it has to be a good song. If you can't initially play me it at the beginning, like any of you are just sing a part of it. And if you enter the phrase, he gets the cord, then, you know, like something needs to be worked on.

Josh Doyle 43:41
Yeah, yeah. If you get that feeling like, no, no, just keep listening until I get to this part. If you ever, like get that feeling of like, I just want them to listen long enough to get to yeah, whatever, then you know, it needs to be reworked. It needs to be rewritten. It's not there yet. Because the bar is high, you're competing with the entire world now. We're all connected. I feel

Mike Meiers 44:01
like the bar is high. And the way to give if I were to say some some encouragement is what's going to separate you is just how committed are you to getting a good song? Are you really committed to it? Or are you just like, you love the idea of making some money or just like the end result, but like you could care less about the process. If that is the case, then this is probably not the thing but if you're like No, no, no, seriously, I want to get some than just commit yourself to just at the ground floor, being active and being a little bit more aware and thinking how can I help not just myself but the others involved in the process? How can I like help the process go even smoother? Because if all three of you are thinking that you're gonna be great, like that's going to be a great combo or two, however many are in the process.

Josh Doyle 44:59
Yeah, and being honest with yourself, the thing I always like to check in with myself is, if it meant like removing myself from this song, to make this song the best that it possibly could be, would I do that? And 100% of the time, I'm like, Yes. Like, if it meant, like, this song could be amazing if I stopped singing on it, you know, because I'm not a great singer. If I just stopped singing on this, and let somebody else do this, and it meant that, and I used to have this, this bit of ego about it, because I'm a drummer, and I'm like, I'm gonna play drums on all of my songs. And I started working with a co writer, in particular, who's an amazing multi instrumentalist, like, just complete everything really well. And I just started, let him do the drums, because he was like, Oh, I know the pattern that I need here, because I'm going to be playing bass later to this. And, you know, it, just the process, like really started to glue together because he already knew what was coming. As soon as I like, kind of removed myself. And I was like, Okay, I will now take this role when I work with this person. Yeah. And this makes the song The best. You know, like, I don't know, sometimes you just have to ask yourself,

Mike Meiers 46:08
that's a huge, I mean, just being like, oh, you know what I can, but is that the best role that I shouldn't be playing? Exactly song. And I feel like, again, a lot of those decisions all come back to just like, start off, like, still at the ground floor of the song. We're not even, you know, we haven't even tracked anything. We're just talking about that. So I think the whole point of this episode is to, like, really focus in on the ground floor, like the initial structure of the song, because any song that is doing well has a solid structure and good bones. Yeah, there's, I feel like a something really can't have longevity when it's just good. That's not bad.

Josh Doyle 46:49
It's, I'm sure, like, everybody's heard this. But I mean, there's a reason that, that whenever an artist has like a series of hit songs, though, it's not uncommon for them to release an acoustic acoustic album or an unplugged album. And those songs still sound great, just acoustic vocal, yep. You know, so like, it's that that has to be good at that,

Mike Meiers 47:13
if you feel the air horn is the only thing holding that song together. Like, just like, it needs to be there. It holds the chorus together, then it's just not gonna work. So I think the encouragement of this is just really don't if you're getting frustrated about production, if you're getting frustrated about those things, here's the thing that focus on the core, fundamental important thing, which is just the structure, the bones of your song, the ground floor, you can slowly get better with production over time, you can build those skills if you're not the best singer top laner yet, you're still you know, you know, understanding things like static conjunct disjunct, you're trying to understand melodic patterns, all that maybe your develop your Lyric style, that's great, it still comes back to just that core elements of just work at the ground floor. And build those relationships and understand your roles. communicate well, and just focus on the health of your song in the beginning. It will get better and then repeat the process and repeat the process again, we come back to the thing repeat. You gotta you gotta rinse and repeat.

Josh Doyle 48:19
Gotta rinse and repeat. I can't I can't top that.

Mike Meiers 48:25
Well, Josh, this is good. We will have you back for your 49th episode. Very, very, very soon.

Josh Doyle 48:31
I'm gonna wear my sash. I'll be ready.

Mike Meiers 48:39
Big shout out to everyone who has left us review on Apple podcasts. And if you're thinking Mike, I haven't done that yet. I remember you mentioned that and it was on my to do list but things happen. Hey, it's okay. Don't sweat it. Guess what you can do right now. You can go to Apple podcasts, find our podcasts, leave a five star review and talk about one of your favorite episodes. In fact, if you want to share it on social media to you know an Instagram story and tag us at songwriting for guitar, that would be amazing as well to just spread the word of this podcast because believe me, every little bit helps. And that does it for this week's episode. It was edited produced by Chris Mathias. I'm Mike Byers. Thanks for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai