PERHAPS THEY´LL LISTEN NOW ?
Forty years ago we were just a pair of collaborative songwriters amongst several others at our local folk clubs. Among those we hugely admired but who, like us, had careers and families to protect and so never quite chased music hard enough, were people like Ged Morgan and Bob Ashworth but perhaps only Stanley Accrington, who produced beautiful songs that were sometimes overshadowed by his comedic output, managed to sustain a folk music career of real longevity. Nevertheless, our duo that used to sing the Steve Goodman song The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over now find ourselves in the second decade of the twenty first century as members of The International Singer Songwriters Association (ISSA).
Colin Lever and I, Norman Warwick, were the duo formerly known as Lendanear, and we recently joined the Association that was founded by Tamanie Dove, a singer writer from Nashville. Tamanie, who now lives in Atlanta, provides a support system to encourage aspiring professional singers and writers of all genres of music worldwide.
With ISSA offering us many potential benefits, and being free to join, we really had nothing to lose. There seems to be almost limitless opportunity to network with fellow professionals in the music industry, and ISSA promises constant support from its administrators and our fellow members. We will be regularly updated by ISSA about events and developments throughout the entire music industry. Indeed, member Gregg Wietstock bears particular testament to this, when he speaks of one particular ISSA staff member.
´Jon KT Lindley, on the admin side of things, helps in so many ways,´ says Gregg. ´There is comfort in knowing someone who encourages, rather than discourages, a passion for work that, as an artist knows too well, is undertaken in a work place and market place that is often far from ideal.
But here is a whole community of supporters and advocates. There are some in the group who have achieved success in battling the odds, who are willing to freely help with positive, practical advice and assistance.¨
´The bare minimum, laid on the table to qualify for nomination,´ Gregg suggests, ´is an honest challenge to those who are seeking to better themselves as an artist.´
´Whether nominated or not, this necessary basic qualification elevates the participant to be recognized as serious,´ explains Gregg ´The company of others who are working for a common goal, genuinely encouraging, collaborating, empathizing, congratulating each other is so reassuring. Attending the awards show and parties, mingling with those who have achieved a certain level of success as Indie Artists is an exhilarating energy vortex that is beyond description.´
In expressing his gratitude, Gregg goes on to explain what he thinks it means to be an independent musician.
´I cannot thank ISSA and all other groups and Indie supporters enough for the new renaissance that I feel as an artist,´ he says.
´All advocates of Indie Artists need to band together in support of the artists, not compete. The name Indie means independent, it means non-exclusive, which is inclusive. An Indie artist needs to use every avenue available to overcome the imbalance of potentially accessing fans and those who would benefit and appreciate their work. Thank you ISSA for being an avenue for artists. I am excited about writing my songs again, and for that I am eternally grateful.´
Prior to forming the organisation Tamanie Dove grew up back stage at the Opry. Her mother, Carole Dove, having worked at Tree Publishing, which later became Tree International and now Sony/Tree, took little Tamanie with her everywhere, including business meetings, performances and homes of some of the most notable names in the music business.
Many years of loyal friendships with some of the most famous singers and songwriters in Nashville, the US and abroad, have been the most rewarding part of her newest conquest; beginning this new chapter to help others like her and assist those aspiring to achieve their dreams.
´Mama Dove’s´ expertise in the music business on “the row” , having worked with greats like Buddy Killen, Curly Putnam, Jack Stapp, and with clients like Roger Miller, Randy Travis, Sawyer Brown, Little Texas, Dr. Hook, Faron Young, and many more, have proven to be such a blessing and a life lesson for Tamanie. She believes in paying it forward, and does often.
Having written and recorded over a hundred original songs in the last three years, with eight albums attributed, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Her incredibly versatile and talented sound engineer and son, Matt Mercer and she have collaborated on most of her works that can be found on worldwide social media.
Tamanie wants to help everyone,…all the time. Since taking on this vision that can benefit all independent artists, she licensed its trademark and invested vast amounts of personal time and money into making sure of fairness, integrity and professionalism.
The latest ISSA theme song, a collaboration with over fifty of the Association´s worldwide member singer-songwriters, is even available for purchase on their web site and on iTunes and most major music retailers. All proceeds from the sale of this single benefit the Global Hunger Relief Fund.
ISSA member Jennifer Mlott is an award winning singer, songwriter and choreographer. Her single, Different Drummer, saw her win awards for video of the year in 2018 and only twelve months later Jennifer, from Indiana, Indianapolis, was voted the Association´s Rising Star Of The Year. She even hosts her own radio show on Indie Star Radio, called Pop ´N Country, and also undertakes a great deal of charity work. She released a Christmas CD in 2018 and her first full length album was released last month.
She has benefitted hugely from the synergies offered by ISSA and their guidance on dealing with issues such as Performing Rights, and the organisations in this field that ensures songwriters and their publishers accrue royalties whenever anyone else uses their material.
Whether a lyricist or a composer or both, all songwriters are due a royalty whenever their music is performed live or played on radio in any format, or used in TV shows or commercials. A Performing Rights Organisation (Ascap is one of the biggest in the States) collect monies due and then re-distribute the funds to affiliated songwriters and publishers. There are other agencies that similarly collect the mechanical royalties from the sales of singles and albums whether as CDs, vinyl or downloads.
There are differing views in the industry about when is the right stage of a career for a singer writer to begin copyrighting their songs. Many professional songwriters apparently do not impose copyright until a song begins to earn income, but on the other hand many not-yet professional, aspiring and emerging writers seek to copyright their material early for fear of having it ´stolen´ or plagiarised.
Another issue for songwriters to consider, of course, is how to attract a publishing deal. Becoming an integral part of the song writing community is all part of that process. Publishing companies often have their own staff writers and for a range of legal reasons cannot accept unsolicited material from known or legitimate sources such as ISSA. Publishers require songs complete with lyric and music so it is important that whenever an artist gets a chance to play a song for a publisher or song-plugger (an acknowledged expert who presents to publishers) that the song is complete and relevant to, and competitive in, the market place. In light of all this we are pleased to have now signed with the Sentric organisation of song-publishers.
Back in the day when we were working the clubs and had gigs to promote or charity events to profile, Lendanear would regularly appear on BBC Radio local stations, Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. It was doing this that inspired my desire to one day present my own show. I thought the djs we worked with like Mike Sweeney, Suzy Matthis, Ted Robbins, Jim Bowen, Sally Naden and Eamonn O´Neil, on broadcasting platforms like Radio Piccadilly and Key 103, always seemed so in charge of their own little world. When I finally started presenting my own programmes on community radio I soon realised how quickly those little worlds can fall apart, when the wrong plug is inserted into the wrong socket by this presenter too in love with the sound of my own voice to actually watch what I am doing ! In fact, when I did eventually start presenting shows on community radio outlets such as Radio Cavell and Crescent Radio Rochdale, i was struck by the industry savvy whenever young, emerging bands like Social Leftover who, over the last four or five years, have proved themselves excellent songwriters and performers, were guests on the weekly all across the arts programme Steve Bewick and I delivered.
Sometimes, even today, musicians or their representatives try to push a song to a radio station hoping to secure airplay, and there is an increasing trend, now almost fully established amongst broadcasting houses, that an MP3 presentation should be meta-tagged, meaning that it carries official data such as title, artwork and genre details.
The aforementioned Jon KT Lindley has an educational video available about how to meta-tag work for radio consideration, and ISSA carries a list of scores of approved radio stations that will accept submissions.
To be honest Col and I thought we were pretty aware of how the industry works, but then we thought the same way the first time around as well. Forty odd years ago, when we were working the folk club circuit, and a couple of buddies apart from us also sang a couple of our songs in the folk clubs, we just thought that was part of getting the song out there. We were naïve enough to think some big shot music entrepreneur would hear us in our weekly gigs at The Kings Head in Heywood and tell us, in the words of the David Essex song, ´I´m Gonna Make You A Star,´ but the guy never showed up.
Over the years we paid recording-studio hire and producer wages to cut three cassette albums that we could then sell at those gigs for potential profit. I was pretty damn proud of my lyrics and I thought Colin´s music for them was always appropriate and that we (he) delivered in fine fashion.
We knew we were different from the other groups, what with the poetry and narratorial links in our stage performances that lent us the air of the theatrical.
We were twice asked by American artists for permission to record a couple of our songs and we were so chuffed that we let that happen, even though we didn´t have a publisher and we never even thought of asking for payment or royalties.
Aware of our standing on the local, or even regional, scene I accepted I was working in the basement of Leonard Cohen´s Tower Of Song that housed American heroes like John Stewart, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, even if their names meant little in the UK. Lendanear´s best songs, though, neatly blended my love of ´country´ with Colin´s love of Cat Stevens style folk music.
Now, here we are, forty years on, with a new album and several repackaged offerings in our catalogue. We are members of a singer songwriters´ association, are signed to a publishing company and have radio contact with BBC Music ´Introducing In Jersey as well as BBC Music ´Íntroducing In The Channel Islands´.
We also our music is available to producers of the BBC Radio Two Bob Harris Country. We are also listed on Irish Country Radio and feature on various folk / roots playlists with stations like Belter Radio, FCUM Radio, Defiant Radio and Monster FM, broadcasting throughout Europe.
I think we have both grown even more fond of our material since the days we used to hawk it around the folk clubs. So, we are following the industry guidelines to send the songs out on ´light years of travel´, to see where they land. We hope that people will catch them somewhere on their journeys, and we are whispering that little prayer by Don McLean:
Perhaps they´ll listen now.´