Highlights of 2016

It’s been an incredible year! Have a listen to our top 20 songs of our young songwriter members in 2016.  Congratulations to our young songwriters and a big thank you to the fantastic Song Academy team.

If you’re a songwriter aged 8-18 check out our Young Songwriter 2017 competition, open for entries on 1st Feb 2017.

If you’re interested in our after school clubs & holiday workshops have a look at what we offer talented young songwriters.

If you’re a music teacher looking to enrich your music programme please have a look at our songwriting programmes for schools.

If you’d like a Song Academy songwriting birthday party get in touch.

We’ve had a brilliant year helping young people write smash hits and express themselves.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

The Song Academy Team

Young Songwriter 2016 album released

YOUNG SONGWRITER 2016 ALBUM RELEASED TODAY

* Album release showcasing the top young songwriters across the UK and Ireland

* Judges included Tom Odell, Eg White, Guy Fletcher & Jamie Theakston

We’re delighted to announce the release of the Song Academy Young Songwriter 2016 Compilation Album on Spotify, iTunes and other distributors through AWAL (Artists Without A Label). The album includes 26 tracks from the winners and selected finalists & highly commended of the 2016 Young Songwriter competition, which attracted outstanding young talent from 7-18 year olds across the UK and Ireland.

This album not only gives young songwriters a unique platform to get noticed by a larger audience and educate them in the digital world of e-commerce and the dynamics of the music industry, but it also provides them with their own revenue source.

Buy our Young Songwriter 2016 album on iTunes.

The annual Song Academy Young Songwriter competition has gone from strength to strength since it began in 2011 and is now the leading song writing competition for young people aged 7 to 18 across the UK and Ireland. It’s a springboard for the next generation of creative stars to get noticed by key players in the music industry, build confidence, have their voices heard and shine in the limelight.  Thank you to our sponsors PRS for Music, Yamaha, Dawsons Music, Farida and Access To Music for supporting our Young Songwriter 2016 competition.

This year’s prestigious judging panel, including Tom Odell, Rumer, Eg White, Guy Fletcher and Jamie Theakston, whittled down hundreds of entrants to choose a winner and two runners up from both of the competition categories, covering 7 to 12-year-olds and 13 to 18-year-olds.

Tom-OdellThe judges had nothing but praise for Song Academy. Tom Odell, singer songwriter said “When I was 13 years old I started writing songs, and over the following years I became more and more obsessed with it.  But the thing that always kept me awake at night was how to get them out there for people to hear them. This is why I think the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition is a great way to inspire and help through this process, and its something I wish had been around when I was starting out.”

Rumer photoRumer, singer songwriter said: “I was very impressed with these children’s songs and was taken aback by their originality and their beautiful, unselfconscious approach to storytelling. I was very humbled by a lot of their words.”

Director of PRS for Music, Myles Keller said “This wonderful competition empowers young songwriters, enabling them to showcase their talent and offering them a ‘one of a kind’ opportunity to gain crucial feedback from some of the very best British songwriters. In the early stages of a career, this kind of help is like gold dust and really enables industry newcomers to build strong, sustainable careers. Music is integral to our nation’s identity and it is crucial that we nurture the next generation of songwriters now to ensure a creative future. PRS for Music is absolutely delighted to support such a positive and exciting competition.”

Rowena Atkins, Founder of Song Academy, says: “Here at Song Academy, we are aiming to give young people a voice, help them to express themselves and celebrate their individuality. We give them the opportunity to unleash their creativity and inspire them with what’s possible. By connecting them to a vibrant community of their peers who all love writing original songs, as well as exposing their songs to key players in the Music Industry, we help to build young people’s confidence and self-belief.”

GET READY for our 2017 Young Songwriter competition and take a look at our excellent song feedback service.

Sound bites from Yamaha Artists

Here are some great tips from Yamaha Artists on some ways of developing your songwriting and recording  talents.  Yamaha sponsors our Young Songwriter 2016 competition.  Hurry to get your entries in – the entry deadline is this Saturday 9th April (at midnight)!

Clare CooganNAME:  Planet. Circle. Star.
OCCUPATION:  Teacher / Producer / Performer
YAMAHA PRODUCT: Reface / MOTIF XF
YAMAHA ARTIST SOUNDBITE:
Don’t be afraid to share your work with others. There’s no point giving yourself a hard time if you’re not sure where to take your song next – ask a friend to listen to your work. A second pair of ears can put a whole new perspective on a track and can often fill in that missing piece and take your song to the next stage. It can give you new confidence in your writing and you never know what will come from sharing your work – new collaborations, ideas and opportunities. Sharing your work in its early stages can be nerve wracking, but go for it, you gain so much!

 

emilydolandavisNAME: Emily Dolan Davis

OCCUPATION: Professional Drummer

YAMAHA PRODUCT: 9000

YAMAHA ARTIST SOUNDBITE:

Whatever instrument you play, make sure you record yourself and listen back. For me it was scary at first, and I realised the difference between how I thought I sounded, and the reality. The more I did it, the smaller that difference became, and it enabled me to progress so much more than ever before.

 

Ben KennedyNAME: Ben Kennedy

OCCUPATION: Drummer, currently out with ‘Foxes’

YAMAHA PRODUCT: Yamaha Beach Custom Absolute Drum Kit

YAMAHA ARTIST SOUNDBITE:

Before starting any session/gig, make sure you are comfortable with the set up. It is important to feel relaxed at the kit whilst rehearsing/recording or playing a live gig. Tuning the drums right and making sure heights/angles are adequate, will bring the best out your playing. When possible, bring your cymbals and snare drums. More options means you can create the best sound possible on the day.

 

DomNAME: Dom Sigalas

OCCUPATION: Producer / Composer

YAMAHA PRODUCT:Reface / MONTAGE / MOTIF

YAMAHA ARTIST SOUNDBITE:

Drum programming- Use your fingers, not your mouse.

Throughout your music career it is extremely likely that you will have to use a drum part in one of your songs. If you don’t have a drummer at hand learn how to play the drums on a keyboard. You don’t have to be a virtuoso.

The secret is to learn the GM (General Midi) mapping. The elements are almost always on the same keys (Kick- C1, Snare-D1 etc) so all you have to do is practice!

It really pays of because your programmed drums will be more natural and have an element of performance rather than being sterile and robotic. I almost never program acoustic drums with a mouse.

Finger drumming is a skill that once you get the hang of it will serve you for life!

Here’s one example of what you can do:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtQJHQGfqjA

Music video of ‘Right To Be Loved’ released today

Our music video for ‘Right To Be Loved’ is released today!

Eleven talented singer songwriters from Song Academy, aged between 12 and 16 have written a song to have it’s premiere performance at the “Voice In A Million” (VIAM) concert, entitled ‘Right To Be Loved’. VIAM is a promoter of school/singing events with the ambition to positively change the perception of Adoption and Fostering both in the UK and worldwide.

Click here to buy ‘Right To Be Loved’ on iTunes.

Through the power of songwriting and music, these 11 Song Academy young songwriters aim to remind the world that everyone has a right to be loved, has a right to belong and a right to a brighter future. Their aim is to raise awareness of the large number of vulnerable children in care and the difference that adoption and fostering makes in the world, for both child and parent.

The idea for ‘Right To Be Loved’ was sparked during a meeting between Rowena Atkins, Director of Song Academy and Jo Garofalo, founder of Voice In A Million. They were talking about the Song Academy Young Songwriter competition and giving one of the winner’s the opportunity to perform at the VIAM show. It was a natural step to utilise the talents of Song Academy members to write an original song on the topic of children, adoption & fostering so helping the VIAM mission.

Founder and CEO of Song Academy, Rowena Atkins said “It was a perfect fit – young children writing about the plight of young people in care whilst also making their song relevant to older children and parents adopting – reminding the world that everyone has a right to be loved and a right to be a part of a loving family unit. I’m incredibly proud of ‘Right To Be Loved’ and hope it rocks the world.” A thank to our sponsors PRS for Music, Yamaha, Dawsons Music & Farida.

Founders of VIAM, Jo & Robert Garofalo said “We are delighted to welcome Song Academy to Voice In A Million this year, our mission includes giving talented youngsters the opportunity to shine on world class stages. Song Academy’s ‘Right To Be Loved’ is in perfect harmony with VIAM’s ethos.”

The premiere performance of ‘Right To Be Loved’ will be at the Voice In A Million show at Wembley Arena on 2nd March 2016. Right to be loved was produced at Studio Rokstone – home of ASCAP award winning songwriter and chart producer Steve Mac. The producers were Tim Laws, ASCAP award winning songwriter and record producer, Pete Craigie, engineer, arranger, mixer and live production and Diane Allison Young DAYTime Entertainment.  Our music video was produced by Steve Coleman.

If you’re aged 7-18 and write your own original songs – enter The Song Academy Young Songwriter 2016 competition before 9th April. Check out how to enter.

Home Recording

This term at Song Academy Winchester, we have begun recording the students’ songs and some asked me about setting up their own recording system at home. There are so many ways of doing this, we all make use of recording and song writing apps but this technology is still relatively new and there is still no better method than using a proper, good quality microphone and making use of one of the various recording programmes available.

Microphone choice

A professional studio often has a great collection of microphones for recording drums, guitars and vocals etc. These microphones can cost thousands of pounds, but all you need to record at home is one microphone. A large condenser microphone, such as SE200 or AT4033 are perfect for recording vocals and instruments and are not prohibitively expensive, costing as little as £40.

This is what the microphones tend to look like, the circular thing in front is known as a pop-shield. This is also a useful piece of equipment as it stops hard sounds such as ‘P’s or ‘K’s from spoiling your recordings. These can be made from things around the house. Why not try twisting a wire coat hanger into a circle and stretching a pair of tights over it (making sure you ask permission first from whoever’s tights and hanger it is).

Audio interface choice

To record successfully on a computer or Ipad it is necessary to get a good audio interface or soundcard. Most computers do not come ready to record music, unless you have had one specifically made. So you need to use an external interface/mixer so you can plug your microphone or instrument into your computer, and control its volume, and allow it to connect to the recording software. Ipads now have several interfaces such as the IRig, which allows you to plug microphones and instruments into an Ipad and use it with various apps including Garage Band, which is one of the most easily used recording software applications. For computers or laptops Focusrite and RME are both highly recommended and affordable. There are interfaces with different numbers of channels to record through, so my recommendation would be to start with a two channel or one channel interface such as Apogee’s One, which also has a built in microphone.

Software choice

There are a number of popular recording software programmes. I use ProTools predominantly, which is the industry standard for live music recording. However, there are some excellent software packages that allow you to not only record your own live sound, but also program drums and other instruments included in the software. ProLogicX and GarageBand are particularly good for this. Cubase, Cakewalk and Reason are also great programmes for live and synthesized sound.

Room choice

Depending on space, there are some things to consider when choosing where to set up your home studio. If you have an unused garden shed or out building, this can be perfect, and wooden walls, which can be quite resonant can be dampened by material on the walls, If you are recording in your house, make sure your are not too near a street or in a room with a boiler or anything which may make excessive noise.

You would be surprised how many songs were recorded in ‘home studios’, and it has never been easier to record anywhere, anytime, so why not have a go!

 

Tori Kelly – A Singer-Songwriter to Watch

Tori-Kelly-Unbreakable-Smile-2015-1200x1200

Tori Kelly is a sensational breakout singer/songwriter who has captured the hearts of millions with her smooth Soul vocals and humble spirit. 2015 has definitely been her year. She’s appeared in every music award show including the VMA’S , Billboard and sang a beautiful rendition of “Who’s Lovin You” written by Smokey Robinson at the 2015 BET Awards show.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2vv8yi

Although Kelly is currently taking over the Pop charts with her two current singles “Nobody Love” and “Should’ve Been Us” , her musical journey began when she started posting video’s on youtube doing covers of Rnb and Soul hits such as Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” ( video below)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ANQl-Sbwpo

Tori Kelly has appeared on Star Search at the age of 10 and even made it to the final 24 on American Idol . Although she started singing at an early age, she knew that in order to be authentic and recognised, she had to create her own music and style. She decided to take a new approach by picking up the guitar in her early teens and teaching herself how to play. Kelly came from a very musical upbringing in her hometown of Southern California. Her father sang and played bass and her mother was a proficient saxophone and keys player. In her biography she discusses being greatly influenced by gospel and R&B acts such as Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott . In the article below she discusses her songwriting approach.

http://www.hungertv.com/feature/get-know-tori-kelly/

The wonderful thing about Tori’s musical journey is that she created her own fanbase using the internet and without the help of labels and management. She found her own voice through picking up her guitar and songwriting. She practiced her craft not only on the guitar but continued developing her vocal range abilities and learned a few other instruments along the way. While kids her age were going out, she preferred to stay indoors and practiced the one thing she loved the most. Once her youtube channel reached close to over 700,000 subscribers, she decided to start her own label and produced her debut album titled “Handmade songs by Tori Kelly”. She recorded the album herself, playing most of the instruments on her own.

Tori’s hard work paid off. Even at moments when she was rejected or turned away, her passion and determination kept her moving to her ultimate goal . Tori is now being managed by Scooter Braun ( Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen) one of the most prestigious music managers in the business . In 2014 -2015 he has helped Tori finally gain the full recognition that she deserves as a powerful and unique artist who created her own musical path. She is now hailed as an “Artist to Watch” by Rolling Stone, USA TODAY and is in talks of being nominated for a Grammy with her debut album Unbreakable Smile which was released just this year.

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/bbma/6568810/tori-kelly-does-her-billboard-music-awards-slam-dunk-mean-grammy-on-the

Unbreakable Smile – Itunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/unbreakable-smile-bonus-track/id988591612

Or listen to the full album on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rleTKEnOc04

 

 

 

The Ivor Novello Awards 2015

Last week BASCA announced the nominations for the 60th Ivor Novello Awards, taking place on 21st May. Now in case you haven’t heard of them, winning an Ivor Novello award for your songwriting is to a musician what an Oscar is to an actor. Named after entertainer Ivor Novello, these awards – nicknamed The Ivors – are presented annually by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), with the esteemed and appointed Ivors committee comprising of industry experts, songwriters and composers deciding on the winners each year. The statue itself, is a solid bronze sculpture of Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry. Seeing as our SAYS15 judging panel have eight of these prestigious awards between them (5 for Barry Mason, 2 for Eg White, 1 for Tom Odell) we thought it would be worth a look at this year’s nominations.

Clean Bandit lead the way for the 2015 Ivor Novello awards with nominations for both Best Contemporary Song and Most Performed Work. FKA Twigs is the bookie’s favourite to win Best Contemporary Song, having narrowly missed out on the Mercury Prize earlier in the year. James Napier, better known as Jimmy Napes, is the man of the moment with three nominations for his work with Sam Smith and Clean Bandit.

Watch James Napier talk about writing the Ivor-nominated song ‘Stay With Me’

Interestingly this year, The Ivors are now restricting the total numbers of writers who claim credit for a song to six, and all entries must have a British or Irish contribution of at least one third to qualify. So on songs with multiple writers, not all of them may receive a nomination. For example, Tom Petty has been credited with 15% following the dispute over Stay With Me, but he doesn’t merit a nomination for the song.

You can see the full list of nominations on The Ivors website>

To see the list of finalists and specially commended songs for our own 2015 Young Songwriter Competition, head to our competition page>

 

Performance highlights and winners from Brits 2015

In case you missed it, here is the best of the Brits 2015…

Madonna – Living for Love

Everyone is talking about that notorious tumble, but what was most impressive is that Madonna didn’t even miss a whole verse and carried on singing to give what was the best performance of the night. The show must go on!

Ed Sheeran – Bloodstream

Ed shows what you can achieve with just a guitar and a great song (and one helluva loop station!)

Sam Smith – Lay Me Down 

Sam Smith delivers a note perfect performance of his moving ballad.

 The winners

It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour, selfies and gossip of the ceremony. But don’t forget that the Brits were established to celebrate the musical talent of the UK and beyond. So here’s the complete list of winners – well done to all of them!

British Artist Video of the Year: One Direction, You and I

British Breakthrough Act: Sam Smith

Mastercard British Album: Ed Sheeran, X

British Female Solo Artist: Paloma Faith

British Male Solo Artist: Ed Sheeran

British Group: Royal Blood

International Male Solo Artist: Pharrell Williams

International Female Solo Artist: Taylor Swift

International Group: Foo Fighters

Critics’ Choice Awards: James Bay

British Producer: Paul Epworth

British Single: Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk

British Global Success Award: Sam Smith

 

Now onto the main event of the UK music calendar #SAYS15! With a panel of judges that have a glittering array of Brits and Grammys between them, make sure you get your entry in to be in with a chance of winning! Here’s to the next generation of Brit winners…

The Brits 2015 – Song Academy predicts…

Here are the Brit 2015 nominees, and Song Academy’s predictions for who will win tonight…

BRITISH MALE SOLO ARTIST

Damon Albarn // Ed Sheeran // Sam Smith // George Ezra // Paulo Nutini

Song Academy predicts:  Ed Sheeran is cited as inspiration for many of our Young Songwriter Competition entrants. So for inspiring the next generation of Brit winners…go Ed!

 BRITISH FEMALE SOLO ARTIST

Ella Henderson // FKA Twigs // Jessie Ware // Lily Allen // Paloma Faith

Song Academy predicts: We’ve been loving Paloma Faith this year, check out our blog on her collaboration with Sigma.

BRITISH GROUP

One Direction // Royal Blood // Clean Bandit // Alt J // Coldplay

Song Academy predicts:  We’re routing for One Direction (and of course Jamie Scott, SAYS15 judge who has written many of their tracks)

BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH

Chvrches // FKA Twigs // George Ezra // Royal Blood // Sam Smith

Song Academy predicts:

It’s been a cracking year for George Ezra and he will also be performing on the night!

BRITISH SINGLE

Calvin Harris – Summer // Clean Bandit ft Jess Glynne – Rather Be // Duke Dumont ft Jax Jones – I Got U // Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud // George – Ezra Budapest // Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk // Route 94 ft Jess Glynne – My Love // Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Song Academy predicts: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars –read our blog on why this song is SO GOOD here>

MASTERCARD BRITISH ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Alt-J – This Is All Yours // Ed Sheeran – X // George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage // Royal Blood – Royal Blood // Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

Song Academy predicts: The fact that SAYS15 judges Fraser T Smith, Eg White and Naughty Boy all have writing and production credits on ‘In The Lonely Hour’ mean that we are 100% behind Sam Smith on this one! 

BRITISH ARTIST VIDEO OF THE YEAR

Calvin Harris – Summer // Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud // Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk // One Direction – You And I // Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Song Academy predicts: Ed Sheeran Thinking Out Loud is a beautiful video, but as this one is down to a public vote will the Directioners make it a win for 1D?

INTERNATIONAL MALE SOLO ARTIST

Beck // Hozier // Jack White // John Legend // Pharrell Williams

Song Academy predicts: We think ‘Happy’ will swing this category for Pharrell Williams

 INTERNATIONAL FEMALE SOLO ARTIST

Beyoncé // Lana Del Rey // Sia // St Vincent // Taylor Swift

Song Academy predicts: It’s a tough call between Sia and Taylor Swift – but for the sheer number of amazing songwriting credits to her name we’re backing Sia.

INTERNATIONAL GROUP

5 Seconds of Summer // The Black Keys // First Aid Kit // Foo Fighters // The War On Drugs

Song Academy predicts: 5 Seconds of Summer have proven worthy rivals to One Direction so for that feat alone we think the gong should go to them!

GLOBAL SUCCESS AWARD

 Song Academy predicts: This award is top secret and announced on the night. In terms of global success and Sam Smith’s Grammy haul and smash hit ‘Stay With Me’ is the reason we think he should win this category.

BRITISH PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

Alison Goldfrapp & Will Gregory // Flood // Jake Gosling // Paul Epworth

Song Academy predicts: Not many nominees here but it’ll be 3rd time lucky for super-producer Paul Epworth.

CRITICS’ CHOICE

James Bay // George The Poet // Years & Years

Congratulations James Bay: We predicted George The Poet – if you are find you are stuck on lyrics for your SAYS entry why not do like George The Poet does and say them out loud? For his lyrical genius we think George is deserving of the Critics’ Choice award.

Now get songwriting and enter our Young Songwriter 2015 competition!

Who owns your iTunes/Amazon music? Not you…

You hear a song on the radio. You want to buy it – not stream it – because you want to keep it and play it again and again; so you go to iTunes or Amazon and you purchase it, roughly £0.99 a track, £9.99 an album. There. Lovely stuff. You’ve bought your new favourite song or album. It’s yours. You think you own it. But you don’t.

It might surprise you, but in most cases you are renting, or leasing, the song, not buying it. When you buy from Apple and Amazon you are being sold a licence to use the song/film or ebook but are not buying the actual item itself.

Thinking many years ahead, what about when you die; who can you leave your music collection to? According to Apple, you can leave your family or friends your iPod with your music on, but you cannot leave instructions to share out your iTunes account after you are gone. So as the law currently stands one cannot leave their iTunes music to their family.

For years families have been passing down their music collection to their children and grandchildren to share their past with them via music. They’ve been able to do this as their music is in a physical form; on vinyl, tape or CD. What’s more, your parents’ and grandparents’ music collections act as a wonderful history of songwriting, educating you on how and why music has evolved through the decades. But in our over-technological era, the songs you’ve downloaded and “purchased” in your life may end up resting in peace with you.

Think about all the songs you have on your computer – what if you couldn’t give those songs that you’ve paid for to your children or friends? Do you think people will go back to illegally downloading mp3s, because they’d rather own them illegally, than pay for “renting” them? Or do you think this will regenerate an interest in CDs and Vinyls with people being able to buy them and own them physically, not digitally, and thus be able to pass them on to their loved ones?

Tweet us at @songacademyUK to let us know your thoughts.