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#393009 - 01/29/17 07:42 AM [Songwriting] 9 things good writers do differently
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Skilled songwriters share some common mental habits. The good news is that these habits can be adopted through practice. Here are 9 traits that can help us over the hurdles to accomplishing our songwriting goals.


1. Skilled Songwriters write whether they feel inspired or not.

We all know how easily the words and melodies flow when we’ve been inspired by a life event to create. But skilled writers know, to be a master of their craft, they must write whether they feel like it or not. They are in love with writing and enjoy writing on a near daily basis. They realize they don’t have to wait on inspiration to strike. They begin the task and invite inspiration to join them.

2. Skilled Songwriters are process-oriented.

Skilled songwriters are focused on the act of writing. They are caught up in the moment while they are writing. Able to block out external distractions as well as internal. They use the process to stay focused and the overall goal as the rudder to steer their efforts. They are deliberate in their work, which allows them to avoid being over-emotionally attached to or judgmental when it comes to the song at hand.

3. Skilled Songwriters can write what they feel in ways that make sense to others.

Again, skilled songwriters think about what they are writing in terms of how others might interpret it. Songs are a conversation with the listener. If the writer/singer is feeling the impact of the song but the audience is not then it’s not an effective song. It’s also a good habit to get feedback from mentors and people who you respect to make sure your songs are received the way you’ve intended.

4. Skilled Songwriters appreciate different perspectives.

It’s difficult to be a skilled songwriter if you are not be open to ideas that differ from your own. This doesn’t mean agreeing; it simply means being open to all sides. The ability to look at a situation from all angles give the skilled writer extra depth when writing a lyric. And affords the creator options to writing the song the best way possible.

5. Skilled Songwriters keep learning.

It has been reported that people learning to juggle increased the grey matter in their occipital lobes, this is the area of the brain associated with visual memory. When the same individuals stopped practicing their new skill, this brain matter disappeared. Similarly when songwriting there is a “use-it-or-lose-it” phenomenon that occurs. Skilled songwriters are always learning more about their craft. They study other songs and songwriters. And write often!

6. Skilled Songwriters cultivate a curious nature.

How does one cultivate curiosity? Simply, by asking questions and refusing to accept things at face value. Skilled songwriters want to know how, what, when , why and where? It’s this curiosity that drives them to dig deeper into understanding human nature and write songs that resonate on a deeper emotional level.

7. Skilled learners are good observers.

Skilled Songwriters study the many details of life around them and pick up on the things that are most useful to them; filtering out the rest. They are observant whether they are reading a text or listening to a sermon at Sunday morning church. They know that truly great ideas for their art come from everyday.

8. Skilled Songwriters are frequently trying things.

Why is this important? Trying new things keeps the brain sharp. But it also keeps your creative channels open. We are most creative when we are exploring. Trying new grooves, rhyme schemes, chord changes, etc, lead us to new creative places we never imagined going. Skilled songwriters know that doing the same thing over and over again lead only to creative ruts and boring songs. Skilled songwriters also know this is even more importantly applied to living life. Learning new hobbies and exploring the world around them can only lead to more fodder for their art.

9. Skilled Songwriters always keep the big picture in mind.

Skilled songwriters know that writing is often a roller coaster of victories and valleys. Some days the creative juices are overflowing and other days you can feel like a frustrated beginner. There are times when the world is applauding your art and times when even your closest friends question why you do it. It’s the ability to look at the big picture that allows the skilled songwriter to ride the highs and lows with knowing faith that in the end the world is a better place because of music and art. And that struggle is often a necessary ingredient to creating great music.

Credit of Clay Mills
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#393013 - 01/29/17 08:26 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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90 dB Offline
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Boy. That explains everything! grin

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#393347 - 01/30/17 02:44 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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musiclover Offline
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10 Skilled songwriters make a lot of money.

or should that be,

Skilled successful songwriters make a lot of money,

and I suppose its possible to be a skilled songwriter and make no money at all, and still no one has every heard of you!

smile

Musiclover


Edited by musiclover (01/30/17 02:45 PM)
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#393361 - 01/30/17 04:00 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Yes, it's totally possible to be a skilled writer and make no money..... or very little money, from the craft.

I heard Jeff Steel comment that he writes 100 songs on average to get one of them cut on an artist's CD. And there's no guarantee that his song will be a single release vs CD filler. And he's got serious street cred. He said he still has to go head to head against the new writers and artists writing their own stuff for one of the 10 coveted slots on a given CD.

Nashville is filled with hundreds if not thousands of good writers. Very few will make it as a writer or an artist.
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#393395 - 01/30/17 07:50 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Andy A - USA Offline
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Good stuff. I should have the 9 printed out and taped on every surface of my house.... Actually, I may do that. Ridiculous sounding, maybe, but those are great, concise reminders. Especially, for me, #5, use or lose it - skill decay.

I will add - 10. Be fearless.
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#393460 - 01/31/17 05:46 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Janice & Bud Offline
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10. Skilled writers to varying degrees, like musicians, are hard wired with a brain that facilitates their craft. Nurture (learning) is very important to manifest the talent and hone it but the nature variable makes it all possible. No amount of training alone will make any person with normal intelligence a world class musician, song writer, author or mathematician, etc., without some "givens" meaning nature.

Sorry to drag out my psychology background but I do believe that sans the nature variable we can learn to write but will never be brilliant or whatever "skilled" means. Writing for me is somewhat akin to passing a kidney stone. smile I do it but it is hard and the ability to conjure up great imagery and commit it to words is very limited. Like a blind hog who if she roots around long enough will find an acorn I occasionally manage to write a decent song. But when I read lyrics of the best here and around the net I am hugely humbled.

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#393504 - 01/31/17 09:39 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Janice & Bud]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
..... No amount of training alone will make any person with normal intelligence a world class musician, song writer, author or mathematician, etc., without some "givens" meaning nature.

Sorry to drag out my psychology background but I do believe that sans the nature variable we can learn to write but will never be brilliant or whatever "skilled" means. Writing for me is somewhat akin to passing a kidney stone.


Interesting observations.

Agreed that one should have a natural inclination to want to play music and to create it to really excel at it.

I disagree in part with the first statement but with an asterisk (*) on the end. I've seen a number of videos of little kids... not even 5 years old who are amazing....but..... they look soulless as they play those technically difficult pieces of music. Straight faces, no smiles, no joy.... but they can put their fingers where they need to in order to play the song. Guitar, piano, drums.... doesn't matter. Some of them play guitars in a most amazing fashion, and the guitar is bigger than they are. That was the physical skill part.

* you can not train creativity to any significant degree...IMHO. That, you either are born with and have in you or.... you don't. That part has to be the "natural given" part as you mentioned. That's the part about creating a beautiful song from nothing, or a beautiful painting from nothing, or understanding that X-Y=ab.2

Skilled to me, is a person who has practiced and studied their craft whether it's painting, woodworking, architecture, mathematics, dance, music or some other unique thing.....to the point where someone who is observing that person do what they do thinks it must be easy since the person makes what they are doing appear so effortless. Of course that's just one definition of skilled. I'm sure Daniel Webster has a few other good ones.

Regarding writers of songs......Most of those folks who fit that description of being skilled would argue that it's not easy and it didn't happen overnight, but only through much practice and repetition and doing that creative writing thing over and over again.... as in the case of the person who has been writing lyrics and melodies for decades. The more you train to do that, the better your results tend to be and the easier it is to write better songs.

Personally, I perceive lyrics to be hard to write. However, once started, things often start flowing in what seems to be a supernatural way. But I often have to force myself to set down and get started. Sometimes I totally surprise myself at what I write. I like to take the lyrics someone has written and work on them vs starting the idea or song myself. Music? Well that's a different thing. That part to me seems to just come naturally. There's always music in my head. Always. Maybe that's a sign of mental illness, but so be it. I'm always hearing music in my mind.

anyway, there's another 2 cents... soon we'll have enough to make a nickle.
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#393539 - 01/31/17 12:38 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Will B - PG Music Offline
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Clay's list is a great start, Herb. I'm a really strong believer in #1 -- perspiration, not inspiration!
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#397294 - 02/22/17 10:49 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Will B - PG Music]
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boydbob Offline
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98 Bad songwriters use a lot of good ideas for bad songs.
99 Good songwriters only need a few ideas for good songs.

Someone said that bad songwriters have many good ideas.
But they try to put too many ideas into the song and it becomes difficult to know when it's finished.
OR they have so many good parts, they can't decide which ones to keep.
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#397306 - 02/23/17 05:46 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Sans an operational definition of "good" and "bad" regarding songwriters we have little but our and other's subjective opinions of what constitutes quality. Or we can judge by financial success including airplay, etc., which is at least measurable.

A fav writer of ours, Hayes Carll, said, "You ain't a poet - you're just a drunk with a pen." smile

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#397385 - 02/23/17 01:48 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Wow Herb, those points you posted are so spot on, in my opinion!

Quote:
Someone said that bad songwriters have many good ideas.
But they try to put too many ideas into the song and it becomes difficult to know when it's finished.
OR they have so many good parts, they can't decide which ones to keep.


I would be curious who that someone is. In my experience it's not an over abundance of good ideas. It's that they maybe have one "ok" idea, that they don't make an effort into developing it into something better. It's a huge reason why people collaborate. To bring in MORE ideas, and different ideas/perspectives. Check out the user showcase for some EXCELLENT examples of people who can write on their own; but still choose to write with others as well.

Commercial or not, you really need to have more than one good idea in a song. Lyrical, music, production choices...many things.

I've heard some non-commercial songs that have very little "production" by choice. That is still production. It has everything (but nothing more) than is needed to support the strong ideas of the other elements. MANY great ideas that are combined in what would appear to be a simple way. Simple doesn't mean easy. It's a craft.

So personally, I'm not sold on armature song writers suffer from too many good ideas. I can't stress enough that that is just my opinion.
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#397386 - 02/23/17 01:51 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Janice & Bud]
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HearToLearn Offline
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Originally Posted By: Janice & Bud
Writing for me is somewhat akin to passing a kidney stone. smile I do it but it is hard and the ability to conjure up great imagery and commit it to words is very limited. Like a blind hog who if she roots around long enough will find an acorn I occasionally manage to write a decent song. But when I read lyrics of the best here and around the net I am hugely humbled.


First off, THAT made me laugh! Kidney stone...

Second, I would have NEVER guessed that of you. I love your songs, and feel they are exceptionally written! I would have guessed it was fairly easy for you; and a labor of love. Perhaps it's more labor, as in giving birth?

Third, I totally get the being humbled by the writers on this forum. You sir, are one who humbles me!
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#397401 - 02/23/17 04:34 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: HearToLearn]
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Guitarhacker Offline
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Originally Posted By: HearToLearn
Wow Herb, those points you posted are so spot on, in my opinion!

Quote:
Someone said that bad songwriters have many good ideas.
But they try to put too many ideas into the song and it becomes difficult to know when it's finished.
OR they have so many good parts, they can't decide which ones to keep.


I would be curious who that someone is. In my experience it's not an over abundance of good ideas. It's that they maybe have one "ok" idea, that they don't make an effort into developing it into something better. It's a huge reason why people collaborate. To bring in MORE ideas, and different ideas/perspectives. Check out the user showcase for some EXCELLENT examples of people who can write on their own; but still choose to write with others as well.

Commercial or not, you really need to have more than one good idea in a song. Lyrical, music, production choices...many things.

I've heard some non-commercial songs that have very little "production" by choice. That is still production. It has everything (but nothing more) than is needed to support the strong ideas of the other elements. MANY great ideas that are combined in what would appear to be a simple way. Simple doesn't mean easy. It's a craft.

So personally, I'm not sold on armature song writers suffer from too many good ideas. I can't stress enough that that is just my opinion.



I don't think I have ever seen or heard a bad songwriter who had so many good ideas in the song that he/she didn't know which ones to keep.

WHAT the......???


HTL....

You're not the only one holding that opinion. Just about ever songwriter I've ever run into at songwriting seminars is in agreement on this. The amateur writer hits one semi-good idea in a song and tries to replicate that throughout the song which of course, doesn't work. You have to have good ideas all throughout the song from the first line in verse one to the last tag of the song. The easy part is getting one good idea.... the hard part is staying on subject and finishing several more verse, a chorus and possibly a bridge and making them all as strong as that first line.

I hesitate to equate amateur with "bad" because they are not the same.

Bad writers don't want to grow, tend to use the same cliched ideas and lines over and over, have predictable rhymes, and aren't inspired and fresh or think outside of the box to take chances.

Amateur writers are learning and growing and constantly getting better through writing more songs, learning about writing, listening closely to the work of others, and doing it because they love the art and craft of song writing.


Edited by Guitarhacker (02/23/17 04:36 PM)
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#397438 - 02/23/17 09:51 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Herb,

Some pretty danged good advice/observations there. I always find it interesting where certain songs got their inspiration (what stimulated the lyricist to write them that specific way).

#1 - I think it simply translates to determination. Regardless of the obstacles and barriers (writer's block, feeling crappy, physical distractions, etc.) the true lyricist will sit his/her butt down and write something ... anything, until an idea starts materializing and then honed to a decent lyric. I think it's common knowledge to most lyricists that the Beatles' song "Yesterday" started out as "Scrambled Eggs". Simply writing down that three-syllable bit of nonsense (but had a basic rhythm) turned into some pretty good words and more than few dollars.


And forget about your extensive vocabulary and great command of the language. Just write it so I can believe it and give it a real nice melody.

Thanks for the post ... most enjoyable and insightful,

Alan (Alan & Di)


Edited by Al-David (02/23/17 09:55 PM)
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#590759 - 04/09/20 12:14 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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RandyBonnette Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted By: Guitarhacker
3. Skilled Songwriters can write what they feel in ways that make sense to others.


Quote:
Combining song — and speech-based language training is based on the signals that some people do not buy speech methods used by famous speakers, though they do use them; spoken and sung speech notes by Jana Jungclaus, Vera Busse1, Ingo Roden, Frank A. Russo and Gunter Kreutz.


Everything depends on the perspective - listeners/readers perceive the words which may (or may not) make sense, but at the same time, their perspective may be radically opposite to that of the author. In literature, it's all about focalization and perspective.
The second point is that any song text is interpreted by the listener depending on the way it is pronounced/sung.


Edited by RandyBonnette (04/09/20 12:16 AM)

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#590804 - 04/09/20 06:40 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Roger Brown Offline
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I've always objected to use of the words "amateur" and "professional" when describing writers. In the workshops I've done, I've always used the terms "aspiring" and "established". In my years of writing for a living, I've encountered some extremely professional "aspiring" writers, and to this day suffer very amateurish "professionals".

Every established writer I know has pretty much had the same experience - write a lot of songs to get a few cut. Since I've been in Nashville, I've had somewhere between 3,000-4,000 songs published, but just somewhere in the vicinity of 200 cuts. The hit-to-miss ratio is high, even among established writers, at least the ones who have been doing it a while.

The current business model of writing with the artist/producer/etc. has improved that disparity dramatically, but it's dependent on the writer being in the right clique or circle to get in the right rooms to make that happen.

As for ideas, I put every idea I get, good or bad, on the notepad on my iPhone. The list is pages and pages long, but every day when I sit down to try to write, I scroll through them. More often than not, I'll stumble across some idea I had months or even years ago that suddenly "clicks", and I know how to write it (the disclaimer here is that I begin with a title, so I start lyrically for the most part - on occasion I'll stumble onto something melodic that I will then write to).

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#590829 - 04/09/20 08:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Belladonna Offline
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"Some writer's wait for inspiration, fortunately for me it strikes every day at 9:00."

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#590921 - 04/09/20 04:23 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Tangmo Offline
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Maybe I differ from some folks in this way: I don't want to be a songwriter. I just want to write songs. From the earliest days of interest in music (I don't come from a particularly musical background) that's all that interested me.

I think if my creative interest had been in photography or sculpture or painting (I dabbled in all three) I would think the same way. Mostly, I write. Sometimes I write songs. I wouldn't display (or even finish) a painting or sculpture that wasn't pleasing to me, therefor nobody else is likely to see it. I won't finish a song that isn't pleasing to me either. I don't think I've ever written a genuinely "bad" song (with this mind-set). I've simply written a lot of songs that no longer appeal to me. And a fair number that I just can't remember how they go.

I'd kinda liked to have been better organized over the years. A lot of good lines have blown out of the car-window because I was too lazy, unprepared, or otherwise-occupied to capture them. But in the grand scheme of things, I feel lucky just to have "thought" the thing. Does the world need a permanent record?

And though I also have that child-like propensity to show off a work I am happy with or proud of...there was a guy on a former music sharing website where I was active who put it this way. "I make the music I want to hear because I get tired of waiting for other people to do it."

I'm kinda burned out on song-writing at the moment. I'm not really even very sad about it. My "musical interest" now is more to the "music" side of things. There isn't enough money, accolades, or satisfaction to convince me to write a song I don't want to write. I'm not a song-writer. I just write songs.
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#590970 - 04/09/20 08:05 PM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Guitarhacker]
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Belladonna Offline
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Tangmo, I totally agree. For me, it's really a hobby and I write songs I want to sing along to because when I have to travel what I hear on the radio is really annoying. I do paint and I always try to do my best in either songwriting or art. I write almost everyday because I like to write, whether it's poetry, flash fiction, essays or songs. I don't usually get writer's block because I cycle through the different things I like to do and I find they all contribute to each other. For me it's really just fun and I want to enjoy it. If not, then why do it?

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#591033 - 04/10/20 06:58 AM [Songwriting] Re: 9 things good writers do differently [Re: Tangmo]
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Tangmo Offline
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Originally Posted By: Tangmo
There isn't enough money, accolades, or satisfaction to convince me to write a song I don't want to write.


That sentence would not have survived a second draft, if I routinely did those on forum posts. Of course there's enough money--if I was writing on commission. On contract? Maybe. On spec? Nope.

You may now resume your normal lives. I will resume my abnormal one.
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NEW Add-ons for Band-in-a-Box® 2020 - Xtra Styles PAK 9 & Loops-with-Style PAK 2!

We're delighted to be adding 200 GROUNDBREAKING RealStyles to the Band-in-a-Box® collection with Xtra Styles PAK 9!

Our new Rock-Pop additions include neo soul with vocals, classic ska with a horn section, a psychedelic sixties pop ballad, heavier action-scene cinematic metal, post-punk folk rock, six-substyle gospel pop MultiStyle with vocals, and more!

With the latest Jazz Xtra Styles, we've added everything from quarter-feel jazz blues to New Orleans Gospel to jazzy disco funk and gentle bossa folk pop, and more! We've also included a brand-new (huge!) ten-substyle "changes" jazz swing MultiStyle with three different soloist options!

The newest Country RealTracks are a real treat! We've fused folk and Americana instruments with the country sounds you know and love: ethereal and songwriter country ballads, a country rock march, country pop with layered cellos, a country soul groove, and much, much more! The included six-substyle summertime country pop MultiStyle will help you create your perfect summertime hit!

Plus, we've added to our Folk & Beyond collection with our Xtra Styles PAK 9 release! There are 50 fresh new styles, including a Cajun jaw harp boogie, cinematic folk with strings, a modern Celtic folk reel, a gentle three-guitar folk ballad, delta blues with shaker - the list goes on! Add Folk & Beyond 2 and you'll also receive a brand-new eight-part mountain folk MultiStyle!

There are 50 new RealStyles in each genre - get them ALL for only $29 until June 30th! Learn more, listen to demos and order here.

But wait... there's MORE!

We've also rolled out 50 NEW Styles and 100 NEW Loops in Loops-with-Style PAK 2!
Use these new Styles and Loops directly in your Band-in-a-Box® songs to access all their B substyle loops, or load these acidized loops directly into your DAW that supports acid info! Genres include Electronic, Funk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock, World, plus we're introducing two new genre categories - Gospel and Folk!

Add Loops-with-Style PAK 2 today for just $19! Learn more and purchase here.

Haven't purchased Loops-with-Styles yet? Get the entire collection for only $29 when you bundle Loops-with-Style PAK 1 & Loops-with-Style PAK 2 for only $29! That's 100 Styles and 200 Loops for Band-in-a-Box® for just $29! Order now.

Mac User? Click here for Mac details and purchase links.

Band-in-a-Box® 2020 for Windows is Xtra Ready!

We never stop! The latest free patch update for Band-in-a-Box® 2020 for Windows readies the program for the just-launched Xtra Styles PAK 9 (on sale until June 30th - learn more here)!

Update to build 721 and you'll see that we've improved the step-advancing notes display, updated the key command criteria for looping bars from the chordsheet, fixed email client integration, and more.

If you are a Band-in-a-Box® 2020 for Windows user, you'll definitely want to update to the latest free patch update!

Learn more about Band-in-a-Box® 2020 build 721 for Windows and download it here.

#TBT Band-in-a-Box Finds!

I don't know about everyone here, but now that I've settled in to our "new normal" I've taken to rearranging and dusting off many things in order to keep busy and productive!

I'm picking up old hobbies, picking up clutter around the house, and as it turns out - finding forgotten picks!

We snagged these gems many, many, many years ago after The NAMM Show one winter. Check out the old Band-in-a-Box logo! Click here...

Have any of you come across something nostalgic like this these days? Let's see it!
(remember the first Audiophile version?!)

-Callie
Team Marketing

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