Seth Godin et al


When I was at Song Summit Sydney organised by APRA a few days ago many speakers made suggestions of books to read as well as blogs and other sources of data. One speaker suggested that all song writers who want to market themselves should read Seth Godins Blog.

Now I’ve been a subscriber of his for quite a long time, but don’t read every one of his blogs, I suspect that he doesn’t read any of mine, but anyway, today I decided that I should check out his recent postings to see what was new and found a sage bit of advice, which is “Write like a bloger”. This is great advice and I can attest to it’s value.

Many people love to pontificate and show off their literary prowess by using the longest and most obtuse language and jargon they can think of and it makes their writing boring. Over the years I have written as a freelance journalist and magazine columnist, mostly about technology and of course there was also my book Unleashing the Road Warrior. I always wrote in a conversational manner and I frequently got positive feedback including pone calls, emails and letters to editors in the publications I wrote for. The result of my writing style was:

  1. People felt like I was talking to them and many people feel like they know me even if we haven’t met, with the consequence that when I spoke at conferences and seminars people would come up and talk to me because I was acessible.
  2. People understood what I was talking about and were able to find the information they needed.
  3. I got a lot of business out of it as well as opportunities to speak and present at events all over the world.

I am still in the technology world, although the majority of my writing these days is about my other passion, which is songwriting and I hope eventually to do this full time. All I need is my first number one hit:) In songwriting the same thing is true. Your writing needs to be accessible to your target market. If you are writing for a teenage audience, your language needs to fit the way they think and talk, but it does of course also have to be authetic.

When I wrote my song ‘Another Stretch in Iraq‘ I wrote it for Americans who had served or were serving and I spent 6 months researching the topic. Yes, I used some phrases that weren’t exactly as you speak them and I used some metaphor, but we do that in speech anyway don’t we, I don’t think I’ve opened a can of worms here. I picked up some jargon like MRE, which is short for Made Ready To Eat or is otherwise known as rations. A lot of people won’t get that, but the they aren’t my target audience for the song. The proof was in the pudding.

When I played this song to a live audience in the USA last year the reaction was amazing. One guy co-incidentally known a Mack came to the stage after I played the song with tears in his eyes. He said he had served in Desert Storm and his son was on furlough in Hawai and about to head back to Iraq for another stretch. He said that listening to the lyrics took him right back to the front, so to speak. Even though I had never been there, I had done my homework and made it real, I wrote’ in Seth Godin’s terms, “like a blogger”, and when people listened to the song, it was almost as if they were talking to themselves.

The important thing which I think Jimmy Webb said in his presentation at S3 was to know your market and to write to it. A great song is one that people listen to and totally relate to. They should feel like they own the song, as if it was written for them, or in fact almost as if they wrote it themselves. Then they are in fact relating to themselves.

The thing is that you are the most important person in the world, although my wife says that she has to be the most important person in my world, but if I don’t exist in the first place then she can’t be important to me. Let me put that another way. If we had a party on the weekend and I came to see you with a pile of photos that were taken at the party. Now unless you were incredibly attracted to someone there, which photos will you spend the most time looking at ? (now I don’t want to get involved with genderalisations here (yes I know that word doesn’t exist, but this is my blog right?) but which photos are you going to spend the most time looking at? your own of course).

So my goal as a songwriter, which was ultimately the purpose of this blog is to write commercial songs, i.e. hit songs and part of my method in doing that, in writing like a blogger, is that the person who sings along with the radio or performance feels like the song is theirs, that it is about them, that they own the experience that the song is about.

By the way, if you happen to know an artist or A&R person looking for a new song, please point them in my direction:)

While this blog is starting to get a good following, I would love to get more readers and encouraging me to keep writing. If you feel that my blog is interesting I would be very grateful if you would vote for me in the category of best blog at the NetGuide Web Awards. Note that the form starts each site with www whereas my blog doesn’t and is of course https://luigicappel.wordpress.com.

Thanks so much for your support:)

Sydney Song Summit S3 2008


When you spend a lot of your own money to go overseas to a songwriting conference it is a major leap of faith and this week my faith was rewarded with an amazing conference in Sydney, sponsored by APRA and PRS. I have a new notebook full of ideas which I am hoping will have a huge impact on the future of my career as a songwriter. I am now motivated more than ever, not just to write songs but to write Number One Country Music hits.

I had tears in my eyes through personal presentations by Paul Williams and Jimmy Webb. The latter amazed me when I realised how much his music influenced me. I didn’t realise how much of an impact the chord progressions on songs like By the Time I Get to Phoenix and McArthur Park had on me. I must check out his new album.

The highlight by far was a one hour speed presentation by Ralph Murphy of ASCAP. I learned more about Hit Song songwriting from him in an hour than I have in the last year and I have totally made a personal commitment to use it. It does mean more research and work than I anticipated but I have to admit that much of it was work that I had been procrastinating about anyway. One of my weaknesses is MySpace and communicating with my network. Not that I’m going to stop doing that, but I have to remind myself that this is not just a hobby, it is my future business.

So here I am in the Business Class Lounge at Sydney Airport, an hour early because I didn”t realise that Daylight Savings started this morning. Anyway, here’s to an awesome music year for me in 2008.

Song Summit Sydney S3


If you make the effort, good things will happen is what I tell everyone. While people wait around looking for a break from their living rooms and look at people like Sandi Thom and say how lucky she is, my message to them is the harder you work, the luckier you get.

So in that vein, I registered for the 3 day conference yesterday, booked my flights and sent in 3 songs Another Stretch in Iraq, I Tilted and my latest song Old Flame, through Sonic Bids hoping to be heard and critiqued by some of the great singers, songwriters, publishers, managers, broadcasters, producers and A&R people. The blurb in the program says “Not for the faint hearted but a wonderful opportunity for songwriters to receive genuine constructive comments on their songs.”

So hopefully I will get a chance to play for them and also in one of the evening showcases. It will be great to get some feedback fro the people I am trying to get attention from. It will also get my name in front of them so that if they do like what I am writing or feel there is potential, I will be in with a chance.

If you missed my bio, my main goal in life is to be a professional songwriter and I have been working hard over the last 2 years writing and performing in New Zealand, the USA and Jamaica. I have music on around 15 web sites and as of this year have finally hit the free to air radio, including in Canada which is very cool since I have never been there. Over there my most popular song is Another Stretch in Iraq.

I don’t know half the names of the presenters and haven’t decided which of the presentations I am going to (most time slots have at least 3 concurrent sessions and some of course co-incide with the Listen to the Music critique sessions which I hope to learn heaps from.

The most exciting one of course is Paul Williams. How much can I learn from the guy who wrote:

  •  Just an old fashioned love song
  • We’ve only just begun
  • Rainy Days and Mondays
  • Rainbow connection (kermit the frog owes some of his fame to Paul lol
  • You and me against the world

and hundreds of other geat songs.

Anyway, now I need to do a load of homework and find out which presenters and sessions are going to help me the most. It’s interesting having a different perspective in going to a conference. I’ve been to dozens, hey I’ve presented at dozens and even chaired a few, some representing my own business wth Mission Control and the NZ SmartPhone and PDA Academy and also in my role as President of the New Zealand Wireless Forum. I’ve been to conferences in New York Singapore, London, Paris, Johannesburg, Tokyo and the list goes on. But this one has perhaps the greatest importance and potential for my future of any I have had the good fortune to attend. It’s also probably the first internationally where I have had to pay all my costs personally.

Anyway, I’ll be posting as I go along my journey over the next month before I get to Sydney and maybe share some of the things I see and learn.