Well, after too many wasted years, I have decided to learn the keyboard. I have been writing since I was a kid and don’t have a problem with words; just putting melody to them. It is discouraging to write lyrics, when in all actuality it’s not a song, but a poem.
I know at age 35, I will never become a Bruce Hornsby or Billy Joel, but do you suppose I could get good enough on the keyboard to be able to put melody to my lyrics? My fear is that I have waited too long and my songwriting dream is over. Really, I just want the skills to be able to get the point across, and maybe I can find someone great to help me make the song great.
I would appreciate your honesty (no matter how bitter) and any suggestions you might have 🙂
Hi Sabrina, It’s NEVER too late. You know the saying, all any journey requires is to take the first step. Go to my website http://www.nilescreativeworkshops.com and study the songwriting videos. Just enroll for a few months and write write write! And another thing. I’m 61 years old, I’ve worked with the finest artists on the planet and I’m still LEARNING MORE EVERY DAY!!
Good luck, Richard
By the way, I posted your very interesting bio on my FB page, “Writers on the Storm.”
Hello, Mr. Richard,
You may remember me, my name is Nathaniel (Nate), and recently the song I wrote, titled “Pretty Monster” and performed by my band Parias Day, won the UK Songwriting Competition.
I saw yours and Kipper Eldridge’s comments, and first I want to thank you for your vote and your encouraging message–it really inspired me as a writer and gave us as a band even more drive to keep being creative with our music.
It has also encouraged us, and me personally, to be more resourceful–I am currently in the process of gaining local media attention. Your comments have ensured an attentive ear, and while that may sound shrewd, I do not doubt that as a businessman, you know compliments from a well-known Producer carry significant weight. 🙂 And so I am grateful, and I appreciate your time and interest in me and my band.
I also saw you’ve taken an interest in our music, and I was wondering if you still were inclined to be our Producer? If you are still so inclined, feel free to contact us, either via our BandPage (www.facebook.com/pariasdayband) or my personal email, which I believe Alan from UKSC supplied you with. 🙂 If you are not as interested, that is understandable. I look forward to hearing from you regardless, and learning as much as I can from you!
Thanks, Nate, I’ve replied to your FB. R.
My name is Louie James I entered the UK Songwriting Competition 2012 and obtained two Semi Final positions and a Commended Entry. One of my tracks was only a point away from the final. I am really keen for any help or advice you can give me to help with progressing to the next step of working with a Record Label or Publishing Company.
I have a huge back catalogue of music that I have produced over the years that would work on multiple platforms from adverts to commercial releases. I have the ability to create music in lots of different genera’s (Pop, House, Nero Funk, Drum and Bass, ect.) and I would be happy to email you more tracks if you like my E.P.
The tracks on my E.P feature up and coming vocalists from the Brit School, Abigail Hardiman and Kit Rice who resonantly toured with Tom Jones as a backing singer. The tracks have also been tweaked and mastered by legendary sound engineer Kevin Paul who has worked with the likes of Alicia Keys, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Calvin Harris. He is also one of the chief engineers for the iTunes Festival. http://www.perfectmixingmastering.com/about.html.
Louie, The only way you’ll be able to work with a record label or publisher is by producing a hit first. They don’t generally sign anyone without a track record of success. That’s because they no longer have experienced A&R who can recognise and sign talent. Kit Rice is one of my favorite current singers and I have written with him and hope to produce some hits for him. It’s up to you to get videos of your tracks on youtube and get enough hits (100,000 would be a start) to get the business to sit up and take notice. You should definitely read “So You’re A Musician – Now What?” by Janek Gwizdala – a book that tells you what all indie musicians need to know. I wish you luck.
I want this more then anything so I will defiantly take your advise on board. this new year I will focus more on the youtube side of business. I was just hoping that maybe at the stage I am now, and with the kudos of coming semi-final on the competition, I could attract management who could see potential in me and could help both fund the project, allow me to achieve the music videos and youtube success faster. Also it would be good If they had contacts and could help mentor me and keep me steered in the right direction. In your professional opinion what do you think would be the best management company to approach for our style of music.
I’m a fan of Clive Griffin. I know you wrote some songs with him, such as I’ll be waiting. I would like to know more about him. Why did him disappear instantly? Do you know what about him now?
Sadly, Clive gave up the business after his 2nd album released by Phonogram flopped and his 3rd on Sony 555 Records did the same. He suffered from complete mismanagement from the record labels he was signed to. I am proud to have discovered him, produced him and co-written many wonderful songs with him. He was one of Britain’s greatest voices and his absence is a great loss to music.
Thanks for your answer. His absence makes me sad. Hope one day he can get back!
I was one of the Acoustic/Folk finalists in this year’s UK Songwriting contest with my song ‘Lilly’ (https://soundcloud.com/phoebe-katis/lilly-9) ; many thanks for my placing and marks!
I was wondering whether I could ask you for some personal feedback on the song and perhaps on what you think about my music and song writing abilities? It’s my passion (as with so many entrants!) and I want to make sure I get all the help I can as I come to the end of my Music degree at Leeds University and take that step into the real world.
Many thanks, looking forward to hearing from you,
I did not have a direct involvement in this year’s contest. But my best advice is to perform in public as much as possible.
Good luck, Richard
Dr. Niles: Love your music and your site…was particularly pleased to see your tag: “Ideas make you better!”
The reason I say this is because they DO…and that’s why the large public healthcare system in Houston, Texas (which serves the uninsured and low-income residents of Harris County), where I work launched a program last year we call “Think !nnovation”. This program is designed to encourage our 8,000+ staff to bring forward their own IDEAS on how we can improve our processes and our practices in the delivery of high quality, cost-effective healthcare. And, in support of this initiative, I created a short video (which I am happy to send for your review/added information) to help our employees better understand innovation and to help motivate them.
Do you own the copyright to “Proud” (on The Biggest Loser soundtrack?) If so, I would very much your thoughtful consideration for authorizing the use of this song in a short video to support our Think !nnovation program. Your support of our efforts would, indeed, make us very “Proud.” If not, can you please tell me how to go about requesting authorization or how to go about licensing the music for this very specific purpose?
Manager, Internal Communication
Harris Health System
I did not WRITE Proud, I arranged it, so I can’t help with that. But thanks for visiting my site and your positive comments.
Very inspiring page and fascinating bio. Sowing the Seeds of Love is one of the greatest pop arrangements of the last 30 years.
Hi! Where can I hear your interviews with Lyle Mays & Pat Metheny?
You can read them in my Book, “The Pat Metheny Interviews”. The BBC radio shows are no longer available.
Happy Christmas xx
Richard…..Really enjoyed your articles here, so well written and resounding with truthfulness. I have a sound that people like, and I get many good compliments and so understand your comments about doing something new and different, and with the volume of work I produce I am pleasantly hopeful of the future. I have a song that a film company are interested in, whether it comes to fruition or not…and I feel that I am getting better and better at what i do…trying to perfect my craft as it were. I was a finalist in the love song category in the UK songwriting contest 2013, and although this was great news, my feet are firmly planted on the floor
Thank you for these posts, I really enjoyed them, and wish you a successful and happy future !
Thanks, Jason, I think you will get a lot out of my new book, THE INVISIBLE ARTIST. It is packed with creative concepts from some of the most talented artists in music. RN.
Hi Richard, dont know of u remember me. I used to write for Jellybean Benitez n we had some great talks. I krpt threatening to come over there across th pond. Actually I hav, DJ tours. I ended up being a jazz musician n going back to performing since downloading dlaughter
Hi Richard; Toni C.songwriter. I wrote for John Jellybean Benitez among others. Richard from Living in a Box recorded one of my tunes long ago. I ended up being a jazz musician in new orleans n a live performer. Jazzfest, Preservation Hall, Mardi Gras, the whole thing. Many things have happened.Into new level of composing. We had some great talks. Im in NYC.
is this book available as e-book or pdf?
Yes indeed. The Kindle page is: http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Artist-Arrangers-Popular-Music-ebook/dp/B00ISY0MSA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395338223&sr=1-1&keywords=the+invisible+artist
Thanks for your interest. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it!
I’m currently doing a dissertation on singer songwriters in popular music and the way tracks are put together, I was wondering if maybe I could ask you a few questions on this to use in my report? If you could email me and let me know if this is possible I’d massively appreciate your help! 🙂
Dale, Put the questions here, and I will reply. I’m sure followers of my site will find the discussion interesting. RN
Awesome thanks a lot 🙂
Why do you think love styled lyrics are so common in song writing?
Do you feel that in popular music, there is an importance to move ideas on swiftly, hence many songs only being around 3 minutes, but still managing to be complete in structure?
What do you think about the idea of their being a ‘formula’ to modern day popular music? Do you believe this is possible?
Thanks again! I’m a singer songwriter myself so the input is helpful beyond my dissertation! 🙂
*there being a formula
The human condition is that we all suffer lonliness. We all want love which we believe will end that lonliness. Love songs reinforce this rather naive belief.
The length of pop songs is down to the amount of money radio stations have to pay in performance royalties to the writer & publisher. It is charged per 4 minutes, so any track over that length will require double payment. Also, human attention span dictates that pop songs be short.
Yes. In my book THE INVISIBLE ARTIST I discuss many pop formulas.
I hope the above is helpful.
Amazing that’s sure to help a lot 🙂
Really helpful, Thanks for that 🙂
Digging your recording of Tame Thy Pen. Where can I find a recording of Looking Back as arranged in the fifth edition of the Real Book? Thanks!
Thanks Michelle. I never recorded Looking Back, although I have a big band arrangement of it somewhere! I am planning a new BANDZILLA album so look out for that. And thanks for your interest. Are you a player?
Fond memories of your shed at Belmont Rd,being apologetic about programming shortcomings of SP12.Can’t find the glorious “Tell me where you’re going” by Sylvvvvvvvvvvvvvius?Can’t live without it in my life and hold you responsible for its delivery.Hoping this missive finds you well and throbbing>
Lots of love,
I learned about you from your recent article in Berklee Today. I’m planning to read your book “The Invisible Artist” also. I want to thank you for putting this information out. The copyright law needs to be changed. I believe that every performer on a recording not playing a specifically written part should also receive some percentage of royalties, however small. I am thinking of the great drummer Hal Blaine who contributed so much and, relatively speaking, was paid so little. You have probably guessed I am a drummer!
Thanks for your comment. The truth is, with the record business as it is, it is difficult for anyone to make a living from record sales alone. For me it is the fairness issue, the issue of an artist getting credit for his contribution. Musicians are paid a fee for their playing. But as i point out in the book, arrangers often write musical hooks which make the record sell, yet receive nothing for their co-composing.
on this rare 1981 record – info link http://www.discogs.com/Show-Stoppers-81-The-Disco-Sound-Of-Music-The-Sound-Of-Rapping/release/1360288
Did Sarah Brightman perform the vocals for this – it was released on her short lived record label and it certainly sounds like her.
Thanks in advance.
Yes it is Sarah Brightman. I arranged and co-produced this track.It was quite a big club hit.
Firstly I have always been a big admirer of your work!
I used to run a big band The Midnight Jazz Orchestra few years ago .We did the D-Day concert for Vera Lynne at Royal Academy of Music
and am resurrecting it for select gigs.I am aiming for Pheasantry,Hideaway etc
Would you be interested in playing guitar not necessarily on a committed regular basis but if you were available and fancied it!
I was a big fan of Bandzilla (does it still exist ?) would you like to play or let us play some of the charts with your permission Slave to the Rhytmn Alligator Stomp for example.
This is not an amateur band but session players ,pros and a few like me a dentist who is both!!!
The repertoire of my band has one stipulation.
It has to be for the audience’s enjoyment.Hence
I only play transcriptions of Miller ,Ellington, Basie, Sinatra at The Sands,Tom Jones,Petula Clark,Matt Monro,exactly as per the record .
So if we did Charts I want to play it just right.
Did I remember a super gig at The Proms in the late80’s/90’s with about 8 saxes or am I mistaken?!
Dr D. Grant
I lost your email between moving houses. It would be great to touch base with you again. Sad news is that Mike Hawker passed away a couple of months ago.
Annabel and I have skyped Laurie Jay a couple of times and he sends his regards. Hope you and the family are well. GT
Richard. Please take 10 seconds to check my site and you may remember me. We have worked together before and many moons later it would be wonderful to work together again..or at least grab a coffee : ). Either way works well for me….BOTH would be even better. x look forward to hearing from you. Julie
Hi there Richard.
My name is Dougie and I am a songwriter and composer as well as a musician and producer. Sadly, I only discovered the UK songwriting contest today which entries closed at the end of September.
As I am no longer eligible to enter the UK Song Writing Contest, I would like to take this opportunity to present links to my work for your knowledge and consideration. I look forward to your expert reflection and would value any comments you would like to offer. https://soundcloud.com/user7432685
I look forward to keeping in touch with you and thank you in anticipation.
My schedule is so busy I can’t listen to all the music I am sent, because I wouldn’t have time to drink coffee.
I do give private songwriting consultation/lessons and have a couple of spaces free if you’re interested.
In any case, good luck!
I am Endel Koch, I am an active young songwriter from Estonia and currently living in the UK. I am contacting you because I saw the UK Songwriter contest website, but sadly the contest is over and I cannot participate anymore. I am very active on writing lyrics everyday and I have an freelance contract with Paramount Song US. I cannot work with Paramount, because the lack of funding, I cannot afford to make my lyrics into demos. Since I see your a man with a vision and direction towards music, I am asking advice and help from you. I wish to send you my work, to see what you think about these lyrics. I am very active person, very spiritual and my lyrics have a meaning behind them. As I know your a busy man, working on music everyday, I just wish to have a little bit of your time, so I could show you or send you my lyrics on email. I have very photographic memory and very creative mind, so when I start writing lyrics, I write about life and everything around us physically and spiritually. So if you do have time to see my work, please contact me trough email and we can have a little talk! Thanks for your time and take care Richard!
I am another example for you about arrangers not being fairly compensated. In 1972, I arranged several songs for the Delfonics album, Tell Me This is a Dream. I received credit and was paid. One of the songs was “Hey Love”. Around 1998 Puffy, sampled the entire track of Hey Love, arrangement included(strings, horns, everything) for a song that he produced for Biggie Smalls called “Player Hater”. It was on the double CD, Life After Death, that sold 10,000,000 copies. I don’t know if I should be paid or even how to go about being paid. I wrote the arrangement for “Hey Love” only–not for “Player Hater” 16 years later. What do I do? I’m 65 and could use the money.
I sympathize. As the arranger, unfortunately, you have no rights unless you have composer credit on “Hey Love”. You might contact the Delfonics or their publishers. But I’ve been down that road and the most likely thing to expect is that you’ll be ignored. Good Luck!
Dear Mr. McMillan:
You are one of the unsung people of the Philly sound. You (and Norman Harris) stepped in after Thom Bell ditched the Delfonics but little is known about you. I particularly liked your work on “Think About Me” and “I Told You So.”
Not sure why you’re writing to me, but my book THE INVISIBLE ARTIST has a LOT of info and interviews with Thom Bell, Bobby Martin and Bobby Eli. So get it from Amazon!
Hope all well with you and yours
Please can you give me a call or email me
I have entered the UK songwriting contest for several years and have always scored very high. I have received several semi-finalist and finalist awards as well as runner-up. I mainly write lyrics and won 8 semi-finalist awards in the 2014 contest. You may have even judged some of mine. I am looking for a co-writer to work with—are you available or have referrals? I live in Chicago but come out to LA and San Diego. Thanks Richard Richard J. Hamersma cell 312-208-1544
Hi Richard, I am not able to take part in any speculative projects. I am happy to co-write for a specific recording artist with a guaranteed release.
All the best, Richard
I am currently reading your book “the Pat Metheny Interviews” and I am puzzled about one detail but on page 45 it says that Pat wouldn’t play as a sideman from 1977 to Mike Brecker’s first record in 1987.
What about Pat Metheny playing with Joni Mitchell in 1979 and her record “Shadows & Light” with her all star band, like I said PM on guitar but also Lyle Mays (keys), Jaco Pastorius (elec bass), Mike Brecker (sax) & Don Alias (drums).
Could you please clarify?
Other than that nice reading about Pat.
Hugues from Belgium
Hi Hugues, Of course you are right, but that’s the thing about interviews. Pat was saying that in general he didn’t want to be a sideman anymore. Perhaps he forgot about Joni Mitchell at that moment. I do know that Pat was very excited to be playing with Joni, an artist he had the highest respect for. He also said he even wanted to respect some of the things Larry Carlton had plaid since they seemed to be integral to the song. And of course Pat later played as a sideman with Mike Brecker and Gary Burton. In general however, the vast majority of Pat’s work has been expressing his own wealth of innovative ideas as leader.Thanks for reading the book and recommend it to your friends.
A belated Happy New Year to you and yours! I am really enjoying reading your book “The invisible Artists”, each chapter teaches so much. I am a songwriter myself who studies arranging techniques. I was wondering is there a site or a place where I could download the shows you did on the BBC about Pop Arranging over a decade ago. i tried to find it on the net but haven’t had any luck. I keep on finding sites that say it’s longer available. Could you possibly make it available on your website? I’m sure your fans would be very appreciative. You take care.
Some of my radio shows are now on YouTube. For instance the series on Nelson Riddle. My video arranging lessons are on my website
I also give private lessons on SKYPE if you’re interested.
All the best
I’m writing a new book, my 9th, and this one focuses upon duets. I know that you’ve worked with Clive Griffin, Michael McDonald, Cher, Tina Turner, etc. All have had duet hits. I’m seeking fun anecdotes, studio memories, stories behind pairings for the book. Wouldn’t take long. Could be done by email or phone. You will have total final say over use of your quotes and may make any changes. I hope we can connect. Thank you. My phone (East Coast) 909 938 4623.
Hi Bob, We can do this best by Skype. Let’s fix a time for later next week.
All the best
Hi Richard Niles, congrats on your website organization and on your writings.
I am a Brazilian pianist, arranger and composer doing a doctoral research on lead sheets and fake books.
Where can I find a recording of your tune Looking Back included on the Real Book?
My research led me to “scan” the 400 pages of the Real Book comparing the transcriptions and the recordings.
Thanks for spending time reading this post!
I have never recorded it except for a cassette recording of the Berklee Big Band playing my arrangement in 1974 when I was a student there under the great Herb Pomeroy. My other tune in the Real Book is EMPATHY written for Pat Metheny.
I am currently recording a new big band album BANDZILLA RISES !!! This is sounding massive, so watch out for it. My previous Bandzilla album (1987) is available on bandcamp.com
I have 2 other albums of my compositions available there, SANTA RITA and CLUB DERANGED. I’m sure you will enjoy them!
By the way, are you a relative of the great percussionist Nana Vasconcellos?
No I am not! The Vasconcellos family in Brasil is a huge one. Nana is one of my favorite percussionists of course.
I just found one more of your tunes on the Real Book: “Tame thy pen”. Searching the youtube, I found this performance. I thought you might like it. It’s pretty close to your lead sheet published by the book.
I am amazed how a tune (never recorded) caused interest on Russian (?) young musicians. It is the Real Book effect!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WcJ49uxmeA
I just realized that you have posted two versions (audio) of Tame Thy Pen here in your website. They are both beautiful (vocal and instrumental, with guitar quartet). Now I know from where the Russian girl and her pianist got a sample and the lyrics.
By the way, on the Real Book, Tame Thy Pen has a unique way of describing the style of the piece: the word “jazz” followed by an eight note. What did you mean with that?
It just means – swing eighth nots. This is a common way to write a swing feel rather than writing it in triplets or in dotted eighth notes followed by a 16th note, neither of which are accurate or correct. The Russian girl made a brave attempt at the song, which is very difficult to play properly. When most people attempt to play my music they play it too hard, too generically. Musicians who know me well understand that although my music is unusual, it is a mix of genres, and always meant to be played lyrically. On my recording (my album CLUB DERANGED available on BANDCAMP) my favorite pianist Steve Hamilton understands.
Hi Richard. I’m Kazuo Suzuki from Japan. I have a question for you. I watched YouTube video that is Bandzilla’s Alligator Stomp.
I’m not sure that is your arrangement. But it is your arrangement, I would like to play it by my band, and wish you to sell me it. Please let me know.
Thank you for your time. Best regards,
It is my composition and arrangement. I don’t usually sell my arrangements. But my band, BANDZILLA, has a ne album coming out in October!
Thank you for your reply. I understand your policy for your arrangement but I really want to play it. Also I would like to promote your next album (I am one of importer for Jazz CD) and playing your arrangemnet is one of the promotion for your CD. Could you please consider this matter? Thank you.
my daughter, Rosa Leeder, entered two songs into the UKSC this year (2016) and obtained scores of 5 and 6 for them and therefore gained two commended entries. She wrote the first song Gunshot when the was 9! and the second Now, when she was 11. She is now 13 and continues to pump them out and these awards have helped her self-confidence no end, so thanks to the UKSC for that! As I am not really a part of the whole songwriting scene I was wondering if you had any advice for her (and me) about what we should do next in order to advance her career in music making and song writing. She is hugely talented I think and I want to help her realise her ambitions.
You can see her singing Gunshot here:
Peter and Rosa
Sorry it has taken so long to reply. Thec probs with my site! I don’t have time to view all the artist’s work who contact me here. But I do give professional Skype consultations, so let me know if you’re interested and I can give you prices.
All the best
Mr. Niles, I very much enjoyed your book, “The Invisible Artist.” Is there an address to which I can mail a 1-1/2 pg letter?
Thanks, Gary. You can email it to me through this site, email@example.com
Please understand that time does not permit a lengthy reply.
Hi, I have a portfolio of lyrics, that you can all find on https://thefourelements2015.wordpress.com/ . It would be amazing if you could take a look. Best, Farrah
Sorry, I can’t look at any unsolicited manuscripts or material. I do give Skype consultations, so let me know if you’re interested and I can give you prices.
All the best
Great music, great company and a great evening last night in Laguna
Thanks for something very special
Thanks for coming. Back next Tuesday, the 8th!
Hey Richard I recorded on tape one of your broadcasts on radio 2 one with the yellow jackets live and firstly thank you so much for that – sadly I did not capture any others but I note that you did several series for the beeb. Are these available anywhere – I would love to hear them – or do you do podcasts or any other broadcasting please. Kind regards
The only ones available are those I post on YouTube. I have not had time to make videos for them but definitely plan to do so. Watch my YouTube page, for my jazz orchestra BANDZILLA https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfZJGGkmdHkY7LQlQm2S-tA and they will be coming up. Thanks for your interest, Richard
I came across a $1.00 bill from World War II, a “short snorter”, and I think it has your father’s signature on it. I’ll take a picture and send it to you if you are interested. I’m guessing in was signed in England in 1943.
Great work and be well.
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