Songwriting – Michael Lloyd Interview
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Learn from one of the "true" masters as Michael interviews music producer/songwriter/executive Michael Lloyd
Learn how to start the song writing process
Learn how to break out of song writing patterns
Learn where to put your focus
I had the honor of having producer / songwriter / music executive Michael Lloyd come into my songwriting interview class at MI and I thought I would pass along some of the things he had to say.
I have known Michael for a few years now but I didn’t know how extensive his resume was – you can search him on the internet for the full list, but for me the most surprising thing I found was he has over 100 gold and platinum records – that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 (or more) million records.
So this article may bounce around a bit (like an interview) – but I am sure you can take away some vital information.
On listening: He said that as a producer he was the captain in the studio – someone had to make decisions – he may not always be right – but somebody has to keep the sessions going and get the project finished.
He mentioned he has always been impatient – but he has been working on listening and letting other people go with their opinion –
How to start writing a song: Michael says he generally starts with the title – and he finds it more difficult to write a lyric to a melody he has written – in that case he likes to work with someone else on the lyric. Needless to say, he is a great believer in collaboration and everyone working to their strengths –
One gem of an idea Michael gave to the class was a tip on writing the way Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote. Michael said Oscar Hammerstein would write the lyric to another popular song’s melody – and then give the lyric to Richard Rodgers, but not tell him what melody he wrote it to – that way Richard Rodgers would write a melody that was fresh – and no one but Oscar Hammerstein would know the original melody that the lyric was patterned on.
That way the lyric is written to a form – a concept that is sometimes difficult for new writers. It can also help writers keep from writing similar songs and break out of patterns.
That approach would work very well for many people who have come to me saying they would like to collaborate, but don’t know how to start. Might even be a good way to try people out. I would imaging it would work both ways – for lyric or melody.
Focus: Michael says what is very important is focus – what are you writing for – what is your market – look at Radio and Records – online or get the paper – and focus where you are pitching. Michael mentions that if you can’t describe what style you are – chances are other music business professionals won’t know either.
He mentions you have to focus and work every part of your song – every element has to be right. He says that is not to be discouraging – it is a tough business – but everything is tough. That’s not a big deal – you just have to stay concerned with what you are doing – you have to stay passionate – involved – and not self satisfy easily.
You have to be able to sacrifice your time, energy, patience, and emotions to get good stuff. It’s hard, but you gotta do it. Music touches people in a way that nothing else does – it touches people emotionally in a unique way – you need to remember that when crafting your songs –
He said you work till you drop – he says he is obsessive about his work.
He also mentions that everyday you have to try and learn more to make it in this business – with all the success he and Mike Curb have had, it is still an evolving process –
Marketing: Michael says today it is all about entrepreneurship, creating your market – promoting yourself – doing what the record company did under the old paradigm, which doesn’t exist anymore – your promotion is up to you. The people at the labels are “morons – they are clueless – they are a marketing and bank thing” – that’s all they are.
But the bottom line seemed to be when he said this business is fun – it’s not like other businesses. It is a dream based business – dream big – everyone is an individual and they will be judged individually at different stages of their careers – do what you can, do the best you can, and respect the other people that you are around.
He also said he needed people like the students in the class to provide the songs and be the artists and producers to supply him with the hits for the future.
I really appreciate the technical knowledge he brought to the class, but probably the biggest thing I learned form him is his attitude of giving – he took the time from his very busy schedule to come to the class at MI to share with students his wisdom and knowledge gained from his years of experience. He did it with a demeanor of calm, helpfulness, and giving back – an openness and friendliness the students appreciated.
And that is a lesson for more than just songwriting.
Michael Anderson is a songwriter, artist, producer, and author who has written songs for John Fogerty, Juice Newton, Pam Tillis, Phil Seymour, Rebecca St. James, and others in rock, pop, country, and CCM.
His songs have been featured in films and television, including recent season finales of “American Idol” and “The Voice”.
He has been a staff writer for EMI and BMG Publishing in Nashville, as well as MCA /Universal and Criterion Music in Los Angeles.
He wrote the #1 country single, “Maybe It Was Memphis”, several #1 CCM singles, and won a Dove Award for “Hard Rock Song of the Year.”
As a solo artist he has released seven albums, including two on A&M Records, two on EMI / Forefront, and three independent releases.
At the Musicians Institute in Hollywood he teaches professional songwriting and artist development, and wrote the songwriting curriculum for the Independent Artist and Vocal programs. He also teaches private lessons on professional songwriting at Westwood Music in Los Angeles, Ca.
He is a member of the Greater Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles and sings in the Mens Chorus.