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Why grooming songwriters is really worth my time

2017 June 29
by Eric Ng

This marks the 11th year of FM Pop Music School. Last year we had a total blast organising the “20 Hits in 10 Hours” to celebrate 10 years of teaching and pushing new songwriters into the music industry.

I’m happy to report that the results from our trainees are getting better every year. It’s great to be able to realise what we dreamed off when we first started the school. To train and introduce the next generation of music makers into the music industry. Spot potential when we see it and share their works with you, the music fan.

I believe of the main reasons why we’ve attracted many trainees to pass through our doors is because we walk the talk, as we continue to work hard to stay relevant in the music industry. Xiaohan, Jim and I are still actively writing and producing music whether it’s for local or regional artists. In fact Xiaohan proudly remarked to me last week that in the span of an hour at a F&B outlet she heard 6 FM songs being aired there. These are the results of the hard work, emotions and passion created by the FM team of exclusive writers.

I enjoy teaching. I feel a great sense of satisfaction when FM can not only help the trainee improve but publish their songs or move them into the various parts of the music industry as well. One of these rewarding moments last year happened because a trainee came from class without submitting her homework. I gave her 30 minutes to write one on the spot with help from her course mate and she came up with this song.

Other assignments from our trainees include…

Ask any one of our trainees and you’ll hear that writing songs is the easy part. Conceptualising the demo, which includes producing, arranging it into a final polished, marketable demo is the tougher part. This is why we decided to push out the music arrangement course 2 years ago, for trainees to be able to have a better understanding of packaging a melody. It’s important as songwriters we at least have a basic understanding of music arrangement as it controls the final outcome and message of the song.

One common question I get is being confused on which path to choose. Learning songwriting or music arrangement? I’d say if you are a musician who has technical proficiency in either guitar or piano, music arrangement will be faster for you to catch. However if you have only a basic understanding of a music instrument, our songwriting course will allow you to understand melody and chords better which will in turn prepare you for taking the next step towards music arrangement.

I believe in leading by example so I’m always trying to write songs whenever I can. Last year I pitched out 50 over complete song demoes (Melody/Lyric/Arrangement/Vocalist/Production) in between touring, production, teaching and playing with my kid =D

Some of these songs written on my own and some with friends, FM exclusive writers. I will probably pitch out more this year, as just last week alone I wrote 10 songs over 3 days with some friends in Beijing.

I will say that I might not be as motivated if I don’t have a team of exclusive writers and friends just as passionate as me. Every month our writers pitch out more than 20 demoes to various record labels and artists all over the world.

With all these songs pitched, does that mean we sell all those songs last year? No! Only a fraction of the songs get sold. However I live for music and songwriting is my greatest love, I love creating something out of nothing and I’d say the same for our writers. Passion can take you a long way, the journey makes us grow and we happen to enjoy it.

So why is grooming songwriters is really worth my time? Apart from the satisfaction I get when I see trainees ecstatic when they achieve results. I find myself learning as well. I get to absorb the new ideas, influences, enthusiasm and energy of the new generation. This is especially so when I find a trainee who not only has potential but the drive as well. Surprisingly unknown to many, potential alone is just potential, it doesn’t further develop into results. Potential coupled with the right direction, discipline and drive…that will achieve wonders.

The commitments required of the songwriting, music arrangement or production component of the music industry is actually quite different from the performing artist component. There is room to branch into writing for different artists and productions from different countries, experimenting different music styles etc. With passion and discipline, even after you have scored a few hits by top artists around Asia, you are still be able to keep the day job or move into other areas of the music business. The sky’s the limit.

With that, I’m looking forward to our next batch of trainees for our upcoming songwriting and music arrangement courses!

Meanwhile I’ll write on…

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