Sometimes being able to recall a quote or a saying can inspire, help you find a path/direction, or just give some comfort/support, something to hang on to and keep going.

Here are a few that I have saved,  have helped me & others (or I just think are good bits of advice). Some are newer, some oldies..
it’s not a complete list but maybe one or more will be of help to some who read them.

  • A few years ago Tommy Emmanuel said on a video pop for one of my seminars the simple statement…
    “Everytime, turn up and, do your best”.
    Drill down through those parts and you will see its deep advice. ..
    A. ‘Everytime’ connotates more than once and all the time.
    B. to ‘turn up’ – you need to have something to turn up to (so think about it, need to have done the work to get gigs, go from there)
    C. to do ‘your best’ – you need to be practiced & ready, etc
  • ” It doesn’t matter how many plates you break in the kitchen, it’s the one you serve the customer that counts”  (masterchef season 1 ….. yea I know …. but think about how it applies to preparation & delivery in our industry)
  • “Everyone has the will to win, not everyone has the will to prepare”
  • “Most of the time, the ‘lucky’ person happens to be the one who has done a lot of preparation, is always looking for opportunities, willing to go for it and put themselves in situations where the possibility of doors opening is probable.”
  • “Success is 1 part determination & 5 parts determination” & similarly  “Most ‘overnight’ successes are 10, 20 or 30 years in the making”
  • “Change is a constant that you can either flow with, learn to adapt to or react against”- usually the latter is only effective within your own sphere of influence
  • “If the plan isn’t working…change the plan” (shark tank episode 3 weeks ago)
  • “If you don’t want to change, learn or adapt to the changing circumstances, that’s fine …but then don’t complain, be happy with your decision”
  • “Most people can learn to paint (even if by numbers), not everyone can conceive the picture”.
    Music is mathematical as well as inspirational/emotional….so a lot of it can be learnt and skills grown through training & practice. ..but some elements are intuitive, creative and emerge out of that space. The goal is to develop your skills enough to be able to capture the intuitive, fleeting thought/sound/moment and mould it/fully realising it into something tangible
  • (Along the same lines one of mine) “If you are a 4 chord guitarist with no developed music theory behavior, I don’t care what you hear in your head, it will probably come out like basic level rock, country or folk.” .. similarly… .
    “you don’t know what you don’t know & therefore can’t use it”…
    For example, if you’ve never heard a minor7, augmented, & any of the other more complex chord extensions & know how they fit…. you can’t conceive to use those colours/flavours in your music to create something different, can you?
    To bring the full vision of a thought into reality you need to upskill or collaborate/communicate with someone who has the skills & experience to interpret and apply it
  • “In music, like art, there are not many absolute right or wrongs”. Its personal taste, emotion, communication ..and therefore open to possibilities & interpretation, likes/dislikes

And the final 3…

  • ” if you do nothing, nothing will change for you except the effect of actions/decisions of someone else on you”
  • “To walk a mile, starts with one step” and similarly
  • “The way to eat an elephant? One bit at a time”Taking a new direction, adapting to external change, learning a new skill or way to do something …is often stressful and hard….
    But sometimes if you break the big issue down into little segments and just focus  on doing one of those at a time….it becomes manageable and maybe even achievable.



Copyright 101 & a bit

I continue to get inquiries from emerging artists that really dont understand the area of copyright fully.
2 weeks ago I was at an APRA Publishers Pulse day and in the morning they had some basic summary stuff on slides. I was given a copy of those slides and with permission – copy the basic points here for your perusal.

Note this is very light and basic but some points are worth being sure people know (my notes to points in italics)

So ……..

Copyright laws exist to protect the rights of creators and those who invest in them to make sure they are fairly paid for the use of their work. This provides a very valuable and necessary income stream to many composers, writers, artists and other creators.

It is worth noting that copyright specifics are different for many of the arts (eg copyright conditions on literature is different to music, etc) – so I will be concentrating on the musical side only in this article – – -and as it relates to Australia (because again there is different laws and actions in different regions).

Copyright in music

  • Protects music, lyrics and recordings separately
  • It is automatically granted in Australia, no registration required  (note: this is different to some countries where you have to register your copyright for it to be noted)
  • When Writers / publishers register their ownership of works with APRA-AMCOS, this is for royalty distribution only (copyright remains residing with the owner of the work)
  • NOTE: APRA AMCOS does not decide who is the true copyright owner (we dont have the registration process here so its up to a proof, potentially legal process to determine)
  • If disputes arise around ownership of works, APRA AMCOS will hold money on a work until resolved between members
  • Copyright is akin to property, can be bought/sold or assigned/licensed in agreements (e.g. APRA AMCOS, to music publishers)
  • Copyright exists in many types of works and materials not just those that APRA AMCOS administers and licenses on behalf of our members and affiliates.
  • For information on copyright generally, the websites for Australian Copyright Council (http://www.copyright.org.au/ ) and the New Zealand Copyright Council (http://www.copyright.org.nz) are excellent resources.
  • Term of copyright
    For musical works (relevant to writers/composers/lyricists) the copyright term in Australia is the life of the author + 70 years*
    (*If the author died before 01/01/1955 then copyright term is life of the author + 50 years)
    For sound recordings (yes there is a separate copyright and royalty payable) the copyright term in Australia is the year first published + 70 years


APRA-AMCOS work specifically on the songwriter side
The Australian Copyright Act (1968) gives music copyright owners a number of rights. APRA AMCOS looks after these specific rights.  So they help you as a songwriter look after your rights and payments when someone

  • Performs the work in public:
    including these venues: hotels, bars, nightclubs, cafes, gyms, retailers,  cinemas, concerts and events. and by any means including radio, TV, film, CD players/personal devices, online streaming, DJ or live artist/performer
  • Communicates the work to the public by various means:  including broadcast on radio, TV, online (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Netflix, Stan, YouTube)
  • Reproduces their work in material form e.g. CD, vinyl, sheet music, digital download, online (iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Pandora, Netflix, Stan, YouTube),
    ringtones etc

HOWEVER …In Australia, these are 4 organisations that collect and pay royalties
BECAUSE there are rights and potentially royalties for the musical works AND sound recordings
These are divided into the type of rights and also whether Music Work or Sound Recording.

  • For Performing (performance in public) and Communication Rights(broadcast, online, downloads & streaming)
    Music Works rights representing  music publishers, composers and songwriter
    Are collected by APRA
    Sound Recording rights representing record companies, labels and artists who create sound recordings.
    Are collected by PPCA
  • Mechanical (Reproduction) Rights (CD manufacture, downloads & streaming)
    Music Works rights representing  music publishers, composers and songwriter
    Are collected by AMCOS
    Sound Recording rights representing record companies, labels and artists who create sound recordings.
    Are collected by ARIA

    * NOTE – downloads & streaming have both communication right and reproduction (mech) right – so there is possibly royalties payable in both areas on a recorded version of a song!!!!!!

So  a singer songwriter who writes original songs that are being performed and then records those songs and they are being played on radio (or in cafe’s etc)- they should be registered with BOTH APRA and PPCA
IF then they have someone want to license their song – depending if it is the original song (so want to record it themselves)  or use the finished recorded version (in say film etc)  – then may also need to be registered with BOTH AMCOS and ARIA

Confusing?  Possibly. More time and paperwork? Probably BUT  ……. there are royalty payments available on the mechanical side as well as perfoming royalties from iTunes, Youtube etc etc – and even radio air play!!!!! So if you are not registered and doing the returns etc  – you are missing out on income!!!

Hope you found this of interest.  Happy to help if more information or assistance is needed.

Till next time.



In certain things one needs to accept …it’s NEVER going to be PERFECT

Whether it is a design (of a home or office), an art piece or a musical production…. if one waits until one achieves ‘perfection’, there is a significant possibility of never completing the project!  Why?

Well, in certain areas and activity things can be finite, can be calculated or determined exactly. When 1+1 = 2 or that support has to be X wide and made of Y to hold up that whatever  – then it can (and at times has to be) exact.

But in the creative space, this is not the case –  ‘perfect’ is arbitrary.
Whenever taste, like/dislike & emotional response is involved , there are no ABSOLUTE right or wrongs. So its a preference … and that can change day to day, when another option is presented, how you are feeling or affected by a number of other factors.
If one keeps exploring, keep searching the net, keep trying alternatives (beyond ‘reasonable’), it may never stop because…options and alternatives are endless.

Think of
– all the shades, tones, percentage strengths of a paint colour or mix.
– think of all the combinations of notes, harmonies, volume and placement and instrumentation possibilities in a musical piece
– should a chair be here or a lamp there….
Its endless choice!

Is that a bad thing- no of course not………..  IF it is understood and accepted.
And yes, of course one should seek to do the best one can.

However, in some cases, seeking ‘perfection’ can be obsessive to the point of inaction.
In the worse cases people start second guessing themselves, move to a point of not being able to make a decision at all and in fact, become reactive against a finite answer ..because ‘there might be something better tomorrow’…’just in case’ becomes a vortex of inaction.

Like the person looking for a coat, and even though they found a good buy, they keep shopping, waiting, googling specials etc, to get THE best deal.. maybe it is because they bought something once and the next day saw it cheaper & are never going to let that happen again ……. but sometimes this indecision means they never get the coat and stay cold.

Or the music project where we might get questions like ‘what about if we just try Xx instrument’ ‘or i heard about this northen bengaly…whatever’ after 20 combinations have already been tried.or can we keep exploring this area ‘just in case’….and 5 years later the project is still going.

Even when one is happy and signs off a work…often a week or so later doubts start creeping in.
For example I, and other producers will also have seen, artists often be totally satisfied and sign off on a mix, a master, a CD, then a couple of weeks after release the ‘oh, I could have’s’ start creeping in.

So what is the answer….mmmm well to me (and staying in the musical space) it is ………

First, we have to recognise that as creatives, artists, designers, musicians …most of us are our own worse critics!
What we see as that little ‘something’ may not even be noticed by anyone else! The slight ‘moment/thing/placement’ may add flavour to the observer/listener because they didn’t know it was meant to be anything else!

Having said that ….. if one has a clear path and sets project plans out properly – things tend to get done appropriately.

  • Start with taking the time to get a clear view of the goal.. the purpose/intention of the end product, the big picture – so what it is to be and therefore, what it is not.  Which thereby already puts parameters around expectations.
    Eg, if going to produce a low cost demo to pitch your act for gigs, that is not the same as commercial level radio ready production (not the same in cost, time or finish/mastering etc)
  • Then explore options as much as you can within those parameters and within some set limits to the search (whether time, finance or another factor).
    Don’t worry about options or things outside the project boundaries you have set.
  • Most importantly, after that.. be prepared to make decisions and stick with them….
    Sure take a break, check once or twice if need be, but then  be happy with it.
    Could it be improved down the track? Maybe, but at the time you thought it was right so go with it. be confident that you were…..and move forward.
  • And finally…finish it!
    Even if you have to be strict on yourself and set deadlines etc…finish and move on, learn from it and keep improving sure but….. get the thing done or it’s not a thing at all!

Anyway just a thought for the day that I thought might help someone out there.

All the best till next time.


Want to be a songwriter?…just do it!

Having just been working on the score for a musical and a promo video…when I got an enews article today from Joe Gilder (a guy I subscribe to) on this topic..I wanted to share it with you today for a few reasons.

  • First, I agree with almost all he is saying
  • Most professional songwriters I have met & spoken to have a strong sense of purpose in ‘doing something rather than waiting’
  • The process of doing it & practicing increases skill & the ability to do it

Anyway, hopefully you will get what I mean by the end of the article…. Hope you find it of interest.


I’m a sporadic songwriter.

I love the idea of a daily routine that involves me writing every day. Unfortunately, there are about fifty other daily activities jockeying for a slot in my calendar. I have to prioritize, and some (most) activities get the axe.

While a daily songwriting regimen isn’t something I’ve managed to incorporate into my life, I still need to write songs (especially when I’m releasing 4 EP’s in one year). I’m juuuust getting into songwriting mode now for the next EP, set to release on September 1st. We start recording for the EP in less than two weeks. What does all this mean? I needs to write some songs ASAP.

A few years ago, if you plopped me down into this identical situation — full-band tracking day less than two weeks away, and I haven’t written any songs yet — I would have freaked out.

Today, though? My response is more like, “Huh…guess I better schedule some songwriting sessions on my calendar.” And that’s what I’m gonna do.

Forced Creativity is STILL Creativity

People tend to balk at the idea of forcing yourself to be creative. “Just let it come to you, man. Wait for inspiration to strike, bro!”


Being inspired is wonderful. I love it when I get overwhelmed by a desire to sit down and write a song, but that doesn’t happen all the time. If I only wrote songs when I really really felt like it, I’d probably write 2-4 songs per year.

People say they can’t force songwriting. What they mean is they WON’T force it. They only like to do things that are comfortable. Writing while incredibly inspired is easy and comfortable. Writing because you committed to write a song today, inspiration or not? That can be really difficult and uncomfortable.

Anything worth doing will be difficult and uncomfortable at times.

Would you rather passively sit back and wait for a song to come to you? Or would you rather go out and grab it? One option means you’ll be able to release an album every 5 years. The other means you can release music whenever you want.

I’ll take the second one, please.

Here’s the honest truth. I’m capable of writing good songs whether I’m inspired or not. So are you. Why? Because just like throwing a baseball or playing guitar, songwriting is a skill requiring practice. Deliberate practice makes you better and faster.

But daily songwriting is daunting!

I agree. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to work songwriting into my daily or weekly routine. For now, the best way I’ve found to force myself to write is to tell the world I’m releasing new music. That’s right, I announce the new music before I’ve even written it.

That’s what I did with these 4 EP’s. I announced back in January that I’m releasing 4 EP’s. I hadn’t written a single song yet. But I announced it and set release dates. Now I work backward from the release dates to schedule recording sessions, specifically that first tracking session. That session becomes my songwriting deadline. Then I write as much as I can before the day of the session arrives.

I repeat this process with every EP. And have I written some real snoozers? Yup. Have I written some great songs? Yup. Whether I took two years or two weeks to write them, the results are about the same. I like some. I don’t like others. I pick the ones I like, and they go on the EP.

It’s ridiculously simple, but it’s powerful.

If you want to become a better songwriter, announce to the world that you are releasing your next project (album/EP/single). Give them a release date. Next, work backwards from the release date and set your deadlines for mixing, recording, etc. From there you can set your songwriting deadline. Once that’s set, all that’s left is to force yourself to sit down, face the discomfort of being forced to write something, and WRITE SOMETHING.

Then do it again, and again.

I promise your songs will improve.

But it takes effort. It takes facing a lot of fears and insecurities, but it’s WORTH IT.

Are you willing to put in the work?


(Ian again)… Now whether you announce to the world EP release dates or not is up to you.. But if not already doing it, why not try (with intent) the idea of sitting down every day, or 3 days and writing ….. something. Even if its rubbish, the very act of doing that is practice, reading up on technique and trying it..will almost force you to grow in your songwriting..and results.

If the majority of the professional full time songwriters do it in a manner similar to this…isn’t it worth having a go?

If so, go for it and don’t forget to let me know how it went for you.

Cheers till next time.