THE MOST EXPENSIVE SEAT IN THE HOUSE

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Written February 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfTPurcQgzA

 

I watched my husband, Brian Murphy, recently being interviewed by Steve Rennie on his web show, Renman Live.  Brian gave Steve his start in the business and it was so cool to hear them talk about the business and share stories.  

Brian is a concert promoter- it’s in his blood.  He can walk into an empty room , turn on his spacial reasoning button and fully visualize the finished sets down to to a tee. 

He has risked his own money and even mortgaged his own house for a show!  In the back of my mind, I always knew this was part of his story, but I did not realize what a huge deal it was until now, after watching this interview. I have a very different perspective being in Corporate America and spending someone else’s money.  

Brian made a comment about he always had the most expensive seat in the building, and it made me remember back to when we first started dating. Jewel was playing Irvine Amphitheater (now Verizon), which was Brian’s venue, and he called me to see if I was all set for the show: tickets, backstage, parking? I said yes, too fast, and corrected myself and said I did not have parking. He said he would take care of it and that was that. The perks of having a boyfriend as a concert promoter!

I showed up that Sunday evening and gave my name at the podium for parking. The girl pointed to go down a dirt road in front of me. I looked to my right and saw parking lots and wondered why she was pointing a different way. I motioned to her like, “really, this way?” ... but she urged me on.

I drove straight for about a quarter mile. Then, with help from the parking patrol, I took a left and proceeded to follow it around until I was shown a space behind the stage. Yup, behind the stage. Brian came out to meet me, grinning from ear to ear. ‘Bet you don’t ever get this close, do you?” 

“This is a first” I replied. He’s a keeper!

Great interview with great insights. I think everyone should watch it- but clearly, it held extra sentimental value for me.

Highly recommend.

 

 

One More Thing...

On March 16, I blogged about what my platform would be if I were running to be the President of the United States. I put forth that I would emphasize the responsibility of raising a child and that one would have to grow a single crop in return for their life on this earth. 

And now, I would like to add another.

I believe that when a child turns 6, her parents should take her down to the local pound to save a dog’s life. She will walk, feed, train, and love that puppy into a dog. The blessing of this caregiving act will teach our young people to be more compassionate and caring human beings.

On the Purina Petcentric Website, there are 5 beneficial reasons listed that show why this is good idea:

 1. Constant Companionship

Although childhood isn't always easy, having a pet provides constant companionship through the ups and downs. Dogs can be a great source of comfort for kids — even when they're coming to grips with difficult life lessons. Whenever kids feel sad, angry, or afraid, they can always turn to their pet. Petting and cuddling dogs has also been shown to relieve stress and help people relax.

2. A More Active Lifestyle

Caring for a dog also encourages a more active lifestyle. In fact, a recent study showed that kids with dogs exercise eleven minutes a day more than their non-dog owning peers. That might not sound like a lot, but over a week or month, it really adds up. Many dogs require daily walks or runs and plenty of play time. Those adorable puppy eyes they give you are sure to motivate you — even when you're not feeling up to it.

3. Learning Responsibility

Having a pet is a great way to teach responsibility to kids. Making sure that the family dog has food and water gives children a first glimpse of accountability and obligation. Children also learn empathy and compassion by caring for their pet, while developing a higher level of self-esteem by taking care of their pet-owning responsibilities.

4. Health Is Wealth

Recent studies have found that babies raised in close contact with a pet get sick less often in their first year of life, meaning fewer visits to the doctor's office. Exposure to pet dander and the microbes that pets carry into the home from the outdoors is suggested to improve babies' developing immune systems. Research has also found that children who grow up with dogs experience a reduced risk of allergies.

5. Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of dogs in early childhood is simply that they make children happy! Interaction with animals has been proven to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the chemical building blocks of positive feelings. All science aside, playing and interacting with dogs is just plain fun — and it's bound to brighten any kid's day.

Well, it will probably be a while before this becomes law, but that does not mean you can’t put it into place right away! 

Adopt a pet, save a life, fall in love.

LITTLE GEMS

In 2003, I took 15 Warner Chappell writers from all over the world to Lake Arrowhead for my annual Writing “Summer Camp. That year I would meet Stephony Smith from our Nashville office.

Immediately, I felt connected to this woman. She was smart, kind, funny and oh yeah, she had written a little song called “It’s your Love” for Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill.

Her other songwriting credits include Heidi Newfield’s “Johnny And June,” Trisha Yearwood’s “Perfect Love,” Reba McEntire’s “How Was I To Know,” Chad Brock’s “Yes,” Tim McGraw’s “Back When,” Kenny Chesney’s “Big Star,” Ricochet’s “What Do I Know” and Lorrie Morgan’s “Go Away.” She was BMI’s 1998 Songwriter of the Year and has more than 100 cuts by artists such as Shania Twain, SHeDAISY, Barbara Streisand, the Dixie Chicks, Lonestar, and Diamond Rio.

On the first day of camp, I paired her with her roommates: Jodi Marr who is a successful Pop/Latin writer and Rosey, an artist/writer signed to Polygram at the time. That day, they wrote one of my favorite songs that has never been cut, “Someone Says Your Name.”

I can’t tell you how many songs sit in the vaults of publishers that are forgotten. Honestly, I should make a playlist! I was at Warner Chappell for 20 years and got pretty familiar with thousands upon thousands of songs that will never be heard again. They will never get the attention they deserve because it takes too much man power to look through them and see if there are any gems. It’s a full time job.

Luckily for you guys, I’ve dug this one out! Enjoy this song written by 3 girls who had just met and are still friends to this day.

“Someone Says Your Name” by Jodi Marr/Rosey/Stephony Smith

“I think I’m fine and then...

Then someone says your name

then all of a sudden my tears come down like rain

I thought it was over

but it’s like nothings changed

cause I still feel the same when someone says your name”

RIGHT FROM THE START

This is an excerpt from my book “The Songwriters Survival Guide”, Chapter 8: 

        You are the CEO,  Become The Leader Of Your Career

True story: I worked closely with songwriter, producer, and musician Jamie Houston for over nine years. I met him in Nashville right before he moved to LA in 1992. He had been waiting tables, writing songs, and making connections, and had decided to move to LA to pursue songwriting. A year later, I signed him to his first publishing deal.

From the beginning, I could tell that Jamie was a very quick learner who was inherently good at business and also really great at predicting the future. When he started to earn money from songwriting, he treated every cut as if it could be his last, saving and investing wisely. On my suggestion, he hired a business manager immediately to make sure that, from the very start, he was pointing himself in the right direction.

The music business can be so up and down: you can make $1 on one song and $1,000,000 on the next, so saving up for a rainy day is key.

Jamie brings consciousness to his business practices so that he is protected and isn't caught off-guard when things don’t work out. He asks the right questions sothat he understands the choices he needs to make.

He also carries all of these skill sets over when he is developing artists, teaching them not only about the creative side but making sure they understand the business. He is paying it forward!

When it came time to hire a lawyer, a business accountant, and a manager, Jamie hired wisely and has the same team in place to this day. I have watched him balance his career and personal life as he has grown from a young man with aspirations to be a part of the music business, to a successful songwriter/producer, husband, and father. 

Jamie is a great leader by the example he sets in his creative, business and personal life.

 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

*If you now have a catalogue of songs, your business in

order, and your heart full of intention, then you are ready

to start setting up meetings with publishers and other

music executives who can help you with the next step:

monetizing and expanding your career”

                   .....The Songwriter’s Survival Guide by judy stakee

I was Ben Glover’s second publisher. He was part of Shaun Shankel’s co-venture with me that also included Joy Williams and For King and Country’s Joel and Luke Smallbone.

He received a small but “enough to live on” advance that afforded him the time to perfect his craft. He needed to learn how to turn good songs into singles. And, that he did. He started getting cuts in his second year with artists like Trace Adkins, The Afters, Joy Williams, Natalie Grant, Mandisa, and many more.

Just as Ben’s third option was nearing, Warner Chappell had a regime change and was, yet again, making a decision as to whether or not to employ Ben as a staff-writer. The new leadership came in to reevaluate, cut costs and unilaterally drop writers to save the bottom line. Ben ended up on the wrong side of the line.

The worst part is that neither of us were prepared for it. I had always picked up writers who brought in royalties and performed well, so I was struggling to make sense of the decision. It felt like I had just stepped off the top floor of a building with Ben in hand, and the only thing keeping me afloat was believing with my whole heart that he would land somewhere safe.

Luckily, Ben had been making quite a name for himself in the Christian marketplace and he put a call into Eddie DeGarmo, a longtime friend, at EMI Publishing and told him he was a free agent. At the same time, we let Dean and Matt Serletic, who had recently started a publishing company at Emblem Records, know the situation. Ben had written a ballad with their act Gloriana at their writing camp that ended up on their record, so they were big fans. By the end of the week, both EMI and Emblem had made offers. Other publishing companies called, fighting over Ben, the “it” boy, and that felt good

Ben ultimately signed with EMI Music and the results of that decision have proved very successful. He has penned twenty-six #1 hits in multiple genres of music and was named ASCAP’s Christian songwriter of the year in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He wrote the hit country songs "Hard to Love" by Lee Brice and "Love Don't Run" by Steve Holy, along with numerous hits in Christian music including "All This Time" and "The Lost Get Found" by Britt Nicole, “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli, and Mandisa’s songs “Stronger" and “Overcomer,” the latter of which won a Grammy award. Along with his credits as a songwriter, Glover has also achieved some notable success as a producer for songs like “Busted Heart” and “The Proof of Your Love" by For King & Country, and the song “Greater” by MercyMe. Glover has had over 350 songs recorded in multiple genres of music by artists such as Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Crowder, Trace Adkins, Gloriana, Thompson Square, The Backstreet Boys, Amy Grant & James Taylor, Marc Broussard, Clay Walker, Joy Williams, Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, The Afters, Colton Dixon, Newsboys, Kari Jobe, and many others.

At the very beginning of his journey, Ben put all his focus, energy and hard work into creating a foundation for his career that has held him up and supported him as he has climbed up the preverbal ladder.

And, the whole time, he has built a great reputation of being someone you could count on to get the song written. The proof is in the pudding!                           

In times of struggle, it was Ben’s craft that pulled him through. So, now I ask you, reader, what are you doing to perfect yours?

MORE DOOR TO DOOR

 

For a girl who had been back-and-forth between Nashville and Los Angeles for years on end, I had not been back to Music City for some time. I was eager to get back to Nashville, which I had heard grew so much: approximately 85 people a day are moving in!

So, last month, I made plans to speak at Belmont, to produce a writer’s workshop for The Record Shop, and to conduct several interviews for my video series, Door to Door.

Belmont was so much fun! I had 100 students in front of me eager to find out what I had to share. Prior to my trip, I had been introduced to Giovanni Sean of The Record Shop and, with his help, put on a one-day workshop at Sony Studios for his community. These day-long workshops are really my favorite thing to do. I get to give information that can really help someone on their journey. There is nothing better than seeing a face light up when someone get the tools they need to push forward.

For my Door to Door Series, I sat down with Ben Glover, Jamie Houston and Stephony Smith.

All three are very successful writer/producers. Ben is mainly in the Christian marketplace, Jamie straddles Pop and Country, and Stephony has a hold on the Country market. I signed both Jamie and Ben when they were just starting out and I gave them the foundation they needed to succeed and it still supports them today. I could not be prouder.

I met Stephony in 2002 at one of my Writers Camps, five years after the release of her huge single “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill. She was signed out of our Nashville office. At the ACM’s the next year, her song swept the top awards.

I was taken aback by how many people thanked the writer so profoundly. That night nobody forgot the part that Stephony played in the song’s success. It was so validating for her as a songwriter to receive praise for an oftentimes faceless job. And that’s why I really love Nashville: they respect their songs and their songwriters in a way that no other city in this industry does.

Boy, do I miss that town. I should have bought property 30 years ago when Jamie Houston advised me it would be a good investment!

The picture above is with me and the band Levon, who Jamie developed, produced and co-wrote. Lucky girl, they sang for me!

Enjoy the videos!

SONGWRITING CAMPS

In the early 90’s, Miles Copeland, most notable for founding IRS records and managing The Police, bought the Chateau Marouatte. Constructed in the Dordogne region of Perigord Vert, France, the Chateau Marouatte is a 14th century fortified castle steeped in history. It was there that Copeland would change our industry with one word: camps.

Having 270 acres to his name, Copeland decided to invite 24 songwriters and artists to the French countryside for a week. He fed them and housed them, only asking for one thing in return: to write and record a song per day in which he would share a piece of the publishing.

For eight years, Copeland sponsored the Marouatte writing camps with Almo Irving Music Publishing. However, in 1999, Warner Chappell became his new partner and I was put in charge. That year, I took 12 writers on an overseas flight to Paris, a cross-country train to the South of France, and finally an hour long bus ride to the Chateau Marouatte for a once in a lifetime experience.

 Due to my camp’s success, Warner Chappell asked if I was ready to do it all over again the following year. And, I was, but I had a vision for creating a camp for only our writers.

That year and the next, I set up a camp in Nashville where there was already a community into which I could integrate. However, it became apparent to me that the writers and I needed some new place where we could be isolated from the music industry. And, therefore, I started to host my camps in Lake Arrowhead.

There, I played matchmaker for writers who had left their everyday routines at home to nurture a creative spark. A safe space was provided for everyone to experiment with new genres and words, and make lasting connections. Ultimately, these camps became a very important exercise in taking my writers out of their comfort zones so that they could experience new perspectives and new ideas. For writers like Kevin Kadish, NIcky Sixx, Jodi Marr, and Tim Nichols, camps were a turning point where they figured out who they were and where they could take their art.

Now, I’m doing it all over again. And, this time, I want YOU to be there. I will be putting on a “first of it’s kind” songwriting retreat from June 10-13 in Normandy, France where you can be a part of an eclectic group who will partake in a camp like those that so many prolific writers still participate in today. Come with me for a weekend of inspiration and challenges that will propel you forward in your songwriting journey.

REWARDS

 


I am proud to announce that my book, The Songwriters Survival Guide, is a Forward Review Independent book award finalist.


This is the first time in recent memory where I’ve felt my competitive spirit reignite. When I was a child, my father, by way of his natural spirit for competition, cultivated within me a desire to win. He always wanted to be the first place finisher, the right one in a heated debate, or the one who pulled off some extraordinary feat! Winning gave him an undeniable sense of joy and he surely enjoyed the ego boost from all the attention.


I am indebted to him for a victor’s lesson I’ve carried with me my whole life: hard work is the catalyst for reward. This first became apparent to me when I was swimming competitively in high school. I practiced day-in and day-out for hours at a time. Although it wasn’t always easy, come time for competition, those laps I pushed myself to complete in practice gave me the winning edge.

 

When I got the news I was a Forward Review finalist in 2 categories early in March, I felt like a twelve year old girl again: body tensed and focused on the pool podium, ready to propel myself through the water at breakneck speed as soon as that starting gun goes off.


However, at this point, all the work that I could have done to win this award is on the pages of my book. Now, it is up to a community of my peers, 120 librarians and booksellers from around the country, to name a winner. There is no lobbying to be done, posters to make, or campaigning of any kind. My work will have to speak for itself and that is both exciting and unnerving. Trust me, the competitor inside of me wishers she could be in that judge’s room trying to win over everybody and get there votes.

That said, no matter what happens, it feels phenomenal to be noticed for all the work that I have put into The Songwriter’s Survival Guide.  As a music publisher by trade, most of what I’ve accomplished is behind the scenes, never getting applause, let alone a prize!  So, for now, I’ll take a moment to relish in this accomplishment and thank those who voted for me.


My dad would disagree, but just being nominated feels like a win in-and-of itself.

 

POTUS

 

It started over a week ago, late at night in the hills, while I overlooked a city blanketed in a rare fog. I was brooding over the choices we have left for President and began conversing with myself about the state of the world. I thought out loud: “ Why don’t I run? Then, without skipping a beat, I asked myself, “What would my platform be?”

 

The ideas came pouring out of me and I quickly resolved to run my platform based on 2 philosophies: 1) If you have a child, then you have to be able to take care of it and 2) in exchange for your place on this earth, you have to grow one crop.

 

This is where I would start, with a collective and universal intention to honor our children and the earth: the fundamentals of our society and our survival. We would ultimately spend less money on programs that punish or mask the problem for those who would be affected. For example, when a child grows up feeling loved, protected and nourished, they are less likely to be depressed and that means that there is no need for the drugs that are used to combat this condition. Take away the root of the problem, i.e. feeling lost, alone and abandoned, and plant seeds that nurture and inspire love.

 

We would accomplish this by helping women see a specific perspective: it’s not okay to be with a man who has no intention of taking care of mother and child. If you are going to give life to a child, then you need to focus your full attention on that human being in order for them to fully develop and, ultimately, be able to live their own lives. When women have to work outside the home and raise a child, success is nearly impossible. Certainly, there are some superwomen out there! However, mothers should not have to work outside the house until the child is attending school, because the child will suffer from the mother not being present.

 

That said, Fathers will have to be able to provide and protect mother and child so that they can concentrate on their journey. We need to help fathers see how important their role is as providers and protectors and show them that they should take pride in that honor.

 

Furthermore, we need to ensure that it is parents, as opposed to nannies, who are the one’s raising their children. In marriage and family therapist Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book, “In Praise of Stay-At-Home Moms,” conversations are started about internal struggles that women have when deciding to stay home and how that decision impacts their marriage and benefits their kids. Dr. Schlessinger’s writing also raises an important question: If nannies are raising children, why do parents even have them? Considering the implications of this questions, it is easy to conclude that parents should take on the responsibility of raising their own children.

 

Indeed, parents naturally have the intelligence, intuition and means to breed love in their home in a manner that protects, inspires, and nurtures children. In this type of environment, children will grow up to be loving and decent people, equipped with the tools to create their own life and fly solo by the time they reach 18. And, isn’t this the true prize of life: raising the next generation full of happy, well-loved human beings!

 

Accomplishing this culture shift would necessitate programs that support long maternity leaves and that teach creative thinking about restructuring how children and mothers bond, grow and flourish during those years. However, if we put importance on the deep bond between mother and child, I have no doubt that this would be possible.

 

Beyond creating this change for mothers and children, under my presidency, every human being in the United States will have to grow at least one crop in exchange for his place here. Grow what you love to eat in the space you occupy. If you live in a 30 story high rise you can still plant herbs inside or ask to plant something in your friend’s garden or pitch in with a community garden.

 

If you take from this earth, you must give back and learn how to grow food. This one ritual of growing food will breed gratitude in all other areas of life.

 

Side note, I promise that any money I would receive for campaigning would be put directly into use for building and developing schools and programs. And maybe…I would give every child a dog to love, feed, exercise and train

 

So tell me, if you were going to run for the President of the United States, what would your platform be?